Jan 27, 2022 | Leadership


For Coaches, Consultants and Trainers looking for innovative ways to inspire high performing teams

High performing teams rarely happen by accident or chance. It takes consistent practice, discipline and development. The more tools and activities you have in your team building toolkit, the more invaluable you’ll be. 

Grow More Leaders

When is team building and development needed? 

Here are the five most common situations when you may want to consider conducting team development activities:

Project Team

Imagine your client has brought a team of subject matter experts together to solve a problem or seize on a growth opportunity. The colleagues may be co-located or globally dispersed. This may either be a full-time gig for colleagues or they’re working on the project team for a few hours per week, alongside their full-time job. 

Either way, some important questions this team need to work through are: 

  • What’s in scope for this project team and what’s out of scope? 
  • What are we accountable for delivering? 
  • Who are our key stakeholders? 
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of each team member? 
  • How do we leverage the strengths in this team? 

Under-performing team

This may be an intact team, change team, project team or hybrid team. Either way, this team is not meeting its goals and priorities for various reasons. Some of the questions this team need to work through are: 

  • Are we pulling together or pushing apart? 
  • Is it ‘skill’ or ‘will’ that’s impeding our performance? 
  • Do we all want to be part of this team? 
  • Are we contributing fully to this team or doing the bare essentials? 
  • Are we clear on our purpose and our key deliverables? 

Post Merger and Acquisition

With M&A activity increasing over the past few years, new teams need to be developed from the two legacy organisations – at every level of the organisation. Teams rarely hit the ground running without some support and facilitation. The key questions teams need to address are: 

  • Do we know each other as colleagues and people – beyond our job titles? 
  • What are the values and ways of working which will bind us together? 
  • What behaviours are non-negotiable – we will hold each other accountable for? 
  • What are the few big priorities we will all get behind? 
  • What will be the culture we will role model and champion? 
  • What are the key relationships we will manage up, down, across and out? 

‘Good-to-great’ team development

Even successful team can go off the boil. The need for the team development activities is to re-calibrate and establish how we can learn from our successes and failures. They key questions to work through are: 

  • Hand-on-heart, what do we do well? 
  • Hand-on-heart, what do we need to improve? 
  • What feedback can we share with our team, to reinforce the behaviours we want to see more of? 
  • What are the gaps we believe each individual needs to address?
  • What’s our success story for the next 12 months? 

Organisational restructure

Most organisations restructure on average every 18-24 months. This means job titles come and go, reporting lines change, and individuals are assigned to new roles or leave the organisation. 

They key questions are a version of what has already been discussed: 

  • What are the critical priorities for this team? 
  • Do we have the resources and expertise to deliver? 
  • How will we get work delivered? 
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of each team member? 
  • How will we support and challenge each other, so we set ourselves up for success? 

The more your team development activities are real, practical, and stimulating – the more your participants will learn. 

Grow More Leaders

5 of the best team building activities

I know this is highly personal and subjective. But here goes – my top 5 team development activities, based on over 30 years in the field, working as a Business Psychologist: 

  1. Your life line: this is a powerful team development activity. Each individual takes it in turns to discuss their lifeline. The key activities in their life (both positive and negative) which have shaped them and who they are as a leader. It works best when this is a visual activity – using flipchart and the addition of physical photos. Colleagues reveal the live events that have shaped them. The people in their professional and personal lives who have influenced them and how this has shaped who they are as people and leaders. This is best done off-site and as a team development activity which starts in the afternoon and leads to a social evening. This activity is designed to strengthen trust, help the team to know each other as people and to deepen the human connections.
  1. Your perfect week: each individual takes it in turn to describe their hopes and expectations for the team, by describing their perfect week. This does require some pre-work and set-up. But typically, the teamwork through the following questions: the look and feel of our meetings, how we connect with each other informally, how we resolve differences and conflict, how we celebrate success, how we communicate and ace-out to the rest of the business, how we say what we really think without fear of being judged. In describing their perfect week, individuals can articulate what they want and what they don’t want from this team. In hearing each other’s perfect week and capturing the headlines, the team can see the themes, trends and patterns emerging. There is also an opportunity for colleagues to clarify and check for understanding.
  2. Your strengths and your gaps: each individual reflects on their strengths and gaps. They summarise the top 3 strengths and top 3 gaps on flipchart. They articulate when they’re at their best and when they’re not. They outline the feedback, coaching and support they need from the wider team, so they can genuinely operate at their best.

The strength of this team development activity lies in the disclosure, the perfect leader, manager or human being does not exist. So, we don’t have to put on a brave face. We can be who we are, and we can focus on leveraging the strengths of each team member, more than paying attention to the gaps. 

  1. Your values and purpose. In this team activity each individual works through some sort cards or Values cards and orders them under critical, important, desirable or not applicable for my motivation at work. The Values cards are a description of personal motivation e.g.: I value challenge, I value taking on projects and goals others walk away from, I value being part of a team, etc. By working through the 51 statements the individual team members end up with four clusters: critical, important, desirable, and not applicable. Part two requires participants to take a look at their critical cards and to identify the most common themes or topics emerging, e.g.: self-esteem, teamwork, autonomy, and accountability.

These sort cards then set the content for each team member to share their critical cards. Why they’re important to giving work meaning. What happens to the team’s motivation when these values are met (some examples) and what happens when these values are not met (some examples). As a result, the team has a much deeper understanding of personal motivators, purpose and drivers. Without the use of the cards this can be a difficult topic to really quantify and discuss. 

You’ll be surprised how much progress a team can make if you create the right conditions for high support or high challenge peer-to-peer coaching and development. 

Grow More Leaders

  1. Your Mount Everest. In this activity each individual shares their big audacious goal for the year ahead – or their Mount Everest. Again, this is done in the form of a storyboard, using flipchart or online whiteboard. Team members then discuss the hurdles they need to overcome to achieve their Mount Everest, whose help and support they need to succeed and the leadership it will require from them to overcome adversity. Each individual team member has 10-minutes to discuss their Mount Everest and follow-up questions. After which the team have a further 20-minutes for coaching questions.

The power of this activity is everyone learning more about each other’s priorities. How we can help and support each other, along with the obstacles they will need to overcome. This one team development activity helps each team member put themselves in everyone else’s shoes and deeply appreciate the scale of the challenge they’re up against. 

To discuss team development activity ideas further, drop me a note: sukhwant@growmoreleaders.com.

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