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You've got teams, you've got coaches and you've still got problems.

What's the missing piece of the team building puzzle? The biggest mistake many companies make is just changing the name of a work group to "team." It won't make them successful. Don't just call your employees a team, help them be one. Team Building Articles TEAM MEETINGS Team meetings don't have to be painful events. Each participant can contribute to making your team meeting a productive use of time by implementing a few key teams meeting tactics. TEAM COMMUNICATION Effective communication is at the root of all successful companies. Find a problem in a company and most likely you'll find that team communication has been less than stellar. You must take a proactive approach to team communication or you'll find your company on the wrong side of success. TEAM MOTIVATION Finding ways to motivate your team can be tricky. After all, it's not just about team motivation. Your team is made up of different members who have different needs and who are all motivated by different things. But you must motivate your team so you can retain your valuable employees. In these team building articles, you'll see that team motivation and employee retention go hand in hand. TEAM BUILDING SKILLS If you're just beginning a team building program, you are probably overwhelmed with all the tasks you have to do. You have to implement change across your organization and get everyone's team building skills up to par. CHANGE MANAGEMENT If there is one constant in the workforce today, its change. No company can afford to be stagnant when the competition is moving at warp speed. That means your workforce management tactics must be on the leading edge. Change management can help you deal with the stress that comes with the whirlwind of activities. TEAM MANAGEMENT Managing in a team building environment can be challenging to say the least. But the rewards are many. With tip top team management you can take your team to new heights you never imagined was possible. TEAM LEADERSHIP It takes a special set of leadership skills to lead a team to success. A leader is defined as someone the team will follow. Team leadership is not about titles. It's about influence. It's about trust. It's about helping team members see the potential rewards of being a team. Do you have the leadership skills needed to succeed?

7Ways to beaBetter TeamLeaders Leading a team on the face of it looks really easy. In reality it can be extremely challenging. As well as having the eyes of your boss and peers looking at how you are performing, you have to deal with all the different personalities and characters in the team you lead. Given these pressures, it would be easy to crack and really struggle as a team leader. Yet in truth there are things that you can do to become a better team leader. So what are 7 things that you can do to become a better team leader? 1. Increase yourself awareness If you are going to lead a team effectively, you need to have a high level of self awareness. Being self aware is not

about identifying all of your faults but about understanding your motivators, your impact, what you do well and where you struggle. When you are armed with these insights you start to build your team from really strong foundations. 2. Be clear about what is to be delivered Every team exists for a reason and ultimately it is to deliver some result or contribution to business results. As the team leader, you need to understand totally what is expected from the team and be able to effectively communicate it to other team members. 3. Involve others Imagine there are two teams. In the first team all of the ideas, ways of working and plans are developed by the team leader and imposed. In the second team, the team leader fully involves team members in coming up with ideas, creating plans and deciding how to achieve them. Which team do you think will deliver most? As the team leader, focus on involving others more. 4. Have an effective decision making process Every team member might not agree 100% with every decision that is taken but on the other hand they will find procrastination even more frustrating. Make sure that for significant team decisions there is a clear process and criteria for reaching decisions so that things keep moving forward.

5. Don't ignore the deficiencies It is incredibly difficult to deliver results through a team if you have deficiencies in terms of resources, skills and expertise. At the same time, it can be incredibly tempting to make do, especially if you know that the organization is facing challenging times. Don't fall into the trap of ignoring deficiencies in the hope that they will go away. Tackle them so that you keep progressing. 6. Encourage and support others It is so easy to forget just how difficult it was when you were doing something for the first time or operating in a new set of circumstances. Some just deal with this without any problems while others will have crisis of confidence. As the leader, make a point of encouraging and supporting others through the good and not so good times. 7. Remember to recognize team effort It never ceases to amaze me just how few leaders take the time to recognize the efforts and contributions of the team to deliver. If you are someone who falls into this category, do something to create a habit of looking out for good things that the team has tried or done and acknowledge them for their efforts. Bottom Line - Becoming a better team leader is a career long learning process.

How toHave aHappier Workforce A person's working environment is very important on their wellbeing. It's where they spend a large part of their day, and if their surroundings are dreary and glum, then this will reflect on them. A healthy, happy person will be more productive in the workplace, therefore helping a business to perform better. Office design is an important factor to inspire staff, increase productivity, and consequently benefit the company. There are several contributing factors to improved happiness in the workplace, and here are a few of them: - air quality: making sure heating and air-con systems are properly maintained - lighting: ensuring enough natural light is available to protect eyesight - furnishings: getting the best use out of your space and set up furniture appropriately

- colours: using stimulating & refreshing colours that promote high energy levels - noise level: ensuring that noise levels from traffic and outside sources are not too high. Designated lunch areas allow workers to escape from their desks and have a break from the working day, which can help to increase afternoon energy levels. Lunch rooms also help to keep desk areas clean and tidy and free from food spills. Bringing in plants and flowers to an office can also have a positive effect on workers. Research has shown incorporating natural features into office design can have calming consequences. In addition, windows which reveal green spaces and garden areas are a good way to help employees feel less claustrophobic. A workplace that is too bare can have a negative effect upon workers, creating a feeling of being closed in. Decorating your office using refreshing colours, and displaying stimulating artwork on the walls can help to inspire staff Sustainability is a key element to office design. By having an inspiring office that not only looks good but incorporates sustainability and energy efficiency can save you money from day one. There are many ways in which you can make your office greener, for example using sustainable materials including furniture & lighting and installing sustainable washrooms that use less water. Office design is not likely to be high on the agenda for most businesses at present, but in reality, by improving office space, employers can increase staff morale and motivation thereby increasing productivity and helping to secure a company's future.

How DoYou Check aCandidate's Social Skills? Traditionally, one of the hardest attributes to assess in a candidate, is the ability to work with other people. There is no point in asking them because they will always give you a positive answer and you are no closer to the truth. Without a doubt, social skills in the workplace are one of the most important attributes for the new employee. It has been calculated that your success in life is based on these proportions. 85% of your success is due to your social ability and 15% is due to your IQ. The mistake which is frequently made is that the most intelligent people are recruited and it doesn't take long to discover that they are socially inept. One of the ways of assessing their social skills is to take them around the office and introduce them to various people and see how they make conversation. This will show you how at ease they are in meeting people for the first time. It will also show you if they are nervous and unable to make conversation and build rapport. The other way of assessing their social skills is a little bit more sneaky but very effective. Arrange the interview around lunchtime. Provide a couple of sandwiches and say that you've been held up with an important project. Ask them if they would like to eat lunch and have a coffee in the lunch room. Prior to this, you will have advised the staff who are going to use the lunch room that you will be bringing in a candidate to have lunch. Ask your staff to evaluate the person based on likability and how they would feel about working with them. You may even wish to provide them with the checklist to be completed after lunch. This has a twofold effect. Firstly, your existing staff are asked their opinion which will make them feel good. Secondly, you will get the opinions of a number of people to match against your own. Later on in the afternoon, debrief the staff in the lunch room to see how they evaluated the candidate. Compare those evaluations with your own assessment of the person's social skills. When you try this technique, don't be surprised if some of the candidates fail miserably. Those candidates that shine in this area will be easier to train, more cooperative and much more team orientated.

Stifling Communication at Work Do you have a death wish for your department at work? Do you want to see your team fail in meeting the group's latest challenge? If so, just stifle communication. It's really easy to do. In fact, you may already be doing it unawares.

Here are some tried and true techniques for stifling communication in the workplace. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but merely a highlighting of often unnoticed techniques you should be aware of. Take note, because the most deft of saboteurs in the workplace are. You may also find that you yourself are unknowingly undermining the effectiveness of your team. Take this opportunity to make a quick assessment. Do you, or someone at work... Glorify Hierarchy Avoid Direct Communication Neglect Follow-ups Talk over people's heads Forget the Human Element Glorifying Hierarchy Glorifying hierarchy, by necessity devalues involvement at all levels. When a person or a management team is fixated on their authority and stature, they neglect others. They close the door on important ideas and solutions that they themselves will not come up with. They ignore unique perspectives. In short, it's an ego trip. Whether intentional or not, when egos get in the way, teams suffer due to a lack of communication. When the opinion of one person or a few, always trumps that offered by anyone else, your team is headed down a dead-end road. People clam up and quit talking. This often happens without the offending party even realizing it. One way to avoid this is to foster a more lateral chain of command. Within this structure you will still have key people making executive decisions, yet there is more involvement across ranks. This way, employees of different positions and seniority levels are encouraged to be involved and be heard. Avoiding Direct Communication For clarification purposes I'll start by saying that a phone conversation, while less intimate than a face-to-face, qualifies as direct communication. Emails, text messages, tweets, etc. typically don't. I'm not for one minute implying that the above don't have their place in the modern workplace, because they certainly do. However, the simple fact is that nothing can replace the communication value of a verbal exchange. The other forms of messaging are second rate when compared. Sure, there are many work environments which rely heavily on modern electronic communication, but you'd have a hard time convincing any expert that adding an oldfashioned conversation won't help to convey your message.

Neglecting To Follow Up If a challenge is something worthy of pursuing, then it is a challenge worth conquering. This is rarely possible without following up. A fantastic brainstorming session which ends with a solid plan of action, can turn out to be useless without following up to ensure that milestones are met. Just because a bunch of people have a great idea about how to accomplish something, doesn't mean it's going to happen automatically. Along with dates and times for certain action steps to be taken, there should also be follow-ups scheduled to determine the outcome of each step. Without this type of effort you're likely to have certain team members putting the proverbial "cart before the horse". If step "A" in your action plan didn't effect what the team expected it to, then everyone needs to know that. It could seriously affect what other members are presently working on to solve the same problem. Their role or "step" in the action plan may assume that steps taken by other members resulted in successful outcomes. Talking Over People's Heads I sometimes think that this point is one that goes without saying. From personal experience, however, I know that this is a serious problem in a lot of different work environments. Some folks like to talk over people's heads, while others do it unintentionally. Regardless, the end result is always the same. Someone ends up feeling stupid and insignificant, or they feel like they are being talked down to by someone who considers themselves aloof. Either way, they are left feeling discouraged about being a significant contributor at work. This does nothing to encourage open communication.

Instead, we should always go out of our way to simplify things in a friendly manner when at all possible. I don't mean talk to folks like they're little kids. Condescension will accomplish nothing good. Just keep it simple, and talk lingo only with those who you're sure understand the language. Forgetting The Human Element Whatever it is that we are presently trying to accomplish - it has to do with pleasing humans. Even if we are trying to "save the whales", we are doing it to appease ourselves. While our efforts may benefit the whales, they are not the ones who get any intellectual satisfaction out of it. Every challenge at our workplace is being undertaken by humans to satisfy humans. That's the nitty gritty of it. We need to remember that people like to be treated like people. A little dignity goes a long way in accomplishing a lot of great things. Employee numbers, titles, and responsibilities are necessary, but without embracing the human element, they can be awfully humiliating. Make sure to pause for a moment and consider the other person. All of the skill and expertise of both of you combined won't solve a first-grade problem, if you can't see each other as more than a means to an end. You are more than merely tools - you are human.

How toSteer Your Company Through Hard Times -Don't Neglect Team Building All businesses need team building and not just in the good times. When times get hard, one of the instincts of any business is to pull in its horns and to cut spending. The first thing to go is usually the company 'jolly'; the corporate entertainment event. Then the next thing is to stop sending employees on team building. Why? Where is the wisdom in that? Teams lie at the heart of corporate success. Whether these be management teams, sales teams, the team in the office, you will find them in the most profitable and successful organisations. But these teams don't just function well internally, they connect with each other - I have seen many companies in which the different departments hardly speak to each other! And when they do, it is usually through the managers. So without these sorts of events, how can you ensure that your workforce is contented, connected and devoted to the company? Then you wonder why the business starts to fail. It is possible to save money on both and yet lose neither. Choosing the right corporate energisers can be both entertainment and training. Team building by stealth. But what is stealth team building? Essentially, it is team building without ramming it down people's throats. Pick the right type of team building activity and the right provider and team building is corporate entertainment. The events should motivate and challenge the delegates, using the skills the need to function effectively as a team communication, encouraging each other, lateral thinking ... Do this enough and it becomes second nature. The teams for the event should be randomly picked so that employees get to interact with people from other departments, management etc. There should be some worthwhile reward for the victorious team. That is why something like a themed training day is ideal. A couple of popular ideas are the medieval event and spy training events. In the medieval event, your employees can experience life in a medieval court, battling with a heavy boar to get it to the kitchen, building a trebuchet and using it to bombard a castle, learning to use a longbow, learning to joust using the quintain and rings and battling another 'knight' in a person on person joust as a grand finale. The spy training days are an altogether more contemporary team building event. Depending on the organiser, your teams will be involved in safe cracking, bomb disposal, setting mines, getting through a minefield, handling and transporting hazardous radioactive waste, identifying spies captured on CCTV, evasive driving, drive in shooting, escape and evasion ... in other words, a great variety of challenging adventure games. So before you abandon all hope of team building or corporate entertainment days to motivate your staff, think laterally yourself and choose something that can do both. Your business might then continue to thrive even in the hard times.

Case Studies C a s e 1 : T e l e c o m C o mp a n y C r e a t e s S t r o n g C r o s s - F u n c t i o n a l L i n k s

The Need This company had a relatively new group of managers on their leadership team many of whom were recently promoted into their positions. Although the group was having some great successes and had survived and thrived through a major change effort, a silo mentality existed between market channels and departments. The leader of this team knew that he needed to do something to eliminate the myopic my department only thinking and build a true team of leaders to enable the organization to succeed in their highly competitive market. He wanted to create an opportunity for his team members to gain a better understanding of each persons role on the team and to identify what linkages between departments needed improving. He also wanted to strengthen the personal relationships on the team. The Adventure Associates Process After interviews with both the leader of the team and several other team members, AAI partnered with the planning group to design a two-and-a-half day program with evening sessions. Participants were assigned some pre-work prior to the session to enable the group to hit the ground running when they arrived. The program began with an Myers Briggs Type Indicator session to help participants learn more about their own work styles as well as the work styles of each team member. Team members appreciated learning more about what made their colleagues tick and strategies to better speak the language of team members with different preferences. True to the Adventure Associates Way, outdoor team challenges were integrated throughout the session to give the group opportunities to practice effective teaming, taking into consideration peoples different personality preferences. Each team member came prepared with handouts detailing his or her key priorities, challenges and support needs from other teams. Presentations were scattered throughout the multi-day session and helped to create a sense of greater interdependence. The first evening program gave participants an opportunity to share a little bit about their personal life. Each person brought 5 10 items that were symbolic of what was truly important to that individual. Many people reported that in a two-hour period, they had learned more about one another than they had in years of working together. The second evening program gave everyone an opportunity to appreciate each persons contribution to the team.

The other major component to the program was a "start / stop" activity to prioritize key strategic improvement efforts for the team. Each participant brought three things that the leadership should start doing and three things that it should stop doing that would contribute to improving the organizations effectiveness, productivity and morale. The group shared and prioritized their ideas and then broke into sub-teams to create action plans for implementation back in the work place. The Results The team immediately implemented several ideas including sending out weekly information blasts over voicemail that highlight company news updates and wins. Each person on the team is taking ownership for the different improvement strategies and the work is moving forward. Team members reported that there were a lot more conversations going on between departments after the meeting. People are making a greater effort to keep each other in the loop and they are asking for help from one another. The silo mentality is breaking down. The focus is switching from competition to collaboration. As one team member reported, we came to the session as a group of individuals and we walked out of it as a team. Case 2: M arketing Firm Builds Stronger Team Rapport

The Need The Global Brand Practice Team asked us to work with them to create a day-long experiential learning program. They wanted to address building a better understanding of the teams individual preferences while increasing their ability to assemble quickly and perform for clients. They considered this an opportunity to practice sharing resources, a skill that needed to be maximized. Our client wanted us to use an outdoor venue for at least half of the day. The Adventure Associates Process After conducting interviews with key team members, we moved forward to design a combination Myers-Briggs Type Indicator session with a half-day Pursuit program. The MBTI instrument was distributed in advance to team members and completed electronically. We began the day with a condensed MBTI session to review the composite team type and to help the group better understand each persons unique preferences. We then traveled to a nearby ranch for Pursuit. We customized the program to encourage collaboration and the sharing of best practices while increasing the understanding of individual preferences. In addition, team members were transferred from one team to another to simulate this groups constant challenge of receiving and losing team members on project teams.The final group debrief was co-facilitated by AAI and the internal trainer to create action steps for improvement.

Results All teams contributed to an electronic version of Learning and Commitments that is being used to address accountability for increased team effectiveness.

Case3: National Restaurant Chain Holds Annual Sales Conference The Need Buca Inc., parent company of Buca di Beppo and Vinny Ts of Boston restaurants, was preparing to hold their sixth annual Paisano Partners conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Paisano Partner conference is an opportunity to bring this far-flung group together to share best practices, motivate one another and plan for the future. Planning and executing this event is so no small undertaking. The Adventure Associates Process Buca Inc. is not a sit-down type of group, so an overabundance of speakers and classroom training just does not work. The retreat was also being held at a world-class retreat facility on the beach, so Adventure Associates wanted to design an experience that would take advantage of the beaches, lawns and covered walkways. For this retreat, we recommended a program called Pursuit, a fun, fast-paced teambuilding experience. Adventure Associates then customized the program further to align with Bucas retreat theme and objectives. Results The program received a very high satisfaction rating from the attendees as it both reinforced the learning objectives set forth in the retreat and provided team mates with an opportunity to share best practices and resources over the coming year. Case4: Major Metro Paper Integrates Team Building Adventure into Training Agenda The Need A nearly 150 year-old Pulitzer prize winning newspaper was preparing to undergo a major shift - moving to cross-functional advertising teams. The leadership team wanted to break down barriers among departments and improve customer service. Since this transition to teams was a big culture change, the newspaper hired a consultant to lay the foundation and do the team training. The consultant needed a way to accelerate the team bonding and trust, so she called Adventure Associates. The Adventure Associates Process Each of the teams participated in the high-level training. The consultant covered team development, communication skills, leadership and change management. Adventure Associates worked closely with her, taking time to thoroughly understand her approach and adapt our experiential component of the workshop to address the course content. The Ropes Course activities were an excellent venue to address the issues that came up during the training. Building trust, camaraderie, increased understanding of the problem solving and decision making processes and improved communications were all outcomes of the ropes course session. Results Sales and support teams completed the training, building common knowledge and creating a common experience for the entire staff. Departments that interacted infrequently in the past are now openly communicating, eliminating misunderstandings and greatly reducing ad mistakes. The Advertising division has adapted to the team approach increasing overall sales by 13%! Having a way to hardwire the learning, while having fun and making new connections was an invaluable component of the transition to teams.

C a s e 5 : U S A r my I n t e g r a t e s T h e i r D e p a r t me n t s

The Need A division of the Army needed a better flow of communication from the top down and among departments. Weekly staff meetings were cancelled more often than they occurred, and project assignments were falling between the cracks. While the working relationships among members of various teams were positive and effective, cross-team dynamics were not so smooth. Each department had its own agenda, timeline and process for completing projects. The Adventure Associates Process As part of the pre-course assessment, Adventure Associates determined that The Emissary Process would be very beneficial for this group. One-by-one, participants provided open, candid remarks about the strengths and challenges they encountered with each team, effectively breaking down some barriers. The solutions became very obvious once people were open to feedback, and the team established clear channels of communication. Results One of the first things they did upon returning to work was to dedicate time for their staff meetingno matter what. Someone takes notes and sends the meeting minutes out to all the participants to review. Teams then post their list of inputs from other departments in their office so they have a visual reminder of the issues addressed in the meeting. C a s e 6 : P h a r ma c e u t i c a l Direction The Need This company had an urgent need to develop a process to deliver a critical and difficult message to its entire workforce. The "old ways" of communicating important information, top down directives, would not be sufficient. The leadership team knew that it needed buy-in and good ideas from all levels of the firm to be successful in implementing the new plan. A coordinated team effort would be essential every step along the way. Every employee needed to be 100% committed to the new direction of the organization. Compliance would not suffice. The Adventure Associates Process After a thorough needs assessment to define the scope of the workshop, the AAI facilitators along with the client narrowed down the focus of the program to a few key areas. Adventure Associates was then able to conduct a program that: C o mp a n y Develops Process to C o mmu n i c a t e Strategic

Provided a quick review of fundamental communication skills needed for this effort; give people an opportunity to assess their own communication skills, practice these critical skills, and develop an action plan to address any challenging areas. Provided an enjoyable, outdoor, opportunity to practice working as a high-functioning cross-functional team. They then selected a team building program that demonstrated that power of building strong relationships and working collaboratively. Finally, and most importantly, Adventure Associates facilitated a modified Open Space Technology process for creating action steps to communicate the message. Results The leadership team left the session with a clear strategy for delivering this challenging message. The communication effort went smoothly, and the message that was delivered was consistent across the organization. Teams are implementing the plan, and feedback is being solicited and incorporated into the plan. Instead of discouragement and frustration, there is an upbeat, can-do attitude in the department. C a s e 7 : R e g i o n a l I n s u r a n c e B r o k e r C h a n g e s C o mp a n y C u l t u r e The Need Changing a companys culture is a process not an event. Its a process that must be a company-wide initiative involving every employee. This client wanted to enhance their culture. Although the company was doing quite well, changes in the insurance industry were challenging the culture and there was a growing concern among the employees. The work environment was affected, and the leadership team knew they needed to get every employee involved in an effort to refocus the group. The Adventure Associates Process We held two planning sessions that were attended by several key staff members. In these sessions, we asked the planning group to envision the type of culture they wanted and then to identify aspects of their culture that they were concerned with and wanted to change. We created a survey around the areas of concern and 90% of the 80 employees responded to the survey thanks to excellent follow through by the planning group. As predicted, there was strong agreement about issues and challenges with the current culture and the feedback provided a clear roadmap for the workshop design. We divided the employees into two groups so that the workshops wouldnt be too big. In the workshop, we blended experiential team challenges with multiple brainstorming sessions on effective communications - both listening and speaking skills, giving and receiving feedback, sharing information, recovery programs for when things go wrong, and creating a blame-free work environment. The brainstorming sessions went quickly, with a lot of intermingling between departments and levels of employees. By the end of the day, groups had created rough draft intention statements. Results A follow-up session was scheduled for two weeks after the workshops. Managers and team leaders took the rough draft work to the next level. Employees generated several dozen improvement ideas during the two initial workshops. The group in the follow-up session narrowed the focus for the improvements and created some timelines with action steps and clear accountability. Each group member took the lead for refining one of the intentions and for outlining some initial steps for one of the improvement projects. The sub teams solicited additional help from the general employee population with the goal of keeping each employee involved in crafting the new company culture. The Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and the Senior Vice President of Operations rolled out the final intentions by meeting with each and every team and through role playing, demonstrated how to hold people accountable for meeting the new intentions.

In addition to the new intentions guiding behaviors, improvement projects are already underway for more comprehensive and frequent company-wide information updates and cross training within departments. Also, the IT group will post more accessible and consistent information on the companys intranet. Employees have not transformed the culture overnight, but they are making slow and steady progress. The company plans to re-survey the employee population in a few months and have another company-wide session to keep the momentum going.

Case8: Venture Relationships


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The Need The senior administrative team from a large venture capital company was facing challenges with communication and interpersonal conflict. Though their jobs do not require them to interact as one large team, the need to work closely on a one-to-one basis and share resources is imperative to the success of the company. The Adventure Associates Process After assessing the needs of the group, we were able to determine the most effective use of the limited time available for the workshop. Distribution of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to the group members prior to the workshop created more workshop time for discussing applications. After each individual determined their best-fit type, the AAI facilitator then identified differing communication and decision-making styles and how each preference reacts to stress. The facilitator then presented the team with some interactive problem-solving initiatives which highlighted the very challenges the team faced on the job. Using their new knowledge of the MBTI, they were able to identify behaviors that blocked effective interaction. The team then created intentions and techniques for implementation back in the workplace. Results After having addressed the issues of conflict, stress and communication as a group, the team was better equipped to deal with situations as they arose in the workplace. Using the information gathered from the MBTI and references to the problem-solving challenges at the workshop, the individuals were able to come to consensus on previously unresolved issues. Committing to their intentions initiated first steps toward a more productive and pleasant working atmosphere for the administration team and the rest of the organization.