Before helping start Group Dynamix in 1998, I labored in a lot of different work environments many of which the companies lacked any understanding of how to build effective teams. In fact, most never truly realized they had a need for team building until it was too late. Several of these companies nearly failed as they witnessed key employees leave followed by their key customers.
For decades, surveys have shown that the top thing employees want most from theirs jobs is not money but appreciation. Some might make the case that a bonus is a good way to show appreciation, but it’s more than that. People want to be valued by their organization, not just by their manager, the CEO, their project leader, but by their work groups. That’s why colleagues sometimes have more influence on employees’ work performance than their bosses.
Too often, companies encourage “silo thinking” with their employees in which collaboration, resource sharing, fruitful communication and other team attributes are limited in hopes the employees will be self-managed or self-directed. Unfortunately, that counters what employees rank as the second most important thing they want from their jobs – feeling “in” or better yet, feeling part of their groups.
Harken back to those drama-filled days of high school when you felt isolated from certain groups that you wanted to be a part, or the times that you felt you were the only one doing the work or cared about what you were doing. Feeling alone in work or play is discouraging. Most people can’t thrive without connection with others. When part of a team effort, people respond by working harder and seek success more for the group than personal accomplishment.
So how do you know if your group needs team building?
The simple answer is “if they’re breathing.” Any group of individuals who share a work environment and are gathered to produce some outcome for their company could easily be called a team. The problem is teams don’t just happen, they are made. When you dump out a puzzle from its box, you can claim that all the pieces are there to produce an outcome. But how it turns out depends entirely on how the pieces fit together.
Group Dynamix employs a lot of different tools to help the build process. What is important about every tool we use is that it bridges a connection between the participants that establishes a relationship that carries forward. From that dynamic, “appreciation” and “feeling a part” becomes more realized and shared among the group.