The Butterfly Affecting Teams

01 Nov 2013 – Loretta Ritorto – Featured –


There is nothing more inspiring than working in or observing a high energy – high performing team.


Building a successful team requires continuous effort and forward planning. Just because everyone is performing well now does not mean that it will continue. Some leaders believe that once they have recruited the right individuals everything will automatically fall into place.


But when things don’t go as planned it is easier to lay blame on external influences. Group dynamics and particular individuals who you believe “rock the boat” or “are not suited to the role” form the basis of your analysis and conclusion.

Over a period of time teams that are not monitoring themselves will fall apart. Look for these early warning signs:

  • Arguments replace team discussions
  • Resentment is allowed to fester
  • Voting replaces consensus

One of the most common complaints I hear from Managers and Leaders are;
“We used to be a tight nit team”, “We worked well together” and “I want to boost team morale”.

These statements are the result of unintended consequences with outcomes that were not anticipated. Another simple analogy is to adopt the principle of “The Butterfly Effect“. A popular hypothesis in chaos theory which states that in any dynamic system, small initial differences may over time lead to large unforeseen consequences.

When the team begins to drift off track you can be certain that the butterfly effect has been set in motion. A series of small events will eventually have a cumulative impact. No one is aware of what is happening and if allowed to continue, the once high performing team will lose focus. The team will only realise this impact when something major happens – i.e. new manager or a key team member leaves.
There are many other reasons why the team loses focus; they become victims of their own success, they stop taking risks, team members are replaced.

More warning signs;

  1. Team members feel that team meetings are a waste of time
  2. Interpersonal conflicts within the team
  3. Crisis management becomes part of the daily routine – unrealistic priorities and deadlines are set
  4. Your team is not getting recognised – no one feels valued


Bring the team together for an open, honest and non-defensive discussion. Ask them how they feel about the current situation. Your questioning techniques should be open ended/probing questions to encourage dialogue. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard. It is important that all viewpoints are noted. People need to know that their feedback and opinions are valued and recognised. It is also important not to get defensive during the open and honest discussion. Displaying a defensive and hostile attitude will only build resentment and cause the team to fall apart. Respect and trust will walk straight out the door – along with key employees.

Revisit the vision and purpose of your business – agree on the operating guidelines that guide how everyone fits in and works together. Then focus on problem solving; “what needs to be changed” and “what is our next course of action”.

Everyone should be asking themselves these questions:

  • Do we trust each other?
  • Do we feel free to communicate openly?
  • Do we understand our team goals?
  • Are we committed to the team and our function?
  • Are all our abilities recognised?
  • Does everyone participate?
  • Are we given the opportunity to voice our opinions without put downs and ridicule?
  • Do we respect each other and our differences?
  • Do we enjoy being members of this team?

Taking time out to refocus on the team’s purpose will allow you to set a new course of action that will take you where you want to go.

Acts of Kindness During Holiday Team Building

24 Oct 2013 – Colette Johnston – Featured –


A holiday team building event is an excellent way to engage employees in motivational participation, reward them by conducting it in a fun and entertaining way, and to make it memorable by choosing “charity” as the theme. The yuletide season is, after all, a time for giving and sharing, as much as receiving.


There are many ingenuous ways to create team building activities which will not only benefit employees and management, but also other less privileged individuals. The elderly, orphans, homeless, battered women, the list is endless for opportunities that a charitable-themed team building event can engage in.


Make a Senior Smile

Corporate social responsibility plus public service equals an occasion to put team building skills already learned – communication, problem solving, trust, among others – into action. Focusing on objectives such as social consciousness, interaction with different people of varying age groups, etc., can be accomplished by spending a team building day in a senior care facility.

Helping facility residents – many of whom do not have the chance to enjoy the holidays with their families – build their own holiday tree and other decorative ornaments and trimmings can be the challenging aspect of such a team builder, if it is professionally facilitated.


There’s Teamwork in Charity

By having several employee groups team up with groups of seniors, employees get to practice teamwork and their soft skills on seniors and come up with a winning tree and various holiday crafts which could serve as gift exchanges for the seniors during the holiday season.

Prizes can be given to seniors in the form of colorful water bottles, insulated coffee mugs, leg warmers, pillows, blankets, and other items useful to them, while individualized cups could be handed out to the winning employee participants. That translates to charity given with enthusiasm and teamwork done in harmony.


The Time and the Effort Count More

Another way to do a team builder in a charitable setting is to spend that day with the disabled, specifically those wheelchair-bound individuals. The large group can be broken into teams, with the patients in several groups partnering up with the employee teams.

Helping them decorate their wheelchairs will give the patients a boost in their self-esteem, while enabling the team building participants to practice learned skills and gain new ones in the process such as innovativeness, creativity, time management, etc.

The prizes do not have to be expensive. They can be in the form of winter apparel such as socks or gloves, or practical items such as small tote bags or pill cases. Again, in activities with charitable themes, monetary compensation is the last thing on anybody’s mind. It’s really the time, effort, and giving back that count.


Make It a Joint Venture this Year

Team building during the holidays can be so much more meaningful if merged with public service. Selecting a professional team building facilitator that can help customize specific needs of employees, such as the Magnovo Training Group, will reduce the hassle of creating the agenda, objectives, other logistics that go into team building exercises and gives meeting planners more time to focus on other details.

Should employees decide on a charity-themed holiday team building event, management can do its part by pointing them in the direction of the company’s strategic charity partnership.

Instead of having a holiday party and a separate holiday team building workshop, make it a “joint venture” this year. Team building for charity gives to those who are in need and, in an altruistic exchange, charitable giving makes a difference in the lives of the employees as well.

Creating Excellence Within Teams By Developing Motivational Action Plans

18 Oct 2013 – Keoagile Khiba – Featured –



What comes to mind when most people hear or read about motivation?  Pictures or audio bytes from an individual they’ve come to recognise as a motivational speaker or guru?


Few people are aware motivation can be accurately identified, scientifically measured and properly managed to develop business teams whose members are aligned and optimally synchronised. When all members of a business team understand and know what the ‘hot buttons’ of each team member are, such a team is enabled to perform optimally and is best positioned to produce the desired results.

Why is important to identify, measure and manage motivation? And, can it be done?

Yes, it can be done. And once measured, motivation can be managed.

When motivation is identified, measured, and properly managed, it becomes easy to do several things, amongst which are:

  1. create motivational action plans for individuals – motivational action plans are derived from an individual’s top 3 motivators;
  2. develop syncronised teams that understand each team member’s top 3 motivators and how to derive maximum benefit from these;
  3. enhance individual performance because each team member would be operating from within their ‘zone’, that area where they feel much consciously competent;
  4. achieve the business team’s most wanted results because the incidence of ‘square pegs in a round hole’ would have been greatly diminish.


Motivation is identified and measured by using specific diagnostic tools like the Motivational MAPS Online Assessment which highlights an individual’s top three motivators and one least motivator.


By working through the resultant 10 page report, an individual’s motivational profile can be easily explained and understood. The 10 page report accurately highlights the motivators (hot buttons) that are dominant as well as areas where further coaching is needed. Over and above this, an individual is made aware of the balance within their motivational clusters.


When each business team member’s top three motivators are known, it becomes easy to pair individuals in the team, identify who can work best with who, know who can produce best results with who, and which two or more people should not be allowed to work together because there are areas of possible conflict.


What are the inherent benefits of developing motivational action plans derived teams?

  1. potential conflict is minimised;
  2. areas of possibilities are identified;
  3. teams are developed using individuals who complement and enhance one another;
  4. greater understanding and ‘flow’ is achieved;
  5. where there is flow, there is greater productivity and performance enhancement

In the past, team development was based on untested assumptions, but now specific metrics exist that can be used to develop teams based on the top three motivators and the least motivator of each business team member.

There are inherent benefits in designing motivational action plans for individuals and business teams. Great things happen when they exist!

How to Create a Positive Team Culture

10 Oct 2013 – Ben Poulton – Featured –


Many businesses are only as good as their front-line staff, and one way to ensure that your staff perform at their best is to create a positive team culture.


With the spring selling season now well underway, there’s no better time to take stock and examine whether your employees are working together to maximise their results. To assist this process, here are four pointers for creating and maintaining a positive team culture.


1. Don’t avoid the “tough” conversations: if certain team members are struggling or under performing, it is important to be proactive and address these problems before they get out of hand. Why? Because under performing employees can sometimes have detrimental impacts on team morale, which may affect the performance of other staff members. If a team member isn’t pulling their weight, try having an open discussion with them about their performance issues. It is possible that the under performing employee could simply need guidance or support, but may be unsure of how to access it;


2. Provide leadership: leadership isn’t always a simple question of pulling long hours, making decisions and offering the occasional motivational speech. Effective leadership often means building strong connections with staff and proactively developing their teamwork skills. The ability to work effectively in teams is something that can be taught and improved upon, but only if you’re willing to invest the time and effort to do so;


3. Establish goals: during busy periods, team members may lose sight of the bigger picture as they chase short-term outcomes. Setting long-term goals with staff, such as achieving a record number of sales over the spring period, may provide a motivating influence when business and teamwork becomes challenging;


4. Have fun: employees who enjoy their working environment are generally more likely to be productive and create value for a business. Conducting “fun” team building exercises every now and then may help to not only bring staff together, but also motivate employees on an individual level. Think about the types of activities that you staff might enjoy partaking in – perhaps it’s a communal lunch or engaging in a team sport. If you find yourself stumped for ideas, you might consider asking staff to vote for a team activity that they’d like to participate in.


Developing a strong team culture in the workplace isn’t always an easy task – but it’s certainly not impossible. Often, all it takes is a willingness to try out some different strategies and take into account the collective and individual needs of your employees. Be proactive in building a sense of unity in your office, and you’ll likely see some positive results.

10 Team Building Ideas That Really Work

27 Sept 2013 – Robert T Andrews – Featured –

Social Networking - Dry Erase Board

The business world is evolving, with shows like The Apprentice pushing the ideals of team work in high stress, high risk, high reward and above all business like situations companies are no longer teaching that it is survival of the fittest in their offices. On the contrary there is an even bigger push for their employees to work hard at being a team. Thousands are spend each year in an attempt to draw your employees into a closer knit community in an attempt to help boost moral, work ethics and sales.


But which team building activities really work? Below I’ve listed my top 10.

1. Back to Back Drawing

This is a great way of strengthening the communication between team members, team members sit back to back with one person describing an image in front of them to the person behind who must sketch out what is being described. Not only will this help your team members improve their communication, it may cause the side effect of fun which will help them bond together as a team.


2. Survival Game

Explain that everyone on the team has been in a plane crash, they are now on a life boat life boat heading towards a desert island and can only take a set number of items with them. The teams must discuss and rate the items that they think are important enough to take. The key word here is discuss, this is meant to be a measured exchange of ideas with shared creativity, no one should be shouting over the other.


3. Orienteering

Get back to nature with your teams, break them up and give them a map then set them a quest. Nothing will fray tempers quicker than a slight misreading, especially if there is a time limit involved. This exercise will show who can keep a cool head under pressure, which group will manage to resolve or overcome disagreements and, of course, who has the best map reading skills.


4. Build a Tower

Let your teams get creative and work with their hands as well as their minds. Setting a task of building a tower with a set amount of materials will get their creative juices flowing as well as causing your teams to pull together in order to win the highest tower competition.


5. Humans Versus Zombies

A high energy team building activity in survival horror form! Your team will have to work together regardless of any differences in an attempt to survive, especially as Zombies take no prisoners and have no preferences. What a great way to get your team bonding than by letting them have a pint in the Winchester after it’s all blown over, if they survive!


6. Plain Sailing

Most places you can hold a team building event at can offer you some outdoor activities too, try getting your teams into a raft building exercise and having them race across a pond or slow moving river, you can introduce a little healthy competition if you need to, or simply have another team play at being pirates so they defend their newly built raft in order to reach the finish line.


7. Employee Planning

Get your workers to plan a charity or hospitality event together, they will need to work together with creativity, delegation and enthusiasm in order to bring the event to fruition. Not only will you be helping them work together, you could be helping a good cause too.


8. Throw a Party

It may sound a little odd but many offices now use virtual teams. It may be time for you to introduce those people face to face and let them find out what they are like outside of the office environment as many things can be taken the wrong way with no visual or audio cues.


9. Sending an email

A great trust and communications game, but make sure employees are comfortable with being in close quarters or being touched by their colleagues. Standing in a line the person at one end must read a message and pass it on my drawing the letter or symbol out on the back of the person in front of them.


10. Capture the Flag

Fun is to be had with this old school game, here you can pit two teams against each other and watch as they work out how they can not only defend their flag but capture the opposing teams whilst they work on the various qualities that all companies would like to see in their teams: Planning, leadership, strategy and hard work.