The Importance of Team Building In The Workplace

The Importance of Team Building In The Workplace

Edmund Brunetti – 5 April 2017

Team building is crucial when you want to ensure that your organization is operating smoothly. When staff members dislike each other or are in constant conflict, working together on projects can become difficult and you may find yourself with employees that aren’t very productive. Having a facilitator come in to share relevant exercises or inviting a team building speaker to address these issues can make the difference between your organization underachieving or being a success. The main thing that professionally led team building events allow you to do is open up and improve the channels for communication. In a collegial environment, your employees can openly discuss what they find to be a hindrance to their team work and many employees will also recognize that their own behavior has been an issue that can be easily improved.

Once the team issues are out in the open, respectful dialogues can be had and from there the relationship between employees as well as between management and employees will improve. With improved relationships, comes better and more productive team work, which means the quality of the work being done will improve as well. The events also help to motivate employees to become more pleasant to work with. By recognizing the assumptions and issues in their own perspective or approach, employees can target these areas and fix the way that they interact in a team. Once they start to work better with other employees, they will become more confident in their abilities and they might discover that leadership comes easier when they get along with their team. This could open many doors for them and motivate them not to back down from challenges.

Having an experienced team building speaker present will definitely make thing easier during these events. With a speaker present, there is an impartial and engaging third party that will be able to better motivate employees and give them a fresh perspective. Team building activities run by a speaker will also force your employees to think creatively, since it will be something new outside of the usual office tasks. Once your employees learn to work together under these new circumstances, they will find it much easier to be cooperative when they’re working together on work projects.

Employees will also have new skills and insights in their back pockets after listening to a team building speaker. They will learn new problem solving skills and learn to think about problems in team work in a different way, making them more valuable to your organization. Developing these skills will help them a lot in future endeavors as well as future team projects. Another good thing that comes from attending team building events is that it by opening up communication channels your employees start to trust each other more as well as their management. If you get the feeling that your employees might not feel very connected to you and that the gap between management and employee is too wide, it might be time for all of you in the office to work through a few team building exercises together.

Build Strong Relationships With Active Participation

Build Strong Relationships With Active Participation

By Patrick Smyth

After a long flight to Tokyo Japan, the sight of two thousand people in the audience for keynote speech at the technology conference was impressive. The presentation moved along slowly as frequent pauses enabled the interpreter to convert the original English spoken and written on the slides into Japanese. After twenty minutes or so, it appeared that two thousand heads were resting on their shoulders as the entire audience had fallen asleep. The interpreter insisted they were listening and not sleeping, so please to continue. After all the effort and time to prepare and travel halfway around the world only to meet a sleeping audience, the last thirty minutes of the talk were sheer drudgery.

How you participate in meetings has a direct effect on the motivation and level of engagement by other people in the meeting. Technology has become an excuse to continue whatever you were doing outside of the meeting, while the meeting is in progress. A prospective customer does not want to stare at the back of your laptop screen and watch you type away while they are attempting to build a relationship with you. You can try to justify this laptop behavior by suggesting that you rely on the laptop to take notes during the meeting. The problem is your notes do not impress the people on the other side of the table.

Smart phones are equally offensive. Yes, you hold the phone below the table and cast your eyes downward to read it. Somehow, you believe the other people in the room don’t notice that you are busy tapping away at the small screen in front of you and not engaging in a conversation with them. All they see is someone who appears to be focusing on something other than the most important people and conversation in the room. Your behavior suggests to them that whatever is going on in front of you is far more important than they are. Clearly, that’s a serious mistake.

The first good step to active participation is assuring that you remove distractions, such as those from laptops and smart phones, from the conversation. Of course, active participation reaches far beyond simply removing distractions. Focus your attention on the other party or parties in the meeting. Ask insightful questions to demonstrate your interest in them and their business needs. Acknowledge the key points they are making to encourage them to continue sharing. Ask for clarification if they say anything that might seem slightly ambiguous or unclear. If you are delivering a presentation in a meeting, make sure the audience is following along and getting the key points you are communicating.

Avoid talking incessantly to show how much you know. All that does is confirm that you are not listening and that your focus is on yourself. Launching into an endless scripted speech without engaging the audience with questions and clarifications will certainly turn them off. Watch their body language for signs that they are reacting to what you are saying and use those as cues to expound further or ask questions. The more you demonstrate your care about their success, the more they will learn to respect and trust you. Active participation builds trust, which in turn builds solid relationships.


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Communication Matters

Communication Matters

By Judith Lindenberger |

As a human resources consultant, I have conducted many employee surveys over the years to ascertain what employees like about their workplaces and what they think needs to be changed. In many cases, one of the key recommendations from employees to make the workplace better is “provide better communication.”

What do employees want to know about? They want to know before a change occurs that it is coming. They want to know why the change is happening. And most of all, they want to know how it will affect them. If you can get ahead of your communications efforts by providing answers to these questions, your employees will be less stressed, more productive, and your change efforts will be more successful.

According to A Manager’s Guide to Communicating with Employees, “from a communications perspective, employees feel appreciated and valued when:

– they are the first to hear important news

– they are regularly consulted

– they are listened to

– their suggestions are acted upon.”

Some of the best ways I have found to communicate with employees are as follows:

  1. Send mass emails for communicating information that is timely such as an office closing due to bad weather.
  2. Conduct regular staff meetings to discuss department news, delegate work, and share information from senior management.
  3. Conduct regular Town Hall meetings, hosted by senior leaders, to provide high-level information about upcoming events or give status updates. Anticipate and welcome questions from your audience.
  4. Encourage employees to let you know what’s not working and offer their suggestions for improvement. Create a culture where open communication – the good, the bad and the ugly – is sanctioned.
  5. Provide a suggestion box and reward good ideas. Let employees know that suggestions need to be positive, respectful of others, and doable. For example, “Fire my manager” is not an appropriate use of a suggestion box.
  6. Walk around the office and be available for spontaneous conversations.
  7. Meet regularly with employees, one on one, to discuss their performance.
  8. Conduct fun teambuilding exercises and meeting ice-breakers for employees to get to know one another.

Finally, to be a good communicator, make sure that you have been heard. Ask questions to learn if your message has gotten through to your audience. As George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

I am curious… what are your best ideas for effective workplace communication?

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Being Liked And Respected And Building Leaders

Steven Lay (October 08, 2015)

Abstract Popularity Concept. Many Yellow Balls with One Red Ball in the Center.

Having spent a portion of my life in the Navy I have always been intrigued with leadership styles, skills and whether effective leadership can be acquired or whether it is an innate attribute. The fundamental discussion about leadership is: Would you rather be liked, respected or feared? Coincidentally, my interest is around wine tasting room experiences and team building in general.

Before the question is discussed and hopefully answered consider the following discussion points.

  • Are good leaders recognized differently within various industries? For example, would a person appreciated as being a good leader in one industry/company, let’s say a company that drills for oil, be a good leader in a software development company? Such considerations are not far fetched as businesses in America reach out for leaders in disparate industries. In this case we are not addressing business sectors but rather industries.
  • Culturally, are there different desired leadership criteria applied to women versus men? In a recent article that appears in Yahoo! News, there was a discussion around the special leadership skills of women that are leading companies and their successes. Not surprising, the author was commenting on Ms. Marissa Mayer who is the CEO of Yahoo. E-bay, HP, GM, and IBM, just to name a few others, have women heading up large companies with complex structures.
  • Do skill sets have a bearing on who is recognized as a great leader? For example, in industries where the majority of people possess creative skills (art, acting, and music for example), do they have a different standard for good leaders? The music industry would probably put a different set of values on leaders who understood the idiosyncrasies of creative people. Further, there are occasional reports on how various performers (in movies and on stage) are respected, but not liked and might go so far as to be hated. We have just touched upon the concept that leading personalities can be respected but not liked. And, some of those opinions may not be universally accepted within an industry.
  • It is obvious that not everyone in an organization will like a leader, no matter what he/she would or could do to ingratiate themselves with their team. These feelings can be rooted in a person’s values, culture, age, work history and the list can go infinitum. Leaders that chase the “wan ‘a-be liked by everyone” theorem will find it to be self destructive; it will never happen.
  • As roles within a team change, expect opinions relative to a person’s likability and respect quotient will change. The interpersonal dynamics within an organization are always different when viewed as-employer by employee, and conversely, employee by employer.
  • The effort expended within an organization to be liked and respected, can those attributes translate into improvements in the sales effort? Ask in another way: Are sales people more successful by being liked or respected.
  • Is charisma part of the leader’s skill set? Charisma does not seem to be as universally accepted or recognized as being liked and respected. It can be a fine line between that and arrogance and disrespect. Mostly, it is a personality trait that can be tenable.
  • Can a majority on a team that respects and/or likes their leader influence a minority group in a team who hold their leader in less regards. Intimidation can be the glue that binds in negating opinions of the minority.

Back to the question-as a leader of a team/organization, would you rather be liked, respected or feared? As discussed earlier, let’s discount the use of fear as a leadership tool because once it is used by a leader it is akin to un-ringing a bell. Fear as a leadership style is not a foundation a successful company is built upon by good leaders.

Being left with likability and respect, based upon military and corporate experiences, I would say good leaders have both skills. The percentage mix between the two will change based upon economic environment, industry, changes in objectives and strategies, workforce changes and the function the leader is in charge of (sales, manufacturing, operations, finance, etc.). This being said, there are still some fundamental rules that apply to being liked and respect and both are acquired/required skills.

As a leader of a team, it is generally agreed that we want to be liked and respected. We also recognize not everyone will like us but should respect us, and the environment will dictate leadership style. But, there are some general rules relative to how to interact with people on a day to day basis that build likability and respect.

Always try to make people feel good about their relationship with you, their leader. Be accessible to all members of the team. This means treating people equally, which is different than the same. New people to a team require more leading than veterans on a team. But, veterans respect being treated a little more hands-off and respect a leader delegating more.

Transmit via actions and words to the team that they are collectively and individually appreciated and they are respected. It is not enough to tell team members you see their successes even if you don’t comment on them. That is a cheap way of saying you don’t care to go out of your way to comment and show appreciation.

By deed show people they do matter to the team within the organization and even beyond. Develop ways to recognize a team member individually for achievements outside of work.

Work on being a good likeable and respected leader daily. In the Navy I liked and respected a specific senior officer because every morning he came aboard excited about the day, the mission and his staff. He made sure he said good morning to everyone and ask how they were doing. He really listened to their answers. He would write personal notes to spouses and families who were experiencing joy and defeats. He was a good leader everyone liked. He sounded gruff but everyone knews it was an act. In later years it was a skill I tried to develop.

I also learned that you do not intrude into someone’s job. Senior leaders are respected more when they lead and not come down to team members level to try and prove they are just the same and willing to “get their hands dirty”. People want to be lead and respect their leaders with pride. Senior leaders fight for their teams and hand out justifiable corrective actions fairly.

Leadership is fun, requires a lot of daily effort, requires being involved, must recognize that there is maintenance time involved to keep things in balance and in the end it is rewarding. This is why I am a big fan in saying that team leaders require team building events also; because change is inevitable!

Now we can call attention to some specifics. Some of these are in every management 101 course but still worth reviewing because of contextual changes in teams and organizations. Creating and building likability or respect requires some thought.

Use a person’s name. I have written a lot about winery tasting rooms and some changes in that activity. Let me give you an example of a recent experience my wife and I had at a tasting. We did have a reservation and when we arrived we were not ask for our name, we were ask the time of our reservation. At that point the hostess called us by name, wrote our name on a table tent card and took us to our table. When the concierge came to our table (we were outdoors) he saw our name and commented on the spelling and asks about the origin of the name. He always referred to us as Mr. and Mrs. Lay. Very classy and made us feel important, and yes we bought wine and gladly paid for the tasting also.

Ask people questions to let them talk about themselves. When they reply make eye contact and listen to them respond. Never let outsiders or distractions take away from listening to a team member or customer.

Smile at people as a way to acknowledge you are interested in them and are listening to them.

Include new arrivals into the personal space of a small group discussion. This can be done by stepping to the side to make room in the circle or simply touching a person on the shoulder or arm.

Volunteer to help others outside of your own team. Such a move will not only be recognized as giving of yourself but it reinforces your standing within your own team.

Stay positive in supporting all management. Everyone has faults and differences of opinions, which are fine. But, piling-on is not helpful to a team leader building likability or respect and does not help with clients or customers.

Be genuinely interested in the customer, the team members and vendors. Their opinions do matter in building a leaders reputation as a good leader that is respected and liked.

The active and passive feedback you will receive from your personal contacts will also allow you to put the right people in the right job. This will allow you to make good delegating decisions. From all feedback you will be able to make the right decisions on training and team building events. And keep asking your team what you can do for them to make their job or life better at the company and in their home. Remember, the majority of a team member’s time is at and thinking about their job.

Being likeable and respected is asking for peoples input, accepting input and putting it into a plan and recognizing individual and team performance relative to the plan. When the team wins, the fans win also. A lead is likeable when they are the biggest fan of the team.

In the final analysis, I agree with an author I once read that put it very succinctly: Respect is linked to competence and productivity, and I add, likability without respect is less effective.

I got on this subject because leaders are also made, yes, some are also born. But somewhere along the trail inherited DNA allowed them to bring it out due to some triggering events. I believe the simplest of wineries can employ leadership, likability and respect skills to help sell wine and build a winery operation.

Think about likability and respect and how these power tools are available to you and don’t get esoteric about thinking about it.

Let me leave you with a “rubber meets the road” story.

I first met a one man winery owner, with a small vineyard, and he does it all; prune, crush, bottle, greet visitors and sell his own wine. His wines are great. His tasting room is small, quaint and unassuming. I see him maybe once every year or so. He always comes out from behind his counter when my wife and I come in and greats us both warmly with a hand on the shoulder. He never forgets to ask about our health and reminds us that wine is good for health. He genuinely wants to hear about our young granddaughters and our son and daughter-in-law and his eyes are as intense as his smile when you talk to him. Everybody in his tasting room gets the same greeting. He is liked and respected. He says what he means and means what he says and it is always positive. I would say he is a very smart, real leader, who is willing to share his secrets to fine wine.

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Handling Work Intentionally Done Wrong?

By Lance Winslow (September 27, 2013)


If you are an employee of a company, let me give you some advice; you should never do any work intentionally wrong. Sure, that good career advice and I suppose you don’t see yourself ever doing anything like that, but I am also certain you’ve seen someone else do it. Not long ago, I was having a conversation about this with an acquaintance of mine who works in a manufacturing type industry.

He specifically asks how I have dealt with “handling work intentionally done wrong?” Intentionally done wrong, questioned the question. Well, I’d want to find out why! Disgruntled employee, cutting corners, malice, or sabotage? That’s a scary thought. I’ve seen union employees do this to get back at a company, and angry workers purposely do something like that. In my own company I’ve caught people doing things incorrectly – on purpose – suffice it to say I was not amused in the least.

In the fleet truck wash business we gauged production bonuses for units completed – following my ancestor’s model “Fredrick Winslow Taylor” and sometimes in their haste to hit bonus numbers they’d cut corners, quality slacked, and customers got upset. For me that was a BIG DEAL, because one office for a trucking terminal, if that manager was on a conference call and mentioned we did a crappy job, terminal managers in 6-10 states might know about it, and that hurt other team members, franchisees, company owned units and my reputation as well, screw that.

Can proper bonuses work to keep people doing it right – sometimes, but not all the time, the motivation to do things wrong is a personal issue, and emotional decision – and almost always a bad decision. Now then, when it comes to bonuses – the bonuses must be individual based, special team based, customer satisfaction based, production based and quality based, so do them the best of any company on this planet.

Not number two, screw number two, be number one, that’s what this company is about and if you are not about that, you are in the wrong company! That was my motto. Vince Lombardi rocks! I am not saying everyone has to be a Clark Kent, but they should be striving to be, work in progress and walking the talk.

So, it’s not just units produced, units produced without flaws, the 99.8% Six Sigma way. Give bonuses for ideas to increase efficiency, streamline work flows, ask for ideas, give those ideas their proper due, a simple color coding of materials could speed up the fork lift loader by 2-minutes searching for the right metal grades, or could help those looking for the next job order clip-board a few seconds, every little bit that makes sense (cents) makes dollars too.

Yes, as you can see, I think a lot about this. Production, efficiency, quality, customer service, team work, winning = profits, and profits are good! They represent proof of efficiency in free-markets. No they aren’t all of it, but the score board matters. Bureaucracies run a little different, different goals, but whatever those goals are – truly are – there is no excuse for not achieving them in the most efficient and expeditious manner, and before you take on new challenges, have that foundation running like a Swiss Watch first!

If someone purposely is doing something wrong, you need to know why, remove that employee for cause, reprimand them, or get them to do it right from now on without waiver – then trust but verify. Communication during this process is essential. Please consider all this and think on it.