Team Building Techniques
Among all the corporate team building techniques that we have scrutinized throughout the years, the most effective techniques we have discovered are the techniques described by Patrick Lencioni in his best seller, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA: 2002).
Lencioni travels well beyond the obvious, and gets to the root of the issue. If you are able to execute – and personify – these so called team building techniques, you will have built the best team you will have ever belonged to, not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of genuine camaraderie.
If you are serious about reading and learning about this team building approach, we strongly suggest you go to the original source, buy the book, read it and study it together with your direct reports, and apply it in your own team.
Without repeating Lencioni’s words verbatim, in a nutshell and in a schematic fashion, these team building techniques are the following:
Photo courtesy of Jurvetson
Whether you have two direct reports or ten direct reports, your first step as their boss – if you truly want to build a high performing team – is to be authentic with them.
Authenticity means being truly who you are – showing your employees not only your forte but also your weaknesses, your mistakes, your shortcomings, your imperfections, etc.
Metaphorically speaking, authenticity means showing yourself totally naked in front of your direct reports, without any masks. When you are truly authentic you show integrity – integrity is being one in thought, word, and action. Integrity means oneness.
However, when people are authentic, they also have the tendency to feel vulnerable – nobody likes to feel vulnerable – but this is a decision that you must make yourself if you truly care about building a high performing team.
Trust: Team building techniques
When you – as the boss of your team – are authentic and have integrity inside the team you lead, you begin to plant the seeds of trust.
Trust within a team is when your direct reports are positive that they can be themselves – they can also be authentic – without being punished in any way either by their teammates or by their boss (by you).
When you build trust in your team, your employees experience the freedom to sincerely speak up their minds. Trust allows your direct reports to put on the table everything they think, including different perspectives, dissimilar opinions, and open disagreements.
When there is candor and as a consequence there are open disagreements within a team, conflict is inevitable.
Your job is to manage that conflict in a constructive way because if you want the team you lead be able to always make the best strategic decisions, you need to be able to manage conflict productively – to see how to make decision, see our managerial decision making process page.
Clarity: Team building techniques
Trust together with candor and productive conflict, are the fundamental building blocks in creating clarity among your employees – clarity around direction, priorities, objectives, decisions, etc.
In an open communication environment, where there is trust, candor, and clarity, and in an environment where team members participate in the decision making process with an equal footing, understand all the variables that are in play, and agree to disagree, it is much easier to create buy-in.
Commitment is the team’s capacity to make a decision without everybody’s agreement, genuinely buying into the decision, and moving on.
Accountability is when team members (not only the team leader) support each other, encourage each other, and remind each other about performance standards.
The primary source of accountability is not the person responsible for the team but the team members themselves – peer pressure is a key ingredient of accountability.
However, the role of the leader in confronting difficult performance issues is fundamental in creating accountability.
Results are the compass and the true measure of any team – results must be what drives the behavior of each individual team member. Hence, results must always come before individual agendas.
When your behavior – as the leader of your team – is aligned with your team’s results (what matters the most), you retain achievement-oriented direct reports, you minimize individualistic behavior among your employees, and you create a culture where your direct reports subjugate their own interests for the good of your team and for the good of your entire organization.
Lencioni’s contribution is not just about some more team building techniques – rather, it is about the indispensable human ingredients to make a team really perform.
If you have direct reports, and if you really work to implement this knowledge in the team you lead, you will build a team like few others.
Besides, reading this book is a pleasure, it is one of those books that once you open it to start reading it, you cannot stop – you cannot put it down.
Perhaps there are hundreds if not thousands of team building techniques all over the managerial literature, but we haven’t ever seen something so elegantly simple that goes to the heart of the issue.
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To keep on learning about the skills you need to lead the performance of your entire organization, go back to the previous page, or click here and continue reading in a sequential order.
To learn more about the skills you need to manage the performance of your direct reports, go to our Management Skills page.
If you would like your organization to learn about these team building techniques through our speaking or consulting services, please click on this link.