A Team Building Intervention Program: Application and Evaluation with Two University Soccer Teams

Article excerpt

The team building intervention program utilized in the present case study is a field-tested version of a "hands-on" approach conceptualized by Yukelson (1997). The framework behind the intervention program consisted of the following components: shared vision, role clarity-acceptance, strong leadership, individual/team accountability, team identity, and open/honest communication. The intervention program was delivered to two Division I women's soccer teams. On a team by team basis, the specific intervention programs and the consultant's delivery of said programs were evaluated to determine the degree to which each intervention contributed to team unity and performance, the two primary goals of the intervention. A valid, reliable evaluation inventory, the Consultant Evaluation Form (CEF; Partington & Orlick, 1987), was utilized to achieve the program evaluation objectives. Overall, the results demonstrated that both of the teams rated the team building intervention as being "helpful" in enhancing individual per formance (means of 2.8 and 3.1, respectively), "very helpful" in enhancing team performance (means of 3.1 and 3.9, respectively), and "very helpful" in improving team unity (means of 3.1 and 3.5, respectively). In addition, recommendations for future intervention effectiveness research are also discussed.

The team building model utilized as a framework for the current field-based study was devised by Yukelson (1997). This model was used in the current study due to its direct service approach conceptualized via prior team building research, applied techniques, and interviews with coaches and athletes from Penn State University. The framework behind the team building intervention program consisted of the following components: (a) shared vision (consisting of common goals and complimentary roles); (b) collaborative and synergistic teamwork; (c) individual-team accountability; (d) team identity; (e) positive team culture and cohesiveness; (f) open and honest communication. The seven stages of team building, which represent general implementation procedures, were as follows:

Stage One: A formal needs assessment is conducted by coaches (and consultant) who specifically attempts to answer the question, what does this team need to do to be successful?

Stage Two: Using this information, coaches (and consultant if needed) develop a specific plan, addressing how they can get the team to improve upon these needs.

Stage Three: An initial team meeting is conducted between the team and coaches; the meeting consists of an educational orientation about what team building is, and then the coach can facilitate brainstorming sessions on what this team needs to do to be successful (coaches list their comments and those from the players on a blackboard or equivalent).

Stage Four: The team prioritizes their input (most important needs), and then additional brainstorming is conducted to define each point, and how it can be assessed and accounted for.

Stage Five: Follow-up meetings can be conducted to develop short/long range goals and action plans (how do we plan on achieving these goals?).

Stage Six: Follow-up meetings can include evaluation of team's progress on their standards and goals (via rating sheets and open discussions). It is absolutely critical to provide feedback/evaluation to the players for the intervention to have maximal effect.

Stage Seven: Team meetings can then be setup to deal with conflicts which may occur during the season.

Effective teamwork can often be the difference between success and failure. This can be exemplified by the paradox whereby teams full of talented players fail to use their individual resources and fall short of standards, while teams with less talent and resources are successful and exceed their expectations (Hardy & Crace, 1997). Effective teamwork has been conceptualized as: (a) taking advantage of the various abilities and backgrounds of its members; (b) interacting and working toward shared goals; (c) balancing the needs of the team with the needs of the individual members; (d) structuring methods of communication (Carron & Prapavessis, 1997; Crace & Hardy, 1997; Carron, Spink, & Prapavessis, 1997; Yukelson, 1997). …