Team Building

Team building is a process which aims at improving the performance of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Such programs are carried out within corporations, sports teams, schools and other business or non-profit organizations.

The concept emerged in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the employee motivation reports known as the "Hawthorne Studies" were carried out in a facility near Chicago, Illinois. The purpose of the research was to see how various environmental conditions could influence a group of production workers at a particular plant. The studies eventually resulted in the formation of an effective work team.

The main factors that made this project a success included the freedom by employees to establish their own work conditions; the lack of pressure; the constant feedback and satisfaction arising from each individual's performance. The chief observer on this project expressed interest and pride in the workers' accomplishments which helped them become more confident in what they were doing. The results of these studies proved to be valuable to many corporations which have since begun to organize team-building programs for their employees.

In team building activities, different personalities get to work together to reach their assigned objectives. This type of synergy can be created precisely through the process of team building, which begins with the recruitment of the team manager and formation of the team. The task of the team manager is to provide an organized and systematic process for the team members to follow from the moment they arrive.

Team members have to understand clearly what the purpose of the team is; the time frame in which the goal has to be reached; their individual roles; the next steps and who to turn to in order to get help if needed. It is important that this is explained to each employee individually so that he/she knows the significance of the objective to the entire organization and can begin feeling part of something significant. Personal motivation is vital not only for individual performance but for team work. It is necessary that the final goal is presented to the members of the group in an exciting way so as to engage them and increase their enthusiasm to reach it.

One important task of the team building process is to identify and eradicate any issues that represent serious obstacles for the group to complete its mission. Major problems could include a lack of motivation, commitment or trust. The most common way to address these issues is through the implementation of activities such as organizing a meeting where all members share their thoughts and ideas with one another. The communication within the group is crucial for its success, so the preparation of such a meeting is an excellent way of providing each individual with the opportunity to express his/her frustration about the assignments. At the first meeting it is essential to review a number of topics, including what the aims are and how long the project should take. In addition, it is important to discuss the role of each member of the group and how the leadership role should be handled.

Team building activities can also include exercises in which the members collaborate on dealing with a simple problem or achieving a possible goal. This task usually lasts for between one and three days. It builds trust and working relationships within the team and will also teach the participants to take decisive steps. However, making people feel good about themselves doesn't necessarily mean they will actually become more motivated to boost their own performance. For this reason, team building programs need to be set up based on the personalities of the individuals. Underestimating the process of organizing team building activities may even lead to a change for the worse in the group relationships. In order to avoid exhausting the team during activities and to keep up their self-esteem, it is important to have regular breaks and to thank team members regularly for their input.

Team building is often used successfully by corporations to give their employees a taste of giving something back to their local communities and to build bonds with neighborhoods. Such programs often occur in environments where employees can get involved in community-based projects. Examples include painting school and community buildings, cleaning up derelict buildings or gardens and improving sports facilities.

Team Building: Selected full-text books and articles

The Concise Adair on Teambuilding and Motivation By John Eric Adair; Neil Thomas Thorogood, 2004
Leadership and the Culture of Trust By Gilbert W. Fairholm Praeger, 1994
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "Team Building"
Beyond Teams: Building the Collaborative Organization By Michael M. Beyerlein; Sue Freedman; Craig McGee; Linda Moran Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003
Facilitating Effective Work Teams By Nurick, Aaron J SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 58, No. 1, Winter 1993
Gender and Culture Diversity Occurring in Sell-Formed Work Groups By Baugher, Dan; Varanelli, Andrew, Jr.; Weisbord, Ellen Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 12, No. 4, Winter 2000
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Metaphoric Manifestations of Talking "Team" with Team Novices By Gribas, John; Downs, Cal W Communication Studies, Vol. 53, No. 2, Summer 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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