Almost a year ago, I published a post entitled 15 Unique Activities that Build Team Spirit. I think it’s time to update that list. I have come across a number of very creative ideas since then, and brainstormed for a few more. Enjoy these and seriously consider using some of these to boost your team’s morale! Read more
Tag Archives: building trust
Creating and defining a vision statement for your team can be tough. What do you include? What do you exclude? How long or short do you make it? There are a lot of thoughts that go into defining the vision for your team or business.
Here are some tried-and-true methods for not only defining your vision, but for developing a compelling vision statement for your team that will get them motivated, empower them to work, and engage them and your organization for success.
The Vision Statement Must Be Clear.
Clarity around a vision and goal is one of the things that separates high-performing teams from ineffectively functioning teams, according to the authors of Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong. A sense of mission is a characteristic of both top-performing teams and leaders.
Mission can be defined as a vision of a future state that inspires action. The vision has to be clear. People want to know where they are going, what they need to do to get there, and what’s in it for them. Beyond money, bonuses, or tangible rewards, people will get behind a challenging goal that is bigger than themselves
Think about the teams you’ve either led or been on. When there was a clear vision, were you more or less productive? More or less stressed? When a clear vision is defined, it is much easier to know when you’re on and off course and know what you need to do to adjust.
The Vision Statement Must Be Compelling.
In additional to clarity, a vision must also be compelling. It must drive production and goals. Each project and every goal work to further the vision of the organization.
A compelling vision encourages risk.
This kind of vision encourages risk, not perfection. Teams are encourage to develop risky goals to meet risky objectives. (This is not risk for the sake of risk, but a mission that drives teams and people to risk more than they would otherwise.)
A compelling vision inspires ownership.
A vision like this assumes people are capable of not only working toward the mission, but also contributing ways to achieve the vision. People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. A compelling vision produces the idea that the person’s work is meaningful beyond just the paycheck.
A compelling vision empowers teams to action.
Have you ever been so engrossed in completing a project that you totally lost track of time? A compelling vision can do that, especially if it makes a difference. People love to rally around a cause. It creates a sense of urgency, moving people to take action.
The Vision Statement Must Be Communicated.
You might think that since you created a clear and compelling vision statement that everyone would think about it and obsess over it as much as you do. You would be wrong. For most people, the vision statement must be communicated on a consistent basis.
In order to communicate your vision statement effectively, it must be short enough to memorize, but long enough to include key components. For example, a local school district’s vision statement is: “To graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school.” This is a very compelling mission statement. It is short enough to memorize. It is also not too specific regarding “success”. Will success look the same for every student graduating high school? Of course not; however, this district desires to achieve success with every student, regardless of how that looks.
Vision statements are great if they are communicated. They are fairly useless if they are not. People forget. They get busy. Team members get distracted with the day to day tasks and tend to lose sight of the overall vision. Team leaders need to keep the vision in front of people. Remind them why they are doing the day-to-day tasks. Leaders remind people of their purpose in the grand scheme of things and why each person is important to the overall vision.
Ways to communicate your vision:
– Talk about it.
– Celebrate team members who embody it.
– Display it everywhere.
– Invite dialogue around it.
– Get feedback from others.
– Create “calls to action” around it.
The Vision Statement Must Be a Commitment.
To have a vision statement is one thing. To be committed to it is altogether quite different. Most companies these days have a mission or vision statement. How many in the company know what it is? Or seek to work by it on a daily basis?
The best teams and leaders know the vision statement and are committed to seeing it lived out day by day. It’s part of the DNA of the organization and each team and team member strive to work towards the vision. Every goal that is set and every project undertaken is driven to fulfill the vision.
How else do you create a clear and compelling vision statement for your team? What ways do you communicate and commit to it?
Trust is one of those bedrock components of any team. It can be hard to build but easy to break down. There are a lot of ways to build trust, and endless ways to breach it.
Here are some quotes on trust I’ve gathered to help challenge and encourage your team towards an attitude of trust. Read more
Here are some icebreaker questions I’ve used before (and some that are brand new). Use these to get your group interacting.
You can learn a lot about people from listening and observing them talk about topics that do not normally come up at work (or other places.) Read more
The economy has been in a slump. Budgets are tight, and usually the first things to go are retreats, outside training, and staff development. However, in my opinion, those things need to stay as top priorities in the budget, and here are 5 reasons why. Read more
Communication is tough. It is one of the hardest things to consistently do so that everyone feels a part of the team and no one gets left behind. It is also one of the most important characteristics of a healthy and thriving team.
Here’s a simple, 4-step plan to develop an effective communication plan for your team. Read more
Welcome back to Team Building Tuesday, young master! Last week you learned some of what it takes to become a team building Jedi master. We will continue your training today – are you ready? You must not lose focus. You must continue to press on and complete your training. Don’t turn back now! Let’s begin. Read more
I have used experiential learning activities with groups for a long time, and they are some of my favorite activities to use with groups. These do not necessarily have to be done on a ropes course; although, they can be. They can be done indoors or outdoors, with no equipment or some equipment, and are very effective at getting groups to collaborate, communicate, problem-solve, and get motivated.
These are just a few reasons why you should begin to incorporate experiential learning activities in your team meetings, events, conferences, and just about any other place you can fit them in. Besides being fun, they provide a necessary break from the mundane meetings and information-overload conferences that so many people tend to put on. Put a little spice in your team by trying some experiential learning activities.
Reason #1: Boost your team’s motivation
Get out of the hum drum lecture-style leadership trainings and give your team something to get excited about. Experiential learning involves students in the process of discovering more about themselves and their teammates by participating in high-touch exercises. These activities can be fun and high energy, but can also be very intense.
I’ve seen a lot of excitement, laughs, and appreciation of team members who have been able to learn more about leadership, communication, and much more. This kind of training can get your team that extra boost of motivation it needs.
Reason #2: Accelerate your group’s trust
Most people have heard of trust falls and other activities that can give the heeby-jeebies to anyone with trust or boundary issues. However, there are ways to increase trust without having to fall off a park bench into the waiting arms of your hopefully-attentive team mates.
Experiential activities can be adjusted to address just about any team issue and work to resolve it through highly participatory activities. Trust is one of those. There are numerous challenges and activities that can help increase a group’s trust. Also, as teams engage together and work towards a common solution (even if the activity isn’t specifically a trust-oriented activity) the group’s trust will increase.
Reason #3: Hone your group’s communication skills
Team building activities and experiential learning exercises are great to work on team communication skills. Many of the challenges require an efficient style of communication (planning, preparing, engaging, and problem-solving) to complete successfully.
There are also ways to modify challenges to make your team work even harder at refining their communication skills. You can give certain team members special challenges (i.e., losing the ability to speak) to make other members of the group take on those communication roles.
Reason #4: Create “a-ha” moments for your team members
One of the things I love most about experiential activities is that it can create moments of revelation for your team. Sometimes those moments happen during the activity. More often, those moments occur after the activity is over – either during the debriefing time or even after the event or activity is over and the person is back in their everyday routine.
These types of activities allow for these “a-ha” moments as team members work together to accomplish challenges in an environment that allows for and encourages creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to relate it back to everyday life.
Reason #5: Increase your team performance
If you’ve accomplished reasons one through four, then chances are your team will be able to increase their performance. If a team trusts each other, communicates more effectively, is more motivated, and knows certain issues that they need to work on, their performance will continue to improve.
Experiential learning activities can do all of this and more. There are numerous other benefits that are not mentioned here. They are an effective way to get your team engaged beyond normal trainings and conferences. If you’d like to learn more about these kinds of activities, and how Lead by Adventure can work with you, contact us here.
What experiential learning activities has your team used? What have you seen that is effective? Talk to me, Goose! Share in the comments below.
In the previous two weeks, we have discussed the process for choosing team building activities for your team and how to go about it the best way. When many people consider these kinds of activities, there is little thought that goes into the process of choosing these kinds of exercises.
Activities are chosen based on whether or not they seem like fun or if they group will “like” the activity. This is the wrong way to choose these events, especially if you want to move your team forward and really challenge them to work together better, communicate more effectively, and increase the team’s productivity.
Throughout Part 1 and Part 2, I hope that you see the benefit in taking time and being intentional when it comes to choosing the best team building activities for your team. In part one of this series, we talked about the different kinds of team building exercises that exist and how each of them are typically used.
In part two, we discussed evaluating your team, looking at their strengths and weaknesses before doing anything, and then setting goals for your team based on their strong areas and areas that need work. There are specific
Step #3: Choose Appropriate Activities
Now that you have an understanding of the different types of team challenges you can choose from, and how to think about those activities in light of your team goals, now you can begin to choose the appropriate activities for your day(s).
This will take a little bit of research and some time. You want to choose the activity (or activities) that will best bring out the issue you want to work on.
Your team needs to work on communication issues. They communicate well with their own groups, but when it comes to communicating between teams, that’s where the breakdown occurs. You want to teach your team that communication is critical and there are multiple paths of communication.
You tweak an activity so that the group cannot talk while completing it and must remain silent during the entire challenge. They have to come up with alternative ways to communicate to complete the activity.
You have a couple of strong personalities on your team that are keeping other people from taking on leadership roles. These quieter team mates may try to step up, but typically get run over.
You know they have good ideas and want to encourage them to step up more and also convince the outspoken leaders that they are not the only ones with great ideas and leadership capabilities. You tweak an activity that puts a “handicap” on the outspoken team members so that others will be forced to lead out.
Step #4: Outline the Event
After you have evaluated your team, set your goals, and selected your activities, you want to outline the event. The best way to use these kinds of experiential activities is in a way that builds on each other. Icebreaker activities are usually done first, building your way up to more difficult team and individual challenges. Problem-solving and survival scenarios can be used as breaks from some of the more intense team challenges.
It’s always better to plan too many activities than too few. If some of the activities go shorter than expected, then you have more to pull from, and if some run long, then you can save the ones not used for another time. This is not the time to run out of things to do! It’s better to keep the momentum going and the group engaged.
Plan for plenty of time for each activity. You probably want to schedule at least 20-30 minutes for each icebreaker activity, 30-45 minutes for group initiatives, and 45-60 minutes for more intense team challenges.
You also want to plan plenty of time to debrief and process each activity after the team has completed them. Depending on the activity and desired area of focus (communication, problem-solving, leadership skills, etc.), you may want to take longer to debrief and hone in on those specific problem areas.
There are multiple ways to debrief a group, and that is a post we’ll save for another time. There are creative ways to process an experience, as well as traditional ways. If you want to go the more traditional route and need some ideas for debriefing questions, here are a few debrief questions you can ask:
As you went through completing the activity, what are some things that worked for your group?
What didn’t work?
What is something you would change if you could go back and do it over again?
What did you learn about your team mates or yourself during this activity?
What communication strategies did you concentrate on throughout this challenge?
Did everyone feel that your ideas were heard and acknowledged?
I hope this gives you an idea about the time and effort it takes to truly make a team building event be all that it can be. Whether it’s a partial-day or multi-day event, use these suggestions to choose the best activities for your team and help grow them to the next level.
Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
What other suggestions do you have for choosing team building activities? What has worked for you and your team in the past?
Last Thursday, we talked about the definition of authentic leadership, as well as looked at why some leaders shy away from authenticity in Part 1. Today, I want to talk about authenticity as a leadership tool, and why it is so powerful.
The Power of Authenticity
What is the power behind authenticity? What are the results of a leader who is authentic and works to build his authenticity? Here are several key by-products of a leader pursuing authenticity.
“To be nobody but myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else-means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting.” E. E. Cummings
Authenticity creates trust
Trust is a key component in any team. Millennials tend to trust leaders who are authentic over leaders who are not. The younger generation is very adept at telling the difference between the two kinds of leaders. They are quick to discern the false from the true.
People who keep their thoughts, feelings, and personal lives close to their vest are hard to get to know, at best, and, at worst, can be intimidating. These kinds of attitudes don’t build trust, and worst-case scenario can breed an atmosphere akin to walking on eggshells.
Authenticity gives others permission
Being authentic gives others permission to be authentic as well. As the leader goes, so goes the team. When the leader gives off an air of authenticity, you are likely to find a team who is more authentic as well.
This is an area that is “caught” be example more then “taught”. As others see you being authentic, they feel the freedom to do the same. People (I believe) naturally want to be free to be themselves. Authenticity produces trust (above) and also prevents walls from building up among team members and serves to break down walls that have already been raised, which is the next by-product of being authentic.
Authenticity breaks down walls
When you are genuine and allow others to be genuine around you, it creates an environment that a.) prevents barriers from forming between you and team members, and b.) begins to break down walls that were there to begin with.
Authentic leadership strives to keep the channels of communication open between leadership and team members and among team members themselves. People know and feel the level of authenticity and acceptance in a team and typically adjust their level of openness accordingly.
Authenticity is what gives us freedom to be ourselves and be comfortable with who we are, and it’s also what gives us access to connecting with other people in a meaningful and genuine way. – Mike Robbins
Now that we’ve discovered the “why” behind a lack of authenticity from leaders and the power of being authentic as a leader, let’s turn to some ways that you can be more authentic as a leader. These are things that will take practice and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone but well worth the effort.
Next week, we will finish this series on Why Authenticity is a Powerful Leadership Tool in the third and final post in this series.
Image credit: Bigstock Photo, kbuntu