Ah, my young padawan.  You are interested in becoming a team building master, no?  There are several key elements in which you must become proficient before you are ready.  But, don’t fear, you have come to the right place.  Once you are skilled in these, you will be on your way to become a Jedi master of team building!

There are 5 areas that you must master before reaching this level:

– Mastering the force of group dynamics

– Freeing the team from distractions

– Leading through the challenges like a master

– Finding your courage in group engagement

– The Jedi way of debriefing

1. Use the force, Luke!

Working with teams can be difficult.  Are you sure you’re up for the challenge?  There are many dynamics to working with teams, and this work requires a certain finesse.  It’s not that these things are impossible to learn, but some of the ways are difficult to teach and are more caught rather than taught.

Group dynamics involve different personalities, different challenges, aspects of leadership development, counseling, facilitating, coaching, and becoming a master listener and sage.  It might seem impossible to become a master of all of these, but, like anything, it takes time and experience to learn.  It won’t happen in an instant, and it won’t happen in isolation.

I believe there is also a group intuition that needs to be developed, a ‘sixth sense’ that enables you to listen to things and see things that aren’t obvious to the untrained eye and ear.  It’s a special kind of knowing that discovers:

– What the group really needs vs. what they say they need

– What individuals in the group are really struggling

– What issues you need to address and when

– What questions must be asked to uncover the above

– When it is time to stop an activity that is unfinished or to finish an activity though it might be running long

2. Free the team from distractions

In order to free the team from distractions, you must be prepared, know the elements and timing of each exercise, and lead the team through the challenges and the debrief process skillfully.

Being prepared involves a number of things:

Knowing the activities you are doing and their order

– Having back-up activities planned just in case (activities can take much shorter than expected at times)

– Knowing the set-up, intro, and content for each activity

– Knowing the kinds of debrief processes that you will use and the kinds of processing questions that you will ask

To master this area, requires preparation but also practice.  At first, it might be difficult to free the team from every distraction, but in time, it will come more naturally and you will learn to perceive possible distractions before they even enter the picture.

3.  Leading through the challenges like a master

Leading team building activities can seem fairly simple; however, there are a lot of nuances to each activity and merely leading an activity without a specific purpose in mind and without connecting it to day-to-day issues can leave the group feeling a bit deflated, though it may be fun.

To be able to lead like a Jedi master, you must first keep the end in mind.  What purpose will this activity serve for this team?  What are the overall team goals for their team building event and how does this activity fit into both the larger picture and how will it lead the team members to an “a-ha” moment?

How will you set up the challenge to answer the above questions?  Knowing how you will set it up and how you will lead through the activity will help the group to see the purpose and the meaning behind it.  Without these, it might just turn into another fun team building day with no connection back to team concerns.

A lot of those moments will come in the struggle of the activity itself, as well as in the debrief process.

The last two areas will be covered in the next post, How to Become a Team Building Jedi Master, Saga II. Don’t leave your training now, young Jedi.  Continue your training here.  

Photo credit Flickr Photos, Pascal

What area do you need to work on to become a Team Building Jedi Master?  Tell me, my young padawan, in the comments below.