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Why Challenge-Based Team Building Works

The primary goal of team building is to help a group of people to willingly support each other in order to reach a common goal. This takes well developed teamwork skills, common purpose and personal bonding. The power of challenge-based team building is that it enhances all three at the same time.

Teamwork Skills

Our programs create challenges that require groups to come together, using everyone’s skills and efforts to accomplish the task. They must communicate ideas, share leadership and give each other feedback. The real value of this is that the way we deal with these challenges is the way we deal with workplace challenges. If we have areas where we need new tools for success, we find out before they’re exposed under pressure on the job. These lessons are learned at a deep level, and applied immediately, making them endure in the real world.

Common Purpose

The only way a team can reach a common goal is for everyone to know what that goal is, and to pull together to reach it. Team members discover that even if they don’t totally agree with a goal, it’s better for the team, and them individually, to support the common objective. Often the strongest sense of purpose comes from being committed to each other’s success.

Personal Bonding

We bond with people for one of three reasons: they are people we have been through good times with; they are people we have been through hard times with; they are people we share a vision with. Challenge-based training creates an environment where people get to do all three! We make the events fun and exciting so that people will talk about them for years to come. We make them challenging so that people will reach out of their comfort zones and stretch themselves. And, we help your team rededicate themselves to the team goal by creating situations where they must fully trust and rely on each other to be successful.

See how well the challenge-based approach to team building can work for your group.

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Your Importance to Your Corporate Team

Fostering teamwork is a top priority for many leaders, according to Suzanne Willis Zoglio, Ph.D., the author of Teams At Work: 7 Keys to Success, The Participative Leader. There are obvious benefits: increased productivity, improved customer service, more flexible systems and employee empowerment.

A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. Generally, the objectives that a team sets out to accomplish can’t be effectively achieved by individuals. Think of it this way: TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More.

Within a business, every employee serves as a crucial member of the company’s team. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, you add intrinsic value to your organization through your strengths, talents, gifts and other assets.

Some companies are taking a more impersonal approach to evaluating the assets of prospective and current employees. They employ high-tech data mining programs or personality tests to “crunch” information about employees’ skills, qualifications, experiences, workload and performance to assess their integrity, loyalty and satisfaction. Or, job candidates are being analyzed to predict their potential fit within the company’s culture. This non-personalized approach to evaluation provides a quick, automated way to size up individuals. But it leaves less room for human instinct, which can be an important barometer of an employees true value.

Realizing Your Own Strengths, Talents and Gifts

Despite what any data mining software may construe, your contributions as an employee form an integral link in the chain of your company’s success. And it’s important to understand the true value that you lend to your corporate team. Whether you’re part of a companywide or smaller work group, you should understand your role and responsibilities as a valued member. Picture yourself as a single, unique Lego building block that can help form a wonderful creation when connected to other pieces. But you have to be willing to add your block to the pile, so others can build on it to produce a masterpiece.

It works the same way with our skills and talents. All of us have different abilities and unique perspectives that can be instrumental in solving complex problems. For example, if you’re an excellent organizer and coordinator, you should be open to using these skills to produce a smooth work flow within your department or project work group.

At the same time, you should acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of other members of your team. Rather than hinder, try to help teammates employ their skills to the fullest. No one person knows and can do everything. Think of these quotes relating to teamwork:

  • “Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford
  • “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin
  • “If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.” Thomas Edison, when asked why he had a team of twenty-one assistants
  • “The strength of the team is each individual member…the strength of each member is the team.” Coach Phil Jackson – Chicago Bulls
  • “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard

How To Help Build A Winning Team

So how do you help build an effective team that contributes to a positive, successful work environment? Here are four tips to help you:

  • Contribute. Everyone is responsible for the success of their team. At group meetings, for example, be an active participant who contributes valuable content. If you’re not familiar with the discussion topic, silently observe the team’s process and find ways to facilitate its progress.
  • Communicate. Good communication is essential to success in the workplace. We’ve all had experiences of hearing the wrong message, assuming incorrectly, misinterpreting others’ behaviors and feeling offended. That’s why it’s important to use clear communication, as well as active listening skills with fellow team members. Don’t just seek to be understood, but also seek to understand.
  • Be Committed. Commitment equals buy-in. A good work team needs to agree on and believe in its basic purpose – its mission or reason for existing. Work teams that have clarity of purpose can easily visualize their connection to organizational success. With strong commitment to move toward the same goal, the team creates a synergy – a force that is greater than the combined energy of its individual members.
  • Be Supportive. Good work teams are like close-knit families. They require acceptance, nurturing, patience and support. They won’t always agree and often need to compromise their personal preferences to achieve the best results. Effective work teams need continued support and feedback to stay focused and to feel good about what they are doing. For a team to reach its full potential, members must be able to share their thoughts and ideas, and to see that these are valued and heard.

Copyright 2004, Kate Smalley
Connecticut Secretary
Freelance Administrative and Transcription Services

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Ten Qualities of an Effective Team Player

Adapted from “Managing Teams For Dummies”

If you had the opportunity to start a new team and select anyone from your organization to be on it, who would you pick? Assuming that people have the right technical skills for the work to be done, what other factors would you use to select your team members? Teams need strong team players to perform well. But what defines such people? Read on.

Demonstrates Reliability

You can count on a reliable team member who gets work done and does his fair share to work hard and meet commitments. He or she follows through on assignments. Consistency is key. You can count on him or her to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

Communicates Constructively

Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others and for the work of the team. That’s what it means to communicate constructively. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible – in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

Listens actively

Good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Teams need team players who can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people without debating and arguing every point. Such a team member also can receive criticism without reacting defensively. Most important, for effective communication and problem solving, team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second so that meaningful dialogue results.

Functions as an active participant

Good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They’re fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines. Team members who function as active participants take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments. Their whole approach is can-do: “What contribution can I make to help the team achieve success?”

Shares openly and willingly

Good team players share. They’re willing to share information, knowledge, and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members informed. Much of the communication within teams takes place informally. Beyond discussion at organized meetings, team members need to feel comfortable talking with one another and passing along important news and information day-to-day. Good team players are active in this informal sharing. They keep other team members in the loop with information and expertise that helps get the job done and prevents surprises.

Cooperates and pitches in to help

Cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. Effective team players work this way by second nature. Good team players, despite differences they may have with other team members concerning style and perspective, figure out ways to work together to solve problems and get work done. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.

Exhibits flexibility

Teams often deal with changing conditions — and often create changes themselves. Good team players roll with the punches; they adapt to ever-changing situations. They don’t complain or get stressed out because something new is being tried or some new direction is being set. In addition, a flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed. He or she doesn’t hold rigidly to a point of view and argue it to death, especially when the team needs to move forward to make a decision or get something done. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer — flexibility at its best.

Works as a problem-solver

Teams, of course, deal with problems. Sometimes, it appears, that’s the whole reason why a team is created — to address problems. Good team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner. They’re problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers, problem-blamers, or problem-avoiders. They don’t simply rehash a problem the way problem-dwellers do. They don’t look for others to fault, as the blamers do. And they don’t put off dealing with issues, the way avoiders do. Team players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans.

Treats others in a respectful and supportive manner

Team players treat fellow team members with courtesy and consideration — not just some of the time but consistently. In addition, they show understanding and the appropriate support of other team members to help get the job done. They don’t place conditions on when they’ll provide assistance, when they’ll choose to listen, and when they’ll share information. Good team players also have a sense of humor and know how to have fun (and all teams can use a bit of both), but they don’t have fun at someone else’s expense. Quite simply, effective team players deal with other people in a professional manner.

Shows committment to the team

Strong team players care about their work, the team, and the team’s work. They show up every day with this care and commitment up front. They want to give a good effort, and they want other team members to do the same.

Team players who show commitment don’t come in any particular style or personality. They don’t need to be rah-rah, cheerleader types. In fact, they may even be soft-spoken, but they aren’t passive. They care about what the team is doing and they contribute to its success — without needing a push.

Team players with commitment look beyond their own piece of the work and care about the team’s overall work. In the end, their commitment is about winning — not in the sports sense of beating your opponent but about seeing the team succeed and knowing they have contributed to this success. Winning as a team is one of the great motivators of employee performance. Good team players have and show this motivation.

Copyright 2005, Kate Smalley
Connecticut Secretary
Freelance Administrative and Transcription Services

Atlanta Challenge can help bring these team player traits out in your employees.

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How Team Building Helps Improve the Bottom Line

Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness. They work best with mutual trust and a common commitment to goals. Teams are more effective than individuals because they have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility. Research throughout the last decade has shown the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in the group. The exception to the rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

Successful teams must work together wholeheartedly, not just apply the principles of effective task processes. Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identified three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness. They are: trust among members, a sense of group identity and a sense of group efficacy. Group identity is the feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. Group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

20 to 30 percent of business performance depends on people feeling good about working at a company, according to Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002). The link between climate and business performance has been reaffirmed by new research that spans a range of industries. For every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. Workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers, both internal and external, and therefore improve the bottom line.

Atlanta Challenge’s experiential team building and corporate training workshops can give your company the following benefits:

  • Boost employee morale
  • Improve communications skills
  • Develop conflict resolution skills
  • Have fun together
  • Enhance creative problem solving
  • Help teams work together more effectively
  • Develop management’s leadership skills
  • Increase team efficiency
  • Help employees get to know one another better
  • Get your group motivated and energized towards company goals.
  • Improve customer service through better understanding of customers.
  • Improve sales by understanding how to communicate with customers.

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Event Planning Tips

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Event planning can turn even the most capable person into a ball of nerves. But if you’ve been selected to plan your company’s next holiday party, awards banquet or open house, relax. Our helpful tips can make the process go more smoothly and successfully.

Initial Considerations

First, consider how you want your event to look and feel. Think about: What kind of event are you holding? Who will attend? What is the reason for the event or celebration? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you have specific goals or outcomes that you expect? Keep in mind that your event should generate goodwill, excitement and enthusiasm about your company. You should use it to grow your business and as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with employees and your clients and customers.

Planning Your Event

Once you’ve defined the basic parameters, then you’re ready to proceed with planning.

  • Make a checklist – Create a checklist to provide a step-by-step guide to organizing and executing a special event.
  • Develop a budget – This will provide you with a financial “blueprint” for the event. The budget should be specific, and include revenue opportunities (sponsorship, ticket sales, donations, etc.) as well as expenses such as printing, permits, insurance, speakers, food, supplies and security.
    Maintain good records, keeping track of all income and expenses. Also, expect the unexpected, extra expenses will come up — so plan ahead.
  • Schedule facilities – The location and site of your event is critical for success. Selecting a site is more than just finding out what rooms are available. There are many factors to consider, including room capacity, whether you’re having an in/outdoor event, if there are special needs for ramps/elevators, if you’ll need a podium, stage or special equipment, and how many tables and chairs will be necessary for guests.
  • Have plenty of food and drinks – What kind of food will you serve? Lunch? Snack foods? Dinner? Buffet? Sit down? What kind of beverages will be available? Will they be served in a can, punch bowl, or some other way? If you intend to serve alcohol, ensure plenty of designated drivers are available to transport those who may be unable to drive home.
  • Plan publicity/marketing – Great publicity and marketing are the key to a successful event. There are many different methods you can use to get the word out about your program. Determine who you want to attend and then target your advertising accordingly. Consider supplementing paid advertising with inexpensive fliers, handouts, email messages and word-of-mouth.
  • Book a speaker/entertainer/activity facilitator – Consider the following factors if you are planning a speaker, entertainment, or facilitator for an event: Who is the agent/manager for the speaker/entertainment? Does the speaker/entertainment appeal to a broad audience? How many people are expected to attend? Does the speaker/entertainment have special technical requirements for their presentation? Does the
    artist/entertainment require hotel or transportation arrangements?
  • Arrange for parking – If you’re expecting a large number of guests, ensure there is ample parking. The parking you select should be easily accessible to the location of the event. If you have delivery trucks, caterers or special equipment being brought to the event, you will need to make sure everyone knows the best location for unloading.
  • Evaluate the event – One of the most ignored, yet important, elements of project planning is evaluation. If you want to determine how successful an event is, you’ll need to collect feedback from participants. Create an evaluation form to hand out (and, if possible, collect) at the end of the event. To encourage participation, your evaluation form should be anonymous and short.
  • Make reflections – Once your event is over, take time to reflect back on it. Also consider the entire planning process and the feedback provided on the evaluation forms. Reflecting back will help you improve the event for the next time. Regardless of the type of event you’re planning, make sure it’s meaningful and celebrates your company in a uniquely positive way. This will make your event an affair that is truly a successful business bash!

Copyright 2005, Kate Smalley
Connecticut Secretary
Freelance Administrative and Transcription Services

Instantly download team building rates & activity descriptions.

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