Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Month: January 2020

“Why are team-building activities conducted?” – An answer to a Quora Post

This question was asked in Quora, where I posted up a response. Your thoughts?

The Big Answer is “organizational improvement.” That can take the focus on improving collaboration to impact innovation or creativity or customer service or similar. It can take the focus of re-aligning (or aligning, even) people toward shared goals and objectives, missions and visions and that sort of thing. And different events can help people focus on optimizing performance results.

In many organizations, “interdepartmental collaboration” is an oxymoron, in that the objectives of different groups within an organization are often adversarial, since they tend to have opposing or at least different goals and objectives, measurements and rewards.

A well-designed team BUILDING initiative can accomplish a lot, and get people moving in the same direction. It is NOT the solution, though, since there are lots of cultural issues that might need to be addressed. In most organizations, there are good individual rewards for good performance, which do not generally drive collaboration, communications and teamwork.

Team BUILDING is also quite different than team BONDING. You can build bonds by going out drinking together or to a strip club (I jest, but one does see such events posted in Twitter with a hashtag of #teambuilding!) or by having fun events and get-togethers. You would be hard-pressed to find those things having any impact on measurable results, however.

A good team building exercise with a good supporting framework for post-event improvement can do a lot to impact motivation and results. Check out, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” to see one example of how an event can be structured for organizational improvement.

My thought was to share a simple framework around the goals of accomplishing some real team building around shared missions, visions, goals and behavior. Increasing collaboration between departments is a very high impact behavior that can be accomplished.

A focus on improving teamwork and better aligning people in organizations to shared goals and missions has many positive impacts. After all, the goal should be, “To mine as much gold as WE can!”

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products like Square Wheels®.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful effective learning tools.

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 

How do I generate new and improved outcomes in meetings?

Yesterday, I answered a Quora question about effective workplace team building activities and how to best impact people and performance. Today, I was asked to respond to the above question, so I thought to share those simple thoughts herein, also.

How DO you generate better innovation in meetings? Here is what I said:

Dilbert said, “Change is good. You go first.”

And that seems to be one of the critical issues in getting new things thought of and good ideas implemented. Push people to think out of the box and look at issues and opportunities from different perspectives than usual. Lots of different ways to do that or tools you can use to push divergent thinking or alternative generation. (My Square Wheels® images represent one way to facilitate this.)

But also keep in mind that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car” and that the feeling of ownership is a critical factor if you intend to generate commitment and drive teamwork and implementation. The issue of implementation can get complicated as well as political, but building good expectations and setting up feedback / measurement systems.

Different people will see things differently, so facilitating a discussion where different alternatives are discussed is important. Note that some people will immediately jump to The Answer and even do Godzilla Meets Bambi on other people’s ideas, so having some kind of voting process is useful. Again, all sorts of different ways to accomplish that.

(Side note: Godzilla Meets Bambi is a short video I produced 10 years ago that is about these same kinds of issues and the reality of what can happen if desired outcomes do not align with organizational realities. You can see that short animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOZk6UOii6M

Having someone play Devil’s Advocate as an assigned / shifting role can also be useful to unsure that ideas are viewed from different perspectives. Sometimes it is just too easy for people to go along with an idea without due diligence.

And deciding on “Expected Next Steps” and timelines is useful. The clearer The Path, the less confusion and the more buy-in. Minimize surprise. Generate a clear picture of doing something new or, “morebetterfaster*” than you are currently doing things. Make the vision of the future more attractive, rather than threatening.

There is no silver bullet. It is all about ideation, buy-in, planning and execution. Be sure there are sufficient resources (time, money, leadership) to give people the feeling that the new initiative can be successful. (And note that it often takes YEARS to change organizational cultures!)

 

So, I hope that you found this short overview and response to be of some value. You can find the Quora post with other replies here.

* Tom Peters is thought to have said, “It’s really simple. If we are not getting more better faster than they are getting more better faster, than we’re getting less better or more worse.” (article here)

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products like Square Wheels®.
Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful effective learning tools.

See the powerful new teambuilding game, Seven Seas Quest, Saviors of Cultura

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at www.poemsontheworkplace.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

What are examples of team building exercises that actually work?

I was asked the above question today in Quora and I shared what I thought was a simple response:

“It is NOT “the exercise” but The Debriefing.

Spending some time playing a game or doing some kind of group activity will change nothing because people will generally not reflect on their activity in any way that will set up the cognitive dissonance needed to change behavior. Sure, fun is fun, and the fun can set up a positive memory. And if the exercise is collaborative, then maybe some bonding and trust improvement might result.

I would suggest you evaluate any activity from the perspective of how it might generate solid discussions. If the activity is for collaboration but teams choose to compete rather than work together, can you neatly link those things together in the context of organizational improvement?

If the goal is, for example, “to mine as much gold as we can,” do the teams work together to optimize overall results to accomplish the overall mission, or do they choose to “win?” And, do their choices designed to win actually reduce the successes of other teams?

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” is one such example of a business simulation that has clear metaphors about teamwork and clear, measurable processes to allow for solid discussions about things people and teams can choose to do differently. (Disclosure: My game, sold worldwide for 25+ years.)

There are a few other exercises / simulations out there that allow for good discussions. The role of the session facilitator is critical and the exercise should provide them with solid tools to generate discussions and followup. Little change should be expected from some interactive activity with little discussion and no followup.”

 

The person asking the question responded as I thought he might because of the nature of the question. He said, Thanks Scott! This is helpful and you’ve helped me identify a problem with team building exercises I’ve previously been a participant in. They’ve often lacked a debriefing or meaningful discussion of any kind.”

This is actually a very common thought from participants who go through team bonding or even some programs said to be team building. There is a goal of getting through the activity but not a focus on discussing what could be done morebetterfaster or what changes might be implemented.

What are YOUR thoughts on his question? You can respond to that herein or back on the Quora discussion you can find here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-team-building-exercises-that-actually-work

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman – “The Square Wheels Guy!
     Performance Management Company
3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC 29687 USA
864-292-8700

www.PerformanceManagementCompany.com

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