Re: Team Building

Subject: Re: Team Building
From: "Murrell, Thomas" <TMurrell -at- alldata -dot- net>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 08:45:16 -0500

I've continued to follow this thread, and it has continued to amaze me how
universal the dislike of formal Team Building exercises is. My experience
with this list is that generally there are adherents willing to voice their
opinion for any side of an issue raised here. But not for Team Building.
The dislike for the exercises seems pretty much universal (including an
earlier post of my own).

If I might venture an opinion, this dislike is for the artificial events
that seem to be promoted for team building and not for the process of
building teams and teamwork. I get a very strong sense that nearly all of
the negative comments about Team Building also include a recognition of the
need for teamwork within documentation groups and certainly with those
groups of SMEs with whom documentation personnel need to work on a daily
basis. In fact, I would go so far as to say that even as we have been
decrying the artificial Team Building exercise, we have been crying out for
effective team building in our workplaces.

I've been fortunate in my work life to have worked in situations where
teamwork flourished. Where that happened it was never the result of
gimmicks or programs; it was always the result of work by management to
actually build a team environment. In all cases, the managers were the type
of people who took their people as they were. Any molding that was done was
both subtle and sincere. My best managers have been those who seemed to
really care about the people working for them, who gave them the sense that
they were, if not peers, at least valued contributors. These managers asked
questions AND listened to the answers. They accepted negative responses and
tried to work out a plan that would meet as many of the diverse needs of the
group as possible. These were managers who never talked about team or
teamwork but who by example and consistency personified team workers
themselves.

And these managers would do things with their groups outside of work time or
the work place. One had a poker night about once a month. Everyone was
invited; new members of the group were especially invited. But no one was
penalized for not attending. Everyone doesn't like to play poker. However,
this manager would have other activities, from cookouts to stops at a bar to
"throw back a few" all with the effect (and probably the intent) of building
a team. It was never forced or artificial.

I have tried to briefly outline what I think are effective ways of actually
building teams and teamwork. I continue to see that in some managers I work
for or with, but I don't see it in all of them. I also continue to see
"Team Building Exercises" that don't seem to work because they are
artificial and forced.

That's my 2 cents on the topic.

Tom Murrell




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