What is ‘Team Building’?

The definition of team building. First, we need to define ‘team’.  A team is ‘a group of interdependent people attempting to achieve a common goal’. Key words here are ‘interdependent’ and ‘common’. So – if you have a group of people who do not fit the definition of ‘team’, then no matter what you do you are NOT team building.  Use a different word or phrase for what you are doing: team bonding having fun blowing off steam morale building morale boosting collaboration meetup If your people are NOT a team and you use the phrase ‘team building’, you will[…]Read More…

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A Glorious Disaster

My recent Glorious Disaster I walked into a leadership team workout for a Fortune 100 company this week and was absolutely shocked with the mindset of the people in the room. I knew that these were very smart people in a successful company with each of them responsible for departments with budgets into the tens of millions. Yet, the attitude was clear as I began, “Go ahead, lets’ see if you can teach me something.”  As we covered guidelines and expectations, arms were folded and a snide comment emerged, “So, are we going to fall into each others arms today?”[…]Read More…

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Workshop Leader Nightmare

Anyone who leads workshops or provides training will relate to this recent nightmare of mine.  I literally had a dream about it last night and just had to share it... Last November I had the opportunity to provide our Mindset of a Legend training to 25 HR executives from GE.  This is, quite frankly, the opportunity of a lifetime. If these HR folks liked it, we would be able to provide mindset training to thousands and even TENS of thousands of smart people. So, major pressure but I was definitely up to it. Until I walked in the room... GE[...]Read More...
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What is a Fun Outdoor Team Activity We Can Run Ourselves?

Question: We are an Employment Services Company, a close knit team of 23 already but looking for outdoors (as we live by the sea), something fun we can do all together.  EG: last year we did Minute to Win IT. Any ideas you have would be great.   Answer: Fun, learning and meaning can all exist together.   I have been thinking about this and I would suggest finding something community based is usually the next step.  Make it fun and meaningful at the same time. Community Clean Up An easy example of community based activity – you are near[…]Read More…

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Activity Involving Sacrifice

Question from Allen: I have a group of 40 and about 30 minutes.  I need an activity to get across the idea of sacrifice. So any game where the main strategy to win or succeed involves sacrifice. Answer: This might be worth a conversation as it really depends upon what kind of sacrifice you are considering. Win Win Win is a great activity that actually sacrifices competition for the sake of the entire group.  Also, you have to sacrifice your groups agenda and plan in order to create greater success.  This would work really well with your 5 teams of[…]Read More…

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Story of Two Dogs

The Story of Two Dogs is a great parable to give as a handout, put in a binder read or tell as a story to participants at the very beginning of the day. This parable will help them do a quick self-check about their attitude and make a conscious choice about how they will spend the time and whether anything good will come of it. There is a story they tell of two dogs. Both dogs, at separate times, walk into the same room. One comes out wagging his tail while the other comes out growling. A woman watching this[...]Read More...
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Culinary Team Building

Corporate team building activities vary widely, some good and some ridiculous. A ‘hot new trend’ in corporate team building has been using cooking as the activity. Does it work? The answer to that lies in how it is facilitated. There is an inherent value in the activity because you are working on one of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — the bottom of the triangle, Hunger. Now, we are not talking about the kind of hunger we witness on TV that is happening around the world with starving children, obviously. And yet, making meals and eating together deals with one of[…]Read More…

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Authenticity?

Recently I ran across a very interesting question: Authenticity — what does it mean to you? Do you believe it exists as a central core characteristic? Is it a construct of the modern management environment? Does it have a relevance or should we be more concerned about commercial metrics, performance and the like? Neil, I think authenticity is completely neutral. It is neither good nor bad Being ‘authentic’ is a positive character trait, although we may not like the authentic behavior we see in others or ourselves. What does that mean? Too often in management and leadership today we see[…]Read More…

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5 Whys Activity

Below is an excerpt from 'Discover Your Inner Strength', which I wrote with Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and Brian Tracy. This is an example of how you can use the 5 Whys to discover your core purpose, but you could use the the same tool to discover just about anything: Excerpt The activity is designed to help you discover your core motivation in life as well as examine your behavior. The 5 Whys was created by Sakichi Toyoda and made popular by Toyota as a way to determine root causes in the manufacturing methodologies.  The 5 Whys are now used[...]Read More...
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Leadership Quotes

The leadership quotes we find most useful, not as memes, but in our workshops and facilitation: [twocol_one]”To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt [hr] “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt [hr] People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. John Maxwell [hr] “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  John[…]Read More…

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Handouts and Downloads

Facilitator Resources Debrief Handouts Group Work 96.82 KB Please login to download   Debrief Handout 82.64 KB Please login to download Content Individual & Group Loop 128.71 KB Please login to download Activity Setup Peer Introductions 88.03 KB Please login to download   Editable Full Value Contract 511.74 KB   Full Value Contract 109.62 KB Please login to download Books Discover Your Inner Strength 431.77 KB Please login to download   Roadmap to Success 1.07 MB Please login to download Techniques 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Facilitating 3.25 MB Please login to download ALL Individual Activities Alphabet Soup 2013 Instructions[...]Read More...
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Awareness Test

Watch the video, then read below. If you have already seen the video, read below. Some of the people in your group will have seen this video already. Don’t worry if they have. One of the most amazing realities is that once you have seen it, you can NEVER unsee it. That is what it is like when you see the best in the someone or a situation, you can never unsee it. At least, that is what we would like, right? But relationships are not that way. What can we do to continually see the best?

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Preparing the Group

Preparing the group for a great experience takes some planning and preparation. They will be walking into the room with all kinds of baggage: Will we have to role-play? How many phone calls am I going to miss? Is this going to be boring? Traffic is going to be hell going home tonight!  When are we getting out of here? I have so much work to do, I don’t have time for this. Here we go again… How many times are we going to cover the same crap? How much more stuff can I make up? There are many different[…]Read More…

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Group Work Debrief

This is a great tool to use in the beginning to help create a learning debrief, especially for new facilitators, to help provide some structure to the debrief. Have them fill out individually before group debrief. Three ways that we helped each other to complete the activity were: Three areas we could have worked together better to achieve greater results: The single greatest asset our group had was: The single greatest challenge our group had was: How does this difficulty represent itself at work? To resolve the difficulty at work, I could: [hr] What are some success with debriefing tools[…]Read More…

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Front Loading

Front-loading an experience is making clear the purpose of an activity, session, workshop, retreat or meeting prior to actually doing it.   If participants clearly understand the purpose or lesson upfront, that topic will repeatedly show itself during the action component and potentially make it easier to identify during dialogue or discussion. Front-loading can include a wide range of tools.  Below are a few: how you set up the activity, content you provide immediately prior, essentially ‘priming’ them to spot that topic a Full Value Contract, the goals for the activity  Peer Introductions having the group read a book on topic, which[…]Read More…

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Raising the Collective Bar

  Take a moment and think of a large spider web.A spider web is very similar to organizations.  If you are looking directly at it, you will see many different strands connected together in a concentric circle – see left. Now, turn the top edge of the spider web toward you 90 degrees so the web is now horizontal to the floor. Now you are only seeing a single, solid line. This is how many efforts can be seen at work in your organization or group. Your workshop is simply one of many events that occur throughout an employee’s life[…]Read More…

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Full Value Contract

This full value contract asks you to agree to these five commitments as guidelines for group participation. Because I care about myself and my group, I agree to: Work Together: I with my group in order to achieve both my own goals and the goals of the group. I will support the group in achieving our goals. Be Safe, Emotionally and Physically: I will take care of myself and my group’s physical and emotional safety. This includes having a positive attitude, respecting each other, avoiding putdowns, and following directions. Give & Receive Honest Feedback / To Listen: I will tell others what I[…]Read More…

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What if…. someone dominates the debrief?

  What you will See: One person answering most of the questions One person talking excessively. Most participants remaining silent. Likely Causes: The person wanted to show that he or she has the correct answers. Other participants are afraid to differ with the dominant person. The person may dominate the work environment and this is simply reflective of the work environment. How to Prevent it: After the dominant person answers, ask ‘What else?’  This will signal you are looking for alternative possibilities to create discussion. Be patient and wait for additional responses. If you expect one person to dominate, consider[…]Read More…

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What if…. someone gets overly competitive?

  What you will See: Taking the activity too seriously. Bending the rules or cheating. Extreme efforts to win or do better than others. Overly discussing the activity afterward with a focus on strategies and missed opportunities rather than on learning opportunities. Likely Causes: A naturally competitive environment in the workplace like a sales force. Naturally competitive people. Too much focus on the activity from the facilitator. Work environment filled with silos and butt-covering How to Prevent it: Focus the group’s attention on the activity’s purpose and learning goals when introducing it by front-loading the activity. For a naturally competitive[…]Read More…

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What the Beep?!

Weekly Warmup 15 - 20 minute dialogue to focus your people and be better together Mental Warmup Critical thinking and a willingness to explore our behavior is a big part of this warmup.  This makes it fun AND a great warmup.  Spiritual Warmup Challenging WHY we do something may reveal a deep belief or the reality that a long behavior is meaningless. To keep this to only 20 minutes, it is IMPERATIVE you pick something positive. ** NOTE - this is a fantastic longer workout to help you identify behaviors that work for and against you.  The beep is the cue[...]Read More...
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Workshop Leader Nightmare Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about a nightmarish workshop setup I walked into and had to improvise on the spot. You can read about it here if you missed it!   Making lemonade from lemons... I quickly popped in an Altoid, just in case, for the people in front of me, took a deep breath and got started. After a very short introduction and brief about why we were together, I quickly changed the order of my content.  Instead of providing them with key content, I went right into an individual activity called Choices, which shows the value of alignment with the[...]Read More...
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Activity for Group of 20 and Problem Solving

Question: I have a group of 20 and I need an activity for problem solving. Answer: Unfortunately, I need just a little more information to be able to direct you well in this area.  There can be a number of challenges under the umbrella of ‘problem solving: Is this a group or individual problem? If individuals, you might be better coaching them 1:1 instead of using a ‘team’ solution.  Especially if only a few people are having a hard time. If a group, there might be a lack of brainstorming of potential solutions, so really you need a brainstorming activity,[…]Read More…

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Intense Trust Team Building Activity for 10-15 People and a Few Hours

Intense Trust Team Building Activity for 10-15 People and a Few Hours Question: "I need an intense trust primer for 10-15 people (I have not decided who should attend yet) and I have a few hours at my disposal.  What could I do for the group to get them to be able to understand how to repair and deepen trust?" Answer: Trust comes from real vulnerability, not silly activities that poorly mimic 'trust'.  If you want and intense trust session, the trust that people extend MUST be real, not 'put-my-company-hat-on' trust.  That means each person being vulnerable.  A GREAT trust[...]Read More...
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Employee Engagement Starts with Team Building? Actually, no, No NO!

Question: Can you look through the power point presentation we have put together to justify a team building program we are trying to initiate? Answer: I looked through the power point presentations and it appears you are attempting to use team building to increase employee engagement.  Is that right? Using team building as your tool for employee engagement is extremely tricky and is just as likely to backfire and discourage engagement or create disengaged people. Many people use traditional team building expecting greater engagement when that same team building is ridiculed by the ‘team’.  So, before we get into the[…]Read More…

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Communication and Percentages

  Many companies today think that email and mobile phone communications can solve all of their communications problems, but they can’t. In person meetings, conferences and activities work because they are face-to-face, which is essential for all sensitive communications. Professor Albert Mehrabian has pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960’s. He received his Ph.D. from Clark University and in l964 commenced an extended career of teaching and research at the University of California, Los Angeles. He currently devotes his time to research, writing, and consulting as Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA. Aside from his many and various other fascinating[…]Read More…

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Team Building Turns Ugly For School Board

Did you see this article? If not, here is the gist: TAMPA – A Hillsborough School Board training session erupted in accusations, scoldings and door slamming Tuesday as the group met to create a vision for the district. Packed into a tiny conference room at Orange Grove Middle Magnet School, the board and superintendent met with a facilitator from the Florida School Boards Association to keep them focused. The meeting had barely started with a discussion of “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” when the veneer cracked. April Griffin, the newest board member elected in November, said she lacked trust –[…]Read More…

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MBTI as a Team Building Tool

We talk a lot about tools for use in team building. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tools available and used in ‘team building’ situations. Whether it is a true ‘team building’ or not is not relevant here as Myers Briggs is actually an individual tool first. However, a short discussion of tools are necessary before we can talk specifically about Myers Briggs. Think of a shovel — you bring in a shovel and train the participants to use it. Then ask them to dig a hole. A percentage of them will take the shovel and begin to dig.[…]Read More…

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Golden Buddha

The Golden Buddha Story Let me share with you one of my favorite stories: (Even if you’ve heard this one, it never gets old. It truly is a legend, and the reason why it’s so remarkable is that it is 100% true!) Many, many years ago, in 1801 to be exact, the king of Thailand wished to establish Bangkok as the new capital city. He wanted new temples, and he needed statues for them, so he ordered that his men search through the ruins of ancient temples across the land for statues they could bring back to the city. One particular[…]Read More…

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Team Building and Trust Building Quotes

Ways We Use Team Building Quotes: Meetings Having lead dozens of teams through critical, highly visable and stressful projects, I can tell you I am not a big fan of meetings. Some long meetings are necessary, but should be extremely infrequent. However, I LOVE stand-up meetings and 7 to 20 minutes short team huddles.  When run efficiently, these huddles keep the team aligned, create energy and enthusiasm and helps everyone stay connected. A quote can be very helpful to either begin or end the huddle.  You can have a different person pick one Dialogue Pick a quote and use it[...]Read More...
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Statistics in Adult Learning

The more immersed the individual is in the learning process, the greater their ability to retain the skills and lessons learned. While participants only retain about 10% of what they read, their retention jumps to 50% if they are engaged in the discussion and demonstrations. This retention increases even further, to more than 70% if the participant has the opportunity to participate and practice what they learn, and to 90% if they are given the opportunity to experience, reflect, internalize and then share what they have learned. Challenge activities not only involve the participants at a higher level of learning[…]Read More…

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Individual and Group Loop

A balance between group and individual learning is the most exciting process a facilitator can create.  By understanding the process of individual and group development, a facilitator can create an experience to match individual and group needs. Below is a handout for your group, based upon Tuckman’s Model, that may help them understand where they are both individually and as a group in the process. While it is designed as a learning model for you, it is also a method to stimulate conversation with your group. Asking them to define for themselves where they feel they are individually and then[…]Read More…

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Debrief Handout

  Below is a Pie Chart that represents 100% of the entire activity and is broken into 12 separate slices. Please list below the difficult areas that your group faced and shade the areas that correspond to the degree of difficulty. If 6 key areas were identified, assign the slices according to the degree of challenge it poses for your group.  For instance, planning was a challenge for the group, but not a major one, perhaps it only deserves one slice of the pie.  But communication was a serious challenge and deserves 4 slices.  Write the name in the shaded[…]Read More…

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Peer Introductions

  This is a series of questions you can ask people to complete prior to coming together, use as a paired activity in the beginning or simply give them a few minutes in the beginning to ponder and then share. We have used this many times when a group is first forming, in conference settings where people who not know one another yet and even in intact teams who have worked together for some time. Below are the questions: How did I get here? Many people will answer literally – “by airplane, by car, etc”  Decide before you turn them[…]Read More…

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Ideas to Follow Up on Workshops

  Following up on your session is incredibly important to helping participants.  See Raising the Collective Bar about why.  Below are some ideas: Follow up with them with recent articles and personal notes to keep them motivated. Send them the new ground rules established in the workshop, if applicable. If your group is geographically close, post these ground rules everywhere, but just one rule on a sheet of paper so the one idea stands out.  Move them around from time to time. Run a short activity or exercise on a regular basis.  Remember, you are practicing being a ‘team’, or[…]Read More…

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Example of Agreements for Full Value Contracts

  The Full Value Contract was introduced as a setup tool and below are some additional agreements you can use: Be present Pay attention Speak your truth Be open to outcomes Create a safe environment [hr] I will value myself and others. I will behave in a way that keeps myself and others safe. I agree to give and receive feedback and work toward changing my behavior when needed. I agree to work together towards individual and group goals. [hr] Try Hard Play Safe Be Fair [hr] Be here. Be present mentally, physically, emotionally. Be Safe. Create a level of safety so[…]Read More…

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What if…. the debrief gets out of hand?

What you will see:  A gripe session Arguing or fighting Discussion moving off the topic Side bar discussions Likely Causes: Poor questioning from the facilitator Unresolved team issues How to Prevent it: Be careful of using activities when therapy is a more useful and honest solution. Do not use activities when you are seeking to change the behavior of one or two individuals Avoid questions that will put any single person on the spot. Avoid questions (and activities) that pit one individual against another. What to Do… Step in and stop the discussion before more damage is done by asking[…]Read More…

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What if…. participants don’t join the debrief?

  What you will see: Lack of eye contact with you, especially after you ask a question. Minimal one-word responses to your questions Shoulders shrugging Silence Likely Causes: They did not understand your question You haven’t given them enough time to formulate an answer. They fear embarrassment of a ‘wrong’ answer in front of you or your peers. They are angry about something – may be unrelated to the activity. How to Prevent it: Ask questions slowly and with patience. Pause after each question.  This pause may feel like an eternity to you, but it will give participants the time[…]Read More…

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What if… someone does not want to participate?

  What you will see: Rolling eyes: Lack of eye contact with you, or used negative body language Negative comments about the activity or the experience Direct comments they do not want to participate Likely causes: Past experiences that were unproductive or unpleasant Not understanding the purpose or value of what you are doing How to prevent it: Be clear about the purpose Be sure the purpose of the activity is relevant to the group and the challenges of the group What to do: Unless it is critical, don’t make a big deal of it. Remind them this is a[…]Read More…

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