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The Art of Team Building

As the world changes, it is evident that the most successful companies and organizations are the ones who have excellent teams. Whether or not an organization was set up to make a profit or simply to serve the community, it is the fiber of its team that will make it stand the test of time.

One wonders why some companies succeed and others fail at team building. We may describe a team as a group of individuals who work together in unison to achieve a defined and agreed upon goal. Often, many people start companies together, or work together in one department, without realizing the price for building a team or at the very least, the price for keeping a great team alive. At the core of every team is the human being. You can engineer the best team made of robots and buildings, and that team will not function as effectively as a team with great humans.

We could argue therefore that in order to have a great team, you need to have either great human beings who come together, or mediocre human beings who are willing to be great. Team building has never and will never occur in an environment where greatness is not revered. A few months ago, I was contacted by a company in Lusaka to conduct team building exercises for them. The goal was to ensure that by the time we were done with the exercises, that the team be strong and great. As a life coach, I am always flattered by any call that comes into our company. However, by the time we were done with the conversation, I realized that I may have been dealing with someone who wanted me to conduct a team building exercise for 180 people in one day. How do you train 180 people in less than 14 hours to work together as a team? You cannot effectively do it.

A lot of companies desire their teams to be built but rarely understand what a successful team must look like. Nor do they know what it takes to destroy any communication barriers. Here are a few tips on effective team building.


You cannot have an effective team if the people in that team are not fully developed. Sigmund Freud once said, "People do what they do because they are motivated to do so." There is a reason people do what they do. There is a reason people work in accounting not marketing. Finding out what these reasons are and establishing a way to unify team members is a skill for great team builders. Many companies are in a hurry to impact the bottom line of their businesses without taking the time to understand how staff development affects teams. The formula must always be; people first, everything else follows.


It is common knowledge that our greatest need as human beings is to be appreciated and respected. When people are respected, they will respond favorably to almost anything you ask them to do. There are some supervisors who go around disrespecting their subordinates and still expect the staff to be productive. An old workmate of mine at Barclays used to say, "If they want loyalty, they must get a dog." No one enjoys being ridiculed, ill treated, abused or even maligned. If we could, we all would prefer the front role seat. We all prefer China Wear instead of plastic. Where there is respect, there is potential for a great team.


A football team has midfielders, attackers, and defenders. I am sure there may be other important parts to the puzzle including the goal keeper and the bench. Each team must know what role each person on that team plays to make things happen. By the way, there are some people in certain teams who always want to outshine, outsmart and outwit everyone. Never outperform the team you are a part of. You are only as good or as strong as your team.


It is easy to blame others in a team. In the spirit of true team building, each activity is designed to bring out the best side of each personality so that the team is built from the micro level and not the macro level.


If you need a tooth pulled out, you go to a dentist. If you need a car fixed you go to a mechanic. What if you need a great team built do you go to your brick layer? You go to a Leadership Development Coach (LDC). Get a person who has a proven track record in leadership development. Get someone who understands people and knows how to blend and work with different personalities. After all, in the end, team building is about making personalities work together.


Let me take you back to the call I received from the company with 180 people. I latter realized they wanted to pay me the same amount of money to train 180 people as if I were training two people. That is a mistake a lot of companies make when hiring people to train; they usually want to go cheap. As with doctors and other skilled labor, so it is with hiring a qualified trainer. You may have to dig deep into your pockets to afford the best in the market.

It is also advisable to hire an LDC (Leadership Development Coach) who will plan your next event with you. You may plan a team building event at the poor side. Whereas such a venue may be great for portrait pictures, it may not be that great for a team building event.

May God bless you as you build your team. Remember, a team as only as strong as its people.

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