Teambuilding: mistakes to avoid
In business, knowing what not to do can often be just as important as understanding the correct steps to take in a given situation. Nowhere is this principle more applicable than in the realm of teambuilding. Most leaders understand that strong, dependable teams do not sprout overnight, but what they may not realise is how easy it can be to damage or even destroy the effectiveness of a team.
A matter of priorities
At first glance, an admonition to keep an eye on the ball might be taken to refer to the company’s bottom line. When it comes to teambuilding, however, too much focus on the numbers can actually be counterproductive. Team leaders who have their priorities straight devote their time and attention to the people who make up their team, making sure, for example, that team members have the resources, time, and materials needed to complete their tasks within deadlines.
When this is the case, there is less need to obsess over financials. Successful teams will help to improve the company’s bottom line, but workers perform better when their affective needs are met, and chief among these is the need to feel like a valued member of an organisation. A team leader who inadvertently gives the impression that he or she only cares about the figures will do both the team and the company a disservice.
The problem with arrogance
There will always be some situations in which a team leader needs to have the final say. However, team leaders who make a practice of refusing to listen to alternate views are much more difficult to follow, which can greatly downgrade the effectiveness of any team. Team leaders must therefore take proactive steps to be sure that they do not come across as arrogant in their day-to-day dealings with team members.
Being willing to accept feedback from team members is an essential skill. Just as important is the ability to actively listen to both the verbal and non-verbal communication coming from team members. In fact, these skills are so important that most management training programmes include practical exercises to help team leaders see their own flaws in this area so they can be remedied. Active listening – showing the speaker that you have heard and understand their point of view – does not come naturally to many people, but with the right training, it can be mastered.
Above all, team effectiveness suffers when members believe their leader is disloyal to their own interests. Good leaders project loyalty at all times, and give credit where credit is due; they never steal ideas and pass them off as their own.