Teambuilding: Is We Really Better Than Me?

How do you feel about teambuilding in your nonprofit agency? Do you enjoy being a member of a team, or do you prefer to work on your own? Depending on your unique personality and natural work preferences, you probably fall on either side of the coin – eager team player or solo worker bee. You may be a mix of the two, based on the project at hand or your mood that day. Or, the very word “teambuilding” may make you run for the nearest introvert-safe zone at the office.

Why teambuilding?

Regardless of your natural inclinations for or against it, teambuilding is a necessary practice in organizations with healthy cultures. Many companies treat teambuilding as a fun annual event, usually accomplished in conjunction with a staff retreat or offsite conference, yet quickly forgotten once employees return to the office.

Other organizations integrate team development into their regular workload because they believe teams that consistently play together, perform well together. These companies are often characterized by cohesive cultures and high performance. They take the time necessary to focus on building team dynamics, creating organizational structures that support teambuilding, and encouraging team-centric accountability systems.

Teambuilding 101

In the Brighter Strategies workbook, “Power Teams: Creating Effective Work Groups That Get Things Done,” a team is defined as a group of two or more people who work together toward a common goal. All healthy teams are comprised of one or more leaders; members; and a shared vision, mission, and goals.

Nonprofits that integrate teambuilding into the fabric of their culture often enjoy greater employee engagement. This occurs because teams promote higher levels of employee ownership, commitment, and energy; increased participation; an elevated sense of purpose and meaning; and a renewed spirit of community, cooperation, and belonging. Additionally, on an organization level, nonprofits that champion teams experience improved productivity, customer service, quality, process management, innovation, cost effectiveness, and financial performance.

With this impressive list of perks, why wouldn’t you begin to make teambuilding a priority in your organization today?

Teambuilding for organizational impact

Here are some practical ways you can integrate team development into your organization.

  1. Create teams around a shared vision.

    As you undergo regular organizational planning, consider if and when forming a team could help to better accomplish specific strategic goals. Then, before you create the team, identify its mission. What organizational challenge will it undertake? Is the team tasked to evaluate a program? Will the team plan a new event or service offering?

  2. Invite team members who can add value to the vision.

    One of the greatest casualties of teambuilding is involving too many people – or the wrong people – in team formation. Identify only those employees who can contribute their organizational expertise, personal skills and knowledge, or unique experiences to the team’s established vision.

  3. Determine team rules.

    As a group, with the guidance of an established team leader, decide when and where the team will meet, for how long, and at what point the team will disband. Additionally, shared goals are the most important element of team rules. Such goals should reflect the team vision (its purpose for existing), and drive team performance toward established measures. For more on goal setting, see last month’s blog article, “Goal Setting: A Strategic Road Map”.

  4. Share team progress regularly.

    Throughout the team’s work, communicating progress to the broader organization is important to uphold transparency and accountability for results. Choose a communication medium that works best for the team’s vision. Is a weekly email update to invested stakeholders sufficient? Or will a more detailed debrief via the monthly organizational newsletter better convey progress? Perhaps the agency’s annual report is the only communication vehicle necessary to deliver on team goals. Determine how and when the team will share results, and stick to the plan.

  5. Evaluate team performance.

    Once the team has completed its vision, take time to evaluate overall performance. What did the team do well? What could it have done better? How can the organization use lessons learned for future teambuilding? A reflective look behind you is always helpful before moving forward.

Do you need some extra help with your organization’s teambuilding and development efforts? Contact Brighter Strategies today for more information, as well as personalized consulting services aimed to get your teams in tip-top shape.

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