Cre­at­ing a spirit of sol­i­dar­ity

Ef­fec­tive team work­ing makes eco­nomic sense for any or­gan­i­sa­tion but it does not hap­pen by ac­ci­dent, writes Claire Mackay

The Herald Business - - Special Report -

When it comes to re­cruit­ment and train­ing, em­ploy­ers now rightly place sig­nif icant em­pha­sis on what used to be re­ferred to as ‘soft skills’. As a de­scrip­tion, the phrase is some­what lack­ing. Af­ter all, it ap­plies to qual­i­ties cru­cial to the suc­cess and smooth-run­ning of both private and pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions.

How­ever, there can also some­times be a mis­un­der­stand­ing of what th­ese skills ac­tu­ally are and how they can best be de­vel­oped.

For just as lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, for in­stance, are valu­able in em­ploy­ees at all lev­els of any or­gan­i­sa­tion, so too is the ex­is­tence of ef­fec­tive team­work.

“In the­ory, ev­ery­one recog­nises the value of team-build­ing and that their or­gan­i­sa­tion will be more ef­fec­tive with that kind of syn­ergy,” says Shona Mitchell, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of or­gan­i­sa­tional and peo­ple de­vel­op­ment com­pany Peo­plemat­ters.

“In prac­tice, how­ever, it can be very dif­fi­cult to achieve. You are deal­ing with dis­parate in­di­vid­u­als, each with their own per­son­al­ity, frail­ties and ego. Cou­pled with the fact our cul­ture is in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic and com­pet­i­tive, this adds to the chal­lenge of en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to be­gin work­ing to­gether and putting the per­for­mance of the team be­fore their own.

“The way to help peo­ple rise to this chal­lenge is to al­low them to ex­pe­ri­ence the value of team work­ing, and that can of­ten be through events which are de­signed to be good fun but also de­liver a pow­er­ful mes­sage about work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively and achiev­ing re­sults.

“It’s also im­por­tant to help peo­ple un­der­stand one an­other, as this way a team can play to strengths and be tol­er­ant of dif­fer­ences, rather than be­come dys­func­tional.

“Greater un­der­stand­ing leads to em­pa­thy, which in turn al­lows for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion and im­proved per­for­mance.

“With se­nior teams, the re­al­ity is that to get to that level, many of those in­volved will al­ready have demon­strated a high de­gree of per­sonal mo­ti­va­tion and com­pet­i­tive in­stinct, so team-build­ing may be even more of a chal­lenge.

“But it is prob­a­bly even more im­por­tant. A dys­func­tional team at se­nior level sets the tone for the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion and soon per­me­ates down.”

The first step, then, is to cre­ate an en­joy­able at­mos­phere on the one hand, but also to pro­vide a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery­one in­volved be­gins to ex­pe­ri­ence the real benef its of work­ing to­gether.

“Our events are de­signed pri­mar­ily to al­low team mem­bers to have fun to­gether,” says Natalie Miller of Can You Ex­pe­ri­ence in Loch Lomond. “How­ever, they should also give in­di­vid­u­als an in­sight into un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance and de­vel­op­ment of a team, and not­ing the in­gre­di­ents for its suc­cess.

“It has been proven that the best and most in­no­va­tive think­ing can of­ten come when the team is re­moved from the familiar work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Loch Lomond is the ideal nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment to pro­mote out of the box think­ing.”

And ac­cord­ing to Miller, part of bring­ing a team to­gether, means cre­at­ing har­mony in the work­place.

“Or­gan­i­sa­tions hire in­di­vid­u­als, but al­most all em­ploy­ees work as part of a team,” she says. “The process of team-build­ing, which helps to in­te­grate in­di­vid­ual skills and re­sources into a uni­fied ef­fort, can as­sist in cre­at­ing ef­fec­tive teams that per­form well.

“A team that works well to­gether will achieve a higher rate of ef­fi­ciency.”

Bar­rie Mo­ran, of Perth-based Blue Sky Ex­pe­ri­ences, agrees that events should be fun – but also in­clu­sive. “Our team-build­ing events of­fer a unique and ex­hil­a­rat­ing chal­lenge, but they are also de­signed to in­cor­po­rate all of your team re­gard­less of their age and phys­i­cal abil­ity, there­fore cre­at­ing a level play­ing field.

“This will en­cour­age team work­ing and in­ter­ac­tion, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing a real sense of ex­cite­ment and en­joy­ment. There’s no point an­nounc­ing ev­ery­one is off for a day of bungee jump­ing if there are three peo­ple in the of­fice with mo­bil­ity prob­lems.

“We can help clients with spe­cific tar­gets, tai­lor­ing and blend­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from our wide port­fo­lio that will tackle is­sues such as trust and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, or cre­ativ­ity.

“How­ever, over­all the event must be fun and if you don’t en­gage your staff, it’s point­less”.

Cir­cu­lar ar­gu­ment: Team build­ing needs to be fun to be suc­cess­ful

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