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