When Should You Schedule a Teambuilding Workshop?
Yesterday I delivered a workshop based on the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment to a group of young folks at the YMCA. They are involved in a pre-employment program, and the Y wanted to start the program with an assessment / self-discovery module. This is a great way to use the StrengthsFinder! I learned a few things during this process which I'll share for you tomorrow - but first I want to talk about why I like using the StrengthsFinder assessment in a Team Building workshop.
More often than not, organizations that request a Teambuilding workshop are already experiencing difficulties (aka interpersonal conflicts). What happens in a team when there is unresolved conflict? We begin to look at each other through a lens focused on our flaws, and thanks to the confirmation bias, we start to view every less-than-perfect behaviour as proof that we are right about our judgments. It's springtime so lets use a gardening analogy! We know that gardens take effort - we need to nurture them, feed them, helping the plants and flowers grow while squeezing out the weeds. If we only focus on the weeds, we fail to see all the beautiful things in the garden. When we forget to feed and nurture the parts we want to grow, pretty soon the weeds take over.
When should you schedule a teambuilding workshop? Ideally while people are getting along! Think of it as nurturing your garden. Once you start seeing negative behaviours, such as gossip, cliques, complaining, or passive-aggressive behaviour, it's still valuable to have a teambuilding workshop but it's much more effective to pre-empt the negative behaviour.
The StrengthsFinder Assessment is a fun way to engage in self-discovery, and learn more about the gifts that each team member brings to work. It changes the lens to one of positive celebration, and can change the conversation to one that values differences instead of the basis for conflict.
What if your team is already mired in conflict? Then you're looking at a restoration project, not just regular maintenance! A fun teambuilding workshop is unlikely to provide enough of an intervention - usually there's a couple of things that are needed, including more intensive supervisory involvement, as well as a facilitated team day:
Communicate your expectations for positive behaviour
Develop a Team Charter (this takes a day for the average team, but can take longer depending on the size of your team)
Reflect on the Team Charter at regular intervals, in team meetings. Ask your team how they're going - are they keeping to the agreements?
Address poor behaviours with individuals - if most people are keeping the agreements made in the team charter, then don't keep bringing it up as a "group thing". Address the behaviour when it happens, with the individuals involved.