Teamwork and Collaboration
Working together as a team isn’t always easy, especially when you have a group of people with different backgrounds, ideas and personalities. This is one reason why many organizations and highly effective leaders use team building activities to help cohere the team and to develop long-term efficiency and effectiveness. Teamwork games are consequently extremely helpful to quickly get people to quickly learn about each other, focus on important team issues and goals and to find new or creative ways to solve problems or achieve a difficult target in a new or different way.
Although teamwork games and activities are useful, it’s extremely important to select the right team activities that will address a particular group’s needs and get the desired outcome or results. This will depend upon the consideration of five key criteria including:
- How large the team is
- How closely people work together
- How mature the team is
- The quality of current relationships
- How much time is available to engage in teamwork games and activities
Let’s look at each of these briefly:
How large the team is
Large teams (12 or more people typically) may not always know each other very well and may operate in a few sub-teams (especially the larger they become). This means that “getting to know each other” teamwork games can be extremely helpful, so that individuals can better appreciate the wider talents of colleagues around them and learn to cooperate and collaborate more successfully in the future (especially where this helps to make processes flow more quickly or efficiently through the team).
How closely people work together
Some or even all individuals on a team may work physically very closely together (within a few feet or yards in a call-center or at a manufacturing work station for example). In these closer proximities, games are often better focused on efficiency, effectiveness and problem-solving (because people may know one another well). However, if individuals on the team work physically a long way from each other (on different floors in a building, on different sites or even in different cities or countries) then teamwork games which focus mainly on relationship building and coordination are often the most appropriate and beneficial.
How mature the team is
We are all familiar with Tuckman’s forming, storming, norming and performing stages of team development. Each one of these stages presents quite different challenges as it relates to teamwork games. At forming stages the team tends to need knowledge and information (relating to people on the team and team processes). At storming stages the team needs to better appreciate team values and roles. At norming stages the team needs to better appreciate individual and team performance targets and the measurement systems that are in place. And finally, at performing stages the team needs to better appreciate how team growth and improvement can occur and how to better manage future change.
The quality of current relationships
Relationships on a team at one end of the continuum can be very positive and healthy and quite the reverse at the other end of the continuum. Where relationships are healthy, teamwork games can be focused mainly on growth, productivity, creativity and improvement or better ways of working. However, where poor relationships exist, teamwork games are likely to focus more on issue(s) identification, individual and team boundary and goal issues and conflict resolution strategies and approaches.
How much time is available to engage in teamwork games and activities
In today’s seemingly time-starved world, every team is expected to do more in a shorter period. This makes time away on discretionary activities like teamwork games much harder to plan. And even when time can be found, there may only be 30 minutes, an hour or half a day available in which the whole team can get together and not adversely affect performance. For this reason all teamwork games need to be carefully designed to work within limited time constraints and get the most tangible return possible. It may therefore be better to plan to have several shorter teamwork game experiences rather than one long one, in which everyone is more focused on getting it over with and returning to work.
Teamwork games are valuable for all teams. However, these activities will make the greatest impact by first considering the five criteria described above and making sure that any teamwork game experience is well-designed and appropriately executed.