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Building Successful Workforce Teams

Although the idea of building strong teams is popular in corporate environments, managers are frequently at a loss as to the methods that will enable them to succeed in this endeavor. “Few organizations derive the full benefits of teaming because they fail to "grow" them correctly.” (Mackin, 2007).

This article is intended to present some guidelines to help you build successful teams. While some initial steps need to be taken to prepare the environment to facilitate this, team building exercises will go along way to motivate and bond the members. The accompanying video link and subsequent description are an example of how you to can build teams and refine the processes that allow them to work together in common goals. In addition to team building exercises it is important to lay a foundation for team building within the working environment prior to any developmental exercises so that the team experience within the context of this exercise can be translated into team work in the workplace. The two key components of this foundation are:

1. Formulation of specific processes for continuous improvement, effective communications, and total quality. Without these, the staff have no primary resources for applying the team spirit more heartily to a practical task. Expectations of your team should be clearly defined with established goals. The tools and training to meet the defined goals must be in place before you can expect improvements from the exercise that is to take place.
2. Fostering of a perception that each member is a part of something bigger is instrumental to teamwork. Although developing this perception can be harder than it sounds, in many cases the organizational mission statement can give the manager the focus and the employees a point of reference as the team develops. This may be a good place for the effective manager to start to encourage the necessary feelings.

While a variety of team building exercises are common, one of the most engaging and popular is the cardboard boat building and race contest. This particular team building exercise allows each member within the team to demonstrate their individual strengths while promoting the teamwork that is necessary for your organizational goals.

The objective in this exercise is for each team to build a boat in a specific amount of time. When the time expires, two members of each team will occupy their respective boats in an attempt to beat all others in a race across a pool or pond.

You will see from the following video how easy it can be to implement exercises that promote enthusiasm, motivate the workforce, and foster teamwork. This video an example of such a race and demonstrates the enthusiasm and team spirit that contestants experienced. This enthusiasm and team spirit is vital to team building as outlined in the two key components above. In this video of “Cardboard Regatta 2010” Team Hindenburg competes in College of the Pacific's annual race which is a requirement for all first year engineering students. This particular assignment provided only cardboard and duct tape as the available building tools.

The video above demonstrates the ability of team building exercises to foster the enthusiasm and spirit that is primary to developing effective teams. Making these exercises fun and challenging encourages individuals to become instrumental in a successful enterprise while demonstrating the need to work together as a team.

References:

Mackin, Deborah; (Amacom Aug. 15, 2007) The Team-Building Tool Kit: Tips and Tactics, page xii

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