Team Building Tools Tips

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Chiefs and Indians

A natural tendency of humans is to relate most to people one perceives as sharing values and situations. This works up and down the ladder of life and business. It is important to recognize that an organization, just as a family, contains a spectrum of individuals of varying rank yet having relative rank within that internal structure. Mom and Dad are executives and the children are workers. Generally, one of the executives is dominant (Mom in my case…) and within the children there is a rank structure that involves age, personality and ability. Keep this in mind as you deal with the complex relationships of the work environment. Among your peers there is a definite hierarchy, whether you acknowledge it or not. The managers above you are well aware of this organizational fact and promote accordingly. If you treat your peers and subordinates with this in mind, your role as a manager will benefit immensely.


Stages in a Team's Development

A team will go through several stages of development and growth. At each stage, the team members may have different thoughts and attitudes. Roles may be alternated in different stages. The stages are:

Why are we here? - Formation stage
Where are we going, and who's driving? - Group-building stage
Are we on the right track? - Working together stage
Yes we are! - Efficient functioning stage


Variety is the Spice of Work!

The Fun Committee need not feel like they have to come to work in clown suits or dressed for a one-man band. No one is expecting you to provide a laugh a minute. Allow room for all styles of fun and playfulness, and remember to plan for the same with your employees. There will be always be employees who enjoy quieter, more anonymous events and activities, and extroverts who shine under the spotlight.


Preparing New Employees

"There comes that mysterious meeting in life, when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential." - Rusty Berkus

Try to remember what it felt like to walk into your company on your first day of work.

Your orientation process should:
• Reassure new hires that they made an excellent choice in coming to work for your company;
• Present employees with all codes, keys, and procedures that they will need to navigate within your workplace;
• Make employees feel welcome;
• Provide information on what to expect during the upcoming days and weeks, as well as what will be expected of them; and
• Reiterate and reinforce your company's values, vision, and mission.

The essential players in the employee orientation process include:
• Human Resources
• Manager or Supervisor
• Co-workers


Typical Meeting Sequence

Structure each meeting similarly so team members know what to expect and feel comfortable participating. A typical meeting sequence is:

-review the agenda,
-set time limits for discussion,
-assign roles for the meeting,
-define the goal of this meeting,
-define procedures for decision-making and information sharing,
-proceed through agenda items,
-summarize this meeting,
-define future actions,
-set next meeting date,
-close with one member sharing a short feel-good story or all participating in a "one-word-go-around."


Use Caution with Humor

Let the fun be voluntary, and avoid any humor that puts someone down, or crosses a line. Pay attention to differences in senses of humor or personality, subtleties of timing, and inappropriate humor based on sex, race, or religion.


Types of Teams

Functional teams usually work on specific assignments or to achieve a particular goal. The members on a functional team usually include employees within a department or operating unit. Functional teams are often self-directed and can effectively deliver specific products or services with defined cost and time parameters, or address group improvement issues.

Cross-functional teams usually work to integrate multiple functions, or to investigate and resolve issues. The team members include individuals from two or more areas who are selected for their knowledge of the situation, their experience, or their expertise. A cross-functional team might also be referred to as a Task Force, Process Improvement team, or Product Launch team.

Multi-functional teams develop organizational issues, make policy, define philosophy, plan direction, and cultivate opportunities. The team members include individuals from every level of the organization, and may sometimes be empowered as the organization's management team.

Quality Circles work on specific quality, productivity, or service challenges. They are often temporary teams. The team members are volunteers and, in many cases, do not have authority. However, they may advise or recommend action by management or another team.

Team building requires people to change because teams don't function in the typical ways we've learned to get along at home, in school, and in many work situations. To build trust and encourage buy-in by every member, management must openly support team efforts.


New Hire Orientation Part 2

New Hire Orientation - Phase II (ongoing)

During the first weeks of the new hire's employment, the selected mentor will help the new hire gain knowledge and become productive as soon as possible.
It is important to remember that orientation is an ongoing process and doesn't end after your new employee's first day.

After initial contact, the CEO can invite new hires to attend a monthly meeting or luncheon where they have the opportunity to ask questions and receive more in-depth information on the company.
During these sessions, which can be scheduled one or two months after new hires have begun working with the company, the CEO can reiterate the company Vision, Mission, and Core Values. We recommend that you provide an opportunity for the new hires to ask questions.

These luncheons can be held monthly or quarterly, depending on what works best for your organization. Your company may wish to schedule a luncheon meeting once you have hired two or more new persons.

As the saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." In many respects, that's what orientation is all about. During the first few days on the job, your new hire gets his or her first impression of what it is like to work in your company - and first impressions tend to be lasting ones.


Who's Who on a Team?

Point of Contact: Acts as the primary contact for the team.

Team Member: Participates in achieving team goals.

Subject Matter Expert: A person knowledgeable on specific subjects.

Process Observer: Observes and questions to challenge the team. Assists facilitator, encourages participation, reports on support of rules. Identifies problems and assists problem resolution.
Advisor: Develops and communicates team purpose. Determines performance standards. Follows progress, assists as needed, monitors interdepartmental considerations.

Team Leader: Exists to help the people on the team. Encourages team attitude. Communicates work specifications, policies, and information between team, other areas, and management. Models team behavior.

Facilitator: Schedules and conducts team meeting. Encourages participation, helps identify agreement and conflict. Facilitates movement through agenda, summarizes to gain commitment.


Keep It Positive

One unbreakable rule: KEEP IT POSITIVE!
Fun is a state of mind. You can no more force people to have fun than you can force a horse to jump over a fence. The fun needs to come from a mindset of acceptance, encouragement, and mutuality.


Fun Teambuilding Ideas

Brainstorming: On one topic, team members take turns giving suggestions and ideas, one per turn. Record each idea on a flip chart or board. Accept no comments during this part of the session. A member may “pass”. Accept ideas until set time elapses or all members have said, “pass”. Then, review and select from among the ideas.

Diagramming: On one topic, team members write ideas on post-it notes. Tack all the notes up on the wall. Invite team members to move those ideas around – without talking –grouping them into related areas. After groupings are set, look for patterns and encourage discussion.


Tips and Guidelines for Your Fun Committee

The real function of fun:
Examine your true thoughts and feelings about cultivating fun in the workplace. Revisit some of the many benefits of fun at work as a group and cultivate a can-do attitude.

Fun Committee activities and events are meant to help employees genuinely connect with each other on a human level.


Preparing to Give Birthday Cards to Employees

"It takes a long time to become young." – Pablo Picasso

What are some factors to consider to help this perk go smoothly? After all, everyone's birthday only comes around once a year. You'll want to do everything you can to make each and every birthday a happy event.
Responsibility and Timeliness

Who will be in charge of implementing this program? The organizer will need to:
• gather employee birthdays,
• organize this information,
• have consistent supplies on hand, and
• make sure that cards are circulated and delivered to the birthday person on time!

Double check that every employee's birthday is on your calendar! Forgetting someone's birthday will cause hurt feelings.

Where will you get your greeting cards? Purchase a combination of styles so that each employee will feel their card is personalized.


Phases of Team Building

Once you demonstrate success with an initial team, you can plan and implement other teams in the organization:

Work teams
Departmental or Division teams
Company wide team


Implementing a Fun Committee

Weave their interests into Fun Committee events...a love of bowling, an interest in racing or golf, or a flair for art.


Preparation for New Hire Orientation

New Hire Orientation - Phase I (the first day or week)

We recommend that a representative from the Human Resources department meet with new employees on their first day for approximately one hour or for at least the length of time needed to complete paperwork, receive the Employee Manual, ask questions, and be introduced to the CEO. The HR representative will use the checklist that you have developed to ensure all information is covered.

During orientation, present new hires with your employee manual or walk them through all of the information regarding employee benefits and company policies and procedures, as well as your company's values, vision, and mission. This is also a good time to cover income tax and legal issues.

The supervisor should then introduce the new hire to staff throughout the company, review their Job Description and scope of position, and get them started on specific functions. It might be helpful to arrange a lunch partner for the new employee's first day, to make the transition easier.

During orientation, present your company's Mentoring program and your company's commitment to developing employees and enhancing opportunities. The supervisor should introduce the new hire to his or her selected mentor, and arrange for any formal training.


Effective Company Team Meetings

While it seems we've all spent a lot of time in meetings, many people do not have solid experience in team meetings or are not comfortable gathering as a team to discuss and decide on issues. One way to ease anxiety and set expectations is to hold regular team meetings with clear structure.

Ask team members for input on the agenda. Prepare and announce the agenda in advance of the meeting.


Benefits of Service Anniversaries

Celebrate the service anniversaries of your employees and you'll be showing appreciation for hard work and loyalty. You strengthen that message by honoring an employee for the length of service with the company in front of their peers – it helps ALL your employees feel valued.

What are Service Anniversaries?
A short ceremony or form of recognition in honor of an employee, based on long they have worked at your company.

What are the benefits of Service Anniversaries?

Public Recognition
Many employees cite public recognition as one of the most important things that an employer can offer. Your employee has made a statement about their loyalty and commitment to your company–now it's your turn.

Retain and Reinforce
Avoid the costs of recruitment and retain your employees' valuable talents and experience. Increase the likelihood of your employees staying by thanking them for their years of service while renewing their motivation.

Communicate Company Values
Service anniversaries are a chance to reiterate your core values and show your long-term employees how they have contributed to upholding them.

Since recruiting is time consuming and costly, honoring service anniversaries can help all your employees feel valued and strengthen your company's image as a desirable place to work.


Getting Co-workers Involved

Encourage co-workers to personalize their signatures with a short, positive comment or two (much more meaningful than a signature alone). Help them out – print and pass around our Birthday Card Phrases List for suggestions on friendly comments.

Examples of signature ideas:
• specific ways employee has helped you at work in the past;
• one personal quality of theirs that you enjoy at work;
• virtual wish-granting – such as the new dress or boat they've been coveting, a goal they've been shooting for, etc.

Who will deliver the card? Cards are more meaningful if presented to the recipient by the CEO or the manager, rather than dropped in the employee's mailbox or on their desk.


Implement Employee Appreciation Day

Tips for Creating a Successful Employee

Employee Appreciation
1. Do the work necessary to make sure your appreciation is genuine. Pause and reflect on the true contributions your employees make to your company.
2. Have managers complete as many necessary tasks as possible, especially if any events/activities are a surprise.
3. If you are the owner/CEO, thank your managers for their hard work too!
4. Don't overlook the importance of a group thank-you to all employees from the owner/CEO during the hubbub of the day.
5. Saying "thank you" turns your focus towards the positive, and "catching employees being good". It's all too easy to fall into the mindset of only looking for what's wrong.

If you realize that it's been awhile since you've acknowledged your employees accomplishments, give some thought to how you can make expressing appreciation a regular part of your management style. Regular recognition is the most powerful retention tool!


Make Moments Count

Employees spend many of their waking hours together. Make the moments at work count and contribute to their well-being.


Sequences of Meetings

Select a facilitator who will conduct the meeting and ensure interaction of other roles such as process observer, timekeeper, and scribe.

Rotate a different team member in each role over time, especially that of facilitator.

At the end of each meeting, be sure to summarize and answer everyone's “Where do we go from here?”

After the meeting, follow up on any action items. Be sure to inform and update those team members not present at the meeting.


Choose Your Humor

Give some thought to what types of humor and play best fit your work environment. Depending on your industry and the professional "face" you need to present, you may need to alter your events and activities accordingly. Don't fear that fun in the workplace is completely unprofessional. There is a balance, and your committee can find it with careful thought.

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Guru Spotlight
Lynda Moultry