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Team Building Background Info
The concept of team building has been growing in popularity since the 1970s, but it really took off as a phenomenon in the 1990s.
It is now firmly established and there have even been television programmes devoted to it, such as the show called 'The Carrot and The Stick', whilst shows such as Big Brother have included team building challenges.
It is in the corporate market that team building is widely practiced with the majority of companies from medium size upwards making it part of their regular staff development. But what is team building and why is it important?
At its simplest a team is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal.
It is the inclusion of the word 'people' in this statement which makes team building necessary, because people are unique - each with different characters, different behaviours and a different understanding of the behaviour of others.
One of the most common team building theories is that of Dr R Meredith Belbin.
Belbin devised a questionnaire which illustrated the different personality types of workers.
Belbin decided that there were eight types of worker in the 1970s and a ninth type has been added since then.
An example of a Belbin type is a Resource Investigator, one who is extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative, explores opportunities and develops contacts.
Importantly the Belbin theory gives each type 'allowable weaknesses'.
In the case of the Resource Investigator these are that they they can be optimistic and lose interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
This is very important, as one of the key features of a successful team is that each member understands their colleagues and takes account of their strengths and weaknesses.
If someone is always letting you down for the same reason then stop depending on them for that thing.
Strength Deployment Inventory
This is another useful management tool for assessing teams.
This is quite easy to use and divides people into three colours. Red types are aggressive, goal orientated and prone to very direct communication.
Blue types are relationship focussed and seem more caring and social.
Green types are the detailed type; they understand how things work and like data.
SDI shows how Reds can upset other types, Blues can seem too nice and poor old Greens can be viewed as boring.
Interestingly SDI shows that many people change type when under pressure.
For example, someone who become a Blue under pressure can feel tearful if they are not used to that state and those who become extremely Red can seem aggressive or bad tempered.
This is a useful tool for team building as it is easy to understand and suddenly delegates gain a greater understanding not only of their own team but their family, friends and almost everyone they meet.
These theories and tool are important if the team wants to gain a real insight into their colleagues, but sometimes the requirement is for social team building or, in other words, fun.
'You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation' observed Plato in the 1st century BC.
A day away from the office enjoying a Treasure Hunt, Quad Biking or Crystal Maze style team challenges is an excellent way for team members to bond and get to know each other away from the office.
The fun, a pleasant location and the detachment from the stresses of work can do wonders for team morale and relationships.