Team building is an integral part of management and is widely used in the human resources departments of large companies. The goal of team building is to help people who work together to function better as a team. It is about making them understand:

  • how to best use individual and team strengths.
  • how to solve problems under the responsibility of the team.
  • how to improve team performance.

How to recognize a successful team?

First of all, it seems important to distinguish between the terms “team” and “group”:

  • A group is made up of people who need to focus on their personal goals and responsibilities. A group of individuals under the authority of the same person does not necessarily make a team.
  • A team shares a common goal, and the members recognize each other as part of the same entity. In a team there is an interdependence between its members, which implies a behavior regulated by the same values and norms.

What is an efficient team:

  • recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • spend a lot of time together.
  • support each other.
  • knows how to handle pressure.

The stages of progression to become a successful team

According to Professor Bruce Tuckman, a team must go through 4 stages before it becomes successful: team formation, conflicting, norm setting and performance. With each modification of the team, modification of the structure for example, the latter must go through each of the stages before becoming efficient again.

  • • Team formation corresponds to the “introduction”: Members get to know each other, politeness is essential and members avoid touching on sensitive topics of conversation. Everyone keeps their impressions to themselves and remains rather withdrawn.
  • The setting in conflict is a delicate stage: the reactions become more lively and defensive. At this stage, members want to express their point of view, but generally the feedback is very low. Members try to test their manager and refuse to collaborate.
  • The setting of standards corresponds to the good weather after the storm: indeed, the previous step brought to the surface some difficulties that will have to be overcome in order to be able to move forward. This is where a real team spirit begins to appear. We agree on working methods, we become more receptive to the ideas of others, we participate actively in the project, and power is better distributed.
  • The successful team has reached maturity and is now able to fully distribute power and responsibilities among its members. We observe in these teams a high level of creativity, openness and trust towards each other, a great flexibility in the contribution of each one, and different points of view are easily accepted.

The process

Our team building activities use the experiential learning process proposed by David Kolb. It consists of 4 steps as illustrated below:

  • The concrete experience : the team will fully live a new experience, a challenge which is not insurmountable but which requires a minimum of reflection to lead to success.
  • Reflective observation : in this phase, the team takes a step back from how it tackled the problem. What actually happened? What decisions have been made? What were the difficulties encountered? What were everyone’s reactions? What result?
  • Abstract conceptualization : it is a question of obtaining a principle, of generalizing the action according to the observations which have been formulated previously.
  • Active experimentation : it allows the theory deduced during the previous step to be compared to reality. It is therefore a question of carrying out a new action according to the principles of the concept mentioned and of verifying whether the concept is well founded.

For each skill area, the team will go through each of these steps before understanding what the best way for the team to use those skills is.
Through our various activities and challenges, the teams are led to think in this direction and to question their methods of working as a team. Thanks to our constructive debriefings, the teams are encouraged to reflect on the best ways to use these skills in the course of their work.

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