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Team Building Techniques

How to Start-up a Team

One of the most important team building techniques is that of starting up a team. The first question to ask yourself is what kind of team are you starting?

If it’s is a new team (and it is probably worth applying these criteria if the team membership has change by around 30%) then this article is most relevant for you.

If it is an existing team you are taking over reading this article will help, but you should also read our article: teamwork tips for taking over an existing team.

This article is part of our stages of team development series based on the STAR team model.

Whilst every team and context is different these team building techniques will provide a basis on which to develop your approach to starting up a team. The STAR team model suggests that effective teamwork in the workplace happens when four elements (Strengths, Teamwork,Alignment and Results) are in place:

  • Team building techniquesIndividuals flourish as they use and develop their Strengths
  • People come together building relationships that result in effective Teamwork
  • The team leader Aligns the team through effective communication of purpose, so that individual strengths combine with teamwork to deliver the teams results
  • Together everyone achieves more as performance flows and Results that are meaningful and rewarding to the team are achieved

A different emphasis and focus for each of the STAR model elements is needed at different stages of the team’s development.

Team Building Techniques – Results

The primary emphasis during the start-up stage is to establish clarity about the results expected of the team. There is evidence to suggest that teams with clear and meaningful goals form a lot more quickly than without.

Here are some tasks to focus on during this initial stage to help set meaningful results:

  • Set and establish the vision and purpose of the team.
  • Define a clear sense of identity and purpose
  • Determine what are the meaningful results the team is being asked to achieve
  • Develop with the team what meaningful results they want to achieve
  • Confirm the goals and intended results with others in the organization.
  • Establish what tasks the team needs to do to achieve the agreed meaningful results
  • Identify who should do the tasks

Team Building Techniques – Strengths

This leads to the second strand of team building techniques needed during the initial team forming phase: recognising the individual strengths of team members.

Some suggested activities to develop the strengths within a team are to:

  • Select and identify team members based on clear strengths
  • Determine what skills and strengths are needed to achieve the results of the team
  • Start to find out how you can best make an individual’s strengths contribute to the results the team needs to achieve
  • Explore what the team need to be good at

There may be concern during this initial stage from team members about whether they have the skills to achieve the results. If this is the case then a focus on individual development may also be important at this stage.

Team Building Techniques – Teamwork

During the first stage a focus on the goals and the results expected of the team will start to bring people together. Time should be given to start to develop relationships in the team, especially to recognize each others strengths and begin to see where they can complement each other.

Team Building Techniques – Alignment

The team leader’s emphasis is to bring the individuals together, aligned behind a clear sense of why the team exists. The emphasis is placed on developing clarity with the team of the results you all want to achieve, whilst ensuring that individual strengths are brought together and individuals begin to develop relationships together.

Other influences

Almost before you start to form a team there are some important questions to ask about the environment in which the team will have to operate.

  • What are the relationships with other teams, and their goals and results?
  • Do you have any choice over team members?
  • What strengths are needed to achieve results in the team?
  • What needs to be put in place in the organization to support the team?
  • Does the team involve other organizations or partners?

One problem area with team formation is when teamwork is not encouraged or valued and the team leader tries to force and drive performance. We discuss this negative stage in our article Lack of teamwork - forcing rather than forming a team.

Jump Start Building a Cohesive Team

Starting up properly is perhaps one of the most important team building techniques and it is crucial to begin with a clear sense of what results you want to achieve as a team, and that they are meaningful and significant for the team members. Get this right and you have a jump start on building a cohesive team.

Having formed your team the next set of team building techniques you need is to develop the team.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. To read more of about our teamwork concept – the STAR team model- see our articles teamwork theories,teamwork defined and teamwork in the workplace. For a more general introduction to team a good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important , or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

Team Building Techniques in Action

This is one of our teamwork series. But for some practical team building techniques, look at our great-value guides (below), or at our Team Building Exercises for all team stages teams…

Team Building Exercises and Team Stages

The exercises in this guide are grouped according to our team stages model. Remember, each team is unique and needs to be led through several developmental stages. These include:

Creating a new team or taking over an existing team

Exercises for all team stages!

  • Exercise 1: Being a TEAM together
  • Exercise 2: True or false
  • Exercise 3: Who does what in a team?
  • Exercise 4: Getting the mix right
  • Exercise 5: Doing something for the first time
  • Exercise 6: Two years from now

Developing a team

  • Exercise 7: A clearer vision
  • Exercise 8: Mad, sad or glad
  • Exercise 9: Seeing the bigger picture
  • Exercise 10: Positive feedback
  • Exercise 11: Conflicting views

Performing and achieving results with a team

  • Exercise 12: Did you notice?
  • Exercise 13: Limiting beliefs

Sustaining team performance

  • Exercise 14: Scarce resources
  • Exercise 15: Keeping going

Where to go from here:

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