Few organizations would consider starting a new fiscal year without a pretty concrete plan for sales, marketing, hiring, capital investment and the like. Yet the development of a critical asset – the organization’s teams – is often addressed in an ad hoc fashion or ignored altogether.

Patrick Lencioni, the author of “Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, describes teamwork as, “… the one sustainable competitive advantage that remains largely untapped.” He also acknowledges that, although the advantages are enormous, most leaders and team members are not prepared to invest the time and effort – what Lencioni calls the “heavy lifting” – in order to become a true team. This is exactly where a plan can get you started and keep you on track. Here a few tips for your team building plan:

  1. Establish your vision of your successful team and organization; as Stephen Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind”. Ideally, plan a full day off-site to establish a shared vision of what this team looks like and feels like – the culture – when it is performing well at work. This “launch” of your team initiative should create an ‘ah-ha’ moment; engaging and fun enough to create a buzz, yet challenging enough that people experience the wonderful feeling of collaborative team success. This positive experience and vision will pull people forward when the going gets tough.
  2. Reflect on your current team culture and performance. Where are you now as a team and as individuals? There are many tools to help in this task, such as EQi 2.0, Myers Briggs Type Inventory, Organizational Culture Development and Strength Deployment Inventory, to name a few.
  3. Create a realistic timetable to address the identified gaps between the ideal and the current. Schedule skill workshops and check-in sessions at regular intervals so that reflection and feedback are frequent, support is ongoing and adjustments can be made. Regular intervals might be anywhere from a few weeks to several months and stretch over a year or more. The “lifting” may be “heavy”, but it is do-able when broken into small chunks and supported with coaching.
  4. Do it! Develop team skills with a series of half day or full day workshops that focus on trust, communication effectiveness, conflict management and navigating change as needed.
  5. If your team is performing quite well, plan one or two celebratory and inspirational events over the next year or two to keep them fully engaged and conscious of their positive team culture.
  6. Measure success and celebrate with a team building event to maintain engagement and ingrain the culture of true teamwork.

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