The Benefits of Team Building for Managers

Team building has many benefits, to both the organization and the individual employees that make up the tam. Team building helps to create a sense of cohesion, reinforce shared goals and values, and greater camaraderie. Team building also helps teams be more effective, as they communicate more openly and are more motivated to pursue shared goals. An investment in team building activities is an investment in success.

Better Communication and Conflict Resolution
One of the greatest benefits of team building is better communication. People who have a sense that they are on a team, with shared values and goals, are more likely to be personally invested in one another. This facilitates communication because people want to reach shared goals, and have a shared sense of purpose or vision. Team building helps team members develop strong communication skills, and also helps the team establish communication systems. Improved conflict resolution is another benefit of team building. Clearer communication in and of itself helps to facilitate better conflict resolution. The shared goals and values of a team, along with the increased personal investment and stronger personal relationships that form in a team, also helps to foster an environment in which conflicts are addressed openly and productively.

Effectiveness
Team building helps to create more effective teams. Team building activities create a sense that team members are pulling together toward a common goal or set of goals. This sense of shared purpose tends to foster effectiveness and productivity. Team building also helps the team find greater effectiveness through developing skills in delegating tasks, collaborating, communicating, and creating processes that leverage each team member’s skills. A team that has a sense that they are working together, and in which the team members trust each other to honor their commitments, works more efficiently and effectively.

Motivation
Team building activities can be a powerful source of motivation. Spending time together as a team is a chance to reinforce shared goals, set new shared goals, and strengthen relationships with team members. A sense of shared goals and values serves as valuable motivation. When infused with a spirit of healthy competition and camaraderie, team building activities also motivate team members because there is a sense of not just working for one’s self but for the good of the entire team. Team building activities help remind your team what they’re working for and why, which can be a valuable boost to motivation.

Camaraderie
One of the most powerful benefits of team building is a sense of camaraderie. The reinforcement of shared values and shared goals which goes along with team building helps create a sense of camaraderie and collegiality. Team building activities help to strengthen the interpersonal relationships between team members. Team building gives team members a chance to get to know each other beyond just their work functions, and helps to foster a sense of shared identity. Taking the time to create relationships that go beyond simply interacting over work responsibilities helps team members to invest more in each other emotionally and personally. This creates a sense that team members aren’t just pieces of a process, but people with feelings and needs. When team members have a sense of camaraderie, they are more likely to want to collaborate, help each other, and support each other.

Types of Team Building Activities
There is a wide variety of team building activities that you can use in developing your team. Using a mix of games, activities, and social events helps keep your team building plan interesting and engaging. Each team will respond to different activities, so be open to switching up the type of team building you do. Also seek input from your team about which activities they enjoy and find valuable.

Games
Studies show that fostering a sense of play is a great way to foster camaraderie and team work. Using games also infuses a sense of fun and, depending on the game, a sense of friendly competition that can help people open up and form strong relationships. There are a variety of types of games you can use in team building, including:
• Icebreakers or “get to know you” games
• Shared task games
• Problem-solving games
• Interaction games
No matter what type of game or games you chose for a team building session, there are several key components to any effective team building game:
• Focus on learning and remembering names
• Focus on the game itself
• Focus on strengthening relationships
• Cheers and pats on the back

Activities
Group activities can also be a great way to build a team. Activities that are created specifically for team building are one option. Your training department can be a great source of information for team building activities, and there are a variety of excellent books and workbooks to draw from. Activities which are not specifically “team building” activities, but which encourage your team to interact with each other, are also valuable for building your team. Simply engaging in an activity together, whether a recreational activity or a community service activity, can give your team members a chance to take the focus off of work and instead focus on getting to know each other.

Education
Training, development, and education also offer opportunities for team building. When your team builds a new skill together, learns a new technology or process, or otherwise engages in professional development as a group, this reinforces shared goals. Include some education in your training plan about team building specifically as well. Engaging in education about how to function better as a team has clear benefits, as team members build a set of skills together that they can then apply to working with each other. However, any shared learning experience has the potential to create a stronger team. When people learn together, they support each other’s development and can find a shared sense of purpose in learning something new or building a new skill. Take time to ask your team what they’d like to learn. You can also focus on the team’s strengths and development areas in planning education.

Social Gatherings
Don’t underestimate the power of social gatherings to build your team. While it’s always important to recognize that family and other commitments can make it difficult for some team members to engage in social time outside of work, gatherings can still be a valuable tool in your team building kit. Whether you have regular team lunches where the topic of conversation is anything but work, an annual holiday gathering, or period get together after work for dinner, drinks, or other fun, social gatherings help to take your team out of their work environment so they can focus on each other. Ask your team what type of gatherings they would enjoy. Be wary of gatherings that center on alcohol, both for liability reasons and because it excludes those team members who do not drink. Vary the type of social gatherings so that those who may not enjoy one type of gathering have other options. Encouraging your team to spend time together as colleagues helps to further foster camaraderie and relationships.
Source: Team Building for Managers workshop

Servant Leadership and the Productive Employee

Servant leadership is a business philosophy that emphasizes the act of the leader, such as a manager or supervisor, focusing on the growth and development of their employees and ensuring their success. In doing so, the leader succeeds when their employees do. In a business team, servant leadership can not only help employees achieve and grow, but it can also benefit their leaders and the company as a whole.

A Desire to Serve
It is a leader’s responsibility to guide their followers on the right path. But to become a better leader, it’s not enough just to take the wheel and steer – you must also be willing to serve your followers and assist them in their own journey. A servant leader should have a desire to serve their employees, which includes taking the time to identify your employees and how they perform or being beside them as they face challenges. Take the time to assist in their growth and help them work toward achieving their goals. Don’t be afraid to give yourself into their processes and become part of their evolvement.

Knowing to Share the Power
As a leader, it is a common feeling to absorb the ‘power’ of the position and a have a sense of superiority. But a servant leader does not save this power only for themselves because they learn to share it with their team of employees. Employees under a servant leader should feel some of the servant leader’s power and pull, which can make them feel more empowered in their place on the team and in their own abilities. Sharing the power allows employees to feel like their contributions matter and that their input is valued.
Share the power by:
• Delegating
• Asking employee opinions
• Working together on challenges or projects
• Taking a census, when possible

Putting Others First
One of the main principles of servant leadership is the act of putting other’s needs ahead of your own. As a leader, we can sometimes think in the ‘ME’ mentality and want to focus on our own agenda and needs. But in servant leadership, the leader must focus on his tea of employees first before focusing on themselves. The leader should focus on what the employee needs or wants, how they can achieve this and how it will make them successful in the long run. A leader should strive to develop relationships and even friendships with their employees and deliver feedback when possible. They must be able to set their own ego aside and realize that without their team of employees, no one can be successful.
Helping Employees Grow
Once again, as a leader, we can focus on our own goals, responsibilities and even our own challenges. But as a servant leader, the needs of the employee should come first and the main goal should be to help them succeed and grow in the company. A good leader knows that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so everyone benefits when every employee is encouraged, mentored and motivated. Sometimes this may mean you’ll have to share in successes as well as failures, but every goal set and worked together is another stepping stone for the employee and helps them work toward their ultimate target.
Help employees grow by:
• Encourage goals
• Give feedback when possible
• Listen to their questions and requests
• Offer help but don’t complete things for them

Characteristics of a Servant Leader
There are many qualities and characteritics that define a servant leader, including good listening skills, empathy, power of persuasion and great communication skills. Although a servant leader may develop or follow different leadership styles, they must all possess some of these main qualities and characteristics in order to become a great servant leader to their employees.

Listening Skills
Great listening skills can be an important tool in any position. Leaders must be able to listen to their employees and actually hear what they are saying and what they are needing. Active listening is a common tool used in improving listening skills because it involves listening without distractions and then periodically repeating back what is heard for clarification. Good listening skills also include being able to remove distractions, never interrupting while someone is speaking, and paying attention to non-verbal communication, such as body language, tone and gestures. A servant leader knows that improving their listening skills can improve communication with employees, which in turn can lead to better professional relationships.
Improve your listening skills by:
• Actively listen
• Avoid interruption
• Give your undivided attention
• Notice non-verbal communication

Persuasive Powers
Some leaders confuse power and authority with the ability of persuasion. But persuasion is a powerful tool that can be used without, well, power. Persuasion is the art of using your knowledge and expertise in order to enlighten and encourage others. It does not use force or backhanded coercion. A servant leader can use persuasion to build unity among the team and conformity when making big decisions. Of course persuasion should always be back by facts and research, so a servant leader should never use persuasion that is based on false information or personal choices. Persuasion builds trust, so leaders must learn to use it effectively.
Help improve your powers of persuasion by:
• Know your facts and do your research
• Aim to educate
• Knowing when to listen to the other side

Recognizes Opportunities
Sometimes when a leader recognizes an opportunity for growth and expansion, it is often referred to as foresight. Generally, a servant leader can recognize an employee’s potential or certain skill set and can see an opportunity for them to set a goal or complete a task. Sometimes the leader can simply observe how an employee works and find a good fit for them. Communicating with each employee allows the leader to get to know each employee and build a personal relationship with them. Other times, simple work evaluations can be done in which the leader takes notes about the employee and creates an outcome from their findings. Whatever tools the leader uses, it is always important to listen to their intuition as well and always keep their eyes open.
Common tools to identify opportunities:
• Observe the employee
• Keep open communication with employees
• Perform formal and informal evaluations

Relates to Employees
Being able to relate to an employee is similar to being able to be empathetic, but requires a little more emotional involvement. A leader should be able to relate to an employee by remembering how they got to the position they are in and what leader helped them along the way. Leaders can relate to their employees because they used to be one. When employees need help, or struggle with a task, their leader should be able to relate to their sense of need, rather than criticize or judge them for it. When it’s time to delegate tasks, ensure that you are assigning duties and not barking orders or demands. Allow the employee to work on their own as much as possible and let them work on their own confidence level. In the end, employees will feel closer to your equal and less like just another one of your employees.

Source: Servant Leadership Workshop