Guidelines for Team Building

The purpose of team building is to increase cohesiveness, mutual cooperation, and identification with the group. The following guidelines can be useful for team-building:

Emphasis common interests and values:

Members are more likely to identify with a group in which there is agreement about objectives, strategies for attaining them, and the need for cooperation. The leader should emphasize mutual interests, identify shared objectives, and explain why cooperation is necessary to attain them.

Use ceremonies and rituals:

Ceremonies and rituals can be used to increase identification with a group and make membership appear special. Initiating rituals are used to induct new members into a group, retirement rituals are used to celebrate the departure of old members. Ceremonies are used to celebrate special achievements or mark the anniversary of special events in the history of the group. Rituals and ceremonies are most effective when they emphasize the group’s values and traditions.

Use symbols to develop identification with the group:

Symbols of group identify such as a team name, slogan, logo, insignia, or emblem may be displayed on flags, banners, clothing, or jewelry. Even a particular type of color of clothing may indicate group membership, as in the case of many urban gangs. Symbols can be effective for helping to create a separate identity for a team. Group identification is strengthened when members agree to wear or display the symbols of membership.

Encourage and facilitate social interaction:

Development of a cohesive group is more likely if the members get to know each other on a personal basis and find it satisfying to interact socially. One way to facilitate pleasant social interaction is to hold periodic social activities such as dinners, lunches, and parties. Various types of outings can be used to facilitate social interaction.

Tell people about group activities and achievements:

People tend to feel alienated and unappreciated when they receive little information about the plans, activities, and achievements of their team or department. It is important to keep members informed about these things and to explain how their work contributes to the success of the mission.

Conduct process analysis sessions:

Process analysis sessions involve frank and open discussion of interpersonal relationships and group processes in an effort to improve them. One approach is to ask each person to suggest ways to make the group more effective. These suggestions should focus on how members communicate, work together, make decisions, and resolve disagreements rather than on the technical aspects of the work. A similar approach is to ask each member to describe what other members could do to make his or her role in the group easier.

Conduct alignment sessions:

There is less mutual trust and acceptance among people who view each other in terms of negative stereotypes and attributions. Negative stereotypes are common in teams with very diverse members, and negative attributions are common when members disagree about task issues. The purpose of an alignment session is to increase mutual understanding among team members. Prior to the session, each member is given an open ended questionnaire about values, concerns, and personal objectives.

Increase incentives for mutual cooperation:

Incentives based on individual performance encourage team members to compete with each other, whereas incentives based on group performance encourage cooperation. One way to increase cohesiveness and team identification is to emphasis formal incentives such as a bonus based on improvements in team performance. Another way is to use spontaneous, informal rewards to emphasize the importance of service to the team.



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