How to get teams working together quickly

by | Feb 13, 2019

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What the Queen of England can teach us about team building

With the news dominated by Brexit, backstops, and boundaries, division seems to be rife – but it’s not good for business.

Just like countries, companies can find themselves with their people split firmly into factions of ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Often most-evident post-merger or acquisition, a lack of cohesion among a business’ staff can massively affect productivity and profitability, not to mention morale.

But how can you bridge the divides affecting your business and get your people working together positively and quickly?   

What a lot of managers look to do at this point will be some kind of team building activities. That’s a no-brainer really, if you want a team to work you need to invest some time in it.

But what kind of team building activity should you choose? A weekly visit to the pub? An away day where you have to cross a fictional river using only straws, or perhaps if you are really unfortunate – where you have to cross a real one and get wet, muddy and perhaps even more disgruntled?

Now, you might be wondering what on earth the Queen of England has to do with all of this, well here’s where she comes in…

Her Royal Highness made a comment in a public address about the need to find ‘common ground’ and it was widely seen to be referring to the Brexit debate.

Whatever her intention, I think she’s right. The key to resolving conflict and divides lies in finding common ground, and the more quickly you can do this within your teams, the better.

This is where a lot of team building efforts fail. Colleagues all happily schlep off to the pub on a Friday night and it all seems to have gone swimmingly, except they haven’t got beyond exchanging trivialities and the whole thing hasn’t contributed anything to the search for common ground.

Any team building activity you choose needs to help people really open up, which is why we use a vulnerability-based approach.

A vulnerability-based approach works by encouraging participants to share their stories and allows them to bond over their experiences.

Whilst it sounds a bit fluffy and new-age, it is incredibly effective at allowing people to stop worrying about being perfect and relate to each other.

For example, I was working with a team who had been put together when two companies had merged and there was a major lack of trust in the room.

We needed to establish deep trust and quickly, in order to get them to respond to each other better within the team, so we did a ‘vulnerability’ exercise where they had to draw a picture of their life.

In my experience this gets people to really open up and show a side of themselves they never would usually.

Someone drew a bomb and explained how they had grown up in the midst of civil war.

Whilst no-one else in the room had grown up in a civil war, what this admission did was illustrate the fact that the guy that had done the drawing had a past and was a human like any other.

And that’s where the common ground comes in, once the figures around the table become human in each other’s eyes, it allowed them to show up and participate in a way they never could before.

Once they began to understand each other, they began to really listen to each other, and the ideas and opinions being presented became more valued.

This ‘opening up’ allowed a bond to be created between members of the team. Once you get where a person is coming from and the experiences that have shaped them, it is much easier to understand their behaviour and find ways of working together which accommodates and celebrates different personalities.

So instead of having factions of ‘them’ and ‘us’ we can create teams that relate to each other and become more productive.

The holy grail of team building is common ground, and if you’d like Connectivity to help your team to find some, then get in touch.