By Brian Kathenes
You can't pick up a business magazine today without reading an article about team building. But most of these articles oversimplify the team approach and the effort required to build successful business teams. So keep the following in mind:
Manage Expectations: A team concept generally takes about two years to implement and have it stick. Changing the corporate culture does not happen overnight. You and those you report to must be willing to look long-range. There are no "quick fix" teambuilding programs that will produce instant, documented results.
Develop a Complete Plan: There's no point in tacking up the first "Go Team" poster on the bulletin board until you have a complete plan. Changing the course of your teambuilding ship is very difficult and potentally expensive--so make sure you truly know where you want to go before you leave the dock.
Insist on integrity and mutual respect in all your meetings and interactions: One critical key to successful teams is developing trust and respect in the workplace. As the "coach," you must set the example. Write less CYA (cover your tail) memos. Make more commitments verbally, and make sure you keep them. Empower your subordinates to make more decisions.
Share Your Vision: Let the team know where you want the organization to be five years from now. Let them be a part of the change. Most importantly, let them take an active role in the process. You will find that most of the answers to your problems and questions are in the heads of your employees. All you need to do is ask--and listen. That is one of the cornerstones when building a team.
By actively setting the example, you accomplish two things. 1) You let the rest of the crew know what the new "appropriate" behavior is. 2) You begin the process of change subtly, but solidly.
All successful teambuilding programs start with senior management commitment. Your staff will look to you from the outset to see if this "new concept" is a passing fad or the new way of doing business. Let them see from you the power of the team, so they can decide to commit themselves.