Introduction to Team Building for Leaders
Bala (Name Changed for confidentiality purposes), a new joiner in a big corporate. From the roomy lecture halls to strolling around the campus to sharing life’s ups & downs as an open book with friends, life has been pretty familiar thus far. With each passing day at work, he realizes, there is so much more to it than just the job at hand. He finds himself dealing with a lot of people from different roles, age groups, and departments & navigating various personalities while focussing on his own deliverables.
Anita, restarting her career post work break for 10 years, finds herself amid a new team, who are a lot younger than herself. While acclimatising to the demands of the new role, she also wonders how she could better collaborate with her Gen Z peers.
Suman is given a new team to manage. It’s a diverse mix of team members. While he is confident about their individual capabilities, he also knows well, that the team needs time to grow in trust & ownership to deliver at their peak performance. He tried too hard to help his team succeed by telling them what to do & was perceived as a micromanager.
Ashok, a senior leader with more than 4 decades of experience in the company he loves, is mindful of the imminent culture dilution owing to post-pandemic challenges, new leadership, attrition & new hiring, aggressive growth & expansion plans. He is on the lookout for a sustainable way, to reinforce the company’s core values & inspire teams to align their goals to the larger mission of the firm.
The above-shared case studies are a microcosm of the most common scenarios encountered in any given organisation. To further add, we are moving into a future where more & more companies are embracing hybrid working, with teams across global geography, which adds further layers of complexity to the already existing team dynamics.
Team Building comes in handy in addressing all the above scenarios, by allowing the employees to bond & build relationships beyond their roles, rigid projects & deadlines, in a fun, relaxed & structured way, which is aligned with the larger organizational goal to inspire high performance, infuse company culture, build trust, enhance communication & collaboration.

Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships – Michael Jordan.

What Is Team Building?

The individual talent coming from diverse backgrounds, with varied interests, attitudes, thought processes, perceptions & likings don’t make a productive & harmonious team overnight. A group becomes a team, when the individuals come together leaving behind their differences to work in unison towards a common goal, complementing each other. This is best achieved by the means of Team Building.

Team building essentially is a leadership strategy to engage, influence, and improve team cohesiveness & overall team performance.

Employees need more than a fleeting warm-fuzzy feeling and a good paycheck to invest their full potential and achieve more for the company.

They want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what makes them unique. They want relationships, particularly with a manager who can coach them to the next level.

One of Gallup‘s biggest discoveries is the shift that we’ve made in our expectations at the workplace.

Team building activities could be that icebreaker, which can be employed on an everyday basis such as “daily check-ins” or a ritualistic “Morning team huddle” to engage & genuinely connect with the employees in a regular informal way.

It could also have structured activities led by an internal facilitator or with a proper budget, time & resources, it could be an elaborate team-building offsite activity involving facilitation by an experienced external facilitator.

 What Is Team Building?

Why Is Team Building Important in the Workplace?

Great things in Business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people – Steve Jobs.

Behind every audacious business goal, there are multiple moving parts, each managed by all kinds of diversely talented people working together as teams to achieve a common outcome. Thus, the success or failure of any business is directly proportional to the healthy spirit of unison among the team members.

Lack of such unison among the teams and/or team members complicates both communication & collaboration factors resulting in Disagreements, Poor information sharing, Unclear priorities, Delays, Task Duplication, Mistrust, Rivalry, Blaming, Lack of self-accountability and overall high-stress low productivity environment.

Intervening through Team Building helps team members develop positive relationships with each other. It provides a safe space to be vulnerable & not hide behind any facades.

Both Bala & Anita in the above case study, post team building, no longer feel like an alien for being a newbie or career gap team member. They feel ok about being who they are and feel much more comfortable sharing their ideas, asking for help, admitting mistakes as well as giving creative input to solve problems.

Suman didn’t know how to make frequent meaningful conversations with the team members and his efforts were often interpreted as micromanaging. Post team building, he noticed the team is geared up to function as a single unit, meeting every morning for a team huddle, sharing what their day’s priority is & seeking support from each other to overcome their challenges. He seizes this opportunity to shift from “telling” to “leading” as a Coach – encouraging collaboration, and big picture thinking while drawing individual strengths to come together in developing milestones and benchmarks for the team to keep everyone accountable and gauge their collective progress & accomplishments.

For Ashok, it didn’t come as a surprise to see the statistics on the number of companies investing in virtual team building has risen by 2500% during & post-pandemic. While the investment in Team building helped create an overall vibe of trust, collaboration & happiness among people working with each other, as a leader he is also cognizant of the fact that with a fully engaged workforce, his company is now geared up to generate twice the revenue.

The other intangible yet the proven benefit of team building is – Connecting the individual employee’s personal values to the company’s values & mission. This further helps individuals make hundreds of everyday decisions in alignment with the company’s values, which in a larger sense contributes to congruent company culture, attracting the right kind of talent & improving the attrition rates.

Stages of Team Formation & Why Leaders Need to Prioritize Team Building

Getting people in a team to work together is never easy. For teams to be effective, the people in the team must be able to work together to contribute collectively to team outcomes. But this does not happen automatically as every team goes through stages of team development (Reference: Bruce Tuckman’s 5 stage team development process)
Stages of Team Formation
Forming: This stage involves a period of orientation and getting acquainted. Uncertainty is high during this stage. Team members are asking such questions as “What does the team offer me?” “What is expected of me?” “Will I fit in?” Most social interactions are happening with a certain degree of cautious evaluation.
The storming stage is the most difficult and critical stage to pass through. It is period marked by conflict and competition as individual personalities emerge. Team performance may actually decrease in this stage because energy is applied to a lot of unproductive activities. To get through this stage, members must work to overcome communication obstacles, accept individual  differences, and work through conflicting ideas on team tasks and goals.
In this stage, Interpersonal differences begin to be resolved, and a sense of cohesion and unity emerges. Team performance increases during this stage as members learn to cooperate and begin to focus on team goals. However, the harmony is precarious, and if disagreements re-emerge the team can slide back into storming.
In the performing stage, consensus and cooperation have been well-established and the team is mature, organized, and well functioning. Problems and conflicts still emerge, but they are dealt with constructively. The team is unanimously focused on problem-solving and meeting team goals.
Most of the team’s goals have been accomplished. The emphasis is on wrapping up final tasks and documenting the effort and results. As the workload is diminished, individual members may be reassigned to other teams, and the team disbands. There  may be regret as the team ends, so a ceremonial acknowledgement of the work and success of the team can be helpful.
The leader has a lot of pressure on them. They need to simultaneously retain their position of authority & respect as well as inspire a common purpose among the team members while navigating the challenges of different stages of team formation.

Team building is a great way to help leaders get a better sense of their team members’ skills, needs, fears, challenges, blind spots etc & encourage them to trust each other & figure out a way to come together as a team.

If team Building is not prioritized, the team can get bogged down by addressing constant conflicts/disagreements/ambiguity etc & never reach the desired high-performing  stage.

Reasons Why Team Building Is an Essential Leadership Quality

The ability to build teams is a critical leadership skill. Building teams is an ongoing process at the workplace & everyday interaction between the employees & leaders contributes to the team-building experience.

Leaders who build great teams are:

They invest time to truly know their employees & how they are wired. They care & trust their capabilities to excel beyond expectations.
They have the art to communicate in an open & effective way. This helps them define clear goals, and expectations as well as share clear concise respectful feedback. There is less ambiguity and more alignment
They create an environment for the employees to grow & flourish. They don’t give into limitations, but rather they slip into  the coach’s hat to tap into the individual & team’s collective possibilities.

Each of these broad qualities requires coming together of many fine skills such as active listening, presence, curiosity, trust in self & others, courage, direct communication, empathy etc.

The good news is, if leaders aren’t natural in being able to build great teams, they can be trained in the qualities that could help them build great teams. (Enhance your Leadership quotient by embracing a Coaching Mindset – coaches/)

How Regal Unlimited Can Help With Team Building

Engaging with a professional team coach can help you turn your organization’s competent individual players into great team members.
How Regal Unlimited Can Help With Team Building
Get in touch with us for effective ICF Team Coaching interventions that transform your organization with high-fidelity teams and enable managers to think like a coach.

This blog is penned by Priya Sundaram, one of Regal’s ICF-ACC coach. Regal Unlimited takes pride having over 300+ Best ICF Certified Coaches. Connect with Priya Sundaram to explore Life and Leadership Coaching

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