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Susquehanna Life

Katie Answers Some Teambuilding Questions

Dec 09, 2016 08:41PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

1. Why is team-building important? Where is it important?

Team building activities simulate actual scenarios that teams may encounter and have to work through together. It allows for exploration, challenge, and solidification of team strengths, values, and goals in a low-risk setting that can be applied to real-life situations. Team building is important for any group of people who need to work as a high-functioning unit to accomplish a common goal.


2. You have facilitated team-building activities previously. What is the draw to doing that?

The root of the word facilitate is “facile,” or, easy. To facilitate means “to make easier.” As a facilitator, my role is to set participants up for success in their growth as a team … not by giving them answers, but by asking intentional questions and presenting relevant context. I enjoy watching groups of people develop strengths as a group and function better as a team in just a matter of hours.


3. How do you think team-building exercises such as the Lewisburg Escape Room or ropes courses affect people as individuals and as a group?

Many team building exercises reveal a level of vulnerability. This is perhaps the most poignant effect on individuals. Particularly with ropes courses or things that involve perceived physical risks, individuals may be self-conscious, hesitant, nervous or even resistant. If I’ve done my job well as a facilitator, this is a key growth opportunity for the individual AND the team. The individual challenges himself to move forward with the activity once he feels support from the team, and the team rallies around the sense of pride and accomplishment of what they can do when all members feel supported.


4. On a similar note, do you think two similar groups who do the same teambuilding activities can have different results? Why/why not?

ABSOLUTELY. In fact, I expect this as a facilitator. So much depends on where the team is in their development. A group that has been functioning together for a while will have very different outcomes than a newly formed team. Recent events might shape the emotional readiness of the group. Power dynamics play in a lot (for example, if the leader/teacher/coach is present or not) in terms of how the group functions.


5. The phrase “well-oiled machine” comes to mind. Is there a such a thing as being “too good” of a team? Could that be dangerous or threatening to the team as a whole?

If members of the team are no longer receptive to feedback/growth, then yes. A high-functioning team should display a degree of confidence but still be willing to get better. Egos will always get in the way of team function.


6. Is there ever a point where it becomes more difficult to instill a sense of team spirit into someone? How do you overcome that?

Sure. There has to be a base-level acknowledgement of why the team should even exist. If members are forced unwillingly to participate, there will be resistance. A facilitator should begin with group agreements or asking each member why they are participating. Unpacking that can help get to the root of naysayers’ negativity.


7. Some people may be reluctant to participate in team-building exercises. How you face that problem?

See above. Also, if the unwillingness stems from being self-conscious, explaining “challenge by choice” can be helpful. CBC is a philosophy that asks all members to participate in a way that works for them. I like to encourage members to push themselves “an inch or two” outside their comfort zone, because that’s where growth happens. Much farther than that can be too high-risk, so, members reluctant to do certain activities can serve in alternate (but equally important) roles such as strategists, communicators, or spotters/supporters.


8. We talked a little about your facilitation of team-building, but have you ever participated in those exercises? How did they affect you?

Many, many times J I definitely see the value in team building exercises. They provide common ground and meaningful discussion for the group that will continue to work together.


9. What would be your advice to someone looking to improve the way a team works together?

Growth has to come from inside, not out. No presentation or lecture is going to improve a team’s performance. Start by facilitating a dialogue with the group about their strengths, challenges, areas of improvement, and aspirations. Use this as fuel for relevant activities (key word is RELEVANT. A good facilitate will intentionally craft activities that focus on the group’s goals; activities shouldn’t be picked randomly). After each activity, host a debrief conversation to draw out issues and tensions. Celebrate accomplishments. Remind the team that they’re working toward a common goal. Continue to allow opportunities for feedback, reflection, and celebration through the duration of the team’s tenure together.

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