Lessons in Team Building: Communication

One of the most important elements of having a cohesive team is effective, open communications. Simply put, it's fundamental. You can't build an effective team without it.

It's one of those things that you only really notice in the breach.

Broken phoneWhen communication breaks down among team members, everything breaks down, and everyone points to "poor communication."

Not on their own part, of course. We never notice when WE are not communicating well. But boy is it easy to discern when others aren't communicating.

The truth is, communication only works when both the sender and recipient of a communication are focusing hard on communicating. If either side isn't working hard at it, communication breaks down.

But is the breakdown because the sender isn't sending... or the recipient isn't listening?

Or are you just speaking different languages?

When the communication broke down, did you try again? Ask for clarification? Double-check to make sure you (or the other) understood properly?

In other words, did YOU do everything you could do to make the communication successful?


Think about it.


Team, manage your boss!

Manage your boss!Bosses have a distinct and key role on any team. The boss is the leader, manager, inspiration of great things. He or she makes decisions about resources, priorities, timing, staffing, pay, days off, and so on.

But bosses need to be managed, too.

In fact, on any successful team, the management of the boss by the team may be one of the most critically important aspects of team cohesion and success.

This doesn't mean that the staff gets to make decisions about the boss's pay, time off, etc.

What it means is that teams need to communicate their needs, priorities, resources, timing constraints, etc. - and previously-made decisions about those factors - to the boss in the same way that the boss communicates decisions about those to staff.

And when the boss makes choices that are incompatible with the staff's needs - the needs that facilitate team success - staff needs to tell the boss where he or she is going astray.

Not doing that could lead the whole team astray.

You're part of that leadership structure, whether you're the boss or the staff.

So... manage your boss, team.


(If you're having difficulty communicating openly with said boss... perhaps some team building could help?)

(Oh, and include your boss in that, would you?)



Operation Care Kit: Honor the Troops on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, take a step away from your BBQ grill for a moment and give thanks to the team who have preserved your freedom and safety, so that you CAN fire up that grill today.

And not just those who have fallen in past wars - although of course they are due all of our honor and thanks. Remember, too, that men and women continue to venture into harm's way to serve our country and defend our way of life. Those brave men and women who continue to serve in Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the globe. (No, they're not all home yet.)

This Memorial Day, our team salutes those who have served, and those who continue to serve.

We urge you to step away from the burgers and potato salad for a moment and remember those who have fallen, those who suffer injuries and trauma from their service, and those still on active duty.

In honor of those still serving, Run Brain Run will offer its Operation Care Kit team building exercise at a special price. Book by Friday, May 31 at 5 PM and you pay only $40 per person (minimum $800).

You build the care kits. We'll ship them free.

The soldiers will appreciate it more than you know.


Teamwork: Playing (nice) with partners

Partnership is more than a handshakeTraditionally we have thought of teams as consisting of those connected by an office, an organizational chart, or a brand identity. But in this modern world, those boundaries matter less and less. With contract employees, consortia, "virtual companies" and partnerships emerging as more prominent organizational models, our definition of "team" needs to expand beyond the boundaries of whose payroll system you're on.

Today's teams are organized around shared missions, mutually beneficial alliances and common interests, with many of the players drawing incomes and profits from separate sources but resulting from cooperative efforts. In the travel industry, for example, airlines partner with hotels, shuttle services and restaurants to provide vacation packages to the shopping-weary tourist rather than forming a single company who tries to do it all.

This idea is hardly new. Nor is team building within an organization, even team building that unites newly merging corporate entities under one brand banner.

But what we haven't seen happen much is cross-organizational team building - in the above example, the airline inviting its hotel, shuttle and restaurant partners to participate in a joint team building exercise that builds communication, cooperation, and trust.

It's probably the case because, as the saying goes in on-line dating, "it's complicated." Who will pay? Who will decide what the event is? Is it elective or mandatory? On and on.

But these issues will get worked out, because they need to be. (Just like all partnership issues.)

Partners need to play nice together, trust each other, communicate, cooperate, try to make sure they understand their partner's objectives and how they intersect with one's own. They need to enjoy working together.

Fun team building outings are a great start.

Which of your partners would you like to create a better relationship with today?


Who's your "Office Mom"?

In honor of Mother's Day, we have a question.

Who's your "Office Mom"?

We don't mean this in a derogatory way. (Trust us - our Moms would kill us if we gave even a slightly negative connotation to the term "Mom.")

We mean:  who's the one who takes care of things when everyone else goes on with their merry lives? Who's the one who pays attention to people's state of well being, who knows when someone needs cheering up - or straightening up?

That person is essential to have on every team.

They, like your "home" Mom, deserve a day of recognition, too.

So, whoever that person is... tell her or him, "Happy Mother's Day." And, "Thanks."

(And don't forget to tell Mom the same on Sunday.)



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