Vancouver – In addition to performing in front of thousands of people every week with our shows here at The Improv Centre and via our customized corporate improv shows, we are also in the Team Development business….working with organizations to help them build stronger, more agile and productive teams.
We know from the work we do with organizations ranging from Microsoft, lululemon, LifeLabs, RBC, TD Canada, YVR, UBC and SFU and hundreds of others, that that creating a team that communicates, collaborates and supports each other at a high level can be a difficult task. But when you get it right, it makes all the difference for every team member, and the organization.
When it clicks, you’ll see creativity and innovation spike, as happy team members’ work together to accomplish their goals. It’s a cool thing.
When it doesn’t click, you have team members shutting down, not contributing, not feeling supported and in turn, not supporting others. Conflict becomes an eternal loop, rather than something that’s inevitable, healthy and an opportunity to collaborate and work through respectively.
Regardless of the skill sets and talent on a team – if the team culture isn’t cultivated, it’s going to be pretty difficult for it to be become a high-functioning unit.
Focusing on team development at any stage is an on-going responsibility for any manager, but there are opportunities at the beginning of a team’s life cycle that are unique and don’t present themselves again.
So if you are a part of a newly formed team, committee, department or group tasked with a special project, here are a team development tips to help set the group up for long-term success.
Team Development Tip
Here at Vancouver TheatreSports, we have the opportunity to work with a lot of teams as they first come together. Organizations often bring us in at that initial phase…whether it’s with a group of interns starting, a new co-hort with a grad program at university, or a new project or team is coming together.
Team Building Tip:
When a team first comes together, the beginning stage is going to be more about connecting the group, roles, ground rules for communicating and working together and developing relationships, rather than rolling up the sleeves right away and diving into the tasks. So as a leader, this beginning stage is where you lay the groundwork for building a team that crushes it together, with everyone contributing.
This may not be overly surprising, but as an improv-based training company, we embrace the power of “Yes, and…”. If your team was also to embrace the principle of “Yes, and…” right out of the gate, that alone will be an important building block to creating a team that is in-sync.
Let’s assume that each person on the team is there because they bring something to the table (which I’m guessing is the case). They all add value in their own way.
From the start, create a culture where everyone 1) listens to each other’s insights, thoughts and opinions (and really listens, giving fellow members the respect of their attention), and 2) holds judgement (don’t immediately respond with a reason why something won’t work, or a comment that is deflating to the idea), and 3) whenever possible, contributes to what your colleagues are saying (the “Yes and…” part, where you accept the idea and then add to the idea).
This cultivates an environment that is open and non-judgemental. Where everyone gives their support and can operate knowing just as they give support, they’ll also receive that same support back.
This is a team on their way to unleashing their creativity and innovation, collaborating in a highly effective way though planning, problem-solving, brainstorming and decision-making.
Good luck with your team!
(and again, reach out to Jeff if you’re interested in learning a bit more about how we work with teams though our unique team building activities – Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org