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Archive for the ‘Team Effectiveness’ Category

How to Promote Creativity Through Team Building Activities

Friday, December 30th, 2016

When teams function smoothly, innovation and creative problem-solving come naturally. But achieving team harmony can take time and effort. Team building videos teach and encourage such skills as building trust between team members, demonstrating respect at all times, using good communication, and creating a safe place to voice new ideas and even fail. Then, facilitating team building activities helps team members practice those skills and gain camaraderie while doing so.magicofwess_thumb2x

When team members participate in collaborative team building activities, they learn to work together and generally get to know each other better. The activity can be something non-work-related like zip-lining or a scavenger hunt, or something relevant to the job, like a brainstorming session about a particular project or problem. Ultimately, the more trust team members feel towards each other, the more likely they are to feel secure being creative and offering new ideas and opinions.

For example, in the team building video The Magic of We, a team of leaders from Snapper Lawn Mowers came together on a Saturday morning to try and figure out, once and for all, why the parts on some of their lawn mowers simply weren’t fitting together after a recent factory consolidation and parts-supplier-overhaul. While there had been much conflict and finger-pointing  leading up to the weekend session, once everyone was together on the plant floor and was tasked with the common goal of assembling four lawn mowers from scratch, the leaders – assembled from every department of the company – set aside differences and began to collaborate with, and trust, one another. As they did so, they became energized in their quest to figure out the hardware problems and creativity flowed.

Ultimately, the Snapper team was successful – not just in solving the tough puzzle that faced them, but in building creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills. They learned that good teams:

  • Encourage, share and explore questions and ideas.
  • Generate options, act on one or more of them, and learn from each effort.
  • Step outside the day-to-day environment and rules to encourage innovation.
  • Make fun a part of the problem-solving process.
  • Make problem-solving and creative idea-generation more hands-on.

For more about the Snapper Lawn Mower story, preview The Magic of We team building video. In addition to lessons on teamwork, the video also teaches viewers about communication, leadership, problem-solving, and even Lean Manufacturing.

To learn more about encouraging creativity in team members, Team Creativity profiles a team member who doesn’t express her ideas because she fears rejection. From her example, viewers then learn how to stop the “enemies” of creativity in team situations.

The Top 3 Secrets of Successful Teams

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Organizations and managers are on a perpetual quest to discover the best ways to maximize their teams’ effectiveness. Below, we share our top 3 secrets of successful teams. All 3 “secrets” begin with teamwork training – a key way to bring teams together, build trust, learn important team building techniques, and develop a common language for discussing teamwork. And for all 3 secrets, we suggest team building videos that will help you get there.

3 Secrets of Successful Teams

1)      Successful teams operate from an accountability mindset and seek clarity around tasks and communication. An accountability mindset is a framework for viewing all tasks, meetings and conversations: it’s how you think about accepting assignments with full ownership, how you take action to complete tasks – despite any obstacles – and how you think about accepting the results of your actions – not as a victim, but as someone who owns their results, good or bad.    positive-workplace-manufacturing260

Seeking clarity around tasks and communication is also vital to an accountable, successful team and includes steps like figuring out who is doing what by when on each to-do, and using that information to craft clear agreements for all team tasks.

Team building video #1: Accountability that Works helps individuals and teams get more accomplished correctly and on time. With accountability, you get better results, improved teamwork, and clarity. Without it, you get blame, finger-pointing, missed deadlines and low morale. This program reveals an approach to accountability that improves team and organizational performance.

2)      Successful teams welcome diversity, especially in terms of different team participation styles and team player personalities. Team leaders and members understand that there is great strength and creativity in having diverse ideas, personalities and communication styles on a team. With all that diversity also comes the potential for conflict, of course, but teamwork training can help any team learn to value the participation styles of others while teaching how to use our own styles and personalities to the maximum advantage of the team – all with respect, clear communication and collaboration.

Team building video #2: Team Building: What Makes a Good Team Player features best-selling author and team building expert Glenn Parker showing how to leverage the unique strengths of different personality types and work through the kinds of conflict that prevent high performance. Manufacturing, Government, and Healthcare versions of this program are also available.

3)      Successful teams create an environment where people can give their honest opinion and where plans and ideas can be challenged. When open feedback and constructive conflict are stifled and discouraged in groups, decisions go unchecked, and disaster can occur. Groups that are successful know that encouraging diverse input, being able to challenge assumptions or decisions, and having the freedom to speak up are vital to good decision-making and strong team morale. Teamwork training can help any group learn to create a team culture where input is valued and group members’ ideas (and even disagreements) are actively sought out.

Team building video #3: The Abilene Paradox depicts individuals who support plans they really don’t believe in — leading groups to meaningless, costly outcomes. This best-selling, classic training program has helped thousands of organizations increase profits and productivity by helping teams make better group decisions.

What Makes A Good Team Player?

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Organizations which provide team building training to their employees recognize the power of what a high-performing team can accomplish, and they invest time and resources into building stronger, more collaborative teams. Team building videos and exercises can challenge employees to evaluate how they behave when on a team, and provide tips to improve communication, cooperation and trust.

But, what skills or personal characteristics make a good team player? Interestingly, the best teams are made up of very diverse people with different personalities, but that all coalesce by exhibiting self-awareness, interpersonal honesty, and mutual respect.teambuilding

Self-Awareness

We all tend to have different “styles” when it comes to working in a team. Some of us tend to be task-oriented, wanting to focus the group on the steps needed to accomplish the goal, while some people are more comfortable communicating, working to mediate differences and talk through challenges and ideas. Others still are great at challenging – they naturally ask “why?” or “why not?” and question assumptions, forcing the team towards better innovation and critical thinking. No matter what our natural style, though, it’s important to be aware of how we interact in groups and be able to “dial back” our style when necessary, or even switch styles when the team needs it.

Interpersonal Honesty

It’s important to understand that a good team player is not a “yes-person,” someone whose main concern is achieving consensus and not rocking the boat. As any good team building training will teach, teams only succeed when individual members feel safe enough to speak up when they disagree or feel something isn’t right. High-performing teams rely on members who are creative rather than conformist, and who bring interpersonal honesty to the table in order to push the group to higher standards.

Mutual Respect

With all the benefits of having a team comprised of diverse individuals – fresh ideas, different expertise and unique experiences – comes the potential for conflict and “head butting.” Therefore, team leaders and members should become adept at managing – not avoiding – conflict, and channeling it in productive ways. This begins by team members exhibiting mutual respect towards each other, even when they disagree. Behaviors like not interrupting when you disagree, listening with an open mind, and avoiding talking behind someone’s back all demonstrate respect. Because a clash of viewpoints is essential for creative, high-quality solutions.

CRM Learning offers numerous team building videos that help teams build trust and respect, learn their natural communication styles, and speak up against the status quo.

Team Building: What Makes a Good Team Player? focuses on Glenn Parker’s four types of team players, illustrating how groups can build on the strengths of each personality to reach team goals.

Groupthink A powerful reenactment of events surrounding the launch of Space Shuttle Challenger helps viewers see how “groupthink” can lead to costly decisions.

See other team building videos here.

How Can Emotional Intelligence Videos Improve My Team?

Friday, May 6th, 2016

ei_aluminum04When they think about building team effectiveness, most people don’t think of Emotional Intelligence (or “EI”) training because EI training typically focuses on the individual not the group. But, increasing the emotional intelligence of individual team members will ultimately improve a group’s effectiveness and enable them to use the power of emotion in their pursuit of organizational goals.

As humans, we all have our “blind spots” at work—areas where we over-react, or repeatedly make the same mistakes when dealing with certain co-workers or situations. In a team setting, these disruptive behaviors can undermine trust, respect and collaboration.

By helping team members develop the 5 Emotional Intelligence Competencies, you can build a cohesive team that works together and is less likely to fall prey to dysfunction. These five competencies are Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation, Empathy, and Effective Relationships.   

The basic premise of EI Training is that people can change.  Employees can develop these competencies and become:

  • more self-aware (and have a better sense of their “blind spots” and what to do about them). 
  • better able to regulate their emotions, specifically learning how to cool down in times of anger and frustration instead of venting or taking it out on others.   
  • inspired to use the positive aspects of emotion to remain motivated… especially in the face of setbacks or challenges
  • more empathic towards others
  • more successful at building positive, respectful workplace relationship

With the help our Emotional Intelligence videos provide, you can create a more pleasant, safe and collaborative work environment for your entire organization.

More About Our Emotional Intelligence Videos and How They Can Help Your Team

The Emotional Intelligence Series contains 3 different videos that cover the understanding and demonstration of emotional intelligence as well as how it leads to optimal performance on the job. Host Daniel Goleman explains the science behind emotional intelligence and introduces scenarios that illustrate how improvements in the area of emotional intelligence impact employee well-being and overall organizational communication. The 3-part series is a perfect EI “how-to”course .

So, if you are noticing a dip in team productivity or an increase in emotional outbursts at your organization, the Emotional Intelligence Series, along with our overview video Emotional Intelligence, can help. Use them to fix common issues associated with negative emotions and to enable people to tap into the energy of positive emotions.

Visit CRM Learning for more training videos on interpersonal skills and other topics designed to increase productivity and create a better work environment. 

How to Avoid the Road to Abilene

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Has your group ever gone down the road to Abilene? This type of trip occurs when a group or team goes ahead with an idea or project due to the phenomenon of “false consensus”: everyone communicates their agreement with the idea, when in fact, some or all actually have objections or concerns, but fail to state them. This occurs in organizations because many people feel they’ll be ridiculed or censured if they voice objections. Trips to Abilene are a waste of time and resources and leave team members frustrated. Avoiding the road to Abilene in the first place is the best way to keep a fear of speaking up from causing your group to support a bad choice.

How to Avoid the Road to Abilene

  1. Encourage Disagreement: Create an environment in which group members are comfortable voicing differing opinions and are expected to stand up for their convictions. Facilitating discussion, keeping conflict healthy, and specifically asking for conflicting viewpoints allow groups to determine whether or not everyone is on board with a given idea.
  2. Avoid Depending on Unanimous Agreement: It takes an inordinately long time to truly reach a unanimous agreement. If people in a group know that the only way the project can move forward is if they pretend to agree with an idea, they are much less likely to present an opposing position.
  3. Create Avenues for Everyone to Voice their Opinions: No matter how you set up a discussion, not everyone is going to feel comfortable voicing their opinion. Setting up alternative avenues for discussion can help avoid that trip to Abilene. This might mean creating an anonymous suggestion box or hotline, or asking people for their opinion one on one. Everything you can do to diversify the way opinions are voiced reduces your chance of pouring resources into bad ideas.
  4. Be Careful with Language: The way a group leader constructs his or her comments can have a vast impact on whether or not members speak up. For example, saying “So we’re all in agreement?” encourages everyone in the group to say “yes.” Instead, consider asking “Does anyone have anything to add?” Being precise with language when wrapping up a discussion or responding to criticism can encourage, rather than put a damper on, opposing views.
  5. Ask “Are We On the Road to Abilene?”: If your group is familiar with the Abilene Paradox, asking straight-out whether it may be in play can help you recognize and get off of the wrong road.

Groups are most able to avoid taking the road to Abilene if they are first familiar with the concept. Video training is an effective way to introduce the Abilene Paradox and reinforce methods for avoiding it. Good training paired with thoughtful group management can dramatically cut back on ineffective group dynamics.

Recommended Training Resource: The Abilene Paradox is one of our best-selling videos. It’s an entertaining introduction to the concept of the Abilene Paradox that helps team members improve their ability to interact in groups and overcome their fear of speaking out.

3 Examples of How the Abilene Paradox Impacts Workplace Decision-Making

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

If you’ve read our article How The Abilene Paradox Video Improves Team Decision Making, you know that an inability to manage agreement can have a severely negative impact on a group’s ability to make decisions effectively.Abilene Paradox video image There are many different ways this paradox impacts decision-making: here are three that stand out the most.

  1. The Abilene Paradox Creates an Atmosphere Where People are Afraid to Speak Freely: A group “goes to Abilene” when a member of the team proposes an action and no one takes a stand against it. While individual members of the team may believe that the plan is not sound, their fear of possible negative consequences if they oppose the plan, or their desire to maintain group harmony, keeps them from voicing their true opinion. Instead of mutual accountability and honest communication, the team begins acting on inaccurate data or “false consensus”. The person who originally made the suggestion may not even believe it is the best choice, but if no one is willing to give a differing the opinion, a poor decision will be made.
  2. A Group Going to Abilene Won’t Evaluate Alternative Choices: A group going to Abilene is less likely to evaluate alternative choices when making a decision. Effective decision making requires this type of thorough investigation. When team members don’t voice concerns or opposition to an idea with which they disagree, the decision will likely be given the green-light and other (perhaps better) options will not be presented.
  3. Potential Problems are Not Identified: When a group goes to Abilene, it does not engage in a rigorous discussion of a decision’s potential downsides. Instead, group members simply agree to go along with the suggestion, regardless of its merits. When a decision is made without being tested, problems are bound to come up. Groups that can productively debate a decision are much more likely to identify potential issues before they occur, allowing them to think of contingencies instead of being blindsided further down the road.

Avoiding the Abilene Paradox

Recognizing when your group has fallen prey to the Abilene Paradox, and addressing it before any final decisions are made, can dramatically improve your business’s decision-making process. Look through our previous article on the Abilene Paradox for more details about how to recognize it in your workplace, and what to do to put an end to it.

Recommended Training Resource

“The Abilene Paradox” is a bestselling video that uses the story of a family domino game to demonstrate how problems with group decision making can stem from agreement. Use it to build skills in preventing false consensus, improving group decisions, and overcoming fear of speaking out.

Seeing Co-workers as Customers

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Learn From Mistakes in the WorkplaceYou know those people in your organization who always have a smile and a cheerful word?

They’re showing you good customer service.

Do I hear you thinking, “But I’m not their customer!”?

Actually, you are.

If you work in an internal function within your company, fulfilling a role that has no external client contact, you might think that customer service isn’t relevant to you.

But we all have customers.

Every department within the company is called upon to assist other departments and make it possible for the people in those departments to do their job. Human Resources and IT are the most obvious examples. Here are a few more: marketing serves the sales department by generating leads, while the sales department serves the marketing department by providing feedback on what customers are saying. (more…)

Teamwork Day-to-Day

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Team Effectiveness TrainingDisasters, accidents, and other emergencies pull teams together.

But what about the day-to-day realities of being on a team when there’s no adrenaline fueling a sense of urgency, and no life-impacting goal galvanizing team members into a cohesive whole?

There are five factors that impact team performance, whether in a crisis or simply in day-to-day operations.

  1. Luck

Don’t waste time and energy complaining about bad luck or what’s going wrong. Be aware of problems, but put your focus on what’s right; then you can take advantage of the factors working in your favor.

  1. Communication

Clear language, concise, specific requests, and double-checking for understanding aren’t just “nice to have.” Whether you’re in crisis or in your standard day-to-day process, focusing on clear communication should always be a priority for your team.

  1. Preparation

(more…)

Why We Take “The Road to Abilene”

Monday, October 6th, 2014

abelinecarIn our previous two articles we introduced Professor Jerry Harvey’s concept of the Abilene Paradox and how it affects group decision making in both our personal and work lives. We also reviewed six tell-tale signs that a group or work team has stumbled into the Paradox and is “on the road to Abilene.”

In this post we will explore the psychological underpinnings of the Paradox. Why would a group of people (families, companies, or even governments) take action in contradiction to the data they have for dealing with a problem and, as a result, compound the problem rather than solve it?

According to Professor Harvey, group members are impacted by a number of psychological factors.

  • The first principle is action anxiety—an intense uneasiness created when we think about acting in accordance with what we believe needs to be done. Action anxiety occurs as we anticipate the results of taking action, and the results we foresee are negative instead of positive.
  • Negative fantasies or perceived risk are visualizations where we focus on the harmful effects resulting from our actions, rather than improvements to the situation. They provide an excuse for not taking responsible action.

(more…)


 

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