Team Building 101

As far back as I can remember I have played team sports.

I was born with a competitive nature. I am the youngest of three boys. To survive, I was required to push harder and better. To be frank, I learned to loathe losing. But, I’m grateful that I was raised in an era when only winners received trophies.

While I surpassed many of my peers in natural ability, I hated to see them struggle. If my teammates didn’t produce—the team suffered. I quickly learned the effectiveness of teamwork.

Nearly every team sport has an individual that excels—but a team that wins utilizes a collective input and mutual investment.

The plurality of oneness

Surely, the phrase “plurality of oneness” seems like an oxymoron. And, sort of—it is. But within the realm of any fruitful organization should be a collaboration and unification of differing talents.

For example, the Apostle Paul manifested God’s design for the church—that there would be “apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). More than mere office titles, each of these five labels provides unique giftings and talents—for the whole.

The respective offices illustrate a plurality of oneness—teamwork.

Effective team building is not found in gathering similar talents, but diverse. As another example, think about football. Not everyone passes, or kicks, or runs, or blocks—yet each teammate’s unique skillset completes the whole.

Seeking diversity with clarity

Everyone knows that if you gather ten Baptists in a room, you’ll have ten opinions and a casserole. Yet, in all seriousness—team diversity is good—if done correctly.

In Paul’s “team-list” (above), while there is a uniqueness of talent, there is also a unified vision. When seeking team members, two essential foundations exist in building and developing a successful team.

We briefly examined the first—gathering a diversified group of people. Second, each of the team members must understand the organization’s vision. With vision, clarity comes succinct goal setting and completion.

When a diversified team collaborates with a unified vision then creativity, innovation, and goal setting help to reach specified key objectives. However, diversity without vision clarity is merely an opinionated fellowship.

Creating key objectives for specific results

Why have a team at all? What is the purpose of a team?

Normally, a team is created because it outshines the effectiveness of what one person can accomplish. Therefore, a team should exist to achieve strategic objectives with specified results.

Recently, I read John Doerr’s book, Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs.It seems that “OKRs” are the new buzzwords. OKRs are objectives and key results.

To maintain a unified vision within the diversified team, write down realistic and achievable goals. Concurrently, the team should also log a measurable means of identifying how each objective is met (i.e. how do we know when the objective is complete?).

But remember, having a diverse group helps achieve a unified vision by utilizing each person’s talents, but each team member may have differing methods of achieving a specific goal. The purpose of writing down the objectives and key results allows each team member to be invested in the process and know when/how to move forward.

Think of a young child singing their ABC’s. My youngest daughter used to skip over the letter N, singing, M.M.M.O.P.

Did she complete her objectives? Not really. First, she repeated “objective” M, three times. She also missed “objective” N, completely. And, in the grand scheme of things, failed to sing the alphabet—the entire reason for learning the song.

However, I loved to hear her sing. And, when she got it correct—ice cream was always a good reward.

Celebrate the small victories

Everyone likes to be edified. Too many times organizations do not celebrate the little wins of reaching key objectives. When visible results are measured and the steps to fulfilling the vision come to pass, it is important to recognize a job well-done.

This last point is not a team building feature, but it will solidify validity and provide encouragement. Collectively celebrating is something every team strives to witness.

Celebrate the small victories of the team.