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Teams are made up of individuals. Sounds blatantly obvious, doesn’t it? More often that not, team building focuses on organizational mandates and goals only. What motivates the team and what makes up each individual within the team is often overlooked. Unless there is motivation to make changes and follow through with those changes, any team building exercise you do will spark a fire, but quickly go out when the activity is over. This is why it is important to motivate the participants.
There are two ways to think of motivation:
- Outside motivation; typifies the rah-rah, pump-it-up, get-out-there-and-attack-the-world approach. There is nothing wrong with this motivational approach, however I find it wanes over time and requires periodic tune-ups.
- Inside motivation; exists on the inside and is harder to achieve, but it lasts longer because it becomes part of our belief system.
You need both kinds of motivation to have a well-rounded, enjoyable team building experience. What most facilitators do not focus on, however, is the inside motivation. You can rally around buzz words and mission statements all day long, but unless the inside motivation for the individual is uncovered, the motivation created during team building will not “stick” for the long haul.
This is where the focus on awareness comes into play. In fact, I refer to myself as really being an awareness coach, instead of a team building coach.
Blindfold me and take me into a plain room with 12 to 20 employees from any organization. Don’t tell me who they are, what they do, or the specific challenges they are having at work. I want my expectations level at zero. It is at this point and only this point, I will set up, facilitate and de-brief the group on the team building exercises we will be doing that day. My goal is to gain awareness.
Through awareness coaching, I will be able to tell you all about this organization, their strengths and their challenges. Even better, the team members will be able to come up with the answers themselves. When we become more aware of our own actions and beliefs, and those with whom we work, we work better as a team. These new perspectives and new appreciations compel us to treat each other better and interact more productively.
When I Realized the Power of Awareness
My personal turning point in awareness coaching came on a train to Callaway Gardens many years ago. I was peacefully reading a book when a man and his four children boarded. They proceeded to run all over the place screaming and playing tag. The father did nothing. I found myself reading the same line over and over again. I was mad. Just when I was about to say something to the man, he apologized to everyone and said his wife had just died. They were on their way to her funeral. Somehow, I didn’t notice the kids the rest of the trip. That was a huge lesson in awareness for me.
When we start to fine tune and adjust our beliefs so that they work for us instead of against us, we start creating a powerful and lasting inner motivation. In this example, since I had more background about why the kids were acting up and why the father was not doing anything about it, I was able to block out the fact that I was annoyed and concentrate on my reading instead.
Awareness of the Self Helps the Team
It is learning new awareness about ourselves and others that trigger challenges to old beliefs. In my team building programs, my goals are to create compelling activities and ask moving questions that ignite our creative juices and produce creative problem solving. I cannot change people. I can only start the awareness process.
The activities I conduct are the vehicle. Participants enjoy the unique challenges of each one. They strategize, search for solutions, find surprises along the way, and play full out. All they can think about is success. And like life, it doesn’t always happen. That is when the learning kicks in.
It guides and allows the team members to gain specific perspectives into their own behavior and attitude and how it affects others. To me, the difference between typical team building coaching and awareness coaching is that awareness coaching blends personal one-on-one success coaching with group success coaching. Maximum engagement is achieved through whole group activities, groups of 4, dyads, and individual challenges. This allows the learning to jump back and forth between individual eye openers to group discoveries.
Awareness is noticing if you or your teammates:
- Follow the rules
- Bend the rules
- Play honestly
- Speak up and assert
- Choose to listen
- Communicate effectively
- Communicate unproductively
- Ask for help
- Go it alone
- Get frustrated and angry
- Use frustration to change strategies
- Take responsibility for the outcome
- See the big picture
- See the tiny details
- Have fun
- Have fun only if successful
- Play win-lose
- Play win-win
These teamwork challenges reveal so much. Because I believe that how we play these activities is how we do life. I am able to see and observe how organizations really, really, really, really act and behave in the trenches. This type of awareness is the starting point for giving us the wisdom and courage to change all our need-to-do’s, would-like-to-do’s, and maybe-I’ll-do’s to MUST DO’S! And that starts from the inside out.
Build a Successful Team Through Awareness
Larry Lipman of Fun Team Building will develop a customized team building day for your organization. Lean more about the individuals that work for you through team bonding games that will foster lasting motivation for success within your organization. Call Larry today at 770-333-3303.
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