I have just merged two small teams into one larger team and employed two new people to join my new team. The teams have previously worked alongside each other, so know each other quite well. I’d like to do some teambuilding training. Can you help?
The Coach replies:
The word teambuilding covers a wide range of activities, from coffee and cakes to mark an occasion, to lengthy residential programmes, exploring interpersonal relationships and resolving complex team issues.
In merging two teams, you are creating a new team and it is important that you treat this new team as a completely different entity. When any new team is formed from two previously established teams, tensions are high, members assess each other, consider their position in the team, look around for allies and rivals and subtly begin to establish a pecking order. The addition of two new members can increase insecurity. Therefore, creating a stable, safe atmosphere in which to work is vital to the healthy performance of this new team.
As the manager or team leader, it is important that you provide a strong, supportive presence, whilst people adjust to the change. Keep a watchful eye on unfolding relationships and areas in which there might be future discord. At this stage, it would be counterproductive to bring in anyone to actively build your team, as this could feel threatening to members who have not yet established their place. The best form of team-building at this early stage is social. Mark occasions, such as birthdays or big events, as a team; lunch together occasionally; find an activity which everyone enjoys and organise an evening out. These events develop a team spirit, enabling members to feel valued and secure.
Once the team begins to settle down, you will have a better idea about how the changes have affected performance, both individual and as a whole. That will be the time to call in a teambuilding trainer, who will listen very carefully to the problems you would like to resolve and write a training programme to address the specific issues of your team, at their stage of development. The best teambuilding trainings have a combination of fun and reflection, the latter effecting lasting change.
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