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Team Building 101

Introduction to Team Building
By following these time-proven strategies, you will more likely reap the benefits that often result from a more unified and cohesive unit. This article describes what team building is and what factors you should consider before embarking on a team building session. Whether on athletic teams, in corporate America, therapeutic populations, for or at-risk youth, the inclusion of a team building and adventure-based approach to learning and to performance enhancement has gathered increased adoption because of its desirable effects in the workplace, team environment, and in individual development. Adventure programming and team-building activities embrace and encourage adaptation, creativity, risk-taking, the development of problem solving skills and helps individuals of all ages to trust, cooperate, risk, achieve and grow. There are several national curricula throughout the United States; one of the most popular and well known is operated by Project Adventureā€. Their projects and activities have been successfully implemented by hundreds of schools, community, therapeutic, corporate and athletic groups both nationally and internationally.

I have personally used team building activities with boys and girls and men and women from ages 6 to 65. These types of activities provide a holistic strategy, and action-based learning environment for cultivating specific performance enhancements, including: goal-setting, communication, "in the moment" problem solving, emotional control and intelligence, anxiety management strategies, etc. I try to challenge people's assumption that team chemistry is a noun, a thing, something you have and that simply exists. Rather, I ask them to envision "team chemistry" as a verb, something you Do, something that is fluid, kinetic and action-based. Team chemistry is fundamentally a problem of action, of individuals and groups doing and being active in developing the intricate web of connections that exist among any group composed of diverse people, talents, roles and abilities.

Factors to Consider
If you want to include team building activities into your practices you should consider several key variables and tailor the initiatives to your particular group, level and activity. These variables include:

  1. The age and maturity of the group (age, gender, level, goals, etc.)
  2. The readiness of the group (safety, conflict tolerance, guidance required, etc.)
  3. The length of time available for the program (per session and number of sessions per year and over what period of time)
  4. The specific goals of the program for your particular team at a particular point in the season (trust building, communication, cooperation, competition, fun, problem solving, leadership, etc.)
Once you've made the decision that team-building activities will be part of your season and you've thoughtfully answered the four questions listed above, then it's time to begin to actually plan the types of activities you'll be including for your team.

© Dr. Colleen Hacker

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