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Team Building is a Process

Imagine the enthusiasm demonstrated by citizens who apply to be a Navy Seal. If we conduct their training using the same team building techniques that many corporations use, the Navy Seal Wannabees would attend one long retreat, probably over a weekend, and expect to be well-bonded and trusting of each other.

Navy Seal training takes a long time and arduous commitment coupled with mental and physical exertion. What can companies learn from this? Team building is a process not an event.

Top notch managers know this. They know how to provide consistent team building activities to keep their teams well-oiled, honed and working efficiently together. The importance of competent leadership cannot be overstated. As concluded in an interesting article in Harvard Business Review by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: “But the personality of employees is not the most important determinant of their engagement levels. In fact, the biggest organizational cause of disengagement is incompetent leadership. Thus, as a manager, it’s your personality that will have a significant impact on whether your employees are engaged at work, or not.”

If competent leadership is that critical to the success of any team, the logic here is for companies to place a supreme amount of importance on the proper training of their leaders. Leadership training must be part of the first milestones in the process toward team building.

Only after each team leader is deemed competent, can other members of the team function well together. In my consulting practice, I’ve seen many highly skilled and collaborative team members who are left to fend for themselves under ineffective team leadership. Now that’s a waste.

The problem this situation brings up is for organizations to know when their teams are functioning poorly because of poor leadership or other factors. That part of the observation and evaluation must also be included in the team building process. The Navy Seals know their lives depend on having a strict team building process.

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