What Makes a Good Team? Part Seven: Expectations

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Seven: Clearly Defined Expectations

Expectations

noun

ex·pec·ta·tion  ˈ/ˌekspekˈtāSH(ə)n/

  1. the act or state of expecting
  2. anticipating with confidence of fulfillment
  3. a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

As the old saying goes, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Similarly, in the workplace, too many leaders – too many voices – slow the process, lead to missed deadlines, unproductive behavior, errors, and ultimately failure. This is why it is so important to clearly define expectations – both individual roles and team goals.

Expectations“Once a team is created and its composition is established, the next team leadership function is to define the team’s mission,” write researchers Frederick P. Morgeson, D. Scott DeRue, and Elizabeth P. Karam. “This involves determining and communicating the organization’s performance expectations for the team in such a way that they are broken down into tangible, comprehensible pieces.” This has several benefits:

  • Identify Shortcomings: By “identifying specific outcome levels, teams can determine what resources are needed,” suggest researchers Deborah Diazgranados, Cameron Klein, Eduardo Salas, Huy Le, C. Burke, Rebecca Lyons, and Gerald Goodwin. This allows teams to determine where they are lacking in certain areas, both in terms of personnel and, perhaps more importantly, inter-personal relationships: communication, teamwork, morale, etc.
  • Easily Measure Success: Clearly defined goals and expectations allow teams to more easily measure success. Without a finish line or check points along the way, how does a team know they are on the right track?
  • Individual Motivation: On an individual level, “goal setting theory suggests that clear and challenging goals are important for directing individual action and motivating individuals to achieve performance targets,” writeEdwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham.
  • Establish Unity: American poet Mattie Stepanek once said, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” In a case study of four virtual team leaders, researcher Anu Sivunen determined that teams with established common goals and standards for performance also had a strong common team identity.

  • Group Motivation: When team members actively participate in the goal setting process, the team is more committed to team goals, achieving greater efficiency and overall performance, suggest researchers.

Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan. As German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke once famously said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” This is just as true in the war room as it is the workplace. This is why there must also be a degree of flexibility within any good team.

“While it is important to have a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities for each member, on the most effective teams tasks and responsibilities are not rigidly adhered to,” writes Traci Schatz. “Team members are willing to cross lines of responsibility and do something that may not be in their job description, if that is what’s required to get the job done.”

Learning How to Work as a Team

At Terrapin Adventures, our team building programs are customized to meet the individual needs of every organization we work with, challenging groups to break down communication barriers and work together to solve certain problems as a team. Each activity will tasks group members to stop, think, brainstorm solutions to complex puzzles, and express their individual opinions/solutions.

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Klein, C., D. Diazgranados, E. Salas, H. Le, C. S. Burke, R. Lyons, and G. F. Goodwin. “Does Team Building Work?” Small Group Research 40.2 (2009): 181-222. Web.
  2. Schatz, Traci. “What Makes Teamwork Effective?” Small Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
  3. Morgeson, F. P., D. S. Derue, and E. P. Karam. “Leadership in Teams: A Functional Approach to Understanding Leadership Structures and Processes.” Journal of Management 36.1 (2009): 5-39. Web.
  4. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. 1990. A theory of goal setting & task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  5. Sivunen, A. 2006. Strengthening identification with the team in virtual teams: The leaders’ perspective. Group Decision and Negotiation, 15: 345-366.

Tips to Follow Through with Your New Year’s Resolution

http---10.1.10.228-advpgallery.com-wp-content-uploads-2016-09-76746889‘Tis the season for…planning your New Year’s resolution. According to Forbes magazine, more than 40 percent of Americans make such resolutions, ranging from saving money to quitting smoking to the No. 1 resolution year after year, losing weight. However, just eight percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, according to the University of Scranton. Why? Well, many people focus on large bucket lists or attempt extreme makeovers, which, according to most experts, is just too psychologically daunting.

Tip #1: Keep it Simple

Set “small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal,” recommends psychologist Lynn Bufka. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

Tip #2: Make it Tangible

“We say if you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions,” says John Norcross of the University of Scranton. Instead, be as clear as possible. Don’t pledge to lose weight. Pledge to go to the gym or maybe even an exercise class every Tuesday night. Start small, set realistic goals, and then expand upon those goals.

Tip #3: Make it Fun

If your goal is to get healthy and ultimately lose weight, but you hate going to the gym or running on the treadmill, “think ‘outside the barbell,” advises Dr. Marc Tinsley. “Fitness isn’t about sweat, six-packs, and sex appeal; it’s about having enough energy to do your activities of daily living safely and effectively.” Get creative and have fun. Instead of going to the gym, why not challenge yourself on the challenge course?

A challenge course, sometimes called a ropes course or adventure course, involves several fun, high-flying elements, such as climbing walls, zip lines, and more, designed to entertain and challenge participants physically. These courses are usually 25 to 50 feet tall, and requiring belaying.

“The elements produce powerful memories and provoke deep thoughts and emotions, while challenging physical abilities,” write Brent D. Wolfe and Diane M. Samdahl.

Challenge courses can be a great way to exercise without even realizing you’re exercising.

“As long as you’re old enough and tall enough and can handle light exertion, you’ll survive,” writes Washington Post author Vicky Hallett. “Although you must be reasonably active to be able to do such things, the idea is that the ropes courses are accessible to almost anyone who’s willing to cling and scamper.”

Conveniently located in Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures features the ultimate challenge course with three levels taking you up to 40 ft. in the air! Each of our 19 traverses is designed to entertain and challenge participants, and all of our adventures are led by our expertly trained Aerial Adventure Guides and Facilitators who will be there for you every step of the way.  

What makes our ropes course truly unique is our continuous belay system. You only have to secure your safety line once for each level, letting you focus on your next challenge with confidence.

Book Now!

Everything you need including harness and helmet is provided.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Diamond , Dan. “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It.” Forbes 1 Jan. 2013: n. pag. Print.
  2. Saunders, Len. “Encouraging Family Fitness & Healthy Habits.” PBS. PBS Parents, n.d. Web. 28 July 2016.
  3. Wolfe, B. D., and D. M. Samdahl. “Challenging Assumptions: Examining Fundamental Beliefs That Shape Challenge Course Programming and Research.”Journal of Experiential Education 28.1 (2005): 25-43. Web.
  4. Hallett, Vicky. “Learning the Ropes Can Teach You about Yourself.” The Washington Post. N.p., 22 July 2010. Web. 2016.

What Makes a Good Team? Part Six: Conflict

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Six: Constructive Conflict Drives Innovation

Conflict

noun

con·flict  ˈ/känˌflikt/

  1. competitive or opposing action of incompatibles
  2. mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands

Team ConflictWe often think of teamwork as meaning a cohesive, well-oiled group devoid of conflict, where everyone gets along and everything runs smoothly. However, that is just not reality. Every group – every team – goes through some form of conflict as some point. It is part of the Five Stages of Team Development, known here as “Storming,” and most often occurs when a team is first formed or during the early stages of a new project as team members have different opinions and compete with one another for status and for acceptance of their ideas. “Conflict arises from the clash of perceptions, goals, or values in an arena where people care about the outcome,” says researcher Tony Alessandra. But conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As former President Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Conflict can be handled in a positive and meaningful way.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but the best way to grow as a team and foster creativity and innovation is through conflict – constructive conflict. This can be a difficult stage to go through, but this is also the point where real teamwork and communication begin to develop. Team members start to settle into their individual roles and learn to put aside their differences and listen to opposing viewpoints in order to solve problems as a unit.

Constructive Conflict vs. Destructive Conflict

There is such a thing as positive confrontation. While many team leaders are focussed on how to resolve conflict, strong teams use conflict as a means for open, honest communication and team growth.

  • Destructive Conflict: When two team members refuse to respect one another’s opinions. Productivity comes to a screeching halt and everyone suffers.
  • Constructive Conflict: When two team members have differing opinions, but respectfully talk through their thought processes and come to a mutual agreement that allows the team to move forward. Productivity skyrockets and the whole team benefits.

Studies show that innovation emerges from groups where conflict is welcomed rather than discouraged. In 2009, Watson Wyatt , Inc., a global consulting firm, reported that companies which communicated effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders between 2004 and 2009. In this report, the Watson Wyatt noted that “Effective internal communications can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers, and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders.” Conversely, according to Talent Management, 86% of employees blame lack of collaboration (just another word for communication and teamwork) for workplace failures.

However, without strong leadership, conflict can tear a team apart.

“As a team leader, one must realize the paradox that surrounds conflict,” says researcher Erich Brockmann. “The team needs to embrace conflict as a means of generating and evaluating ideas. While at the same time, it must shy away from it to prevent anger, frustration, or alienation. The biggest challenge for the team leader is figuring out how to balance these two forces”

Embracing Conflict and Learning to Work Together

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”

- Rollo May

Through a series of exciting and carefully designed Corporate Team Building activities, your group will find better, more effective ways to communicate and work with one another in a respectful and meaningful way. Each activity is led by one of our experienced facilitators, who will not only help guide your experience, but also tie the lessons back into the workplace. We do this during our debriefing sessions.

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Carter McNamara on April 30, 2013. “How Constructive Conflict Can Supercharge Teams – Team Building and Performance.” Team Building and Performance. N.p., 2013. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
  2. Alessandra, Tony Ph.D. & Hunsaker, Phil Ph.D. (1993) Communicating at Work. New York: Fireside Publishers.
  3. Brockmann, Erich. (1996, May). Removing the paradox of conflict from group decisions. Academy of Management Executive. v10n2, p. 61-62.

Practice Makes Perfect – Even in Team Building

Team Building Follow-UpAs the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. This is just as true in the office as it is on the basketball court, football field, soccer pitch, or hockey rink. No one is born perfect and no team is formed perfect. It all takes work. Whether your employees need help learning to open up and communicate freely or they just need to learn how to trust one another, Team Building can help.

According to Diazgranados et al., a “meta-analysis of data from 103 studies [conducted between 1950 and 2007] provides the strongest scientific evidence to date that team building can have measurable, positive effects on team performance.” However, without practice, the lessons learned during one afternoon of team building will be quickly lost. “Team building, without some follow-up mechanism, is often a waste of time and energy,” says researchers William J. Rothwell, Roland Sullivan, and Gary N. McLean – which is why researcher John N. Peragine claims, “Follow-up is the most important step in any team building exercise.”

Just like in sports, one practice is not enough to enact lasting change. Even the great Michael Jordan works tirelessly to perfect his game.

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

- Michael Jordan

Team build too takes practice. Researcher R. Wayne Boss writes that “When team building is coupled with follow-up sessions in which team building commitments are reinforced and renewed, the positive effects of the team building are prolonged.” Boss collected personal interview data from 208 participants (135 experimental and 71 comparison group members), and found that regular Personal Management Interviews (PMIs) can prevent the regression or fade-out which often occurs after a single team building session. These follow-up sessions are proven to “help to sustain high performance,” adds researchers William G. Dyer, W. Gibb Dyer, and Jeffrey H. Dyer.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

- Michael Jordan

“There is a relationship between the follow-up actions taken and perception of team building success,” writes researchers H.S. Kriek and P. Venter. As researchers William J. Rothwell, Roland Sullivan, and Gary N. McLean explain, “Much of the research on team building suggests that teams that do a one-time team building session but fail to create any follow-up activities to reinforce what they’ve learned quickly regress to their previous behaviors.” This is why Terrapin Adventures recommends a follow-up session every three to six months. Our Team Building Programs can elevate your organization and make you shine.

These follow-up sessions are also an excellent opportunity to expand up those previous lessons and take your team to the next level. It takes time to enact positive, long-lasting change. “Team developmental interventions are key mechanisms that may be used to facilitate team effectiveness,” writes Raymond Noe in Employee Training and Development.

Terrapin Adventures creates customized programs (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) designed specifically for each client. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Boss, R. W. “Team Building and the Problem of Regression: The Personal Management Interview as an Intervention.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 19.1 (1983): 67-83. Web.
  2. Dyer, William G., W. Gibb Dyer, and Jeffrey H. Dyer. Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Print.
  3. “Team Building Works: Results of 103 Studies.” VictorsFood. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 June 2016.
  4. Kriek, H. S., and P. Venter. “The Perceived Success of Teambuilding Interventions in South African Organisations.” Southern African Business Review 13.1 (2009).
  5. Rothwell, William J., Roland Sullivan, and Gary N. McLean. Practicing Organization Development: A Guide for Consultants. Amsterdam: Pfeiffer., 1995. Print.
  6. Peragine, John N. 365 Low or No Cost Workplace Teambuilding Activities: Games and Exercises Designed to Build Trust and Encourage Teamwork among Employees. Ocala, FL: Atlantic Pub. Group, 2007. Print.
  7. Noe, R. A. (2002). Employee training and development (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

What Makes a Good Team? Part Five: Individuality

Individuality

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Five: Many Opinions, One Goal

Individuality

noun

in·di·vid·u·al·i·ty  \-ˌvi-jə-ˈwa-lə-tē\

  1. the quality that makes one person or thing different from all others
  2. a person or thing of individual or distinctive character.
  3. state or quality of being individual; existence as a distinct individual.

While it may seem contradictory, especially since we recently talked about the importance of selflessness, another important aspect of any good team is individuality. You see, one can be both selfless – working as part of a team towards the common goal – and an individual. Take a soccer team, for example. Each member is unique, and was brought onboard for a specific reason. It would be pretty disastrous if every member of the team was exactly alike. After all, it’s tough to win a game with 11 goalkeepers, 11 defenders, or 11 strikers. You need a diverse group – strikers, midfielders, forwards, and, of course, a goalkeeper. Many individuals working together for a common goal.

The same is true in the business world, with one major difference. While it is true that different employees have different skillsets within a team, there is another form of individuality that is also critical to any successful team – individuality of thought.

Avoiding Groupthink is a Must

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

― Bernard M. Baruch

According to Psychology Today, “Groupthink occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. It causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus.” The term was first coined by social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972 while researching the chain of events involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, where the United States attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Cuban government.

Groups affected by groupthink tend to become stagnant – failing to grow and evolve. If it wasn’t for freethinkers, we may have never experienced some of the world’s most important scientific breakthroughs. For example, it was once commonplace to believe that the Earth was flat until individuals, like Aristotle, dared to defy popular opinion.  If the Wright brothers didn’t think outside the box, would we now be able to fly from Baltimore to Los Angeles in less than six hours?

“Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.”

- Irving Janis

As a team leader, it is important to encourage individuality just as much as you encourage teamwork and unity. Be on the lookout for Janis’ eight symptoms of groupthink:

  • Illusion of Invulnerability: This false sense of invulnerability encourages unnecessary risks.
  • Collective Rationalization: Group members fail to reconsider their initial assumptions and, thus, discount warning signs.
  • Belief in Inherent Morality: Group members believe in the rightness of their cause, ignoring the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  • Stereotyped Views of Out-Groups: Group members view outside groups who do not share similar views as the “enemy.”
  • Direct Pressure on Dissenters: Group members feel pressured to follow popular opinion.
  • Self-Censorship: Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
  • Illusion of Unanimity: Majority opinions are assumed to be unanimous.
  • Self-Appointed “Mindguards”: Members shield the group from outside conflicting or contradictory opinions, views, or decisions.

Fixing Groupthink

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fortunately, there are several ways to correct groupthink and encourage individuality. These include:

  1. Leaders should avoid stating their own preferences and expectations at the outset. Open a group discussion and talk through group goals.
  2. Share outside articles, quotes, and opinions of experts who challenge the views and opinions of group members.
  3. Leaders should strive to create a culture that encourages open communication and the sharing of opinions, even if they are contradictory to the majority. Group members should feel safe sharing their opinions.
  4. Practice makes perfect. Yes, you can practice open communication and individuality of thought. This is where Terrapin Adventures can help!

Our team building programs are customized to meet the individual needs of every organization we work with, challenging groups to break down communication barriers and work together to solve certain problems as a team. Each activity will tasks group members to stop, think, brainstorm solutions to complex puzzles, and express their individual opinions/solutions.

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Dattner, Ben. “Preventing “Groupthink”” Psychology Today (2011): n. pag. Web.
  2. “What Is Groupthink?” Psychologists for Social Responsibility. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Learn to be a Leader on the Challenge Course!

Leader on the Challenge CourseThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines leadership as “the power or ability to lead other people.” Snuggwugg CEO Lisa Cash Hanson defines leadership as “The ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished,” while Activate Your Talent founder Katie Christy says “Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize your innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of your team to accomplish the mission.”

You have probably started to notice a pattern.

Randy Stocklin, co-founder and CEO of Readers.com, says “Leadership is the ability to help people achieve things they don’t think are possible.” And OrganicLife CEO Jonas Falk claims “Leadership is the ability to take an average team of individuals and transform them into superstars. The best leader is the one who inspires his workers to achieve greatness each and every day.”

So, have you figured out the pattern? All of these successful business leaders use the same word in their definitions – ability. And these are just a few of the countless examples we found. You see, anyone can become a leader by ascending to a position of power, but not everyone has the ability – the qualities needed – to be an effective leader. Fortunately, these abilities can be learned over time.

“Leadership is not a personality style; it is a learned set of skills attained through development opportunities that are integrated to a lifestyle of learning,” says researcher Katherine T. Whitnah.

Becoming a Better Leader

The only way to learn how to become a better leader is to get out there and do it – experiential learning. As American psychologist, philosopher, and educational reformer John Dewey once famously said, “there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.” This is the basis of the challenge course (ropes course) experience.

Challenge courses got their start in 1941 as a military tools to train soldiers, and can be characterized as either low or high ropes courses. Low challenge courses comprise of activities that require spotting (spotters) and typically focus on collaboration, communication, and problem solving, while high challenge courses are those requiring belaying and focus on building trust and learning to focus in chaotic situations. Both low and high ropes courses have proven to be effective tools in leadership development.

“Data support[s] the notion that participation in a four-hour challenge course significantly increases the participants’ levels of leadership and work efficacy,” write researchers Theresa Odello, Eddie Hill, and Edwin Gómez, who measured leadership and work efficacy levels pre-challenge course, immediately post challenge course, and six weeks after. “Results were significant” and longlasting, say the researchers.

“It is clear that challenge course experiences are beneficial tools for participants” and can impact “a variety of educational and psychological constructs,” explain researchers H. Lee Gillis, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia College & State University, and Elizabeth Speelman, the Assistant Director of Program Development for the Youth Learning Institute at Clemson University. The two analyzed 44 studies (2,796 participants) that examined the impacts of participation in challenge course activities.

“[The] data corroborates the common qualitative assertions regarding the importance of the relationships that are positively impacted through the use of challenge courses.”  

Terrapin Adventures is Here to Help!

“In the same way that naturally occurring events create changes for an organization, an organization has the ability to create a team building event that contributes to a culture of dynamic leaders who naturally adapt and respond to change,” writes Whitnah. This is where Terrapin Adventures comes in. Our Team Building Programs can elevate your organization and make you shine.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

“There is no one-size fits all approach, answer key or formula to leadership,” says Christy. This is why Terrapin Adventures creates customized programs (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) designed specifically for each client. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills. Let us help you grow as a leader!

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Helmrich, Brittney. “33 Ways to Define Leadership.” Business News Daily. N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
  2. Whitnah, Katherine T. A Phenomenological Inquiry: In the Context of Organizational Development, How Does Experiential Team Building in the Form of a High ROPES Course, Contribute to Positive Leadership Development, and How Can It Be Improved? Adler Graduate School. Web.
  3. Rohnke, Karl, Catherine M. Tait, Jim B. Wall, and Jim B. Wall. The Complete Ropes Course Manual. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub., 1997. Print.
  4. Odello, Theresa, Eddie Hill, Suny Cortland, and Edwin Gomez. “Challenge Course Effectiveness: The Impact on Leadership Efficacy and Work Efficacy among College Students.” Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism & Recreation Research 1.1 (2008): 18-22. Web.

What Makes a Good Team? Part Four: Selflessness

Team Building

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Four: The Importance of Selflessness in Teamwork

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

In Part Two of our mini-series on “What Makes a Good Team?” we discussed the importance of unity – coming together.  With any team, unity or teamwork is important. It is what allows a team to run like a well-oiled machine and achieve success. However, unity is just a part of the puzzle. In order to truly become a good team (or even a great team), each member must put aside their own personal agendas and work toward the common goal, whatever it may be. This is what we are talking about when we say Selflessness.

Why is it Important to be Selfless?

Selfless

adjective

self·less \ˈsel-fləs\

  1. having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame,position, money, etc.; unselfish
  2. having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself

“Selfishness destroys, but selflessness builds,” says Coach Scotty Kessler. This simple distinction can be the difference between success and failure for a team. And it takes just one selfish employee to drag a team down.

“Teamwork means sacrifice and selflessness,” writes Priscilla K. Shontz and Richard Allen Murray in “A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science.”

In other words, members of a good team must understand the importance of the organizational vision (which should be clearly outlined and communicated to each employee), and put that shared goal ahead of any personal goals. As the old saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

“Thus, effective teamwork consists in part of communal selflessness, a collective setting aside of personal agendas and desires, for the good of the whole,” write Diana Whitney, Jay Cherney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, and Ron Fry in “Appreciative Team Building: Positive Questions to Bring Out the Best of Your Team.”

But this is sometimes easier said than done, especially in today’s “How will this benefit me?” society.

Learning to Work Together

“To me, teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one. You become selfless.”

- Mike Krzyzewski

From the basketball court to the office, selflessness plays its role. In order to function as a team, each employee must put aside their personal agendas and work toward the common good. However, this does not always come naturally – especially when many different personalities have to come together. This is where Terrapin Adventures comes in. Our team building programs are customized to meet the individual needs of every organization we work with. We will give your employees a crash course in selflessness.

Our team team building activities challenge groups to break down communication barriers and work together to solve certain problems as a team. In one such activity – Trollies - your group will be asked to work as one cohesive unit using a single pair of shoes to get from Point A to Point B. Easy, right? Well, not quite. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds, and the exercise gets harder with each progressing level. Mastering the trollies requires a great deal of communication, shared leadership, and concentration skills, making it the perfect team building exercise.

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Physical Activity: Easy

Equipment: Wood boards, rope

Trollies is just one example of the many different team building exercises that Terrapin Adventures uses to help your team reach their full potential. Each of our team building exercises is fun but challenging, designed to make your employees stop, think, communicate, adjust their plan of action on the fly, and ultimately fail once or twice before succeeding. Get in touch with a Guest Relations Specialist today and ask about how we can help you plan your team building event.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Kail, Eric. “Leadership Character: The Role of Selflessness.” The Washington Post. N.p., 22 July 2011. Web.
  2. Whitney, Diana Kaplin. Appreciative Team Building: Positive Questions to Bring out the Best of Your Team. New York: IUniverse, 2004. Print.
  3. Shontz, Priscilla K., and Richard A. Murray. A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Print.
  4. Stouffer, Bob. Light or Darkness: Reclaiming the Light in Sports. Urbandale, IA: Three Circle, 2011. Print.

What Makes a Good Team? Part Three: Communication

Communication

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Three: Encourage Open Communication

We briefly touched on this in Part Two, but a good team requires good communication across all levels. Communication plays an important role in every aspect of business, taking many forms: written, verbal, and nonverbal. The ability to communicate clearly is critical, and yet it is something that many companies take for granted.

Why is Communication so Important?

Communication

noun

com·mu·ni·ca·tion \kə-ˌmyü-nə-ˈkā-shən\

  1. the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else
  2. a message that is given to someone : a letter, telephone call, etc.

In 2009, Watson Wyatt , Inc., a global consulting firm, reported that companies which communicated effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders between 2004 and 2009. In this report, the Watson Wyatt noted that “Effective internal communications can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers, and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders.” Conversely, according to Talent Management, 86% of employees blame lack of collaboration (just another word for communication and teamwork) for workplace failures.

“The general consensus of the executives was that effective communication skills are more important now than ever before for business success,” say researchers James Bennet and Robert Olney, “and these skills will continue to be a critical component of the information society.”

Communication Takes Work

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

– Tony Robbins

One easy way to constantly improve communication is practice. This is where Terrapin Adventures comes in. Our team building programs are customized to meet the individual needs of every organization we work with. We will give your employees a crash course in communication.

“Team building activities should be designed, planned, executed and monitored so as to create synergy, increase skills and knowledge, create organizational flexibility, provide members satisfaction and allow members freedom to participate in decision making and implanting changes,” write researchers Jacqueline M. Omuya, David M. Kungu, Leonard S. Mulongo, and Dedan O. Ong’anya.3

Our team team building activities challenge groups to break down communication barriers and work together to solve certain problems. In one such activity – The Labyrinth - your team will be tasked with a very simple mission: get the ball from Point A to Point B without falling through any holes. Simple enough, right? You probably played a similar game as a child – only on a much smaller scale. You had to get a tiny metal ball through a maze without dropping it into a hole — this is that same game, only it requires a few more people and a different kind of ball.

Labyrinth is great for teaching good communication skills and showing how one small movement can change the whole game. How will your team handle this challenge? Will they work together and succeed or will they struggle to communicate? Who will take on leadership roles?

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Physical Activity: Easy

Equipment: Labyrinth, Ball

The Labyrinth is just one example of the many different team building exercises that Terrapin Adventures uses to help your team reach their full potential. Each of our team building exercises is fun but challenging, designed to make your employees stop, think, communicate, adjust their plan of action on the fly, and ultimately fail once or twice before succeeding. Get in touch with a Guest Relations Specialist today and ask about how we can help you plan your team building event.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Bennett, J. C., and R. J. Olney. “Executive Priorities for Effective Communication in an Information Society.” Journal of Business Communication 23.2 (1986): 13-22. Web.
  2. Omuya, Jacqueline M., David M. Kungu, Leonard S. Mulongo, and Dedan O. Ong’anya. “Effects of Team Building on the Performance of Employees in Organizations towards the Realization of Millennium Development Goals: A Survey of Selected Banks in Eldoret Town.”International Journal of Current Research. Web.

Staff Highlight: Julia Selles, Guide & Team Building Facilitator

Here at Terrapin Adventures, we are very proud of our guides and team building facilitators, so we decided it was high time that we shone the spotlight on a few of our great guides, our fantastic facilitators, our energetic employees, our…well, you get the idea. These are the people responsible for providing a safe, thrilling, memorable, and meaningful experience for all of our guests. Our staff is not only chosen for their technical skills, but also their love of the outdoors and ability to make your time with us memorable and entertaining.

Getting to Know Julia Selles: Guide & Team Building Facilitator

Julia Team BuildingA local Severna Park product, Julia enjoys  listening and playing music (she can play 6 musical instruments including electric violin), rock climbing, traveling and hiking, especially in National Parks. She has also lived in and taught English in Thailand and Ecuador.

Here at Terrapin Adventures, Julia serves as a guide and team building facilitator.

“You all run a great program. It was easy to set up, and the concerns dissipated quickly on the day of the team building event. Many of the the other staff members have praised your performance. Thank you! As an organization that is growing and developing, this was a great way to frame our values discussion and to have us establish our cultural ideologies.”

- Kate Stritzinger, Transitional Housing Corporation

Julia really enjoys working with guests to get over their fears, especially when it comes to our jump element, the Terrapin Flyer. When she is able to talk to someone and convince them that they will be safe it is awesome to see how brave they become and how accomplished they feel when the finally take the plunge.

She likes to tell guests that even our guides get scared every now and then, but the “Adrenaline is what makes it fun.”

Visit Julia and the Rest of the Terrapin Adventures Crew for Some Fun & Excitement!

Conveniently located in Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is all about fun! In fact, you may say that we are on the cutting edge of fun. We have created a new realm of aerial adventures using only wood, rope and cable. Our high ropes course, which takes you up to 40 ft. in the air, and our Terrapin Explorer kids’ course, designed for children ages 5-10, provide hours of fun as you walk, balance, swing, zip, climb, and crawl your way through each unique element. Even our team building events are packed with some serious fun!

Come See Us Soon!

Whether you’re interested in Team Building activities for your group, a Birthday Adventure Party, or a fun day with family or friends – we can make sure you get your fill of thrills!

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

What Makes a Good Team? Part Two: Unity

There is no perfect team. But there is a recipe for success – many similar characteristics shared by effective teams, independent of industry or function. Throughout this blog series, we will take a closer look at each of these characteristics, explore why each is important, and provide you with ways to instill and improve each characteristic within your own team.

Part Two: Unity Many Voices, But One Message

American poet Mattie Stepanek once said, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” But what exactly is unity and how do you ensure your team, whether a sports team or group of coworkers, is united?

What is Unity and Why is it Important?

Unity

noun

uni·ty \ˈyü-nə-tē\

  1. the state of being in full agreement
  2. the quality or state of not being multiple
  3. a condition of harmony
  4. the quality or state of being made one
  5. a totality of related parts :  an entity that is a complex or systematic whole

With any team, unity or teamwork is important. It is what allows a team to run like a well-oiled machine and achieve success. As the title of this section says, “Many Voices, But One Message.” Without such unity, your team – ANY team – is doomed for failure. This is perhaps never more important than in the workplace, where you throw a group of unrelated individuals together and expect them to easily communicate and work together to achieve a common goal. In fact, according to Talent Management, 86% of employees blame lack of collaboration for workplace failures. So, it is up to senior leadership to breed unity, encourage collaboration, and ensure the team works together and not against itself.

How to Encourage Unity

As Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.” But how do you get everyone on the same page, working together?

  • Clearly Define Goals: It is important that every member of the team knows and understands the company’s goals. Without a clearly-defined finish line and plan to reach that finish line, everyone will ultimately run in different directions.
  • Clearly Define Roles: It is also incredibly important that everyone knows their place within the team. As the old saying goes, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” similarly, in the workplace, too many leaders – too many voices – slow the process, lead to missed deadlines, unproductive behavior, errors, and ultimately failure.
  • Choose Strong Leadership: Poor leadership prevents teams from coming together and realizing their full potential. So, it is of the utmost importance that managers, as well as team and project leaders, are chosen carefully, according to their strengths and abilities to motivate others.
  • Reward Success: Along the way, you should let your team know how they are doing by rewarding teamwork and unity – send a congratulatory email, buy your employees breakfast, plan a team happy hour. There are numerous fun and creative ways to reward your team and let them know you appreciate their hard work.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Unity is also achieved by listening and being open to other points of view. Dissenting opinions during the brainstorming process creates buy in by team members even if the selected path is different than what an individual suggested. Allowing people to share their points of view also fosters better decision making and avoids “group think.”
  • Work at It: Finally, teamwork – unity – takes practice. And, sometimes, it is best to get out of the office to improve in-office productivity.

Unity Takes Work

“You don’t get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced.”

- Jay Weatherill

This is where Terrapin Adventures comes in. We will give your employees a crash course in teamwork. Our team team building activities allow people to play different roles within the team to work out solutions to certain challenges, like the one below – The King’s Finger. In this challenge, the team has to work together to get a tire over a wooden pole. In order to do this, at least one person needs to be lifted into the air with the tire while the rest of the team works together to guide and spot the person/people in the air. This fun team building exercise helps promote communication, problem solving, and, of course, teamwork.

How will your team handle this challenge? Will they work together and succeed or will they struggle to cooperate? Who will take on leadership roles?

After the exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind what they just did. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Physical Activity: Medium to Hard

Equipment: Pole, Tire

The King’s Finger is just one example of the many different team building exercises that Terrapin Adventures uses to help your team reach their full potential. Each of our team building exercises is fun but challenging, designed to make your employees stop, think, communicate, adjust their plan of action on the fly, and ultimately fail once or twice before succeeding. Get in touch with a Guest Relations Specialist today and ask about how we can help you plan your team building event.

Schedule Your Corporate Team Building Session!

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help better your business. Our programs provide for exciting activities that bridge the gaps in communication, improve collaboration, and expand your group’s problem solving skills.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. “THE IMPORTANCE OF UNITY IN TEAM SUCCESS.” Addocura. N.p., 4 Nov. 2015. Web.
  2. Glaze, Sean. “Two Main Ingredients That Create Team Unity.” Two Main Ingredients That Create Team Unity. Association for Talent Development, 30 July 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.