Does your team need a boost of cohesiveness and trust?
It’s time to talk about team building skills: what they are and how they can help you create a cohesive team.
So, What Are Team Building Skills?
Merriam-Webster defines a skill as “the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.” It is also defined as “a learned power of doing something competently.”
Team building skills are skills that help a team leader form a supportive, productive, successful team. From active listening to thoughtful delegation, there are many important team building skills.
I like that the definition of skill mentions the word “learned.” You don’t need to have all of these skills naturally – you can learn them.
That means that anyone (read: you) has the power to become a team builder!
But I’ve hired excellent people!
Team building isn’t just for stereotypically dysfunctional groups. Far from it, actually.
I like to think about it this way: there is always something new to learn. There is always a way to improve.
Team building isn’t a punishment – it’s an investment in your group. It demonstrates that you believe in them and know they can achieve great things.
The importance of soft skills
As you read through the list of team building skills to come, you’ll notice something. Most are a little nebulous, not like knowing how to insert a function into Excel.
Soft skills are mostly intangible, qualitative, personal capabilities that help people find success. They usually balance social and emotional intelligence with communication skills.
Examples include conflict resolution, networking, and empathy.
Team building skills versus teamwork skills
While both are vital, there is a key difference between team building skills and teamwork skills. The latter addresses how an individual functions as part of a team. The former addresses the structural integrity of the team itself.
How can I get started?
Ready to dive in? Great!
As you read, you’ll learn that there are an infinite number of effective team building skills. I recommend choosing just one or two to focus on at the beginning.
Once you’ve selected the particular skill(s) you’d like to address, here are some tips:
- Brainstorm impactful team building exercises and even events you can host that are centered on the skill you’d like your team to strengthen.
- Look at your business calendar and designate a recurring time for team building activities. Consistency is key.
- As you start to lead your group through team building games and activities, pay attention. Are you seeing an improvement in everyday work functions?
Examples of Team Building Skills
Okay, you’re interested in becoming an excellent team builder. But which skill should you focus on first?
Here are 7 equally important team traits to consider:
Skill #1: Communicating
Communication skills can make or break your day.
Maybe it’s the way your boss requests a meeting with you. Is their email a terse “See me”? Or do they greet you, ask how you are, and proactively explain the purpose of the meeting?
The former may incite anxiety in some people. The latter demonstrates the action of a thoughtful team member making the effort to communicate effectively.
Emails and texts and slack messages, oh my!
Professional writing looks a little different today than it did 100 years ago.
However, it is still important to have effective written communication skills.
Something I hear often is that it’s difficult to convey tone in writing. Without voice and body language, recipients may infer anger, frustration, or attitude where there is none.
To help team members build strong communication skills, help them understand how their words are received. Make up for the lack of in-person indicators by:
- Adding as much detail as possible
- Expressing gratitude
- Asking if there is anything your recipient needs from you
Consistency in communication
Do you remember the last time you were afraid to ask a colleague for help?
- Felt embarrassed for not understanding the instructions
- Made a mistake and felt ashamed to admit it
- Felt intimidated by this person and therefore not comfortable showing vulnerability
I’ve been in this position before! Believe me when I tell you, though, that quality suffers when people don’t feel comfortable communicating.
Ensure that your team building activities teach regular and effective communication.
Team members will thrive in an environment that values consistent and free-flowing dialogue. When a team member’s questions are welcomed, they will be far more likely to succeed.
Skill #2: Listening
In my experience as an event emcee, I have learned that listening is an incredibly important team building skill, and it goes hand-in-hand with communication.
We’re all guilty of shallowly hearing people’s words while we wait for our chance to speak. It can be difficult not to when you’re excited about your contribution to the conversation.
Active listening, or truly focused listening, is a key team builder.
When team members prove they are listening:
- It is a sign of respect to the speaker.
- It shows that the other team members value the ideas being presented.
- It demonstrates that they also care about the speaker themselves.
Practice your active listening skills
One of the first things I told you is that skills are learned. It may be challenging, but your team can improve their listening skills with practice.
Consider one of the following team builder ideas to ensure team members are listening to one another:
- Ask each member of the team to email their thoughts to you after a presentation (how vague or specific are their reactions?)
- Play an icebreaker game and see how many fun facts your team can remember about one another
- Ask a team member to share a piece of positive feedback about their colleague’s presentation skills
Skill #3: Organizing
Proper organization is a vital team building skill. As a team leader, put the whole team in the best position to succeed by staying organized.
Coordinate in person and virtual team members
The modern workplace is divided between in person and remote teams.
This flexibility is great and your employees appreciate it. But it does take extra effort to keep things organized, especially if you want to act as corporate emcee for a team building event. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Organize regular communication practices between remote and in person teams so everyone is up to date.
- The remote team’s calendar should be shared with in person team members, and vice versa.
- Schedule virtual team development activities so that those who work remotely still benefit and feel included.
As a team building skill, organization can seep into the everyday. Help your group members practice their organizational skills by:
- Creating shared calendars for mutual office spaces
- Organizing an inventory log for everyone to update as they use office materials
- Coordinating group projects with online tools like Trello or Slack
Activities like these will improve cohesiveness and reduce stress!
Skill #4: Setting Goals and Assigning Roles
The ultimate point of team building is to create a strong team and better accomplish your goals. But what exactly are your goals?
Think backwards to establish team goals
You heard me right! Start at the end: with your team, agree on what you hope to accomplish. Hint: everyone needs to be on board with the team’s goals.
If you expect a motivated team, then each person must feel invested in the goal. Use the skills we’ve discussed and actively listen to the group’s ideas and visions.
You will improve the group’s mindset and team spirit by honoring every person’s turn to speak.
Once your team has decided on the goal, you can begin assigning roles.
You have assembled an excellent team. Now ask yourself: how can you utilize your team’s strengths strategically to achieve your goals?
Think about it like this: a sports team is composed of extraordinarily talented people. But that doesn’t mean they’re all going to produce those stellar results in every single role. (Your designated hitter may not be especially well-suited for the outfield.)
Communication, listening, and organization will help when it’s time to assign roles. By placing team members in the right spots, you demonstrate an understanding of their strengths and passions.
This will make everyone feel seen and will motivate team members to do their best.
Skill #5: Playing (Professional) Cupid
Romantic matches are just one type of partnership. As a good team builder, you are responsible for fostering fulfilling and productive workplace partnerships.
HOW TO PRACTICE MATCHMAKING
It can seem overwhelming, but practice these essential skills and watch matches multiply!
- Use your observations in concert with your decision making skills
- As you go through the work day, take note of who seems to work well together. Who appears to have complementary work styles?
- Be a good team builder and try putting these folks on a project together. See if your observations were accurate! If not, take that as a learning experience and try a different combination.
- Host team builders focused on relationship building
- Sometimes, what you observe around the office isn’t quite enough information to make a decision. Gather intel and boost the organization’s culture by hosting relationship building activities.
- A key aspect of relationship building activities is learning more about your team. In a new setting, you’ll observe your group’s ability to adapt to different circumstances.
- Consider a ropes course, puzzle tournament, or scavenger hunt. These activities require teamwork and will show you who on your team works well together.
Skill #6: Delegating
Delegating, or distributing tasks to others, is a true collaboration skill. It takes trust because you are putting the work in someone else’s hands.
I don’t know about you, but it can feel bad when your team lead doesn’t delegate. Imagine one member of a group science project demanding to write every portion of the lab report.
…And conduct the experiment themselves.
…And create all of the citations.
Not out of generosity – out of a need for control of the group project.
Make a stance as a leader by LEARNING TO DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY
As a leader, you oversee groups. But that can get exhausting, right? You’re only one person!
Sooner or later, the time will come for you to delegate tasks. When that time comes, be proactive. Your team doesn’t want to feel like they’re prying responsibilities out of your fist.
If you need to, start small by assigning low-stakes projects. But stay diligent – if you trust your team, they will rise to the challenge. And they will expect more responsibility as they demonstrate their skills to you.
Skill #7: Problem Solving
This is one of the most essential skills in team building!
ADDRESS ISSUES AS A COHESIVE group
Problem solving is the process of coming together, addressing an issue, and brainstorming solutions.
It is important to problem solve as a group instead of siloed off as individuals.
- The burden isn’t held by one person alone when issues arise.
- The team demonstrates that they will be there for each other to help solve problems.
- The more minds, the more likely a brilliant solution will be found!
When you dedicate time to come together as a team, you will achieve greater productivity, too. Instead of one person spending a week trying to find a solution, the group can come together. You’ll solve the problem quickly and creatively!
Of course, problem solving as a group can present additional challenges. Opinions will differ, as well as communication styles. However, your team must practice these conversations – everyone will learn and be better off for it.
Wrapping Things Up
The truth is that developing team building skills takes time. What’s important is that you start.
With patience, you will see incredible results. My advice? Begin creating a team building program today and document the improvements you see over the next year.
I’d bet that, at this time next year, you will see:
- More confident team members who want to express ideas to the group
- Highly collaborative teams who handle group tasks with ease
- Functional teams with effective problem solving skills
- More individual employees invest effort in their work and building stronger relationships
I believe in you. Good luck!
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.