A lot of leaders and organizations talk about improving team building or how important it is for everyone to work together and then create workplaces where people are discouraged from collaborating or helping one another. It takes self-awareness and commitment to design a workplace where team building is practiced and celebrated. Here are five ways that team building is routinely discouraged in the workplace:
- Creating a competitive work environment. People are encouraged to compete on their own behalf instead of as a team. This creates a workplace where people look out for their own interests before thinking about working with others.
- Lack of effective communication. People only communicate on a superficial level and only about approved topics. Very little attention is paid to listening to what others say and creating two-way sharing of information.
- Missing emotional depth. People aren’t encouraged to understand and welcome emotions in the workplace and how they can bring people together. Displays of emotion are limited to one or two officially sanctioned ones such as fake happiness and anger.
- The boss’ ego. The boss can’t let go long enough to let people work collaboratively because it would take away from his (or her) vision of how things should be done. The organization runs according to his personal needs and issues rather than with everyone in mind.
- Lack of commitment. Leaders and organizations invest in one team building session per year instead of an ongoing program that teaches people practical skills.
In many organizations, team building is an abstract concept that people talk about or pretend is happening. You can move from wishing it would happen to making it a reality by implementing a program that teaches people skills on an ongoing basis. The idea is to create a workplace environment where people are actively being trained in how to work each other and given opportunities to practice the new skills they’re learning. What will you do to encourage team building in your organization?