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Make Sense Of The Theory Behind Team Building

Aug 4, 2008
If you wish to play an office prank on your colleagues then just try walking into the office and mentioning in passing that there is a company team building event planned soon. The looks of horror will cascade around the office as your colleagues picture the trust falls and group chanting in a secluded field somewhere around Dorset.

Although his is an exaggeration, many employees are subjected each year to company team building events which include various hellish pursuits such as role plays and colleague bonding. In fact so many companies do it that it has developed into a multi-million pound industry catering for everything from a day out at the races to its a knockout family fun days.

In the midst of all the psychosomatic testing and complimentary Danish pastries lies some carefully over-complicated theories which this article intends to make a bit clearer. There are many different schools of thought however this article will use the definition that team building is the process of creating a collaborative enterprise that can perform or effect change.

We all function in groups, however what makes a group of people a team and furthermore, what makes a team good or bad? Have you ever been dragged into some makeshift and invasive psychometric testing asking the question, what possible use can this have? The answer is that the psychology of individuals in a group dictates how set group functions as a team.

A popular framework for this is the Sixteen Teamwork Complexes which is based on the psychoanalytical theories of the renowned Dr Karl Jung. The framework uses the Jungian theory of psychological types and facilitates the pre-emption of differences between the individuals personality, work persona and preferences.

The theory revolves around the overall team function relying on a balance of various roles. A fun game is to look around your office and guess which function your colleagues are performing. Are they a crusader or explorer, a scientist or an innovator? All these team functions can be underused or overused in the group dynamic creating a dysfunctional team.

Let us take for example a team role labelled coach. Then let us define this as one who assess other team members involvement in a task and to contemplate how to gain the teams involvement and commitment to a certain task. The underuse of this role will result in a team working as a group of individuals and the overuse will result in team members being fearful of disagreeing with each other, either way resulting in a dysfunctional team dynamic.

There are eight different psychological types and an underuse and overuse projection for each, creating the Sixteen Teamwork Complexes. The task is identifying who performs which role in the team and whether that individual is underusing or overusing that role. In order for this to be effective an overall team goal is essential.

We all joke about the office stickler, whose obtrusive lust for inflexible deadlines and documentation can become disruptive to your day, or the office whirlwind who disrupts the office doing everything at ludicrous-speed, well this framework identifies these overuses within a team with foresight to correcting and therefore streamlining the team dynamic.

There are many companies on the web who offer training and solutions to your team building issues. Much of the time it is members of senior management who are effecting the team dynamic with overuse of their team roles, so next time a team building event comes up do not role your eyes as it could make your office environment that much smoother to work in.
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