Is there more than one type of team?

As we all know, teams can operate and function in a number of different ways. Researchers have suggested that it’s the amount of time teams allocate to the planning and implementation phases of a task determines the type of team they are. We see this played out clearly in, (amongst others), our Krypton Maze activity where teams are presented with short team tasks and have around 20minutes to complete. This ensures that they will revert to type rather than attempt to mask their behaviour.

So what types of teams are there?

The first type are described as Fragmented Teams. In this type, we tend to see autocratic leadership and/or small pockets of individuals who often dictate the group decision making process.

Secondly, there are Divergent Teams. Members in this team tend to be overly cautious and will consider a number of possible options. This caution can lead to a slow decision making process and it will sometimes be resolved with a voting process. This may lead to little commitment to the plan however.

A third type is labeled Cohesive Teams. They tend to have a democratic and cooperative atmosphere where everyone is involved. They work through any conflict rather than ignore it and get satisfaction from completing the task.

Is that it?

Not really, if we now look at how multiple teams function, we will see another three descriptions.

The Competitive Team – this type is more concerned with it’s own success than the overall success of the organisation. There tends to be a lack of focus on planning and more of a focus on winning! This results in little assessment of other teams requirements in terms of working together.

The Non-interactive Team – again, there is an inner focus. However, there is a degree of planning, but without due consideration for the organisations ‘bigger picture‘ or needs of other teams. The outcome of this may be that the planning is minimally effective.

The Cooperative Team – this team shares a common goal of completing projects together with other teams. During the planning phase in this team, a large amount of time is spent on how the different teams will work together in order to accomplish goals effectively and efficiently.

What type of team do you see yourselves in?


Who are Teambuilding Solutions and what do we do?

We are regularly writing about team building and what it means so we thought it about time we tell you a bit about us and our backgrounds!

Teambuilding Solutions is still a young company, founded in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis! It was founded by Andy O’Callaghan and Pete Stacey-Jackson. What, you may ask, was the reason for setting up the company during such difficult times for a huge number of companies world wide? The first and honest answer was that the company we had both been working at for several years went into administration and we suddenly found ourselves out of work! Once this situation was thrust upon us, we decided that we really loved the industry we were working in and wanted to continue to do so. Once this decision had been made, it became obvious that we should start our own company and Teambuilding Solutions was born!

Andy’s background was originally in Health and Fitness working with a wide range of market leading private health clubs. It was after experiencing a few different team development days, however, that Andy was bitten by the ‘teambuilding bug’! He gave up his job and began as a freelance instructor on team events before becoming a Belbin Team Roles Accredited Trainer and then being offered a full time role with a teambuilding company. Andy’s expertise is in the development side of team building and has since gone on to become accredited in Motivational Theory (SDI) and in MBTI.

Pete also has extensive experience in team programmes and provides a creative element to the company. Programme delivery is where Pete’s love is and he has the presence and experience to make any event a real success. Prior to eventually finding his path in team development, we often joke that Pete has tried every job under the sun – no matter what the topic is, he can often be heard saying things like ‘I know what happens because I did that job for a while!’ It’s also in creativity that Pete adds to the company – most of the activities and events we do have been designed and often build by Pete!

So, from a very difficult time to begin trading, Teambuilding Solutions has managed to grow year-on-year since its inception – a trait we would like to continue for a few years yet! Our aim is to bring a level of experience and love of what we do into our events. How are we different from other companies? The main factor is that you will invariably get Andy or Pete fronting your events as this is where their passion lies. We try to liaise closely with our clients to ensure we understand what they want out of the event, and do our best to deliver that. It’s this personal service that we take pride in.

Obviously, with additional growth, this becomes difficult. Recruitment is key in any organisation and we have been very lucky in taking on our latest member of the team Stephanie Olliff. Steph brings a high degree of order to our sometimes chaotic office! Her friendly approach is always complimented by our clients and this is something we are very proud of. As we grow, this will be a major attribute we will look for.

We also couldn’t operate our business without using freelance instructors – these are the people who work tirelessly in providing a great experience for our clients and we are always eternally grateful for their help and flexibility.

I hope that tells you a bit more about us and our ethos.  Our final words are – we love what we do and we look forward to doing it more often!

The answer to why my wife can never see anything beyond what she’s looking at!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my wife coming towards me in her car and I’ve flashed my lights, waved frantically and generally tried to catch her attention only to have her drive straight past me without so much as a glance. What must I do to get this woman’s attention??!!

Finally, on Horizon: How You Really Make Decisions I had my answer! It’s not that she is trying to ignore my flashing lights, etc, it’s just that she can’t see me.

My incredulity pales into significance when you hear the case of the American police officer who was charged and found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice when he failed to notice fellow officers beating up a suspect  whilst chasing a suspect of his own. In field tests shown on the programme, 50% of subjects failed to notice a fight taking place on the route they took as they ‘chased’ someone they had to follow. Not one person on the jury could believe that he could have missed seeing this altercation taking place during his own pursuit. They obviously don’t have a spouse like mine!

The term given to this is ‘Inattentional Blindness’ – an inability to take in things in your periphery vision when concentrating on a specific task. I’m sure a lot of people will remember the video where you have to look out for certain things and completely miss seeing someone dressed in a gorilla suite. It’s that phenomenon that causes my wife to not see anything but the road ahead!

Once that aspect had been put to bed, there was the argument introduced that we have two decision making processes. A theory put forward Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman where we have a fast process and a slow process. The theory states that it is our fast intuitive process that makes most decisions whilst our slow process comes up with reasons to justify these decisions! The programme gave several examples of how we can see this in action – a simple example was to ask people to answer the following:

What is 2 x 2? The answer came immediately without requiring any though. We know the answer almost intuitively.

What is 22 x 17? This requires time to work out as it’s not something we would know automatically.

A great programme all in all and if you are interested in human behaviour, well worth watching. If you missed it, try to watch it on this link to the BBC iPlayer.

We explore these type of characteristics in our behaviour workshops, such as MBTI, SDI and Belbin Team Roles. These will give you a great insight into what drives our behaviour and our preferred working styles.

The Krypton Maze Explained

We are often asked if we can make one of our events have a certain outcome. The simple answer is yes. The perfect example of this is our Krypton Maze activity. This consists of a series of physical and cerebral challenges that are designed to test a teams team work capability. If you are of a particular age, you will remember the inspirations for this activity – Tv’s The Crystal Maze and The Krypton Factor. We have used the challenges in these shows as our inspiration. We have then incorporated some our our experiences to come up with a mixture of challenges that not only engage the extroverts in your team, but also the introverted thinker.

To help understand the way in which this activity can engage your team and be tailored to a variety of outcomes, we have produced the following document. As this is one of our most popular events, we hope this will help understand why it is such a versatile and popular event.

The Krypton Maze


The difference between ‘building’ and ‘bonding

Following on from our previous post on making a differentiation between ‘teambuilding‘ activities and ‘team bonding‘ activities, we put together a guide to help clarify the difference and illustrate ‘the team building continuum’.

I hope you find it interesting!

What is the long term value of teambuilding?

This was a question raised in the International Teambuilding Association group on Linkedin that I formed some years ago. Have a look at the discussion on the link, but here is my response!

I’ve mentioned in countless articles and blogs about the difference between ‘team bonding‘ and ‘team building‘ activities. I like to think of the range as a continuum with each term at either end and the range of activity options falling into the gap between. 
The problem we have is that any company that offers a ‘team bonding’ session will call it a ‘team building’ activity. I feel that we should just call it what it is. 
Both ends of the continuum have their merits, but both have completely different outcomes associated with them. The client must ultimately select the correct type of activity depending on their required outcomes. For example, there is no point taking a team paintballing if there are issues within the team that need some type of intervention to help them overcome the problems. Any competitive fun events will only have two possible outcomes in this scenario – either the rifts deepen or a band aid is placed over a much bigger wound. Both are not really the desired outcome that you really want. 
Going back to the original question, the value of ‘team building‘ is far more considerable than a ‘team bonding’ activity in my experience. Ultimately, if a company is saying that it’s something ‘they have to do’, there won’t be much you can do as culturally they are not buying into the benefits of developing their teams and I’m sure this will be reflected in their work place. Some of these companies see their annual ‘team building’ session as a way of ticking a box to show they care about their employees. 
It’s so refreshing when you visit HR departments where there is a real people focus. They understand that developing their people helps develop their business. 
How do we change the situation? Until ‘team bonding‘ becomes a separate entity distinct from ‘team building‘ I think we are pretty much stuck with everything being lumped under the one umbrella. It’s our job to try to get our clients and potential clients to understand the difference so I guess the ball is in all our courts?

Can you spot the difference between the type of activities below?