There are many factors involved in developing and retaining great people and great teams. One of these is rewarding people when they do well at a time that is meaningful to them. They may have achieved a great financial result, provided exceptional customer care, or completed a major project milestone. Whatever they have done, no matter how big or small, a reward acknowledges and celebrates the achievement.
Consider for a moment how you and your team have been rewarded. Was it memorable and inspirational? There is no doubt that experiences and activities serve as great rewards, incentives and motivators. They certainly create buzz and especially when the rewards are shared. Sharing seems to amplify and intensify the emotions. We are – after all – social animals. Yet despite the best intentions, time very quickly fades and before long, it is business as usual.
Equally, when was the last time you and your team got away from it all to experience a team activity, to learn about each other and yourself? Consider how it felt at the time and the impression it left on you and the team after a few days or few weeks back at the office. Rarely do these so called ‘team days’ produce long lasting impact. They are not game changers and they certainly struggle to produce any long-term competitive advantage. Perhaps it is because an activity like skydiving, stunt driving or jumping through hoops holds very little resemblance to what actually happens back at the office. After all, when was the last time you needed to jump from the 20th floor? Hopefully, not ever.
To develop a team that operates at a consistently high level of performance, there needs to be something more meaningful. Whatever it is, it needs to enable the team to work at a far higher level of complexity. More than a one-way relationship of ‘I say, you respond’ defines complexity. The relationship must take in emotions and an understanding of the wider environment and team goals – it is our emotional intelligence and how we relate with each other to get things done.
The major difficulty for any business is getting to the core of team relationships and ensuring that the momentum of ‘teaming’ is sustained once the initial workshops and training programmes are complete. When these relationships are robust and enjoyable it has a direct effect on productivity and brings about more potential for effective and efficient work practices. Sure, an experience or an activity can help break down barriers between individuals. Used in this way, experiences are the perfect breakers. However, viewed as the ‘solution’ to teaming – experiences alone will almost always fail in the team development stakes.
What’s your experience of team development? How do you think programmes can better benefit you?