Interim Executive Resources

The Secret Behind Team Building

Team building is an interesting topic for youth soccer. This stems directly from the complexity of the youth soccer environment supporting millions of players across the United States. The game of soccer is based on team play, leagues are composed of “teams of teams”, and organizations that manage Clubs, Associations, and States look like teams at times, even if sometimes we don’t know what game they are playing.

If we jump to, we’ll find the following description:

Team building is the use of different types of team interventions that are aimed at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles, as well as solving task and interpersonal problems that affect team functioning.

Its four components are: 1) Goal setting: aligning around goals, 2) Interpersonal-relationship management: building effective working relationships, 3) Role clarification: reducing team members’ role ambiguity, and 4) Problem solving: finding solutions to team problems.

Reference:  Wikipedia – Team Building

In this series of SHARPER COUNSEL articles, we’ll explore in modest depth each of these four team building topics. However, before we move into the scholastic guts of team building, let’s step back a bit and see the forest from the trees.

I did an exercise with a group of people having teamwork issues and had them each provide a word or phrase that described what it was like to be on a high performance team. We’ve all experienced being in a great group of peers and all of the fun and excitement that comes along with that situation. Their result is a great list and typical for any group of individuals that have been on teams at some time in their life:

Great results towards common goals.
Compromise along the way.
Like and respect teammates.
Lots of work to accomplish the objective.
Personal responsibility for tasks at hand.
Division of labor and understanding each other.
Open mindedness in approach.
Safety in suggestions and new ideas.

However, all teams are not able to generate an experience list like this. The situation was not right or the results were poor or the people didn’t get along or the leadership was weak – we can point to many things that might provide barriers to greatness. And the four components listed above identify areas of common issues with teams that need help.

But let’s assume you have a team or are on a team that is OK, but not yet stellar. Is there something that can be done to build that team towards greatness before pursuing team building therapy? ABSOLUTELY, and secret to building great teams is often overlooked even by experts in the field.

Recognize that what creates memories during great team experiences stems from going through a series of events that results in some sort of accomplishment. Time spent together, pursuing some objective, grappling with challenges, and achieving success are common factors that bind a team into greatness.

The secret to team building and the key for unleashing the power of the people on the team is simply:


You can’t build a great team by focusing on the individuals – you must do things together, as a team. You can’t build a great team by doing the same thing that all the other teams are doing – being on THIS team needs special significance. You can’t build a great team by focusing on the negative – your team’s unique and shared experiences should be lively, uplifting and fun!

So as you pursue making your team into a great team take every opportunity to create these unique and shared experiences. When working directly on team tasks, build skills in individuals, but don’t stop until team skills are improved. Bring variety of task into the situation deliberately and regularly to complement drills and break down boredom. Extend these experiences beyond the work at hand into clever pre-game and post-game rituals. Call out and celebrate group successes no matter how minor. Bring the personal aspect of teams to the forefront with group meals, social events, community service and other engaging and fun off-the-field activities.

And recognize that even though I use words that describe soccer teams as the team building focus, this team building secret of creating unique and shared experiences is effective at work and at play, in the office or on the field, and in meetings or at home. Think about it.

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