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Teams (like individuals) need to be nurtured as part of their develop­ment. Teamwork is always a growth process, and careful thought should be given to the things that can be done to keep the team healthy. A great measure of the team's ability to work well together comes from how they see themselves, and a great measure of how they see themselves will come from how they are nurtured. There is a vast difference be­tween a bunch of people and a team. Teams need a sense of unity and identity. Teams develop this unity and identity through their common learning experiences, accomplishing things together, and being affirmed for their contributions. Often, once a team has been established, the important aspect of nurturing the team becomes forgotten. This is a serious mistake. The team never outgrows its need for development. Someone has to stay attentive to the ongoing growth and development of the team. The facilitator is in the perfect position to be that person and can help in this process by contributing in the following ways:

Team-building activities: Taking time for team-building activities will reap big dividends for the team and for the organization. The fa­cilitator can arrange for the team to break from their projects and take part in team-building activities.

 Essentially, team-building is any ac­tivity that will help the team develop by learning more about them­selves, about working together, and about one another's styles. Team-building gives the team a chance to interact apart from their normal work setting and to learn about one another's differences and how it applies to working together. There are many approaches to building the team. All of them have the same goals. The cohesiveness that re­sults from time spent in team-building activities make the team mem­bers more affective when they work together. Team-building can be a formal training or even time spent together at social events. The most important thing to remember is that teams need time apart from their regular work environment to develop and grow.

Celebrating accomplishments: Have you ever decided to have some kind of celebration after finishing a difficult project? Maybe it was one of those grueling home improvement projects that took weeks or months to complete. When you were finished you celebrated by going out to dinner or by doing something else you enjoyed. But, what­ever you chose to do to, the point was to celebrate your accomplish­ment—and didn't that feel good? Teams need that kind of life-giving feeling too. Teams work hard to achieve their goals and when they complete a project, they should celebrate what they have accomplished. It helps define who they are as a team and makes them aware of how competent and effective they are. It is easy to forget to celebrate when a project is finished. We have a tendency to go on to the next project. The facilitator should arrange for some kind of celebration when the team has accomplished something significant. A pizza party, an after­noon at the ballpark, or some other creative way to celebrate will ener­gize the team and bring closure to the project.

Giving recognition: Giving recognition is the simplest, cheapest, least time-consuming, most powerful act we can take part in for indi­viduals and for teams. For some reason it also seems to be the most forgotten, underutilized, rare occurrence in the business world. Studies show that what American workers desire the most (and get the least) in their jobs is simple recognition for doing a good job. Our lack of giv­ing recognition permeates every level of the business world and af­fects each of us. Giving recognition to those who have earned it can be the most motivating action we can take. We just don't seem to be very good at it. Here is something important to remember about using rec­ognition. Recognition should be specific, timely, personal and public.

• Specific: Give recognition for a specific contribution. Recognition loses its meaning if it is just a typical "atta boy (or girl)." When a person has done something specific that he or she should be recog­nized for, the achievement should be clearly pointed out. For ex­ample, "Barb put in a lot of extra work on the...."
• Timely: Positive feedback should be given as close to the achieve­ment as possible. (Immediately after the achievement happens is best.)
• Public: Recognition has the most impact when given in front of others. For example, "I would like to take a moment to give recog­nition to...."
• Personal: The person initiating the recognition should be giving it personally and with sincerity. A memo sent or delivered by some­one else just doesn't have the same meaning.

The opportunities for feedback and recognition in a team environ­ment are immense. The facilitator can be a positive model of how it is done. It begins with recognizing individual contributions to the team. This can be as simple as acknowledging a team member's contribution at a meeting: "Jerry, good job making the charts," or "Darlene, thank you for helping us get back on track today. You really moved us for­ward." There are endless opportunities for recognition for the mem­bers contributing to the problem-solving process.

The team needs recognition also, and there are many opportunities. The most effective team recognition probably comes from the man­agement staff. When a project is successfully completed, the manager has an excellent opportunity to give the team recognition. A luncheon or special presentation of the team's accomplishment to the rest of the management staff are excellent ways to recognize the team's success.

To Be Continued

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7  Part 8

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