Team Bonding – Hocus Pocus

“Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”-Stephen Covey

Team bonding glues many individuals strung by tasks to be delivered, in a project. It is a step beyond the team building exercise, where the roles have been defined, rules have been set and tasks have been designated. This phase is beyond forming and norming the team. We consider this phase as it imprints success resulting from collective efforts of the performers. We have repeatedly read, seen and experienced its success. Here we share two real-time business cases which teach us the invaluable lesson through their myriad ways. The names have been changed, to maintain the business confidentiality.

Case A- Shooting stars
Here we present a business unit ABC, composed of many stars, each responsible for a quantified end result. All the members had a considerable track record, to have earned a role, in the dream team. The individual performances ranks high and the initial report runs strong. The situation takes a turn when the performances spikes, without the collaborative effort. The team differs majorly with each other. The dissonance fuels better performance and a cut-throat competition. The project ends with great results and a bunch of highly disjointed individuals, who trajectile into different directions. The learning gained from the absence of this team-bonding is that this process is not limited, to bond for the business result, but inculcating relationships, to gel the magic for a longer duration of time. 

Case B- Shuttle ship fiasco
Here we have a situation where a team XYZ, is staffed with right performers. The project is explained with details about the tasks and role, which gets widely accepted by the team. They set a concrete mould, right from the word go. The project proceeds exorbitantly as the team performs very well. Every idea is echoed unanimously by the team members and one completes the other’s statement. The bonding magic takes a jolt, when the team gels to form a shell, distancing from everyone in the organization. Consequently remains defensive, if any one of them is questioned by, any external entity. This creates a major friction with the wider world. As soon as the project completes, the team is dissolved forever. They are set in opposing roles, where they need to differ and contradict each other. Most of them under performs, failing which the team members, leave the organization disillusioned. The moral from this experience is that team bonding is not limited to the force that binds the team from within, but strengthens the bonds with the wider world.

Importance of team bonding
It determines the experience during the delivery of tasks and takeaways on its completion. Any process can be chosen to suit the environment. The end result is business success and a higher order success, individually. The process needs to elevate every member from their status quo to a new experience gained collectively.

Deciding factors
It would depend on several factors from personal values, the mantra accepted for the team and its repercussion considered.  It begins with the selection where the skills and performance are the criteria. Here, the leaders and the selectors need to match the value. Even if they are conflicting find a common goal where they can resonate. Match strengths not just to complement each other but strengthen them further. Most of the time, the team selection is made with one member with a unique skill. Often the strength of one might be the weakness of the other. This further fuels forming individual agendas, ego hassles and miscommunications. These cracks needs to be predicted and mitigated with sharing responsibilities of each other’s success leading to the collective business result achievement.

Steps to the pattern
The mantra of mutually exclusive collectively exhaustive needs to be adopted. Every member contributes with their performance and ensures other’s success. The business goal is quantified in terms of team result, individual performance and collaborative success. If the measures are defined well, and expectation drawn aligned with the delegation of tasks, the team would carve its success.

Loopholes to the adhesion
The pitfalls to a successful team bonding are losing individuality to the collective identity. There can be an indelible mark set through drawing strength from each other. Contradictorily, it can be the other way round. In case there are conflicting views and difference of opinion, it needs to be brought up to the table. It should be as acknowledged in Stephen Covey’s words, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Often, the team performance may shadow individual limitations. More importantly, as the credit distribution would be for the entire entity, individual landmarks can be lost to the greater glory. These can be mitigated by ensuring individual attention by the leader not just to retain the earlier identity but add on to newer strengths and work upon the weakness. A culture of openness in the team will drive fear away and take pride in learning through the mistakes. It’s true that in a team the collective result counts, yet individual performance needs to be identified.

Wrap up
Ultimately, the paradoxes of the realities when lead in oneness, the team bonding serve its purpose. The spirit of team bonding as described by Marvin Weisberg, “Teamwork is the quintessential contradiction of a society grounded in individual achievement”.