Motivational Keynote Speaker on Team Building

Mike Hourigan, Motivational Keynote Speaker on Building Great Teams

Don’t Just Build Your Team, Negotiate It

In my view, the best way to go about team building is to understand that building great teams is an ongoing negotiation. Team building should never be a random process but an intentional progression where dissimilar staff members are brought together to achieve a common purpose. Team building can be a dream or a nightmare; the difference is negotiation.

Stop with the Team Building T-Shirts and Quiz Shows

Click below to see Team Building and Teamwork outlines:

Katie Shonk, writing for the Harvard Law Review (January 21, 2019) related:

“Newly formed teams are often encouraged or even required to engage in team-building techniques and exercises, which might range from… sharing little-known secrets about each other to building a tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti (but) they don’t do much to address some of the pitfalls of working in teams. And, in fact, they can actually exacerbate some of those pitfalls.”

As a keynote speaker who talks to groups on team building, I couldn’t agree more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about the team’s shiny new “bonding T-shirts” evolving into dust rags.

When teams are brought together, and the “getting-to-know-you” period is over, they are often the same strangers they were before the team was picked. Team building is in fact a negotiation, an “announcement of cooperation,” not a situation where strangers feel stranded on an island fighting for their lives.

In effective team building, the team must negotiate many factors that need to be reinforced and, in fact, celebrated. The

team must avoid the “us versus them” mentality. For example, there can’t be an ongoing turf war between departments. The negotiation needs to arrive at the place where the team’s purpose is placed above the pettiness of “my department is more important than yours.”

Team building negotiation must celebrate the differences in talent, experience and expertise of every team member. Teams that place analytical or clinical skills of some members above the practical or creative services of others cannot succeed. In helping organizations with team building, I am consistently amazed when a “creative type” suggests a technical idea or anengineering or medical professional advances an interesting creative approach. This teamwork flow can only happen when team members agree to honor everyone’s unique talent.

One key function of team building is a negotiation in regard to information. Withholding information from the team entirely or from certain team members to others is a recipe for failure. The refrain of “I wasn’t told about that!” has killed more projects and destroyed more products than can be imagined. Information among team members needs to be shared and not controlled. Another refrain, “It’s on a need to know basis,” may be acceptable during a product development cycle within R&D, but not when a team is brought together to work toward a common goal.

Eroding the Team’s Trust

When team members aren’t honored, trust is eroded. Team building in a situation where some team members feel intimidated, under-valued, ignored or made to feel somehow irrelevant, will destroy the very purpose of the team. This again is a matter of negotiation, where voices are heard on an equal basis, and resolution can be achieved.

Great teams are built through many influences but it all flows from negotiation.

Mike Hourigan, National Keynote Speaker on Team Building and Building Great Teams.

Mike Hourigan, renowned expert on organizational teamwork and team building speaker, may be reached at: (704) 875-3030 or by filling out the form on this page.

Team Building Speaker Mike

Team Building Speaker Mike Hourigan

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    Mike does much more than present one-of-a-kind keynote speeches - he provides fun and fact filled breakout sessions as well as dynamic training programs for numerous organizations like Marriott, Disney, Harley-Davidson and even the U.S. Army.


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