A Team-Building Intervention

Whether it is on or off the playing field, effectively dealing with conflict goes a long way in determining success.  Once teams successfully overcome conflict, trust develops between team members, leading to higher levels of team cohesion and greater team effectiveness (Teklab et al., 2009). A team building workshop is one intervention to help overcome conflict and build a more cohesive team.

Team building workshops have become one of the most popular and widely used intervention strategies for improving management and organisational relations, and organisational effectiveness in business, industry and sport (Yukelson, 1997). Brawley & Paskevich (1997) define team building as a method of helping groups:

a)         Increase effectiveness;

b)         Satisfy members’ needs;

c)         Improve work conditions.

Team building early in the season may help establish trust and open channels of communication and, facilitate a climate of mutual understanding and honest self-evaluation (Hardy & Crace, 1997; Yukelson, 2006). This suggests that sport psychology consultants can engage teams in early team building to create conditions for effective “midpoint” (or in the case of sport, midseason) conflict management which is a particularly important time for developing cohesion (Tekleab et al., 2009).

Patten (1981) argues that team building interventions are often used to teach group members the importance of cooperation, so that group members can share skills, knowledge and resources more effectively. A team building intervention can be a direct (Yukelson, 1997) or indirect (Carron et al., 1997) approach. A direct approach is where sport psychology consultants implement a workshop directly to athletes, whereas an indirect approach is where sport psychology consults work with a coach, who then implements the workshop (Paradis & Martin, 2012).

Team building workshops can include either task or socially orientated activities. An example of a socially orientated activity may include attribute sharing (i.e. where team members tell other team members what their strengths/qualities are). In this activity team members will receive a number of qualities that other team members believe he or she possesses. This may help in building more positive relationships within a team and also help in building a more cohesive team (Krull & Weiner, 1996).

On the other hand, team building workshops that have an emphasis on tasks and objectives may include exercises for goal-setting (Widmeyer & Du Charme, 1997), communication (Yukelson, 1997), and role clarity, acceptance and conformity to team norms (Papavissis et al., 1996).

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