There is a reason we do all the things we do. Whether we are conscious of why we are making certain decisions or not, it affects not only ourselves but the world around us, including what we do at work. It affects how we do our work, how we relate to our coworkers, how we respond to our supervisors, and even how we treat our customers. Our personal attitudes and behaviors may change over time, but what is often overlooked is when all of these personal attitudes and behaviors are combined on a team. Whether you have a team of two or two hundred, your attitudes and behaviors have the ability to make or break a business.
A friend recently informed me that the keywords “self-awareness” may be too trendy now for some to buy into so in the interest of inclusivity I ask you to conduct a personal inventory of your own attitudes and behaviors at work. How are you at work? Do you enjoy going to work? What is it about the job that you like or dislike? What frustrates you? How are you responding to problems or conflict at work? Do you feel comfortable speaking up at work?
The answers to these questions often set up a chain reaction of behaviors. Whether they are good or bad behaviors, we have a choice in how to respond. This choice requires some amount of introspection and understanding of our conscious and unconscious reasons why we do the things we do. The intellects call this emotional intelligence or our EQ. Unlike our IQ, we can work on improving our EQ. There is an enormous amount of information out there about improving your EQ. This information tends to focus on the individual and how they can personally improve. The problem with improving your own EQ and working with a team is that everyone has different areas where they excel and where they need to improve. Additionally, everyone is working with different perspectives about how the world works and commonly operating with different communication styles. So while it is important to work on your own EQ, we need to consider how it works with the EQ of others on your team. There is a way for a team to improve their EQ and it requires them to work on it together through team building.
Through my experience and research over the years about the uses of team building, it saddens me to say that team building experiences in a corporate setting are often missing the mark. I kept asking myself why that is and I believe there are many reasons contributing to the decline of team building in the workplace. The biggest reason is that people may not fully understand the true purpose of team building and the facilitator may not be taking the time to explain it. I do believe that most if not all people believe that we learn best through experience. I have yet to meet someone to argue with that. This is team building at its core. Your team building facilitator should be experienced enough to choose or create activities that target the attitudes or behaviors that seem to be negatively affecting the success of your team and therefore your business. By selecting these targeted activities, these attitudes and behaviors will play out during the experience. When they do, we can then address them in hopes of changing them or improving them. In this way, we can improve team EQ.
Improving EQ on an individual or team level takes time and practice. It requires the team to be dedicated to improving their personal and interpersonal relations. It requires accountability and for everyone to be involved including those considered as upper management. If you want to improve those soft skills at work consider doing so as a team. If you invest in a team building experience make sure you are getting the full value by being very clear and specific about your goals to the facilitator. Don’t just say that you want to work on communication. Tell them the areas where communication is failing. Is it between departments? Is the message breaking down from CEO to worker? Additionally, tell them what kind of experience you want to have. Do you want it to be indoors or outdoors? Do you have a team that is high energy or low energy? A good facilitator will work with you to create a personalized experience no matter where your team is with attitudes and behaviors.