The ability to work toward common goals is one of the hallmarks of human achievement in our million-year history.
The human is driven at once to cooperate but also to compete. Further research into our evolutionary history shows that nonhuman primates build coalitions to defend resources and to establish social dominance hierarchies. In the modern workplace, similar dynamics shape the relationships among people who work together, affecting their ability to produce desired results.
The best minds in human resources say that simple team-building exercises may help move past the limitations of our prehistoric human brains. By focusing on a hypothetical goal, a group of disparate individuals may learn to behave as a team.
Something as simple as making a team building poster may be enough to smooth tensions and foster cooperative feelings—or to at least initiate the process.
What Is Team Building?
Team building refers to the activities that a group of individuals take part in that focus on building and reinforcing the relations between the members and the motivation to work towards a common goal. Through collaborative tasks, the team better understands its internal dynamic and improves cohesion as well as empathy between members.
Businesses often use team building exercises so that employees get to know their coworkers better, to set and reinforce objectives, and to enhance cooperation.
Team building may take the form of games, collaborative projects, workshops, or attending an event. In other words, team-building activities can focus more on work strategies or enhancing relationships, depending on the group’s primary goal.
Team Building Exercises Teach Cooperation
The idea of team building among a heterogeneous mixture of people thrown randomly together is fodder for many television comedies, including “The Office.”
At first glance, the participants in a company team-building exercise might seem wildly different from one another in age, sex and gender, ethnicity and culture, and even national origin. Psychologists say that unseen “deep-level” factors matter more than superficialities. Varying personality traits, values, capabilities: These are what matter most to a team.
Bringing these random individuals together for team-building exercises—whether a volleyball match at “Dunder Mifflin'' or a team building poster elsewhere—helps people to discover the commonalities among them.
Research shows that team building exercises and other bonding among colleagues and coworkers help to foster good communication and productivity. Such team building exercises also reduce interpersonal tension among people while improving the perception of the shared workplace.
Aside from the worker bees, managers may benefit by better connecting with their employees in smaller groups of 5-10 people per exercise.
A team building poster exercise may burn an hour of shared time but yield dividends in increased productivity and goal-oriented behaviors.
The Science of Team Building
The research of empiricists and the wisdom of ancient philosophers suggests that the human phenomenon is less individual and more interconnected with others of the species and, indeed, everything in the universe.
On a practical level, individual team members must realize that their egos and selfish desires motivate behavior that may be less productive to team goals and, at times, counterproductive. Problems among team members that become dysfunctional may manifest as persistent passive-aggressive behavior, bullying, and other kinds of psychological conflict.
In today’s business world, successful organizations—whether profiteering corporations, nonprofit do-gooders, sports teams—all prioritize maintaining the psychological well-being of the team member.
That focus is not just the result of good-hearted beneficence. The growing complexity of business functions and the 21st-century world generally demands that leaders focus on team building and maintaining cohesion.
A study with funding from the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences found a “positive moderate effect” on outcomes after team building exercises.
More specifically, the Institute reported in Small Group Research that team-building components strongly influenced affective and process outcomes. In plain English, the team-building exercises in the study focussed on goal-setting, problem-solving, role-clarification, and interpersonal relationships. These team-building exercises improved mental attitudes among participants while also improving success in achieving goals.
The simple action of initiating the team building poster workshop itself may be an opportunity to detect counterproductive thought patterns that might be a snag in the group’s workflow. Like a Rorschach test, all of these thoughts and motivations may be captured on a team building poster.
How Does a Team Building Poster Help?
Anyone that is part of a random group, whether at work or for some other obligation, may wonder how building a team poster would help anything.
Often, teams of people lack even a basic understanding of what others do or the team’s goals. Teams may consist of individual players pursuing selfish goals, like professional basketball players who are focused more on individual scoring and less on team defense. These so-called teammates may see others more as competitors than allies in the same fight.
It might sound trivial to some, but a team building poster exercise has proved useful to improve cooperation and group performance outcomes. The benefits include:
- Gaining a sense of belonging when simply shown the team name
- Understanding the team’s mission
- Learning about the personal preferences of fellow team members, as well as the meanings behind their behavior
- Establishing behavioral standards for the team that reflects group values
In the world of professional team building, an “agile coach” helps organizations, businesses, and even professional sports teams adopt a successful team’s mentality and habits. A team building poster exercise may be a good centerpiece for an organizational workshop.
The Process: Team Building Poster
Agile coaching experts or other business consultants focussing on team building recommend hiring an outsider to lead an afternoon workshop either on or off-site.
Typically, business consultants representing varying schools of thought couch their approaches with different buzzwords and schema but generally arrive at similar endpoints.
The Management Drive Method
Some team building poster consultants recommend using the “Management Drive” methodology as a starting point in the workshop.
The method uses six colors to code intangibles such as personal management style, the team’s preferred style of cooperation, and the organization’s culture. This simple color-based coding allows team members and leaders to discuss individual attributes and how they interrelate in a group dynamic.
Management Drive defines the following colors:
- Yellow: Knowledge, analysis, innovation, and inspiration
- Green: Social, communication, and sharing
- Orange: Results, competition, risk, and possibility
- Blue: Clarity, forethought, organization, reliability
- Red: Action, force, respect, alertness, and impulsivity
- Purple: Conservation, service, bonding, traditional, and safe
The use of these Management Drive color codes during a team building poster exercise also affords team members the chance to joke with one another and to indulge their egos playfully. The ploy might work particularly well with younger and more credulous members of an organization.
To begin, the coach invites team members to take a survey to develop a secret personal profile with associated colors. The “true colors” of individual team members will reveal themselves during various exercises in the workshop, ideally to the captivated delight of participants. During this game-playing, participants place a photo of themselves and their profile on the team poster.
Upon discussing individual profiles, the workshop leader moves to discuss the group profile in this team building exercise. The coach asks questions, inviting team members to develop explanations and to arrive at conclusions.
Team members speculate about the strongest drivers influencing their group dynamic. They also try to discover their group’s blind spots or weaknesses. Finally, the team discusses corrective measures to improve behavior, culture, and ultimately outcomes.
Along with Management Drive techniques, the workshop coach may invite team building participants to move through some exercises to further discuss their group dynamic.
In the first exercise, the leader asks participants to separate into three small groups, assigning tasks. The first group discusses the product produced by the team. The second group discusses the customer or beneficiary they serve. The third group discusses their motives for engaging in collaborative work, which could possibly be a mixture of income and personal satisfaction.
After these exercises, team members should successfully agree on a cohesive mission statement to describe their teamwork. Naturally, the mission statement goes onto the team building poster at that point.
During the workshop, some facilitators may leave the team building poster to the side for a while, moving through additional exercises. They may use any number of constructions. One such off-the-shelf game some coaches enjoy is “Here comes the King.”
The exercise requires that team members cooperate to prevent the “King,” played by the facilitator, from achieving a particular goal. In this game, the coach leaves the room and re-enters to find a room with exactly enough chairs for everyone. The team members must quickly switch chairs to prevent the facilitator from taking the empty seat. Any team member who stands must then quickly take a different chair.
After repeating the exercise a couple of times, the team members see that the facilitator easily finds an empty seat within seconds. The team then huddles to discuss strategy and to assign roles, just like any professional sports team during a strategic time out. With any luck, the strategy works and results in improved outcomes.
How To Make a Team Building Poster
In years past, organizational workshop leaders set up a triangular poster board holder in front of the room. Team members would take markers and paintbrushes to write mission statements and notate observations about individual and group traits.
Much of this can now be accomplished digitally, too, with simple off-the-shelf online products, many of which are free to use.
Today’s college students often crowdsource lecture hall note-taking with a shared Google document, edited similarly to a Wikipedia page. In that vein, team building posters may be built with collaboration with far-flung colleagues and teammates around the globe, as opposed to people working in the same space or physically connected to the same computer server.
Some of the workshop exercises may not translate to the virtual world, but many do. Meeting by video conference, team members may still break into groups to accomplish various objectives before sharing the results with the broader group. In such cases, the team building poster may be a document hosted by Google or some other service, such as Canva.
Numerous poster templates are available online on Google, Pinterest, or other social media sites. Alternatively, team members may decide to create their own from scratch. The final poster design may be so good that team members will choose to share it with other members of the organization or even use it on a website or business card.
What Is a Good Team Building Poster Design?
With today’s modern online tools, making a great team-building poster with your teammates is easy, wherever you are or however you connect. Of course, you want to use the team building poster as a communications vehicle, but keep in mind that the best posters are the most visually striking. Make sure to combine the communications elements with visually striking images.
It’s also a great and fun idea to experiment with different color combinations. The triadic color combination uses three colors that are equidistant on the standard color circle. You can use these to make a triangle shape and create a poster infused with feelings of harmonious cooperation.
Many corporations use reds and blues for branding for established reasons. Blue is literally seen as a calming color in varying hues. It’s also associated with the quality of “trustworthy.” Conversely, red is seen as adding a bit of “color” while remaining professional.
You should pay special attention to color depending upon your branding needs. If your team works on environmental issues, for example, you could go with lots of green and shades of brown. Yet rather than erring on the side of dullness, you could spice up your team building poster with a bit of lime green.
Professional team building poster consultants recommend employing natural images in your posters, such as desert landscapes or autumnal scenes from New England. You might also experiment with mixing natural images with artistic renderings for a more “meta” look.