What is Team Building?

People in every workplace talk about ‘my team’, ‘working as a team’ and ‘building the team’, and yet few of us understand how to actively create the experience of team work or how to develop an effective team. The aim of this article is to provide you with some key team building tools and strategies that will enable you to be a more valuable team builder.

When utilized the team building tools and strategies presented in this workshop will enable you contribute positively to your teams AND to become a more effective team builder, should that be part of your job description.

Please note any characteristics you might notice relating to successful teamwork while watching the video.

Soccer  on the Seas: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

The video is  based on a true story about a 1986 soccer team that lived on a little island   in the south of Thailand called Koh Panyee. The film features local children  who tell the story of the original team members.Koh Panyee is a floating village in the middle of the sea that doesn’t have an inch of soil. The boys loved to watch football but had no playing field to practice. Did they let that stop them? No. Inspired by the World Cup, they built their own field out of scrap lumber and didn’t let the exposed nails limit their play. Playing on a fast, small surface, the boys learned to play, and play well. The team established a soccer tradition that continues today for this small village. The Koh Panyee team is one of the most successful in the Thai league.


How did this team work well together?

Having watched the video, which aspect of your ability to work in a team are you keen to develop?

Successful teams and their members:

  • Have a common vision, or mission statement, based on team values.

One of the boys in the video has an idea (in this instance at least he was the leader); that he and his friends should start their own football team. He communicated the vision and the rest of his friends followed him thus forming a team. All of the boys shared and understood the vision; they knew what they were working together for. Their vision was based on one of their highest values, on what was important to them, their love of soccer.

  • Share common goals and take action to move towards these.

Once they had decided to start a football team the boys set their sights on a common goal; to be World Champions. To say that they took action to move towards their goal is truly an understatement.

  • Demonstrate commitment to excellence.

Successful teams are committed to excellence and this commitment is held throughout the team and at every level. Their goal is to achieve at the highest level in everything they do. The boys in the video are committed to excellence from the outset as demonstrated by the fact that they met after school to construct their floating pitch.

  • Communicate effectively with each other

The boys in the video are talking to each other all of the time, when they are constructing their ‘pitch’ and when they are both practicing and playing soccer. It is evident that they are helping one another out and encouraging one another.

  • Offer each other acknowledgement and feedback

All through the “game,” successful teams appreciate one another and show it in a variety of ways. In the video the boys show it to one another, encouraging one another and telling each other how they can make changes so the same mistakes aren’t made again.

  • Collaborate / co-operate effectively to solve problems

The boys worked closely together to overcome a number of obstacles: firstly, they overcame the fact that there was insufficient space for them to practice or play in Koh Paynee by constructing a floating pitch and, secondly, they removed their football boots during the match when they became wet, finding that they played better in bare feet.

  • Identify and utilize the strengths of team members.

Every team member has strengths and weaknesses. One member’s strengths will cover another’s weakness. This is teamwork, enabling all of the bases to be covered. In soccer, some players are suited to play in defense, while others play in mid field or attack. Successful teams are those that enable members to operate out of their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, on a regular and consistent basis.

  • Individual team members have a clear understanding of their role within the team and of others’ expectations.

The boys in the video had clearly defined roles; playing in either defense, mid field or in attack. Every team works best when the members of the team have clearly defined roles. Some do one thing, others do another. One isn’t better or more important than the other, just different. When teams operate out of their strengths and their roles, they win.

 A team that has a shared vision based on team values, shared goals, that is committed to excellence, communicates effectively, collaborates, acknowledges and gives feedback, operates out of its combined strength and has clearly defined roles = an effective team = a successful team

‘None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.’

Mother Theresa

The secret to getting things done lies not only in great leadership, but in how well the rest of the people, 99% of the team, follows the leadership. Good teams are filled with people who are committed to following and getting the job done.

The ability to work successfully together as a team, despite, or perhaps because of individual differences, can come down to preparation through education and training.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi
    Having been involved in boys football for many years I can vouch for the above – when my sons team played as a team, they usually won. Sport can be used very successfully to help learn team building and team working skills – which can then be transferred into other areas of life


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