title card team building blog interview

Team Building Perspectives: Mike Cardus

logo_create-learningPerspective is important me as team building professional. I constantly search for new perspectives and inspiration that challenge my professional habits and comfort zones. It could be a new game, technology, or belief system; what matters is I’m challenging my brain to make new connections. I follow Mike Cardus of Team Building & Leadership on Twitter and Linked-in. I look forward to seeing his revelations in my feed. He always impresses me with his knowledge and insights regarding team development.  It would be easy to view Mike as competition but I’d rather recognize him as a fellow explorer. He was kind enough to answer some questions about our shared focus: Teams. Here’s the first part of our interview with him.

What is the most common misconception you’ve encountered about team building?

That team building is a series of ice-breakers with little to no connection back to the actual work of the organization. Moreover, that we are going to hold hands, do trust falls or hug-it- out and fix the psychological issues of adults.

What is your favorite Ice Breaker? How does it work?

I do not use any icebreakers. The term icebreaker implies that the activity is separate from the content and that something exciting is needed because the content will be dull, harsh or dry. When you need an icebreaker, you need to improve your content! In team building what you do has to be connected, purposefully, to the goals of the organization; the goals of the team; the goals of the team members; the goals of the person paying for the team building; and the facilitator’s skill-sets. When these five areas align then, team building happens in a purposeful way, without the use of any icebreakers, because everything is purposeful.

My current favorite is I2U2ME2WE

How can a manager increase buy-in for team building days?

Don’t call it team building, don’t call it anything special. A manager’s role is to add value to the decision-making and problem-solving of the team, plus supply the necessary resources to accomplish the work. You cannot force or manipulate buy-in. A manager can increase people seeing how the team building is useful to their work by explaining the reason for the team building, and discussing with the team members how this may add value to the team and their work. Following the team building the manager can take the ideas, team processes, and show the team how their ideas are being implemented into the work.

What are your top reasons businesses should invest in team building?

Having a team do something different yet similar to work can support them to find different ways of completing the work.

As organizations have become flatter, people are being asked to be on more and more teams. Effective team building can develop better systems to drive effective team behaviors.

What is your favorite book to recommend to a manager that wants to work on team building, leadership, or trust?

Groups That Work(and those that don’t) Creating conditions for effective teamwork. – Richard Hackman

A Foundation of Trust – Sam Sikes

The Team Handbook – Peter Scholtes
>>>Check back with us next week for the 2nd half of our talk with Mike.