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Part 2: Interview With Mike Cardus

Part 2 of our interview with Mike Cardus of Team Building & Leadership

What is your favorite Networking Activity?
A team building activity in and of itself is useless. It is like yelling “RED!”.  When I have people come together who do not know each other very well, I enjoy using Social Network Un_Plugged as an opening to find connections and align the group with what we hope to accomplish.

Describe a DIY team building tool/activity for a meeting planner or manager?

Distinctive | Working Well | 100 Days better

a. Break into groups of 4 to 6

b. Each team has a piece of flipchart paper and several markers c. Break the paper into 3 columns:

i. Distinctive = What stands out and makes our team or what we do as a team distinctive? Unique features, how we

approach the work, skill sets, etc..

ii. Working Well = What is already working well enough that it does not need much change or improvement?

iii. 100 Days Better = When we meet again in 100 days what will our team be better at, how will we know this is better?

d. The teams have 25-45 minutes to complete the activity e. They share what they wrote

f. Each team chooses 1 or 2 items from the 100 Days Better column and develops an action plan and reporting process to share with the larger team.

How can a manager maximize the effectiveness of a team building activity?

  • Don’t call it an activity … don’t offer team building activities.
  • The greatest thing a manager can do is connect the team building directly to the work that the team is asked to accomplish.
  • Listen to the team and what they need. Then develop a plan to supply the team with what they asked for, and reflect back to the team how the manager is making the changes.

What is your best advice for building teams?

Systems-drive- behaviors. If your team structure lacks the clarity of goals, roles, procedures, resources, and support to accomplish the teams work.

The manager would be more useful focusing on those things as opposed to wasting everyone’s time with a team building event.

What is your favorite trend in corporate team building?

 I am worried that any trend will hurt the team building consultants who try to change how a team’s work gets done. Team building works when it sustains performance; satisfies their customer; the team wants to stay together, and the people on the team gained personal development from the teams work.

What’s your funniest team building memory?

Many years ago while working for a corporate conference center, a CEO wanted us to develop a ‘Survivor Themed’ team building program, complete with physical, mental challenges and the team voting someone out at the end. I tried to offer alternatives and shared my concern about this type of event. My manager at the conference center, to keep the client happy, insisted I develop and lead this program as the customer requested.

We went through the three days of challenges, laughter, recreational team bonding and heavy drinking by the campfire. On the last day, I pulled out the voting box and explained to the team that they are now going to ‘vote out’ one of their teammates.

Many people on the team turned white with anxiety. The CEO encouraged the people to write down the name of the person they wanted to vote off the team (he let them know that this person would still have a job, this was not a group termination).

People started crying and yelling at the CEO. The CEO asked for a brief break and pulled me aside. He asked, “Can you do something about this. They are not enjoying the team building.” I smiled and said, “I think so. When we call the team together tell them that the voting out was my idea, and you don’t think that it fits with the success we’ve had these past three days. Instead, people are going to vote for the Most Valuable Player, Best Problem Solver, Master Influencer, Team Connector and Surprise Physical Strength.” He nodded called the team over and shared the new message. Sudden applause!

The CEO thanked me and was still confused why they did not like the idea of voting someone off.

See more from Mike on his website – http://create-learning.com/