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A New Way to Do Team Building



You’ve seen it before – team members who are uninvolved. Conflict. The inability to achieve consensus. A lack of commitment. If developing cohesive teams seems to you like an unattainable goal, this webinar is for you. We’ll explore the dynamics of teamwork and provide you with a fun and easy-to-implement training solution that will engage your audience, get team members excited, and better enable them to achieve synergistic results.

Join training expert Gary Turner as he showcases the importance of group-process skills in team building with the webinar A New Way to do Team Building Training, which is based on Jungle Escape, the high-energy team building game that’s been a bestseller and perennial favorite among trainers. The scenario challenges teams to work together. Along the way, they explore and practice critical group-process skills such as team planning, problem-solving, decision making, and conflict resolution.

Attendees will learn

  • How to identify a group as one of three types of teams
  • Nine key indicators of team effectiveness
  • How to help teams find the balance between planning and implementation
  • The characteristics of a cohesive team – and how you can help your teams achieve this ideal
  • Action planning steps teams can implement immediately


Gary Turner is an award-winning trainer and consultant. Gary has over 30 years of professional experience with major corporations such as M&M Mars, Aramark, and AT&T. He has been a requested speaker at conventions of ASTD, Association for Quality and Participation, College and University Personnel Association, the International Collaborative Organizations Conference, and at annual meetings for companies around the world.

Gary holds two Masters degrees, one in Communication from the University of Nebraska and another in History from Abilene Christian University. He earned his BA from Harding University.

On-Demand Webinar Recording
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Sara: Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, A New Way to do Team Building, hosted by HRDQ-U and presented by Gary Turner. My name is Sara and I will moderate today’s webinar. The webinar will last about an hour. And so if you have any questions, feel free to type those into the questions area in your go-to webinar control panel. You can click on the word questions, it’ll make the box bigger, type in there, click submit. That’ll come over to me and I’ll either answer those as we go along or at the end of the session, given what time we have. If we run out of time for all of the questions, we will respond to all of them by email. So don’t hesitate. Type in those questions, send them over to us.

Sara: Today’s webinar content is from our Jungle Escape game. This is a classroom experiential activity. Gary’s going to talk about the importance of team building and share one way of how to do that. And that’s the foundation of today’s session is this Jungle Escape game. So if you’re interested in delivering this training within your organization, please contact HRDQ.

Sara: And now give a warm welcome for our presenter today, Gary Turner. Gary is a senior faculty member of HRDQ. He completed his PhD course work at the Ohio State University and was organization development director at M&M/Mars for nine years. He founded Turner Consulting in 1991 where he has worked with Fortune 500 companies in the US and in seven other countries. Welcome Gary, and thank you for joining us today.

Gary: Well thank you, Sara. Probably all of you listening have gone through some type of team building. And my lifetime of team building has taught me that teams have difficulty seeing themselves. That’s why it’s important to have some standard measurements to see how well a team is performing. You can gauge a performance of the team against some type of standard. So today we are going to look at how a team balances and uses their planning time and implementation time for team tasks and work. And we’ll see in general the amount of time a team allots to planning and implementation phases of a project determines in part how effectively that team will operate. We will also look at the simulation that Sara mentioned, Jungle Escape, and show how it illustrates all those dynamics of effective team work. And we’re going to look at some actions you can take today and put to use tomorrow. You can leave this discussion with more tools in your kit that see how teams see  themselves. And in the end of this, as Sara mentioned, we’re going to answer any questions that come in during the webinar. So any time you have a question, type it in.

Gary: So why is improving teamwork so important? Well, there’s hundreds of ways to
answer this question. And I’ll bet everyone on this call has a different way of
answering it. Here’s a small list of some things I’ve heard in sessions over the
years. I have seen, in working with teams, that these improvements are best
obtained by having a team work together to plan how to improve things, and
then the team working together to implement the plan changes. In times past, a
lot of our improvements were through technology and through work processes.
But what we see today is that the biggest improvements that can be made are
by working as a team to plan what to do, and then by implementing those

Gary: Okay, I’d like you to take a piece of paper and just jot down, right now, three
things you would like your team, or a team you’re consulting with, to work on to
improve. Okay, so I’m giving you a second here. Just jot down some things that
that team needs to improve. It’s most likely going to take planning together with
the team, and then working together as a team to accomplish those three things
you just jotted down.

Gary: Well, here’s the model we’re going to use today, a very simple model that talks
about different types of teams. And we’re going to look at various factors today
that cause a team to have those characteristics. Now to think about this,
between fragmented, divergent and cohesive, I’d like you to think just for a
second about a five-person bowling team versus a five-person basketball team.
In a bowling team, you have rather independent work. People just take their
own ball, they roll at their time, and they just do the best they can as an
individual to accomplish the best score they can as an individual. And the more
the five individuals are able to accomplish, the better the team does.

Gary: But with a basketball team, and the NBA playoffs incidentally have just started
and I’m all excited about a couple teams, and it’s interesting to see them having
to work together, having to block for each other, pass to each other, having
them basically work and run the plays that they have. And it requires a lot of
planning to be able to do that. A lot more planning than a bowling team has to
put in to what they do. So the basketball team has a little more of a tendency to
have to be cohesive in order to win. Now a bowling team could be very
fragmented and still do a good job if the five individuals just have the skills that
it takes to get the highest number of pins possible.

Gary: Well, the reason this is important is if we look at fragmented teams, today’s
workplace often creates fragmented teams. People have individualistic goals like
a sales team. And each individual has their own goal of what they have to make.
And so the individual sales people are all focused only on themselves and not
upon what their team is doing. Or maybe the work structure itself divides
people up so that they really don’t work together and they’re not
interdependent. I worked on a team, when I was a young trainer, that had a
complete lack of team planning. We never got together for meetings or
anything. And we were very fragmented. There was a lot of tension on that
team because we just didn’t work together as a team to plan. Or maybe it’s
fragmented because there’s a lot of top-down leadership. And I like to
sometimes call this fragmented team a group, not a team, because they’re just a
group of independent workers. Cohesive teams become much more
interdependent. And somewhere in the middle of this we have divergent teams,
teams that have some cohesion or have some things that pull them together,
but individuals on the team are sometimes trying to work in very divergent or
different ways.

Gary: Now, it takes a lot of extra effort to build cohesion in a team. And one of the
main efforts that has to happen is for the team to see themselves. They have to
understand the dynamics of what’s going on in that team. And throughout this
presentation now, we’re going to describe some of the effort needed to build a
cohesive team. So let’s start with fragmented first. And let’s dive deep here a
little bit and let’s look at what are some of the things that create a fragmented

Gary: First of all, autocratic leadership or clicks that press the team into making quick
decisions are two of the biggest things I’ve seen on teams. When you have one
leader who just is completely under a command and control kind of approach,
the situation doesn’t allow a team to really feel like they’re working together but
that each person’s doing an individualistic job. And so this situation results in
insufficient time and effort allocated to considering alternative strategies for
accomplishing the project or the work that they do. Extremely fragmented
groups may spend very short time in planning and may not complete the project
or task in an allocated time. Fragmented teams often may display some of these
things, a lack of involvement and participation by all team members or one
person or a minority of the group makes the vital decisions. And we’ll
sometimes see conflict, or I like to say disagreement, being suppressed or
ignored. And if the project bogs down, the frustration or, “If you had just asked
me,” reactions become kind of evident on the team. Now, some group members
might feel good about the project work or job they have but a lot of others may
not feel good. So that’s fragmented teams.

Gary: So let’s look at divergent teams for a while here. Divergent teams often have
passive leadership in some way. Instead of that autocratic leadership we saw in
a fragmented group, we see a leader who doesn’t provide either direction on
tasks or doesn’t provide process for the team, how the team ought to work
together. And so group members tend to be overly cautious in a problem-solving
or decision-making mode. They sometimes feel they’re walking on thin
ice. Maybe too many alternatives are considered during the planning phase. And
it results in a log jam in the planning and little time left for implementation.
Divergent teams also tend to display these characteristics too, they’re unable to
reach consensus, they try to resolve their issues through voting procedures, and
although group members may go along with the majority, there’s little
commitment to the plan or the final product. And finally, most group members
are not satisfied with the group effort. They feel like they could’ve maybe done
it better themselves.

Gary: Now let’s look at a cohesive team. A cohesive team has much more balance in
planning and much more balance in the way they implement the work to
achieve their goals. There’s much more of a cooperative atmosphere. And that
atmosphere develops very rapidly when they get together to talk. Everyone on
the team feels some involvement in structuring the work or the outcomes. And,
in general, this team spends a lot less time sometimes in looking at what they’re
doing, and especially the potential problems, because they can iron out the
problems a lot better. And so, consequently, if you consider the word… Let’s
look at total time between planning and implementation of a project. Total time
is usually less than is required by fragmented or divergent teams. And so
cohesive teams display some of these characteristics, they use more democratic
processes and planning in implementing the project. Or if conflict or
disagreement arises, it’s addressed and worked through. Or people feel excited
and committed and involved in the project or the work. And cohesive teams feel
a lot more satisfaction with the team effort and their part in the team effort. So
there’s a lot better feelings about team members. I like to say that a cohesive
team not only produces better performance, but it produces better morale. It
helps people feel more energized by working with each other.

Gary: So how do we get to have a cohesive team? Let’s look at nine elements now.
These are nine elements of teamwork. And these are written in a way that
show, if we have these things, we would have cohesive teamwork. So let’s go
down each of the three columns here. In the first column we see the
cooperative and supportive climate, clear goals and objectives, a healthy conflict
management. In the second column, meaningful involvement, agreed-upon
problem solving method, open communication. And in the third column we see
shifting leadership, different people taking the leadership at times, some
consensus in decision making, and, finally, some task satisfaction, feeling good
about what they’re doing. Now of course these are written in the positive. And if
we don’t have these things, it minimizes the amount of cohesion we can have.
For instance, if we have an uncooperative climate, in the first column, or a
second thing, we don’t have clear goals, or the third thing, we don’t have a good
way of handling our conflict, or in the second column, if we don’t feel involved in
what’s going on, or we don’t know or understand the way we’re approaching
this problem, or if we just have closed communication, we’re not open about
things, and so forth, you can see we would not have near as much cohesion.

Gary: So if a team has all nine of these elements, these critical elements, we’re going
to see that there is a high probability they’re going to be extremely cohesive.
And the more a team lacks these elements, the more obvious it is that they’ll be
very fragmented or in some way working in diverse ways that aren’t bringing
them together. So let’s describe these nine elements actually in a little more
detail. Let’s put some concrete anchors on what they are.

Gary: So let’s look here at climate. Let’s say we score a 10 on being cooperative and
supportive or a 10 on a sense of interest of what’s going on. Those anchors
would show us we much have a good climate. Or in involvement, if my unique
skills are being used and I’m feeling a lot of productivity and satisfaction, I must
be involved. If the leadership rotates and we feel like we’re helping others and
collaborating with other people, we must have shared leadership in some way.

Gary: And goal setting, if there’s a clear purpose for the goal and the scope of what
we’re working on, or if the team sets realistic goals that I feel good about, this
commitment toward the goals helps us feel better as a team. Or in problem
solving, if there’s quick acknowledgement about what the problem is, especially
root cause of what the deeper issues are of the problem, or if we have agreed
upon process of problem solving, it helps us feel better as a team.

Gary: And decision making, if each member feels like they’ve had some input, they
maybe didn’t get everyone to agree with what they wanted but at least they felt
like they were heard, and if there is some consensus that is not necessarily total
agreement, but at least people are willing to live with the decision. And in
conflict, I like to call again conflict disagreement. If we see this disagreement as
an opportunity to rethink this, not a problem, and if it creates some type of
creative thinking atmosphere, then we’re having some good conflict

Gary: And communication, if there’s real active listening, we really hear what other
people are saying, and if we’re welcoming towards ideas that are different than
ours, we’re opening up that communication channel. And finally in team
satisfaction, if I’m pleased with both efforts and results, and we celebrate our
success in some way… I’m not talking about celebrating by having a cake. I’m
just talking about we’re happy inside, we feel some joy inside over what we
were able to do. These show some anchors that are really pretty strongly
cohesive and really pull some people together. So these keys help us work as a
really highly cohesive team.

Gary: So let me tell you a story about something that happened I’m afraid almost 20
years ago. But it left a lasting impact upon me and it made me realize how
important these nine elements are. I was working with an HR department at a
smaller size pharmaceutical company. And I was working with the HR
department and I was brought in actually by the VP of HR. He said he wanted to
get the team together and just look at how they’re doing. And he thought they
were doing very well but it was time for an annual retreat and he thought I
could probably help them in some way. His name was Bud.

Gary: So I talked to Bud and he kept saying how great his team was and so forth. So I
asked, “Well, do you mind if I interview your team members before we have our
day together?” And he said, “Oh, that would be great.” So out of his I think
seven or eight direct reports, I think there were seven, a director of benefits and
the director of compensation and director of recruiting and director of training
and so forth. He had me interview I think four of them. And what’s interesting
with all four is I asked questions about how the team worked together. All four
of them said, “Oh, this team does not work well at all. There’s a lot of problems
on this team.”

Gary: And the more I probed and asked them questions about it, one of the biggest
things all four people told me is how hard it was to work with Bud. The same
theme came through all four people, that Bud is very controlling. “Bud will ask
me to do something. I’ll go work on it a bit. And then he wants a report. I bring
him the report. He then asks me to leave it with him and he’s going to take care
of it. And so Bud gets engaged and involved in it and slices and cuts and changes
and really makes it different than what I originally started working on. And it’s
interesting because Bud doesn’t talk to me about those changes. He doesn’t
communicate what those changes are. He just makes the changes himself.”

Gary: So I was really looking forward to doing the exercise we’re going to talk about in
a little bit, Jungle Escape. Because Jungle Escape has them work together for 30
minutes, and some of their true nature comes out. So anyway, we start this
experiential exercise. And it was interesting, Bud kind of sat back with his arms
folded at first, and everyone else seemed to be getting involved and working on
this exercise. And they had 30 minutes to do it, and at about 15 minutes Bud
started unfolding his arms and taking pieces of the puzzle they were working on,
the game they were working on, and he started doing it. And pretty soon, at
about 20 minutes, he had gathered all the pieces around himself. He wasn’t
talking to anyone, just like they had said, and he was just putting the helicopter
together all by himself. And you could see the rest of the team sitting there with
their arms folded now and kind of frustrated at what was going on.

Gary: And so Bud’s true nature came out. It was really amazing. So when we
debriefed, I asked people, “What happened in this game?” And it started coming
out, “Look what Bud did.” And the analogies between what Bud did in that game
and what Bud does at work started coming out. And I could see Bud sitting there
taking it in, realizing, the light bulb was going off, “Yes, I do sort of work this
way.” And Bud then started confessing a lot about how he doesn’t like to initiate
things, he doesn’t like to get things started. But he likes to complete things and
he likes to take control at some point and do things his way. And so there was a
lot of open communication, there was a lot of problem solving around that. The
disagreements about what that does came out, the feelings came out.

Gary: And there was a big realization by the point of everyone in the room, including
Bud, about what the dynamics were of that team and how they were working
together. And so when they came to action planning, there was a lot that was
talked about that day. And at the end of the day as I’m leaving, Bud came to me
and said, “This was absolutely amazing. I never expected anything like this. I
never realized I guess the impact I was having on my team and what I was doing.
But the story about what I do all comes clear now.” And so Bud’s team was a lot
stronger after this. As a matter of fact, I talked to Bud a couple months after this
and he said, “That was absolutely life changing for everyone on the team.” And
so sometimes, if people can see truly what is going on in a team, there is a lot of
revelation. It’s almost like serendipitous learning that’s taking place.

Gary: Well, here are some guidelines for effective planning. And we suggest these
planning things as we do the Jungle Escape exercise, that people really
understand the task and people assess the members’ experience and skill in
doing that task. They define their time frames clearly, schedules and people’s
role and responsibilities. I like the next one a lot, they surface and identify
problems that might occur. What are their risks? What are things that could go
wrong with what they’re working on or things that would be a downside? And
determining who coordinates what team efforts and establishing measurements
for their work, ways for them to be able to give feedback to each other.

Gary: I worked with, some years ago, a chemical company. And I was brought in, it
was a cross-functional improvement team. They were doing a little bit of reorg
an a little bit of re-engineering and all kinds of stuff. And they had worked
together almost two years. And the director of this team called me in and said,…
This was another retreat thing. He said, “They’ve been working together. They
just need to step back and look at their processes of how they work.” And so I
suggested the exercise we’re going to look at. And that exercise, Jungle Escape,
helped them see how they do things. So when we got together, the 12 people
were put into two teams of six. I gave them each a helicopter to put together,
ran through the rules of this.

Gary: And right away one of the people on one of the teams said to me, “Hey, we’re
supposed to be one team, why don’t we all work together?” And someone at
the other table said, “Well, you just don’t want us to beat you. You just think
we’re going to do better than you, and so you’re afraid of losing this.” And the
guy was sincere, he said, “No, maybe we can learn some more about planning if
we sit and plan this exercise together.” And that team decided to move the two
tables together and work together on building two helicopters at once.

Gary: Well, they took six minutes to plan, and I hardly ever see a team take that long
to plan. But they did an extremely good job of planning. And these are some of
the things they really did a good job with, especially that one I mentioned,
identify problems that could occur in trying to build this. And they asked one of
the best questions in the world to ask for a team getting together is what’s going
to be difficult about what we’re doing? And I remember them asking that
question and smiling because that’s a key question with any type of teamwork.
What’s going to be difficult about what we’re doing? And, sure enough, they
talked about it and after six minutes they were ready to start building. Well,
they worked so fast in building, I was just shocked. And they completed it in less
than six minutes. In less than 12 minutes, they built something that normally
takes teams around 25 minutes to build. So it really surprised me how much
planning makes a difference.

Gary: And here’s one of the things that I learned from this, and they saw too, is that
they had been planning together for a year and a half or so. They understood
each other. They understood things. They understood problems. They
understood how to sit together and really listen to each other. And so their
planning was extraordinary. And so when I work with teams, I like to help them
see here are the things we have to do to work together. And what this all does,
if we really plan, planning works because it shortens cycle times. It reduces
errors and increases work satisfaction. It helps us envision what we’re about to
do. So planning does work. And we just have to figure out how to plan for what
work we are going to do.

Gary: Now, at HRDQ, we love experiential learning. We believe that teams can learn
the most about themselves if they go through an experience that shows their
true colors. So for teams, as we’re trying to help them learn how to develop
themselves, we want them to understand how to move from fragmented to
cohesiveness. We want them to determine which of the nine elements need
improvement on their team. We want them to appreciate each person’s
individual style of working. Even Bud, I think the team started appreciating Bud’s
style of working, which is being a completer, not an initiator. And once they
understood that, it helped them. And it helps define future actions that the
team needs for their own personal development. And so when we do Jungle
Escape, these are some team development guidelines that we work around and
want them to do.

Gary: But also each team member needs some individual development guidelines.
And we want them to learn how to compare their individual interaction to their
on-the-job behaviors. What is it they do on the job? We help them look at action
planning their own individual responsibilities for team improvement. Because
each person has their own responsibility. We help them have insight into how
their team can work better together. And we help them have personal insights
into how I work on this team like Bud and his team had after their experience.

Gary: So this is where Jungle Escape comes in. We believe Jungle Escape shows the
true colors of any team. Because people’s natural behavior comes out so quickly
and vividly during this exercise. Here’s Jungle Escape. The scenario is basically
this. Imagine that your team is flying in a plane somewhere and you crash land
in a jungle, and you’re on a mission to deliver helicopter parts to a secret
military base. And, unfortunately, in this jungle your chances of being located
and rescued are very minimal. But you’ve managed to salvage these helicopter
parts. And so you may be able to construct an escape chopper. So that’s
basically the scenario. It’s a little bit of fun. And when I do it, as a matter of fact,
I have a lot of fun. I wear these fatigues, military fatigues, and imagine that
we’re on a secret military mission. And sometimes I’m working with clients who
decorate the room in certain ways or even have bananas on the table as if
they’re in the jungle. So it’s a fun way to get people involved and engaged.

Gary: So here’s how the 30 minute team simulation works. Participants are divided
into teams of, I like four to eight participants. And each team is given a kit
containing 97 pieces to make a helicopter. And they get some information about
the helicopter. And so first the team plans how they’re going to build the
helicopter, and then the team assembles an airworthy copter. So the action may
start slowly but it builds as teams are frantic to survive, or at least to beat the
other teams in the room.

Gary: Now, here’s what happens. Teams are going to start as fragmented teams.
They’re going to start in very fragmented ways. One team member is often
going to take charge and become sort of an autocratic leader, unless the team
works naturally like that chemical company team I told you about, that cross-
functional team where everyone was sort of a team leader. People will tend not
to disagree with anything that’s said. And people will look for a job they can do
all by themselves, like build the rotor or build the rear rotor or build the landing
gear, et cetera. And, at first, it feels sort of awkward and confusing as we’re
looking at the pieces and trying to figure out what to do. So there’s a lot of the
things that are the nine elements of fragmentation. And it’s easy to observe
those. We sometimes have a team observer. If there are fewer teams in the
room, I do the observing. And I look for things that happen to show that at first
they’re being fragmented.

Gary: Now, after they do the planning, which often for teams they don’t know what to
do to plan. And often, after one minute, they say, “We’re done planning,” even
though they’ve done no planning and don’t even realize it, they start to build.
Okay, so here’s the building. It’s often very strangely quiet in the room for a little
bit as each person just works by themself. There’s little communication between
people. And there’s signs of fragmentation that are really obvious as each
person is just trying to do their individual job. And there’s no feeling of
connectiveness or teamwork or interdependence or anything when the team
starts in this fragmented way. Now, like I said, that cross-functional team some
years ago at the chemical company, they shocked me because there was no
fragmentation from the very beginning. They were already a cohesive team. And
it’s very different than what you’ll see in this picture where everyone’s quiet, not
saying anything. So people work individually, build their part of the helicopter.

Gary: Now there’s a transition point that starts happening. All of a sudden people
realize, “Hey, we’ve got to work together to assemble this copter. We’ve got to
figure out how are we going to do this.” And at that point, all of a sudden, the
room becomes a lot noisier. There’s open communication. There’s asking
questions. There’s giving feedback, “No, don’t do it this way. Do it that way.”
And critique becomes the norm. It’s interesting that people correct each other,
but they often don’t feel like they’re correcting each other. They feel like they’re
adding improvements. And the concern now starts becoming the goal. What is
the final product going to be? How are the individual pieces that people have
been working on, how are they all going to fit in? And so now there’s starting to
be all of these questions and dialogue between each other.

Gary: So that’s then the transition point to the team possibly becoming very cohesive.
Now, let’s back up for just one minute. There are some ground rules, and let’s
just say here are the ground rules. The ground rules are to take whatever time
your team wants to plan the assembly. Like I said, a lot of teams just take one
minute or two minutes. It’s rare when a team will take three, four, five. And like
I said, that one team took six minutes to plan. They did amazing in their
planning. And so it increased their planning time but it reduced their assembly
time by doing this. And so they then start timing themselves after they begin.
And they’re told that one person from their team can go look at a model and
report back to the team what to do. And so that’s sort of the way they start this
game when they start.

Gary: Now, here’s a team I worked with recently. Notice this team is at that transition
point. They’re at the point where they have to start becoming cohesive.
Individuals have worked on their individual product, they had their part done.
And now they’ve started talking to each other about what to do next. Right after
this, there was a whole lot of team energy starting to figure out how to do this.
And let’s show another team here. Here’s a team that’s almost done, but they’re
still confused about how they get the landing gear and the tail section together.
And this is where, for this team, a little frustration set in and disagreement
starting occurring. And they’re talking to each other and disagreeing with each

Gary: And what was interesting with this team is when the exercise was over, I asked
them was there any conflict on this team. And they all said real quickly, “No. No,
no conflict.” However, I read back to them some of the disagreements they had
had right at this point, and they realized, “Yeah, we did disagree.” But they saw
it, and a cohesive team will start seeing this as healthy disagreement. But that
helped them, in the last four or five minutes that they worked together, it
helped them quickly figure out what they needed to do. And what happens as a
team that’s getting to that cohesive point, they do not feel like there’s
disagreement and no one takes different opinions personally.

Gary: Now if they were still pretty fragmented, they would’ve had feelings hurt by
disagreement, by people disagreeing with what they say. And so it’s one of
those signs that a team has moved into a more cohesive state when people feel
free to disagree and really voice different opinions. So this was really an
interesting team about how strongly they thought there was no disagreement
when, in fact, I noticed a lot of disagreement on this team.

Gary: Let me show you another team. I thought this was interesting. This team was
very successful. This was a very diverse team. Everyone in this picture was born
in a different country. Each had a different native language. And each of them
had a different kind of English accent. Starting from the right here, they were
born in Iran, Canada, Japan, Brazil and Honduras. But they’re all now working on
an international team in the United States. But what was interesting is they all
were, by nature of their jobs, they were planners. And they were planning, as a
matter of fact, on a project that I think was somewhere in the range of $300
million project for a power plant in another country. And so they had been
working together for a while.

Gary: And it was interesting this way because they worked in a very cohesive manner
to plan, and then they worked in a very cohesive manner throughout this
exercise. They did not fragment much at all in the beginning of this exercise. And
they were looking to each other for ideas all the way from the beginning, very
open to ideas from each other. It was interesting, one guy on this team, they
were using words he didn’t know and he kept having to look in his translator.
Because he had a translator on his desk with him. And he kept looking up words,
“What is that word?” And it was fun because I was so impressed with the fact
that they had some cohesion built into this team already that helped them do
such a great job, even though they didn’t speak each other’s language. Maybe
you have teams that don’t seem to speak each other’s language. Well, getting
together and doing some team building might be the thing for them to do.

Gary: Now, here’s a summary of the last few minutes of what happens, and most
teams becoming extremely cohesive. There’s an intensive drive at the end
towards completion. Everyone is trying to work together. No egos involved. And
they’re all giving each other suggestions quickly. And the focus is on the team
goal at this point of completing the helicopter, not upon what individually
people have done. And at this point you rarely ever will see a single leader. But
everyone is taking some initiative to lead in some way in something different.
And there’s this feeling of excitement as it’s all coming together. And they feel
like they have accomplished this as a team. So this is sort of the end of the 30
minutes that they had together. And some teams can complete this in 25
minutes. And we often have good teams that complete it in 20 minutes even.
So, like I said, it was amazing when I saw a team complete it in 12 minutes. It
showed that that team has a lot of cohesion and is working in a very cohesive

Gary: So learning takes place. Learning takes place for these reasons. Learning takes
place because a team understands that maybe they didn’t do a good job of
planning. And they understand a little bit more about when the team gets
together there are some questions they need to ask about their planning. And
learning takes place around assembly, that is working together. And some way
they’ve got to figure out, “How can we work best together?” And so we’re
concerned about total time reduction in terms of how we work together.
Learning takes place because there’s a lot of self-insight. Because once they’re
finished, they look back and look at what they did. And they replay those tapes
in their head about what was done and what was said and how quiet it was at
the beginning of the exercise and how someone will say, “I was surprised
because she stepped up and I’ve never seen her do what she did. And it was
interesting.” And so people see the sides of people that come out, their natural
behavior. And it helps them think through how they can use more of their
natural behavior on the team to actually do better.

Gary: So at the end of the exercise, after the helicopter is built, we set it in the middle
of the table and then we ask them debriefing questions. Here are some samples
of some debriefing questions out of the many that we ask. How does our
performance as a team in this activity mirror the way we work together on the
job? There’s always a lot of discussion around that, what we did or what this
person did or that person did. What lessons did I learn that would help my team
work together more effectively in the future? So what can the team do to work
more effectively is the second question here. And then the next question, based
upon what I learned, what action steps will I recommend my team take on its
next project? What am I going to do to help the team?

Gary: And then here’s another great one. What personal insights am I taking away
from this activity, especially about myself? And that’s where it really gets deep
for people. So like Bud earlier, Bud had so much insight that day into himself and
how it impacted the people that reported to him. He did not realize how his
behavior was negatively impacting them. And so he came up with a lot of ideas
about how he could work better with each of the people that worked for him
and how the whole team could work together in a much more cohesive way.
There’s more questions too we ask. But here are four big trigger questions that
really get the team thinking about themselves.

Gary: And then the action planning. We ask people to write down what am I going to
differently? What is the team going to do differently? Set some goals for
themselves and just do some planning around the team process. That really
helps the team learn.

Gary: So, what we’re going to do here is examine questions. Sara, I’ll bet there’s been
some questions come in. I ran through this a little fast. So what kind of questions
would people have that have been coming in?

Sara: Sure. Thank you so much, Gary. We actually do have questions already. So if you
have a question, we have time here for questions. Go ahead and type those in
now while we’re answering some of the other questions. We’ll get started
though right away because we do have a couple that have come in. So our first
question is from Elaine. She asks, “What happens when you have the opposite
of Bud? So you ask for input but no one wants to contribute? How do you get
them motivated?”

Gary: Okay, so by the opposite of Bud, Elaine, I’m assuming you mean someone that
doesn’t get their hands involved, doesn’t get engaged with what other people in
the team are doing. Well, that’s great because what you’re going to end up
seeing, and it happens sometimes, is you’re going to have that folded-arm
person who sits back and doesn’t get engaged very much and doesn’t say very
much. Now this is a great opportunity for the team to see it and for the team to
give feedback to that person. The team must have a very serious problem with
their interaction if that person is not engaged. And this needs to be surfaced and
addressed. So you may want even an experience facilitator to help this team, to
work with this team. So one thing you might do here too is HRDQ has a team
effectiveness profile. And the team might take this profile before they meet and
for the facilitator to see people’s results on it and get a composite profile of the

Gary: One of the teams I worked with not long ago, I was warned before I went to it
that people don’t speak up very much. So I facilitated an issue session for them.
And what I used is a technique called Brain Writing. And what we did is we
handed cards around and people would writing down issues out of their brain
that they just thought the team had. And then they would hand the cards to the
right or the left and people would read what they said and then write something
else down. And then they would hand it around again. And it was interesting, we
were just going a couple minutes and all of a sudden things erupted. And
everyone started talking. And there was a little bit of anger that came out at
that point. But that’s a technique if they’re not talkers, at least maybe they’re
writers. And it might be a method you use here. But I can say this, Jungle Escape
will show again true colors. It’ll show a lot of what is happening with people on
the team.

Gary: Sara, any other questions?

Sara: Yes, we have a few more that have come in. So this one’s regarding fragmented
teams. “What steps can we take to bring this type of team to a cohesive team

Gary: Okay, well the complexity of the nine elements of effective teamwork has got to
be part of this. And sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with that and
what will keep moving the team forward. If you’re a team member or a
consultant to this team, what I suggest is you keep evaluating against anchors of
those nine elements. All nine are interdependent. But the one I like to start with,
I like to start a lot of times with the fourth one, that is clear goals and objectives,
and just see what the team has as their goals and how much team members feel
like it is a common goal, like all orders have to be shipped out by Friday or we
have to raise our customer service score by three points. If the team really feels
that and is committed to that, that will be often a first step toward wanting to
pull together.

Gary: Another thing that I think helps is meaningful involvement, numbered as the
second one of the nine elements, that people need to feel like what they do on
the team is a part of what’s going on, like they’re an integral part of what is
really happening with that team. It’s hard to start being cohesive unless there’s a
strong feeling of some ownership and inclusion, like I’m a part of this team.

Gary: Other questions, Sara?

Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, we have one here from Sandra. “How do you get
buy-in from employees who don’t feel these exercises are of any value?”

Gary: Did you say it was from Sandra?

Sara: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gary: Sandra. Okay, Sandra. Well there’s a couple things, Sandra. First of all, I like to
use the word simulation. A lot of people, I know I’m tempted to call them
games, but this is a simulation of real work. It simulates what happens at work.
And for the employees who don’t feel like these exercises are of any value,
you’ve got to tell them that this will help bring out our true colors, the way we
really work. Now, some employees work in very independent jobs, like people
maybe in some specialized technology. And they just do their own thing. And, in
that case, building cohesion is a lot tougher to do. They often see less value in
being part of a team and they see more value in just them being personally
efficient in what they do.

Gary: So where people do work together or have similar stakeholders or they have
similar products or they have similar type of processes, they have some
problems working together. And the team needs to understand that there’s a
value in developing their teamwork. So, Sandra, buy-in often comes from
showing people why they need to work well together, and then a little bit about
how they can work better together. So, like I mentioned, I’ve seen a team that
does work well together. I’ve seen a lot of teams that work well together in
truth. So it really helps a team. You’ve got to tell your team that it really helps
them work quicker, efficiently, effectively, and intuitively. We know that this
principle’s true that people can work better together. One other thought is that
you won’t get 100% of the people you want to go through this exercise to
believe that it’s going to be valuable. A lot of people are going to have some
doubts in the beginning. So you might just ask them to trust you at this time and
try it. Might be a way that you approach this.

Gary: Sara?

Sara: Great. Thank you so much, Gary. That’s all the questions we’ve got that have
come in now. So if for some reason you think of a question later or right here as
we’re wrapping up, feel free to send those into us, or you can reach out to
HRDQ directly. Now I know there’s some new people on the line to HRDQ so I
just want to introduce us. We are a research-based, experiential learning
products company. You can check out our online or print self-assessments, our
up-out-of-your-seat games like the Jungle Escape, the foundation of today’s
webinar. We also have reproducible workshops that you can customize. And if
you do find you need help either learning a training program or you want one of
our expert trainers like Gary to come on site or virtually deliver it for you, we
also provide those services. And we look forward to being your soft skills
training resource. And, Gary, thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful
stories today.

Gary: Thank you, Sara. Enjoyed being here.

Sara: And thanks everyone for participating. We’ll see you on our next webinar. Happy training.

Related learning

A case study about HRDQ’s Jungle Escape and Team Building

I work as a consultant with a team who “behave very well” at the surface, but I know that they really have a lot of problems in communication and co-operation. Is it possible that people fake their behavior in an activity like Jungle Escape? I have tried many things already, but it seems I can’t help them to talk honestly about the problems they have.

Well yes, many team members tend to act one way in real life but another way when in a workshop or situation where they know they are being watched.  So many people “fake” their behavior when they are asked to talk honestly about the problems they have while being on a team.

Thanks why simulations and experiential exercises that can

You might remember the “Bud” story on slide #12. Before the Jungle Escape experience, the consultant (Gary Turner) discovered from other team members that Bud had a very controlling nature when working with his Human Resources team that discouraged all the team members.

So Mr. Turner was looking for Bud to behave that way during the workshop. In the first exercise, Bud was very un-controlling. And in the first minutes of Jungle Escape, he was still very laid back. But suddenly, his natural behavior started happening. He took pieces of the helicopter from his teammates. He moved all the work to a space right in front of himself and he stopped discussing what to do with his employees..

When the debrief started, Mr. Turner made his observations first asking all the teammates to respond. Everyone agreed with his observation about Bud taking control, even Bud agreed.

Then Mr. Turner asked for examples in the workplace where Bud took control. The whole team shared examples, and Bud understanding of his controlling nature started.

Then Mr. Turner asked the team to share how this negatively impacted the workplace. Once again, teammates shared.

Finally, Mr. Turner asked Bud what he could do about this and then asked the team how they could help Bud make the changes he wanted to make.

What happens is, the intensity of competition between teams in the room makes people revert to their natural inclinations and desires. People forget about how they appear to others and start working to accomplish what they want to do.

Therefore the advantage of intensive experiential learning used by HRDQ is that people work without the façade and in their natural way.  Notice on our learning model how the Jungle Escape activity fits in with Stage #1 and #2. Then Mr. Turner took the team through the next Stages of their learning.

One note of caution: You need to have very good observers looking for that natural behavior that you want to surface. If you are facilitating the session, you need be a very keen observer or to know what it is you are looking for.  Then you need to be accurate and sensitive when you comment on behavior you observed.

Some facilitators record behavior with pictures or video to playback. Some facilitators simply write notes of what happened, when it happened, and what were the team reactions to the behavior that was problematic.

Do you suggest all levels of employees are capable of all tasks for an efficient team?

Of course, as your questions implies, we believe certain teams are capable of doing all tasks which makes the team more efficient. Usually large amounts of cross-training are needed to produce this so it works best where all team members have the same role and responsibilities.

In doing this, this team has ready back-up when someone is ill, is on vacation, or is out for other reasons.

However, this is not possible in some teams. Some teams require very seasoned experienced professionals to do some of the more challenging tasks.

Just do not let that became an excuse for not broadening the work scope for each individual.

A few years ago I worked with an IT project team in which everyone “specialized” in certain tasks. One member, who did certain programing for the team, had a heart attack. Other team members could have received the training to do that programing, but the project manager thought I would be more efficient to just have one person do it. After the heart attack, the PM was unsure if that member would come back or not, so the PM delayed cross-training for other team members. That project ended up about 6 weeks late and with additional costs because there was not a back-up.

So a decision to develop capability may not seem wise, until the unforeseen happens.

The main point is that following the nine team elements of  the Jungle Escape experiential teamwork simulation helps. Study them, practice them.

What practical steps should a supervisor take in building a cohesive team with roles and responsibilities that is still being define?

Of course, as your questions implies, it is very challenging to become completely cohesive if we do not have clear roles and responsibilities. To get to the “cohesive” team stage all nine of the teamwork elements need to be actively working.

However, we tend to have faith and hope in teamwork if there are clear goals, supportive environment, meaningful involvement, open communication, and the other elements.

I have to ask why roles and responsibilities are still being defined if you have clear goals and objectives? Have you completed a process map (or flow chart) to ensure you are doing what needs to be done? Have you examined training needs for each work process?  If these questions are answered, the roles and responsibilities should become clear.

Sometimes completing a RACI chart will help you get clarity.

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