Building a successful team

Strategies for building a team of volunteers or staff that will yield positive results.

When building a team of leaders or camp counselors, organizing volunteers for a mission trip or engaging your staff to work together to plan an event, it is critical that you build a great team. We know effective teams accomplish their goals and have greater satisfaction with their experiences. Michigan State University Extension suggests some ways you can build a team that will yield positive results.

Looking for a fun way to get your team talking? A personality test can be a fun way to let people explore a little about themselves and learn about others. Communicate with team members that differing personalities are an asset to the organization and let them see through a variety of activities how this plays out in real life. They will soon have a greater understanding of themselves, their teammates and those they serve. We have room for everyone and every style; the secret to success is getting those personalities to communicate effectively with one another.

Mixers, energizers and social activities are great ways to get your staff or volunteers to trust and communicate with one another. These activities can help them discover the strengths of others, identify who they connect with in a whole new way and add an element of fun. Allow and encourage new volunteers to pair up with experienced volunteers so they learn the role and can ask questions. When new staff are offered a mentor, they can learn the organizational culture and answer those questions you would rather not ask the supervisor. As new staff and volunteers identify or suggest new ideas or strategies for doing things, those with experience can be reinvigorated or help others understand the constraints of the organizations.

Team members who are in tune with one another learn to identify when a fellow teammate is in trouble and when they are experiencing signs of distress or need back up. It may be a simple look that comes across their face when they need help, a code word that staff share with one another to signal there is a problem or that intuition that kicks in when see they are struggling to make an activity work. A situation may not go as planned and others are simply needed to step in and help address the changing dynamics. Working together to overcome challenges brings a team together.

Notice when others do something well and focus on the bright spots. People want to be appreciated and feel good when others notice they have a specific talent or skill. When we can help people find success, organizational success will follow. Think creatively in how you show appreciation; consider giving time off, a gift certificate they can use with their family, providing lunch or allowing them to invite one guest free of charge to an event.

Teams are unique and valuable parts of our organizations, and being a part of a team can be a draining or exhilarating experience. As a team member, take some ownership to try some of these strategies to bring your team to life and make it an exhilarating one your teammates will thank you for. If you want to be part of team and are seeking an opportunity in a community near you, contact your local MSU Extension office for a variety of volunteer activities including 4-H. 

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