Team Building & Sustainability: Going Green

Team building tends to be a one-off thing, held once a year usually with a different vendor from the previous year. But that’s not what matters here. With team building, events are usually resource intensive, partially because of their tendency to be large-scale events (i.e.  Dinner & Dance), partially because they are held irregularly, which drives the perception that they are harmless.

However, with Global Warming and Climate Change taken into consideration, nature is suffering for our actions, and such practices with short-term focus are no longer sustainable. Thus, there is a need for team building to adapt to the zeitgeist and adopt sustainable practices. Here are some tips to make your team building greener, and more sustainable:

  1. Cardboard and paper frequently feature in such events. Worse yet, they are used in bulk. Why not think of Alternative resources that can be used? Plastic, while not exactly the most environmentally-friendly due to its being a non-biodegradable material, is possibly one of the best materials to use, because they can be re-used in future events, especially if the activity involves some form of construction.
  1. If paper and cardboard has to be used, and the nature of the activity means that it can only be used once, Recycle instead of throwing it away! Granted, transporting the materials may be quite the hassle, but consider this: what is more important, your convenience, or the state of the earth? The same applies for mineral water bottles. And in the case of leftover water, you can even water the surrounding flora with it before tossing the bottles into the recycling bin.
  1. Moreover, if possible, Conserve. If that means that teams have to work with limited materials, so be it! While a lack of resources is not exactly a good way to train one’s creativity, it does teach one to be more resourceful, which is a crucial part of being sustainable.
  1. Lastly, Sophistication. One way by which we can reduce the resources needed to organise and carry out team building events is to incorporate technology into such events. By making use of technology, it is possible to eliminate the need for materials such as paper entirely from such events, which is a great boon for the environment.

If ever you are lost and do not know how to run greener, more sustainable practices in your team building events, fret not! Think of sustainable team building as a rainbow. They make us happy, and they come in ARCS.

Know of how to make team building practices even more sustainable? Leave your comments in the section below:


The Importance of Saying No

If you are the kind of person who finds it difficult to reject others, fret not, for you are not alone. Many people face this problem. However,  whether because of the guilt that is felt when rejecting others, or because of the need to be polite and a good person, being unable to say no, having an obsessive desire to please everyone, can be detrimental to one’s mental and emotional well-being – physical too, if it is not addressed in time. Why? An inability to reject others inevitably leads to one being swamped, buried, by commitments, most of which cannot be fulfilled. And if left unfulfilled, one’s reward will be nothing less than ire from those who were promised a job done. Learning to say no is thus essential if one does not want life of stress, burden, remorse, and resentment.

In a team, learning to say no is especially important, as accepting superfluous commitments may lead to the neglect of other vital projects which the team has under its wing. Thus, here are some tips for you to help you say no:

  1. Keep things organised. One of the main reasons why people fail to say no is that they fail to realise what commitments they have already made and to whom. Thus, to mitigate this, it is always good to keep a calendar or schedule ready at hand, where every commitment is recorded on paper in pen. By being organised, and keeping track of one’s commitments, it makes it easier when someone makes a request to say “Sorry, I have this-and-this to do for so-and-so on this date, and I really can’t help you.”
  1. Say ‘No’ without saying “No.” ‘No’ may in and of itself be a complete sentence, but it leaves listeners feeling bitter and dissatisfied – which is where the guilt of rejecting others stems from. Thus, to prevent this from occurring, offer alternatives. For instance, try scheduling the request in, but at another date and time as is more convenient for you. Check out this website for more ideas on how to reject requests graciously.
  1. If necessary, practice! Rejecting a request can still be difficult even if one has completely valid reasons to do so. Usually, it has to do with personal inhibitions. Whether because of lessons inculcated from young, or because of societal values, it is helpful to break free of these inhibitions. The easiest method by far is to practice. Use a mirror and say it to yourself; do it in low-risk circumstances such as when a street vendor approaches. Do it as often as possible and you will be prepared for the next time you need to reject someone.

Remember, life needs balance, and learning to say “No” not only keeps stress at bay, it helps to prevent the fruition of unrealistic expectations.

What do you think? Leave your comments in the section below.

Promoting Team Creativity

How to Promote Creativity in a Team

Creativity is an important commodity in today’s forward-looking world where people are always trying to find ways to better their lives. However, how often do we capitalise on our ability to think outside the box? If we ponder upon it for a moment, we realise that our creativity is much stifled, even from an early age, where we are implicitly taught in school that thinking for ourselves is not a good thing- how do you do well for an examination? Memorise, and regurgitate. There is little to no independent thinking involved. Just simple rote learning.

Thus, when we move on to the ‘real’ world, where we have to face and conquer ‘living’ problems that are always changing and need us to adapt accordingly, the main difficulty we face is having to activate our creative sparks. While it may not be an easy to accomplish feat due to acculturation, where we stick to what we are accustomed to out of habit, it definitely can be done. In fact, here are some tips to promote creativity in a team:

  1. Resources should be made readily available

Sounds obvious, does it not? However, in most cases, what we find is that people are not given the resources they need to develop creatively. This is because of the mistaken notion that being starved of resources will force people into thinking creatively – they have to solve their problem with what they have or are given. However, while this may train one to be resourceful and teach one the importance of not wasting resources, it hardly does one’s creativity any benefit, because being resourceful ultimately does not have anything to do with thinking creatively to find solutions to a problem.

Thus, from information to funding and materials, having sufficient resources which are readily accessible is fundamental when fostering an environment conducive to the generation of creative ideas, and ought not to be overlooked.

  1. Give Team Members Autonomy

It is good and well for a team to set well-defined targets for a project. By having goals to work towards, it allows them to understand where they are headed. Even better if they are given in conjunction with an explanation of how achieving them will be beneficial for the organisation.

However, to promote creativity, it is necessary to look beyond these, and understand the circumstances under which creativity flourishes. Perhaps one of the most significant things that can be had to promote creativity is autonomy. Autonomy, or the space to feel that one is in control over his own work and ideas, is vital as it gives people space to reflect on past events and the present situation, to leverage on past experiences to understand how the problem at present can be solved.

Of course, while having autonomy is necessary to allow ideas to grow and creativity to flourish, it is necessary not to lose sight of the targets that the team ultimately wishes to achieve.

  1. Give enough time

Creativity is not like a light. It cannot be turned on and off with a switch. Therefore, enough time has to be given if creative work is to be done. Unfortunately, many teams hold the belief that creativity can be stimulated by having to work under tight deadlines.

People need time when given a problem to solve to contemplate that problem, understand it inside-out and outside-in, think about what they need to do, conduct research to find possible solutions, and brainstorm with others to discover different perspectives. By denying people the time needed to complete all these with a tight deadline or other similar means, it translates into is a disservice to creativity, as people are not given the chance to realise their full creative potential.

Creativity is certainly a vital tool in today’s teams, so why not let it grow? Stop the festering of creative juices by following the above tips starting today.

What do you think? Leave us your comments in the section below.


Putting the Blame Game to Shame

“It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it! He/she/it did it!” Sounds familiar? Often used by children to deflect responsibility from themselves and onto others, this line is a hallmark of the Blame Game. Children in their innocence use it in the purest and most honest form which makes it easy beyond measure to understand their motives. However, with maturity, the game grows in complexity, and a seemingly innocent statement or comment such as “I don’t know, ask so-and-so instead” could potentially be an attempt to push responsibility from oneself to another person. We engage in the blame game on a day-to-day basis whether we like it or not, whether we notice it or not. However, how many of us have ever thought: just how harmful is the Blame Game?

But before we can even begin to talk about the harms of engaging in the Blame Game, we first have to understand why it happens. From an early age, most if not all of us have inculcated and ingrained in us the notion that committing mistakes is a bad thing. After all, making a mistake leads to penalties ranging from beration to caning (depending on how strict one’s parents are). As a result, it becomes a sort of automatic response for us not to want to admit our mistakes, and hence, in order to preserve our credibility, we toss the ball into another’s court, or push it, rather.

So the Blame Game stems largely from an innate fear of punishment, which is understandable. However,  its repercussions are hardly constructive, if ever, and can range from bad to worse to the just plain ugly, which is why it is best avoided. Think about it: what happens to the person whom the blame ultimately falls onto? Demotion? Retrenchment? Transferral to some obscure department that no one knows squat about? Like the Greek Pharmakos, the supposed perpetrator is permanently exiled from the company. Otherwise, he is ostracised for the remainder of his term in the organisation.

Yet, in retrospect, if we think about why something goes wrong, we find that it is never the case that one person singlehandedly created the problem. As is said, ‘it takes two hands to clap’; and in an organisation, any end result is the work of whole teams of people. So instead of pushing blame around such that the sole responsibility falls on one person’s shoulders, it is much more constructive if the following options are considered instead:

  1. If a mistake occurs, do not focus on what went wrong and who did what to contribute to the result. Instead, focus on what can be done to rectify the problem. Doing so, who was the source of the problem becomes immaterial and unimportant, which stops the Blame Game from occurring. Moreover, because everyone is focussed on solutions, the situation turns in favour of the organisation as a climate conducive to the generation of ideas is promoted, and creativity is able to flourish.


  1. Have a break. Everyone needs some time out. By this we do not mean that it is beneficial to binge on chocolates (if you didn’t get the joke). In times of crisis, it is very easy to get caught up in the overwhelming tide of stress and panic. Under such circumstances, it is easy for one to resort to the Blame Game to protect himself from coming under fire from others. By taking some time off from the chaos, it gives the individual the opportunity to distance himself from the nightmarish scene. This allows him to clear his mind and thus enables him to think objectively and retrospectively about the situation, leaving him with a more nuanced view about the big picture.


  1. If all else fails, as a last ditch effort to stop the Blame Game from wrecking havoc, initiate a discussion with a third party as a mediator. The purpose of the discussion is to get all pent up rage and discontentment out into the open so that it can be addressed. The mediator is there to prevent fights from breaking out by controlling the environment in which the discussion is taking place. Granted, this makes for an exceedingly difficult job. Thus, it is important that the mediator is someone all parties involved in the discussion respect. This would give the mediator sufficient power over the group, to control the environment in which the discussion takes place.


Blame is not a indication of right and wrong. It is an indication of weakness: blaming others is easy, but to stop oneself from doing it requires a lot of control, discipline and restraint. Blame destroys the working environment by generating incaculable amounts of negative energy. So instead of tossing blame around and causing it to breed and multiply, try to create an open environment conducive for communication, where everyone respects everyone else’s views and opinions.

Credits to Larry Lipman & Fun Team Building for inspiring this article. Check out its source: The Blame Game: Why it Happens and How Employees Should Handle it.

How to Bring Out the Potential of Quiet Team Members

They exist in every organisation, they do. But you may not notice their existence because they are just so quiet. Introverted or just plain shy, such individuals are appreciated for rarely contributing to workplace drama. However, because they are so reserved when interacting with others, it is difficult to get to know them, and tougher yet to get them to open up to others.

That said, despite their reserved personalities, such individuals do have ideas to share and contributions to make. Everyone has something to contribute after all, and it would be unwise to think otherwise.

Nonetheless, because they so frequently shun the limelight, they are just as often shadowed by their more outgoing counterparts. Thus, their thoughts and opinions have to be elicited from them, but carefully, delicately, to avoid a situation where they withdraw into their shells permanently.

So how can you draw out the ideas of these individuals who would rather stay glued to the computer screen than participate in meetings with their extroverted counterparts? Here is some information to help you:

  1. Observe & Listen

Sounds simple, but often the toughest in implementation. The key is to observe. If you think that their voices are being drowned out by more outgoing, assertive individuals, pull them aside. Speak to them individually to solicit their opinions.

However, take note that such individuals are likely to express their opinions only to people they trust highly, and even then might only mention them once. So once again, observe. Observe, and find out who these trusted individuals are, who they are likely to spend lunches with, spend time chit-chatting, gossiping with. If you have pulled the introverted individual aside, but fail to learn anything of importance, approach those he trusts, and ask them. They may know more than you think.

In the case that you are fortunate enough to have a quiet individual approach you to tell you about his ideas, praise the heavens, because you are one heck of a lucky guy! Jokes aside, ask him a series of questions to solicit as much as you can out of him. But take care that you do not at any point convey the impression that you are distracted or uninterested, because if you do, it will be harder to gain their trust in future.

  1. Ask & Act

Asking for feedback is an important part of the growth process. This is true in a corporate setting as well. To make a company grow, obtaining the feedback of various individuals can be vital, as it provides opportunities for development and progress. However, soliciting feedback is not easy sometimes, because of the widespread belief that the feedback provided will not be listened to or utilised in any way.

Therefore, if feedback is requested, one has to be prepared to act on it. For feedback from shy individuals, there is nothing more important than this. They need to know that giving their feedback is not meaningless. Otherwise, they will not give it. If such an individual steps up to provide feedback, not only is it necessary to listen, it is imperative that the initiative is taken to carry out his suggestions, even if it has to be put on hold for a year. Never provide mere lip service.

If his idea is impractical in theory or application or it can only be implemented after some time, then explain why it is so. For instance, it could be because of budget or time. Nonetheless, it is important to make that individual believe that you genuinely feel that his opinions are important and you are glad they share their thoughts.

  1. Acknowledge & Understand

Everyone wants his achievements and accomplishments acknowledged by others — there is a feel good factor. However, for an introverted person, nothing is more devastating than having his name emblazoned over a plaque placed in a prominent area, or being called upon the stage during a company event. Therefore, if credit is to be given where it is due, do so subtly. For instance, give a gift certificate or a letter of appreciation personally on a normal working day.

Ultimately, what a quiet person wants is a nothing more than quiet, peaceful life, devoid of ostentation, devoid of drama. Therefore, the best thing that can be done is for one to understand this desire. If you understand this, then all else will fall in place, and you will have a quiet comrade who will confide in you and whom you can confide in.

What do you think? Any opinions as to how to encourage a quiet team member to speak up? Let us know in the comments section below!

Credits to Fun Team Building with Larry Lipman for inspiring this piece. To read the original, click here.finger on lip


Three Ways to Improve Team Spirit

Let’s face it. Most of us will work for more than one company in the course of our careers. Whether we jump ship because the organisation is sinking, or because the prospective organisation is like a cruise liner to a dinghy, provided we left on good terms with our colleagues there will come a time when we look back at our time at the company and think: “God, how I miss those times!”

However, rarely do we consider what it is that we miss. Take a second to ponder. Was it the company’s logo, vision, building, facilities? Chances are, if it is not a ridiculously high salary, it would be the people we worked with. Our colleagues and teammates.

This stems from our basic human need for love and belonging: humans are social animals, and have a natural desire to connect with others, to find a place where they can feel a part of. As one’s colleagues satiates the hunger for love and a sense of belonging, to feel commitment towards one’s colleagues is a natural phenomenon.

That said, not only is such commitment natural, it is also a factor which determines motivation and performance. After all, greater commitment would mean that the individual will make sacrifices for his colleagues and the organisation more readily.

So, to proceed to the crux of this entry, what then can be done to deepen the connection colleagues have between one another?

  1. Keep the group small. A smaller group, greater closeness, greater connectivity, greater success. Larger groups mean that each individual comprises a smaller percentage, and thus the group as a whole will not be as connected. Simple, isn’t it? Not quite. While a smaller team may seem better because its members are more emotionally connected, a small team is not without its problems. A single unhappy person could lead to the downfall of the entire team. Thus, careful management of interpersonal relations becomes more crucial than before. The implication of this is that the cultivation of an open environment where criticism is constructive and readily accepted is a must.
  1. Embrace diversity. A little bit of pride is a good thing, provided egos do not get too inflated. Being able to be proud of something can be a unifying tool in a team and give its members confidence. Such feelings can be created when people perceive themselves to be unique and distinct from others. It works likewise in a team. If its members thinks that the team is unique compared to other teams, the team can work as a source of pride for the team, giving its members a boost in their confidence. Of course, it is important to manage this pride to ensure it does not escalate into hubris.
  1. Share successes or news of it. People feel connected to others when they have faced a challenge together and overcome it together. The success stories stemming from such collaborations are powerful, and can inspire others to work together to overcome obstacles. By sharing news of such successes, it can lead to greater motivation in the team as its members not only begin to have a greater understanding of teamwork and its importance, but also see how each individual is crucial in making a team a success.

Try it out! Create deeper connections between members of your team, and lead your team to success. If you have any thoughts on this article, feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

Credits to Jeff Schott of CEB for inspiring this piece. Click here to read the original.

How to Organise a Successful Corporate Team Building Programme

So, we found this article on the web one day when looking for inspiration for our blog: 4 Steps for a Successful Corporate Team Building Program. Really interesting, really good read. Take a look at it if you have yet to do so, because here’s our response to it:

As we have discussed previously, a successful team is something that is made through the consistent efforts of its constituent individuals. However, it is often the case that teams are unable to realise their full potential due to an inability to analyse their team dynamics objectively and find room for improvement, which is why there are times in the development of a team when a having a professional who knows about team building to step in is beneficial.

When such times arise, and a team building session is organised, it is successful provided:

  • The participants are able to relate what has been done to their daily life, and understand how it benefits them to have a more cohesive team. It is only when team building takes on relevance in an individual’s life that he will take an interest in it, and subsequently gain insight into his life, leading to an improvement in the way he leads his life as he realises and understands areas for improvement.
  • Participants become able to see beyond the bad, ugly, and grotesque to find the silver lining. This should be self-explanatory. If participants are too focussed on the negative, all they will get out of the team building session will be more spite and contempt, and greater tensions. Not really something desirable.
  • The effects from the team building session are felt long after it has been conducted. There is no point in holding a team building session if it will only help the team to work together for that one hour or so.

To continue, Mike from Create Learning listed these four as the steps for a successful corporate team building programme:

  1. Full understanding why they are there.
  2. Proper sequencing of events.
  3. Focus on Processing and Reflection.
  4. Follow up and now what?

Well, guess what? Here’s our take on what the four steps are:

  1. The team building effort is targeted. This means that the session should bring to surface the problem the team is facing and attempt to solve this problem. For instance tensions may be high because the general consensus in the team is that the boss is too demanding. In this scenario, the aim of the activity will be to allow team members to get to know the boss better, in his capacity as a human being, rather than a tyrannical despot, so that they come to understand the reasons behind his demands.
  2. Tied to this, the right kind of activity has to be selected to address the issue. There are many team building options, and the one selected must be able to produce ideal results. The activity should be flexible and adaptable, so that it can be altered if necessary, especially when it is being carried out. After all, nothing ever goes according to plan.
  3. Which brings us to the next point: the facilitator has to be capable. By capable, we mean:
  •  Not only does he have to establish the goals and overarching objective of the activity, right from the start, he has to reinforce them throughout the event in a manner that it does not suffocate the participants. This is to promote reflection among the participants as they are reminded to consider the fulfilment of the goals.
  • He has to be observant: a facilitator who is unable to notice the signs of a fight before it breaks out cannot possibly deliver the results the organisation wants.
  • He has be emotionally detached from the on goings as he has to be objective, and may have to provide feedback if he notices something undesirable occurring during the event to the client to be addressed later on.
  • He has to provide advice and encouragement when it is necessary: an event lacking energy not just lacklustre, it fails to create the bonds necessary for the team to improve.
  1. And this leads up to the last point. As Mike rightfully points out, it ultimately all boils down to the follow-up after the team building session. The team has to be able to quantify and qualify what has been learnt, and evaluate what has been achieved, which should be done as soon as the team building session ends and everything is still fresh in their minds. These takeaways should be recorded on paper, and revisited periodically so that they are not forgotten. In this way, a single team building can have lasting benefits which may even trickle down to future generations of the company.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave your comments in the section below.

Credits to Mike & Create Learning for inspiring this piece.

Types of Team Building Exercises

Relying on a single team building exercise will not remedy every team building malady— no team building exercise is so powerful and all-encompassing that it can transform a group dramatically from a bunch of misfits into the world’s best team.

Therefore, team building exercises, when executed, should target specific areas of teamwork which are deemed wanting in a group. By extension, it would be beneficial for one to be aware of the different kinds of team building exercises. Here is some information that you can consider when building a repository of team building exercises:

Problem solving exercises. A large majority of team building exercises fall under this category. As its name suggests, such exercises usually present a problem to the team, and require them to think of a solution. As the situations presented by these problems tend to be hypothetical and out of the ordinary, for example “How do you remove water from a cup without touching the cup, and only using paperclips?” such exercises encourage the creativity, and hone the team’s ability to analyse a situation and think critically.

Planning exercises. A logical progression from problem solving exercises, such exercises highlight the importance of planning and preparing for unexpected setbacks. For instance, a team may be asked to brainstorm and generate ideas to create a list of actions they need to undertake in order to complete a task.

A task might seem very complex if everyone in the group disperses and works individually. However, if broken down, and each person is assigned a specific section, what seems impossible becomes much more manageable. Planning exercises help teams to realise this, and simultaneously trains their foresight as they have to consider and predict possible pitfalls they may encounter.

Adaptability exercises. Things rarely go according to plan (think Murphy’s Law). However, what happens when such a situation arises can determine the success or failure of a team. Often, when things fall apart, people grow excessively stressed, and are overcome by overpowering rage and frustration. This impacts the team negatively, as the team breaks down, and breaks out into a series of conflicts. Adaptability exercises attempt to stop this from happening, and are therefore an integral aspect of team building.

The simplest method to conduct such an exercise is to throw the team an unexpected challenge when in the midst of another exercise. For instance, in the abovementioned one about removing water from a cup without touching it, teams may be told midway that the cup suddenly has a hole, and they must find a way to stop the hole. Such exercises not only train teams’ ability to keep calm and work under pressure, they encourage teams to think outside the box, and also develop their resourcefulness.

Trust exercises. “United we stand, divided we fall.” Nowhere is this truer than in a team. A team whose members do not trust each other will often break into fights. Its collapse is inevitable, and projects will end in failure. The most well-known and commonly employed trust building exercise is the Fall and Catch, where one person is instructed to fall backwards, and another is stationed behind the first, who has to catch him before he has the chance to injure himself.

The above exercises are the foundation of any team building activity, and are essential in ensuring the success of a team. While they have been clearly delineated, it is important to note that a team building activity can be designed to incorporate more than one kind of exercise.

The exercises mentioned in this article are also the most basic of exercises employed in team building. For more information about team building, contact us, at 66514624 or email us at

Three Tips to Create the Best Team

In life, we often find ourselves having to work with other people in teams. Sometimes, we enjoy working in our teams, and sometimes we do not. This is usually tied to the success of the team— the better it does, the more we like it. Otherwise, it becomes loathsome. In the case of our best and favourite teams, we tend to be able to conjure reason after reason explaining their success. In the case of our less successful ones, we tend to relegate them to the domains of chance and nature. Rarely do we think that it could or would have been different from what had been. However, objectively, there are no logical reasons to explain why a team is good or bad. In truth, a team is only successful insofar as its members decide to make it so. In fact, it is possible to create a successful team, or turn an unsuccessful one around, and here are some tips to show you how:

Firstly, create a shared vision or common goal to work towards. A team does better if its members all have a common goal to work towards. Members would naturally align themselves towards it, and in working towards it, they will make compromises more readily, leading to fewer disputes, and, in general, greater productivity.

To do this, the leader must first understand what each individual wants to achieve. These individual objectives can be simple, such as wanting to earn higher wages, but can also be more complicated, such as wanting to work in an environment where everyone is motivated and puts the company before individual desires.

Once this has been done, a mutual aim can be established. First, by understanding what it is that the company ultimately wishes to achieve, such as higher sales or revenue. Following this, the leader needs to show his members how their individual aims dovetail with this ultimate goal, and how they will benefit by working towards it. After all, to quote Friedman, ‘The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.’

Basically, once the goal is in place and members believe that working towards it will be to their own advantage, things will fall into place. However, any action or policy implemented must be relatable to the goal, and if it cannot be related to the goal, it should be re-evaluated.

Second, promote the formation of strong emotional ties between team members. This should be self-explanatory: people work better and are more likely to co-operate with one another and allow concessions if they are close to and trust one another; also, they will be more forgiving of others’ faults and mistakes. Not only will this prevent conflicts from arising in the midst of a project, emotionally bonded teams are able to weather through adversities without the team disintegrating unlike teams where members are emotionally distant from one another, and are thus far more resilient.

Achieving this is simple, yet cost effective. Organising occasional team building activities, holding meetings where after-action reviews are done, the possibilities are endless. However, the key is to ensure that every member feels appreciated and possesses a sense of purpose. Most importantly, not just feeling, but knowing that he belongs. No one wants to feel left out or useless, as though he is there just to make up for numbers.

Lastly, and most importantly, focus on each member’s strengths and see how they can complement others’ weaknesses. At first glance this may not sound possible considering how teams are oftentimes made up of anything but hand-picked individuals who have gone through a rigorous selection process. However, once we realise that individuals who excel at everything are tough to come by, and comprise but a minuscule fraction of the human race, it becomes rather more practical to focus on developing an individual’s strengths than to make any attempt at mitigating existing weaknesses. Besides, a person is likely to improve faster if doing something he is better at and therefore has a propensity to enjoy doing.

This is not a particularly trying feat. Theoretically, all one has to do is identify what an individual member’s strengths and weaknesses are, and match those strengths to weaknesses to another’s. For example, one person might be good at writing but chronically fearful of public speaking, while another is good at delivering presentations but horrible at drafting scripts. Thus, the former could draft a script for the latter who would then make the presentation. Each would therefore compensate for the other’s shortfall. However, reality is never this straightforward: it takes time to learn about people, and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Nonetheless, once a person’s strengths has been identified, all that has to be done is to develop them through training courses or other similar methods.

Ultimately, building a successful team is not an easy task. To do so requires time, patience, effort, and sometimes involves unfathomable depths of frustration and tears. However, as Jay Goldman said, “Nothing good for this world is ever attained without sacrifice. Nothing great in life is ever achieved without hard work. Nothing that we give to others, out of the goodness of our heart, is ever given without giving away a small piece of ourselves.” Building a successful team is as such; sometimes one just has to soldier on for a better tomorrow.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


All humans have a basic set of needs that they have to satisfy in order to survive. These needs go beyond just ‘food, water, and oxygen’, to encompass other needs which include psychological and emotional needs. Having one’s needs satisfied is of utmost importance, because a deficiency in any need would lead to a clearly negative outcome, as in the case of insufficient food leading to starvation.

There are many models that attempt to explain how needs define a human being, and how needs drive people’s thoughts and actions. For our purposes Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model should suffice.


The above figure of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was developed between 1943 and 1953. There are later models adapted from this one, meant to further streamline the hierarchy, with additions such as Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence Needs. However, this simplest one suffices as later models have a tendency to overcomplicate matters.

 Figure 1 Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s model is based on the assumption that everyone is motivated by his needs, where the most basic are inborn, linked to individual survival. People need to satisfy one stage of needs before being able to moving on to the next. Thus, a person has to satisfy his basic Physiological Needs before moving on to satisfy his Safety and Security Needs, so on and so forth. It is only when such lower order needs are fulfilled and the individual’s physical and emotional well-being is satisfied, that the individual is able to concern himself with higher order needs such as those of Self-esteem.

Likewise, it is also part of the model, though unstated, that should the conditions that satisfy lower order needs be removed from an individual’s environment, the individual will no longer be concerned about higher order needs.

The main flaw with Marlow’s Hierarchy of Needs is that is that it presumes linear progression and fails to acknowledge the inherent complexity of human beings. For instance, a homeless person who has difficulties satisfying his physiological needs, may also long for a sense of belonging. A more nuanced stance is to say that people can move up and down the hierarchy, or even have multiple needs that have to be satisfied at one point in time.

However, the model is still useful in application, especially when it comes to teambuilding. The model, while not definitive, provides a guideline to identify a team member’s needs. For instance, if a person is depressed due to the termination of a relationship and he thus needs love and a sense of belonging, the rest of the team can satisfy the need by giving encouragement or just a shoulder to lean on, thereby mitigating any negative effects that could have culminated from his emotional instability.

Now that you know more about needs and how it affects team dynamics, take a moment to reflect: what does your team need?