Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Best Team Building Exercise

Diana Wei from the Orange County PMI recent asked for recommendations for team building ideas. Some recommended a happy hour, or sailing, and I suggested doing a Five Dysfunctions of a Team offsite.

I had completely forgotten what I share every Scrum class - have the team discover their personal strengths! Over the past eight years, every department I managed, every new team I introduced Scrum to, we would do a strengths-based personality assessment. I was at a company in the Bay Area this week that had a new, heralded CEO, and I saw that they were already helping the change efforts by rolling out a personality assessment to employees. My impression is that, while many overlook these psychometric tests, great managers and leaders instinctively know the value of these tools.

There are several choices in this area that I have used and would recommend.

StrengthsFinder - Close to 10 years old, and still a perennial best seller, the StrengthsFinder assessment from Gallup will give you a list of your Top 5 Strengths Themes out of 34 possible, along with an action guide. Buy the book, and you get a key to take an online test that emails the reports. 

StandOut -  Last year, this book and new assessment came out from Marcus Buckingham, formerly with Gallup, was one of the first to write about strengths in the management best-sellers First, Break All the Rules and then Now, Discover Your Strengths. He's since written more books and created create videos on introducing strengths or how to truly cultivate them. You can purchase the test online, or buy the book and get a key to take the test online. It also includes an 18 page action-plan result.

Action & Influence - Brand new assessment from an agile training and coaching company that I think highly of, this assessment not only gives you your strengths, but it also maps that onto a grid of your teammates. Now managers can see in a nice chart where all the team members fit, and are able to quickly identify any gaps in the team, or opportunities to move people into roles that play to their strengths. The test is based on over a decade of research and work in psychology and organizational development.


@Armond_M said...


Do you find that the advice of these resources can be discouraging to people? For instance, if someone's a great software engineer and the test tells them that their real strength is "context" or "woo" and all of a sudden they feel they are in the wrong role?

I find that these tools are not very easy to apply and draw conclusions from. I find that people that have worked with us in different contexts are best equipped to give useful advice on our strengths. It's a very sensitive subject to be sure.


Team building said...

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