While preparing for a teambuilding session, I noticed the karabiner attached to my bag. As I unsnapped and snapped it through the guy ring I thought about what a unique tool it is. What teambuilding attributes we can learn from it?
A mountain climber clings to the side of a shear rock cliff. Looking up he sees the summit just a few yards above him. His partner stands below him on a ledge. A rope and a will to reach the top connect them. In order to move up the cliff he must choose the right support mechanism. In his pack he finds a piton, hammer, and a karabiner. The rock is hard as he drives the piton, and connects the chock to the rope with a karabiner. They are now ready to move up.
This is much like a team moving toward their goals in any organization. They must use the proper support mechanism in order to move up. Support for the team may be newer information technology, creative financial resources or simply improved human relation skills like teamwork. POSITION, POSITION, POSITION.
The karabiner is very strong in certain positions and absolutely weak or will break easily in others. As the climbers move up the cliff they must make decisions about how to use the strength of the karabiner to accomplish the move at hand. It is up to the climber to know when to use it correctly.
Team members in your organization are strongest in certain positions. When put in other positions or under the wrong circumstances they become weak and can break. It is the responsibility of leaders to place members of their team in the right positions and circumstances to maximize their strengths. Leaders must continually evaluate the skills of their team members, provide training on skills where needed, and motivate them to perform to the best of their ability at all tasks. OPEN OR CLOSE? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
The karabiner is strong when it is closed. It is weakest and most vulnerable when it is open. It must be opened, however, in order to snap together with another karabiner, be secured to a piton or hook up with other tools so the climber can reach the summit.
Team members can be strong when they are closed to others and working alone, however, in order to be strongest and create the synergy necessary to reach team goals they must open up and connect with their teammates. The team must have opportunities to practice being open and feel the strength of being connected to other team members. Rather than just waiting for the chance, sometimes these opportunities need to be scheduled deliberately.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
Karabiners come in different sizes and shapes for different jobs and situations. It doesn’t mean that any one of them is less strong. The climber just needs a specific size and shape to match the task. The size and shape of the chock must match the rope to allow it to slip or stop.
Each team member has physical and mental attributes that may be tailored to the task. Leaders must determine which attributes best fit the situation and make sure that they put the right team member in the right job at the right time.
A climber practices using a karabiner to learn when it is strongest and with which tools it is most compatible. Likewise, leaders must get to know their team members and take a personal interest in them as individuals in order to learn where each team member will work at their best. Teambuilding training will enable members themselves and their leaders to see the skills and attributes of each member of the team.
“When your team is struggling, remember the karabiner. Position each member to be strong. Open up to others for help. Join with others on the team. Instead of being a rock, maybe we should be a karabiner.” Larry and Sandie Westfall are experts at improving teamwork.
Larry is retired from the National Guard. During his career he conducted interactive team training for the military and community groups.
Sandie raised their three children and retired from the school system. She relates her teaching and family experiences to improving teamwork.
Their fun hands-on activities and the processing afterward will change a group of people into a team.
L & S Teambuilders
1209 Hudson St, Helena, MT 59601
PH: 406-442-5000 E-mail: email@example.com
On the web at: www.montanspeakers.com