The National Learning Institute

Teams & Team Building Category

Accents in team work

Can accents affect team work?

October 6, 2015 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2015

Humans aren’t the only species that speak with an accent. Chimpanzees do as well – and for the same reason. Accents help signal group membership and identifies whether an individual is “one of us” versus “one of them”.   How might this relate to our teams?

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Group Think

Group Think is Alive and Well

March 23, 2015 No Comments

Andrew O’Keeffe ©2015

How groups make decisions is a key part of human living. “Group think” is alive and well. If we know the dangers in group think then we can take steps to avoid the traps.

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Bonell Family

Does team size matter?

February 3, 2014 No Comments

By Andrew O’Keeffe ©2014 Hardwired Humans

Jeni and Ray Bonell live in the Australian city of Toowoomba. They are parents to a family of 15 children! Instinctively we know that’s an awfully big family – it’s clearly outside the normal size of a human family. We immediately wonder how they cope. The same question applies to workplace managers asked to manage teams of that size. How can they possibly cope? The short answer is managers can’t as the group size is beyond human tolerance.

The Bonells have a chance of functioning because in their case they are kin. But managers in workplaces aren’t generally managing kin. In abnormally large work teams team members get “lost”, the team fractures into sub-groups, and engagement and productivity suffer.

Two recent studies provide insight into our nature and the implications of team size.

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Team engagement

The secret to team engagement

May 14, 2013 No Comments

Does “team engagement” mean asking your team to sign a formal document, or have them all stand and sing the company song?

Hardly (although I have heard of organisations doing just that).  What “team engagement” does mean is getting your team members on board by being attuned to their values and motives and aligning these with your team direction.  How do you do this?

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All that glitters is not gold

All that glitters is not gold

March 1, 2013 1 Comment

After years of near-domination in the pool, Australia’s swimmers have seen their success evaporate over recent years, a sporting decline which Bob Selden argues is a direct result of a failure of management.

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Managing teamwork and team performance – two critical dimensions.

December 2, 2008 No Comments


Often managers put a lot of effort into teamwork when perhaps it’s not necessary.  Is there more to teamwork than meets the eye?

John is confused.  He prides himself as being a fair and reasonably good manager.  This is not his first assignment as a manager, but it is certainly turning out to be his most challenging.  John had taken over the sales team almost six months ago.  Performance at the time was not up to standard and although individual performance has improved over the last six months, John just cannot get his sales people to engage in teamwork.  What is he missing out on, or not doing so well?

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Teamwork – Tour de Farce or Team de Force?

December 1, 2008 1 Comment


What’s the big deal about teamwork?

Do you manage a team or a group? The distinction is an important one, because there’s no point in trying to develop a team ethos amongst a group of people who have no real need to engage in teamwork.

It’s probably fair to say, that by now most followers and even casual observers of the recent Tour de France, expected the race to throw up some drug cheats.  True to form, we were not disappointed.  At the time of writing, four riders have now failed drug tests and been disqualified (not to mention being taken away by the French police!).

But the race has also thrown up an interesting question.  Why did the teams of the first two disqualified riders continue in the race, while another, Sunier Duval-Scott withdraw all their riders?  Commentators and keen followers of the sport are divided as to whether the two teams, while not legally obliged to do so, were morally obliged to withdraw.

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Gaining team commitment or team compliance.

November 22, 2008 No Comments


Some guidelines for team decision making…

Rob worked as a qualified, but junior physiotherapist in a busy hospital. He along with three of his colleagues were asked by their manager to discuss amongst themselves how they would like their rosters to be organised (i.e. who would do what shifts etc.) and put forward their proposal.

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