Building and Sustaining Teams


This week, I attended a 3-day federal supervisory/managerial training class on building and sustaining teams.

Day 1 began with the facilitator explaining that we were to define our roles in teams behaviorally, by observable or measurable movement or activity.  In other words, we were to state the behaviors that we see exhibited in ourselves and in others in the work environment.  The facilitator also asked if we felt that we were on a team or in a group.  Take a look at the team and group characteristics below:


  • Individually and mutually accountable;
  • Discussion, decision making, problem-solving, and planning;
  • Team goals are the focus;
  • Collective work products produced;
  • Team leader and team members shape purpose, goals, and approach to work.


  • Individually accountable;
  • Share information and perspectives;
  • Individual goals are the focus;
  • Individual work products produced;
  • Manager shapes purpose, goals, and approach to work.

Interestingly, the majority of the training class participants said that they were in a group which the facilitator said was common to the federal government.      

Day 2 continued with the facilitator stating that leaders are to have “friendships” with their teams.  In 27 years of federal service, I have built and maintained eight long lasting friendships through my federal employment.  These eight women were not team members but have visited my home and shared in my personal as well as professional successes and failures.  As a team leader, I just cannot imagine having such close personal relationships with my team members.  This is an exaltation of my friendships not a diminution of my team.

Day 3 wrapped up with a “heated” debate over my revelation that my office has five minute meetings or no meetings at all.  Training class participants somehow “made the leap” that I should be the one to suggest longer, more productive meetings.  In all honesty, I believe that the five minute meetings have a deeper rooted cause that only “an act of Congress” can change.

Overall, the building and sustaining teams training was beneficial, and I will apply some of the team building techniques to my current position.  However, I am really curious to know if anything I have said resonates with anyone else.

Are you on a team or in a group?  

Why say we have teams when we don’t?    

Should leaders and team members be friends?  

Does your office have productive meetings, or do you “meet to meet?”     

Interesting read here.

Cynthia V White is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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