Teaming© – A Lesson From Rugby

27 May, 2015

Teaming | Team Building Institute

Teaming© is the ability of an individual to adapt technically and socially to positively contribute to different teams, their unique goals, culture and behavioural patterns.

In the middle of a very competitive Super 14 knockout series, our National Team Coach had to assemble a Rugby team to face the onslaught of the English. The team only had one week to prepare for the Castle In-Bound Tour. Rugby talent in South Africa is in abundance. At the rate at which our talent is picked up by overseas clubs one may get the impression that supply is far greater than demand.

Players with advanced technical skills had to cross boundaries and faced complex and uncertain relationships in a matter of days in preparation for the international derby.

The challenge is not so much finding technical prowess, but rather a combination of technical and soft skills. Imagine facing your archenemy on Saturday and facing the same enemy as an ally on Monday. Successful preparation surely depended more on, communicating effectively, the courage to experiment, learning from reflection and integrating technical and soft skills to harness judgement.

The unique dilemma our National Coach, Heyneke Meyer had to deal with may become the rule as we prepare ourselves to survive in a world characterised by “time constraints”.

Having enough time to select the right team members, experimenting with different combinations of skills and gradually develop trust, as roles are clearly defined is slowly becoming a luxury of the past.

This trend rings true for the world of sport as well as the world of business. Teaming epitomises a new era of business and more © TBi 2014 2 specifically in the Project Environment. The ability to execute “teamwork on the fly” will become a critical skill in business.

When specialists are gathered in temporary groups because of the intensity of market change and competition, unpredictability of clients needs, lack of time to build a team; organisations are forced to bring together employees from different disciplines and divisions, including external specialists and stakeholders, only to disband them when they have achieved the goal and a new opportunity arises.

Project Team Management (PTM) requires individuals with sufficient technical as well as soft skills. The project environment is becoming more and more competitive.

The Rugby scenario discussed above perfectly mirrors the Engineering environment. Projects are becoming the engines that drive organisational strategy into new directions. There appears to be no single framework or training intervention that prepares individuals to adapt and effectively contribute to multiple projects. Institutions offering training programs have failed their clients by negating the importance of soft skill development as part of the curriculum.

Teaming ultimately involves developing soft skills of an individual in a team environment. Discovering the significance of one’s thinking style (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument™) sparks individual growth.

This unlocks the value of interdependence as prerequisite to effective teamwork. In principle teaming develops a new skill set that accommodates changing members and contexts of operation.

Trust is generally regarded as a foundational construct of teamwork. With less time to develop trust in practice, the value of a shared understanding of fellow team member’s thinking styles goes a long way to establish trust as foundational value.

The following definitions for further consideration:

  • Teaming training© is the experiential development of an individual to acquire critical skills needed to adapt to multiple teams.
  • Teaming Profile© is a graphic presentation of the basic behavioural skill-set an individual displays.
  • Teaming Inventory© is a peer and self-assessment of teaming constructs.
  • Teaming skills©: ability to create networks, acquire skills and knowledge quickly, respond to change quickly, positive attitude, opportunistic, creative, improving the system while operating on the system- executing and learning at the same time, fast learner, courage to cross borders.
  • Teaming Assessment© is the application of the Teaming Inventory© and include peer and self-assessment.

TBi designed a three-day teaming training programme that experientially unlocks constructive team behaviour. A 360° questionnaire (Teaming Inventory©) assesses teaming constructs and provides a clear picture of the participant’s Teaming Profile©.

The leaders’ role shifts from composing and managing teams to inspiring and enabling the principle of teaming.

Teaming should not be confused with Team Building. Team Building applies to intact or stable teams committed to achieving a long-term goal. This implies identifying the right people with the right combination of skills – build trust over time – clearly identified roles responsibilities and membership – no boundaries to cross to get the work done.

Should you wish to discuss the content of the article with Dr Heunis please contact him on +27 12 807 0242 /


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