When Team Leaders Become Cheerleaders

Or what to do if a trusted employee suddenly underperforms?

Introduction: Team members are human beings subject to stresses and emotional turmoil. In team building, we pay attention to creating an environment that brings out the best in each person. But what should team leaders do if the best performers suddenly hit a bump?

Every time I conduct a team building workshop, I find joy in seeing that each person opens up and brings out the best in him or in her using exercises and processes that I know are effective. But outside the workshop, what do team leaders do if members underperform?

Serena Williams is considered by many experts as the greatest female tennis player of all time, with a natural habit of breaking existing tennis records. But she always had problems at the US Open – losing her serves, losing her game, and losing her control – it is not the lack of talent, it is an emotional thing. She always thought the crowd roots against her.

At the women’s finals of the 2012 US Open, she was two points away from losing to Victoria Azarenka. She looked at the grandstand and listened to what people were saying, “C’mon Serena, you can do it!” Serena took a deep breath, broke Azarenka’s serve and never looked back. She won her 15th Grand Slam.

Sometimes, even our best team members are out of the zone. For some reason, they underperform.  And no amount of team building activity can bring her out of the hole. Instead of criticism, what they need is someone to rally them back to believing in their capacity. Even neuroscience has proven that: positive emotions drive better performance.

Team leaders lead the cheering section

Team leaders who just remain in their offices, sending emails to remind underperformers of their shortcomings are facing the risk of losing valuable office assets.  They should learn the dynamics of competitive sports: team members respond well when the belief of their coaches remains even if the scoreboard says otherwise.


If an office achiever suddenly underperforms, lead the cheerleading squad!

Source: By U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Sarah Gregory [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bringing Out the Pompoms

Here are a few tips for managers who want to be their team’s head cheerleaders:

a. Be Genuine. Make the troops feel that you truly care for them – not just about their task or their output, but about them as persons.  To say that: “This is task is too easy for you, you can do it,” is about the work. “I have complete trust in you. You can do it! ”is about the person.

b. Be Subtle. Do not make it obvious. Do not let the whole office be conscious that someone or some team is underperforming. It will add insult to injury.  Yes, people will know; but you don’t have to announce it every day. There is no need to send an email to everyone saying, “Guys, let us support Jimmy or the art department. He is/they are having a bad time.” That is not cheerleading at all.  That is called unnecessary pressure.

Oracene Price, Serena’s mother and coach, is the model of subtle cheerleading. When her daughter looked at her with gestures of surrender and helplessness, Oracene just looked at her, smiled, and nodded her head. The message was, “I am not worried, and I know you can do it.”

c. Small things count. You don’t need to organize a flash mob or a parade. Sometimes, a simple gesture of bringing coffee, or ice cream, or pizza will do the trick. It creates a very strong and powerful message: “I am here for you, I trust in you. You can do it.”

Team building is not just about ensuring productivity; it also includes protecting your company’s best assets: your people. And that includes guiding them at their lowest points. When someone is in a hole, you don’t push, you pull!

Resource Box: Betty Robinson, one of Philadelphia’s the first female chefs was known for her creative, non-conventional style of cooking. These qualities define her current passion as founder and CEO of Philly Hops & Go Team Building, an innovative team building company specializing in team building activities that build trust and promote high performance teamwork.

Creating A Culture of Celebration At Work

Introduction:  Team building is not just about productivity, it is also about creating relationships in which each one celebrates the victories and achievements of each other. That is why team leaders need to know how to create a culture of celebration at work

Yes, of course, we are fully aware that offices and companies celebrate events like anniversaries, Christmas and Halloween. But what we are advocating when we are talking of team building approaches that create a culture of celebration at work is the deliberate decision to encourage the group to celebrate and reward individual accomplishments.



Celebration is sharing in each other’s successes. It is not just rewarding or showing off the achievements of some members, it is about creating a consciousness that each one is a significant part of the success of the other.

A culture of celebration is a culture of affirmation. It drives business success because affirmation builds up the ego and strengthens motivations.


It doesn’t have to be a grand reason to celebrate. Maybe the fact that nobody came late for that week; or that someone submitted a report on time for the past six months, or that a team member developed ways to make work easier – all these are reasons to affirm and encourage each other.


Use your creativity. There are plenty of cost-effective, time-wise, and fun ways to celebrate.

How about rewarding a new employee for choosing to work for the company with a  welcome party? Or take the whole team out to a bowling game to celebrate someone’s promotion? There are many ways you can let someone know that he or she is appreciated.

Team building doesn’t have to be formal and structured. Celebrations in the office are great ways to promote productivity and camaraderie at the same time.

Resource Box: Betty Robinson, one of Philadelphia’s the first female chefs was known for her creative, non-conventional style of cooking. These qualities define her current passion as founder and CEO of Philly Hops & Go Team Building, an innovative team building company specializing in team building activities that build trust and promote high performance teamwork.

Philly Hops Releases Roster of its Spring 2013 Team Building Programs with Philanthropic Donations

Philadelphia, PA – March 10, 2013 – The importance of team building exercises is well known within the corporate world. Philly Hops owner, Betty Robinson, provides a large variety of customized team building programs to organizations throughout the U.S. today announced the firm’s Spring 2013 roster of Philanthropic Program selections.

“Our programs are fun and interactive events in which participants are actively and emotionally involved,” said Robinson. “Programs are creative and thought-provoking learning experiences that develop high-performance team skills.”


Philly Hops philanthropic programs are specially designed for professionals in a wide array of disciplines to engage their senses and stimulate the imagination. Collaborative efforts and communication skills are key features of each activity that respects the individual, encourages teamwork in all its many facets, and draws upon teams’ collective experiences to arrive at innovative solutions. Programs can be customized to meet the client’s individual needs and requirements.

One of the firm’s most popular Philanthropic team building programs is Videos That Change Lives in which teams form a venture capital department. Following a crash course in videography, groups plan and create short video pitches to demonstrate their expertise. Videos are shared with other teams and the group with the winning video chooses an actual entrepreneur that will receive a micro loan.

In Make Your Own Roller Coaster, teams are challenged to create a marble roller coaster. The program incorporates engineering dilemmas, cooperative problem solving and innovative thinking processes.  Roller Coaster templates are donated to schools and children’s organizations upon completion.

Teams launch their group to victory in the entertaining Catapult program. Participants must design a working catapult that will be used to attack the castles they assemble. The interactive exercise is a light-hearted session that encourages artistic skills, role-playing and imagination, while utilizing skills in science and physics. Competitors learn through play and kits are donated to children’s organizations upon completion.

The culinary Fiesta Challenge is making a return this year as one of the most requested team building programs. Groups are asked to create a recipe for a stunning snack using salsa, guacamole and Sangria. The program can be customized with piñatas and maracas for donation to children’s charities.

Green technology takes center stage in Race For Recycling, in which teams build an environmentally friendly car using solar power and recycled products. The team building exercise incorporates principles of energy conservation, organizational skills and recycling, culminating in the ultimate tournament. The kits, cars and educational materials are donated to local schools.

Teams come together to make a difference in the lives of hospital-bound children in the Helping Children Heal exercise at Philly Hops. The inspirational program combines imagination, games and activities in a medical-themed session that includes the creation of a custom coloring book and piñatas that are donated to brighten the lives of community children.

Food, fun and themed topiaries are combined to create edible, kid-friendly treats and a message of hope for children during Philly Hops The Giving Tree program. Teams collect items that will be used to decorate food-themed topiaries in preparation for donating them to children in need. The trees are adorned with participants’ handwritten “leaves” of wishes, inspiration and encouragement. The session can be used as a stand-alone activity or as an addition to other programs.

Teddy bears have the power to provide comfort and solace and the Team Teddy Bears program connect participants with the local community. Participants play games to earn Teddy Bear Bucks to obtain costumes and props for the creation of a custom Teddy bear that will star in its own storybook adventure written by the bear’s creators. Bears are donated to local charities.

Fans can follow Philly Hops and its sister company Go Team Building on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GoTeamBuilding, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/goteambuilding, on Google Plus, and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/bettyrobinsonpresident. Visitors to the official website can obtain the free report, “9 Steps to Organizing a Successful Team Building Event”.

The Spring 2013 team building programs at Philly Hops offer sessions filled with fun that give back to the community. The firm’s unique programs allow participants to step out of their comfort zone in an atmosphere that fosters creativity and acceptance, with fun-filled activities that benefit those who need them the most.

Philly Hops can be reached by phone at 215-426-5644 or via email to betty@phillyhops.com or with the convenient form on the website. For more information, visit the website at http://www.phillyhops.com.

Image credit: Image courtesy of [cooldesign] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Handle Difficult Personalities without Stress

Introduction:  Managing people means managing not just their productivity, their outputs, their deadlines. Those who are in team building are fully aware that the difficult part is managing personalities – especially those who are difficult ones.

Team building is about blending people so that they are most productive. That, as most team leaders can attest, is easily said than done. One of the most challenging tasks of a team leader is handling difficult personalities. By that term, we mean staff members who are stuck in negativities: anger, fear, pain, frustrations, and depressions.


Here are few tips that can help team leaders deal with difficult personalities.

a. Begin with a right and helpful perspective. There are no problematic people, only people with problems. Some people because of their life history or present circumstances have difficulty following social norms and protocol. They bark at the slightest provocation. They cry or withdraw at any sign of rejection. They fight for whatever reason.

That perspective is important so that you will be driven to respond rather than react to difficult personalities.

b. Diagnose the team dynamics. If there something about your team, or about the office work environment that brings out the worst in people?

c.Face the possibility that it might be you. Sometimes, your personality or work style triggers people’s defenses. You might need an honest to goodness feedback session with your team to know whether you are a triggering factor as a leader.

d. Be firm and use always the right combination of human approach and office policy. If the staff member is already doing something that is beyond what is allowed (destroying office properties for instance or hurting others), do not hesitate to implement the right procedure.

e. Organize a getting-to-know you team building activity. Sometimes, people are defensive because they are not relaxed in each other’s company. What you need is to break the ice!

Team building is can be difficult when you are dealing with people who have difficult personalities. Bonding the staff members can be a great challenge if others are angry.  But I think it is the mark of a great team leader to rise to the occasion and make the team a success!

Resource Box: Betty Robinson, one of Philadelphia’s the first female chefs was known for her creative, non-conventional style of cooking. These qualities define her current passion as founder and CEO of Philly Hops & Go Team Building, an innovative team building company specializing in team building activities that build trust and promote high performance teamwork.

Image credit: Image courtesy of Active Rain

Teambuilding Dynamics: Infographic

There are hundreds of infographics about proper team building. Here we compressed all the necessary steps into a 5 step, easy-to-follow guide that will prove to be easy to memorize and implement when it comes to building strong teams that accomplish tasks and goals. Starting with the all-important:


  1. Plan
  2. Delegate
  3. Attack
  4. Inspire
  5. Track

Planning is necessary with any project. This eliminates unnecessary tasks and overcomes hurdles and obstacles before they even arise. Delegating, on the other hand, is important so that the proper persons will carry out the tasks. To attack, or to implement all plans will ensure success. To inspire, on the other hand, will get people to continue their tasks even for longer periods of time.  Lastly, tracking projects are necessary to improve other aspects of the project that may have been overlooked.

Betty Robinson, one of Philadelphia’s the first female chefs was known for her creative, non-conventional style of cooking. These qualities define her current passion as founder and CEO of Philly Hops & Go Team Building, an innovative team building company specializing in team building activities that build trust and promote high performance teamwork.