You can’t pick up a business magazine today without reading an article about team building. It is THE hot management topic. Most of these articles over simplify the team approach and the effort required to build successful business teams. Brian Kathenes, President of Progressive Business Concepts, a Hope, NJ team training and management consulting firm, provides the following tips on building teams in your organization:

Look before you leap: A typical team concept takes between two and five years to implement. Changing the corporate culture does not happen overnight. You and those you report to must be willing to look long range. There are no “quick fix” team building programs that will produce instant, documented results.

Develop a Plan: Develop the entire team program before you tack up the first “Go Team” poster on the company bulletin board. Changing the course of your teambuilding ship is very difficult and very expensive. So make sure you know where you want to go before you leave the dock.

Insist on integrity and mutual respect in all your meetings and interactions: One critical key to successful teams is developing trust and respect in the workplace. You as the “coach” must set the example. Write less CYA (cover your tail) memos. Make more commitments verbally, and make sure you keep them. Empower your subordinates to make more decisions.

Share Your Vision: Let the team know where you want the organization to be five years from now. Let them be a part of the change. Most importantly, let them take an active role in the process. You will find that most of the answers to your problems and questions are in the heads of your employees. All you need to do is ask — and listen. That is one of first lessons of building teams.

By setting the example you accomplish two things. 1) You let the rest of the crew know what the “new” appropriate behavior is. 2) You begin the process of change subtly, but solidly.

All successful team building programs start with senior management commitment. Your staff will look to you to see if this “new concept” is a passing fad or a new way of doing business. Let them see the power of the team.