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Do you find yourself, or your co-workers, thinking/saying:

  • I could get my job done if they would tell me what I need to know!
  • They only tell us about half of what they know because they don’t trust us!
  • What are they hiding?
  • We’re not babies.  Why don’t managers tell it like it is?

Here Are Some Thoughts To Consider:

  • Think about a time when you made a personal decision (we have all done this) and didn’t tell everyone right away.  How about the last relationship that didn’t work out?  How about a problem with your child’s teachers or school?  A problem with your banker?  Your landlord?  How about the last time you decided to pursue a career change?  Why didn’t you tell the people involved the minute you started thinking about it?  Particularly those that were going to be seriously affected?  Probably your answers have to do with your needing time to think things through, to gather information, and to make good solid action plans.
  • Yes, management does sometimes withhold information.   Often, just like with our personal decisions, it’s because they haven’t collected enough data from the marketplace to make a firm decision. With technology enabling information to literally move around the world in seconds, organizations are more conscientious today about how and what information is released.  Admittedly, that sometimes does seem like deliberate withholding of information.

getting information from your organization
  • More often than not, senior management has a big picture and a sense of direction, but perhaps they haven’t yet worked out all the bugs and details. Your manager may be as much in the dark as you.  So, don’t take the silence personally.
  • It isn’t that you aren’t trusted or that someone wants to withhold information from you.  On occasion, management has to safeguard new plans so they don’t leak out and harm the organization.  They may want to share the information with you, but for the benefit of everyone involved, they simply can’t.
  • In an economy in which knowledge is now a commodity, it only makes sense that some information has to be held back for carefully timed release.  It would be all too easy for a competitor to beat your organization to the marketplace if proprietary information got out.
  • This does not absolve you of finding out all you can by appropriately asking your management to level with you – as much as they can. Let management know that you are sensitive to the needs of protecting vital trade secrets and potentially explosive information.  But within these parameters, ask them to let you know as soon as they can.

secret information

Don’t Simply Adopt The Attitude Of “They’ll Tell Me When They Are Ready.”  There’s No Harm In Asking … But Don’t Feel Rebuffed If You Don’t Get An Immediate Answer.

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sound familiar?? ….


how about:

“The boss says your performance is “x” and that means there’s no room for discussion.”


“Once a year I get a performance review to justify the lousy salary increase they had already planned on giving me.”


  • performance_reviews for team building These are (too often) examples of some employee perspectives of the performance management system in today’s organizations.  However, this is not a one-sided issue … Studies continue to prove that team leaders identify performance reviews as one of the most unpleasant parts of their jobs.  Why?  For a lot of the same reasons that you, the employees, dread them.  Conducted improperly, they are one of the biggest sources of frustration and demotivation for everyone.
  • why people dread performance reviewsBut the winds of change have hit the old-style performance review process, and there are many things you can do to improve the process … even if your organization is still hanging onto the old style of “tell-&-judge” reviews.  Talk to your human resources folks or search the internet for the latest developments in performance discussions.  Then, take some initiative to get moving in the new directions.  Here are two ideas for starters:

  • First, give your boss a break – they are probably just doing it the way it’s always been done in your organization.  Given a choice, they will likely welcome some fresh ideas.  Suggest to your boss that you’d like to have more say in the discussion. Under the old autocratic management style, employees were “seen and not heard” during performance reviews.  The bosses filled out the forms in advance and then rendered edicts and decisions like fearsome courts of final appeal.  You were judged worthy or not with no right of appeal or hearing.


  • That’s changed.  Now, managers are open to new forms of performance conversations.  One of these is self-assessment in which the employee takes the lead in self-diagnosis and the actual performance meeting.  Even if you don’t have this system in place, take the initiative to review your own performance in advance of the meeting.  Write down examples of how you think you’ve performed against your job objectives.  Try to start the meeting off with your self-assessment and then ask your boss for their reactions to your perspective.  Now you have positioned your boss as a partner, providing feedback from management’s perspective … not a judge and jury.

  • Secondly, performance reviews were traditionally tied to salary reviews:  at your review meeting, they told you what your raise would be.  Today, the two are often separated.  Current thinking is that there is no need for you to wait a full year to get a course correction.  Reviews are now known to be more effective on a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly basis.  The BIG annual review, then, is simply a summary of all of the feedback conversations over the past year.
performance reviews tied to compensation
  • If your boss doesn’t have a scheduled feedback process for you … ASK!  And keep asking until you feel you’re getting enough information on your performance.  One way to measure the quality and quantity of feedback is to notice if there are any surprises for you in your formal performance review.  If the answer is “yes,” you and your boss need more communication.  You should never have to wait the full performance period to discover that you’re missing the mark.  So don’t wait around for someone to offer feedback … just ask for it – often!
    It may come as a surprise to many employees to learn that there is no conspiratorial plotting behind the performance reviews they receive. Organizations bent on retaining the best people and helping them get even better will use the performance review as an opportunity to encourage both managers and employees to achieve greater heights.
positive performance reviews

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Toronto team building during change
  • It’s been said that a job is what you make of it. In most organizations that has never been truer than it is today.  Organizations recognize that in a knowledge-based economy their greatest assets are not hardware or bricks and mortar … but people.
  • You can take advantage of the prevailing economy by asking for opportunities to learn and grow in your job. You might have to keep asking, but chances are good that your continued requests will meet with success. This is especially true if you can indicate what you would like to learn, and link that with a benefit to the organization.
  • Learning can take place in a variety of ways. It isn’t limited to a set course in a classroom. For example, you could suggest to your manager that you would like to be mentored — taken under the wing of a more senior person who could bring you into a new circle of activities. Explain what benefits you see accruing from this, and what precise activities would help you learn new things.
  • If you find your job has lost its appeal to you, take responsibility for thinking of some realistic actions and activities that would rekindle your interest. Then present your ideas to management as a career plan … not an ultimatum. This may include training, working on a special project, or developing ideas to enrich some aspect of your current work to make it more challenging. Always have at least three career paths worked out in case you hit a real roadblock and need to shift gears quickly.Toronto team building during change
  • The fact is, most organizations do care about the people in their employ and would much rather see them happy and productive. If you can identify what you need to further your career and then link that with the interests of the organization, you have a case to make to your team leader.
  • You have the right to be “mentally engaged” on the job. But no one will know if you are challenged by your work, or what new challenges you need, unless you let them know. No matter how good even the best managers are, none are mind readers.
  • Change has changed. As hard as this may be to hear, no one owes you anything … not your boss, not the organization you are currently working for … no one. We are all pretty much on our own when in comes to managing our careers. If you do have a supportive boss right now who takes the time to coach and help you with your career, consider yourself blessed. And take advantage of, and appreciate, everything they do for you. Next time, you probably won’t be so lucky.

Business People with Thumbs Up on White Background
Remember: No one will ever care as much about your career as you do.

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Harness change and use it as an engine for high-performance team building

Toronto Team Building for Change

Change always creates energy. Unleashed, that energy can turn negative and scorchthe organization beyond recovery. Channel it, and it will power up teams to new heights of performance.

There are three guarantees about change:

  • Change will never stop.  It will only accelerate, particularly in organizations driven by technology change.
  • Change will be more complex than ever before.  Change is never problem-free.
  • Each of us must be accountable for shortening the transition period in order to protect productivity, profits and customer service.  No matter what level in the organization.

CRG’s team programs give you the strategies to move your organization and your teams beyond just surviving, to actually discovering ways to thrive during uncertain times … by finding the new opportunities that change always brings.

Studies show worker resistance is always the #1 barrier to successful change management.  Which is not to say that all resisters are mean-spirited.  If fact, people who battle against change often believe they are protecting the organization.

The good news:

It’s all predictable.  There are logical, methodical, proven team building strategies to get you through change. They also support you and reduce your levels of stress and change fatigue.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be uncomfortable.  Maybe even painful.  You probably won’t be able to make the change go away, but you sure can decide how you will respond to it.

If you are struggling with change, your reactions are normal – even healthy.  But to get stuck in resistance is to invite Quit-&-Stay™survivor traps.  Quit-&-Stay™ is no place to hide out, waiting for the storm to blow over.  The stress of a passionless Quit-&-Stay™work life only adds insult to injury.  Furthermore, before this change blows over, another one will be howling down the halls.

Careers are not working the way they used to.And same-old career planning is not working today, either.Sometimes, careers don’t even change … they just plain disappear. Magnificently designed career options can be dead in the water overnight. Endless spread-sheet action plans that took forever to write are obsolete even before they’re half-finished.  Cherished skills vaporize before your eyes.

Toronto Team Building for Change

CRG provides change management “sound-byte” tools and just-in-time processes to keep careers on track in an ever-shifting and uncertain organizational landscape.

During change, career success belongs to the committed.  Not only is commitment good for the organization, it is critical for you.  Without it, Quit-&-Stay is a certainty.  It’s impossible to endure Quit-&-Stay for long.  The stress of passionless work becomes suffocating.  Before long, Quit-&-Leave is the only answer.  If you’re going to leave, do it at the top of your game as an authentic choice … not as the last gasp of a change “survivor.”

Toronto Team Building for Change

by Pat Thornton, President, Change Resources Group Inc.  If you enjoyed this, why not get our free newsletter?  Every month, you’ll receive one email that’s packed full of information about talent retention and tips for employee engagement.  Each issue will also include a FREE team building activity that you can use.  Join us at


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We facilitated this team event in Toronto Ontario Canada and used it as a substitute for an outdoor activity when a snowstorm hit the area without warning. When you are considering holding a team building event, always consider having a couple of activities that can be moved either indoors or outside if circumstances throw you a curve at the last minute. This one was easily adapted to an indoor space ….even a hallway if that is all that is available.

LIFELINE Team Building Game Toronto


Objective:   For a group of people to work together to problem-solve and to be resourceful when given a challenging task.

Group Size: 

  • 5 or more


  • Depending on number of participants


  • Something to mark the area – even masking tape if indoors
  • (Optional) to increase difficulty, place “stepping stones” in a challenging pattern that must be used by each person as they cross the “River.” In Toronto, we were able to get some paper plates from the snack bar and used those for stepping stones.
  • If you are outside, create an area that is a “fast-moving” river by marking off an area on the ground at least 20 feet across (make it bigger distance for larger groups).


  • Ask for one or two volunteers from the group to go to the other side of the “River.”
  • Once the team members are across the river tell the rest of the group that their friends have become stranded on the far side of the river after their boat tipped over and the group must create a lifeline so that they can pull their comrades to safety.
  • The group must make a chain of items that are tied together out of anything they can find (clothes, shoelaces, tree branches, etc.).
  • Once the group makes a chain, they must be able to hold onto one end and throw the other end to their stranded teammates.
  • The lifeline must make it all the way to the other side when thrown.  If it goes into the river, it must be reeled in and thrown again.
  • Once the lifeline reaches the other side, the teammates may be pulled to safety one at a time.

Debrief Discussions:

  • Did everyone contribute to the lifeline?  Why or why not?
  • Could one person have made the lifeline?  Why or why not?
  • Would you want to be across a real river and be depending on this group to throw you a lifeline?  Why or why not?
  • If this was a real river, how would trust be a factor?

By Pat Thornton, President, Change Resources Group Inc., a Toronto based team building company.  If you enjoyed this article, why not get our free newsletter?  Every month, you’ll receive one email that’s packed full of information about talent retention and tips for employee engagement.  Each issue will also include a FREE team building activity that you can use.  Join us at

Team Building

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Even some of the old “trust” exercises that have been done for years need to be reassessed.  I observed an Ontario team building event that incorporated one of those “death drop” activities that are supposed to create trust. (To my knowledge, this particular activity has never been proven through any kind of research to be effective in achieving team building results, but nonetheless, has been widely used for years.)  I watched with foreboding as one-team member became noticeably more agitated as his turn approached.He and I had just had a conversation over the coffee break,sharing both our experiences with recent car crashes.  He indicated that he was determined to try everything during this team building day in order to support his team, regardless of any discomfort he felt from his car accident.

Team Building Activity Toronto

Having my own residual effects from a car accident, I strongly suspected his mounting discomfort was related to his concerns about the wisdom of his decision to participant in this particular activity, no matter what.  At the last minute, he announced he had an injury which would make the exercise too risky.  Immediately, I could sense that he felt he had let his team down, and I was quite sure he returned to work with a negative view of the day.  What should have created a bonding experience for him, actually did the opposite.

Two professionals failed this individual on that day …. the facilitator as well as the organization’s client contact.  There will always be those that insist we should encourage people to do these kinds of activities in order to overcome self-consciousness and other personal limitations.  No! No! No!  We, as facilitators, have no right to publicly violate anyone’s dignity in order to meet our agendas.

Granted, we all need to be cognizant of privacy policies within our client organizations, but a few well-chosen questions during the planning stages might have avoided creating the harm caused by this Ontario team event.

Please subscribe to our newsletter for ideas on how to avoid creating team building that hurts.

Toronto team building activity