Ten People In An Elevator Are Just Ten People In An Elevator Until…

//Ten People In An Elevator Are Just Ten People In An Elevator Until…

Ten People In An Elevator Are Just Ten People In An Elevator Until…

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A team has a purpose.

Last week I was working with a customer service group. Before we started the session, I asked the group what makes a team.

The reply was, “We know each other and work together; and that makes us a team.”

I then asked, what about a group of people who work for the same company,  but don’t  know each other and they’re  in an elevator? Are they a team?

There were quizzical looks and varied opinions.

“What if the elevator is stuck between floors? ” was my next question. Immediately people laughed and said the group better figure out how to get out of the elevator.

I guess they’ve just become a team.

People often think they’re a team just because the work in the same building, for the same company or in the same department.

A team really isn’t a team unless they have a common purpose. This is why things “don’t” get done in organizations. There are departments but no teams.  Even groups composed of people with high level skills have difficulty completing tasks because they are not vested in the task or the organization.

In order for a team to accomplish a task, they must all be invested in the task and have the skills to make it happen.

In order to demonstrate team building, I divided the participants into two groups and had them complete a task. The task was simple; take your box of toys and build the tallest tower.( It was obvious that one box had more toys than the other but it wasn’t mentioned by anyone until after the event.)

During the task I watched and took notes. I now realize it would have been great if I had videoed the event. There were leaders, there were followers and there were people who became annoyed because their suggestions weren’t taken and decided to opt out! What’s really interesting is that people behave in work groups the same way they do in life. Think about people you know; when they don’t get their way they decide not to play.

Some people were  inventive, they asked their team members questions and some worked on a plan before starting the task.  One of the winners decided to lay the tower down on the floor. This way they didn’t have to work so hard on making it stand up.

Having functioning teams is especially important for businesses.  Accomplishing tasks or “getting things done” is what builds a successful business.  As a manager or team leader you are measured on how much you can get done.

Social media encourages the formation of groups.  Group members often take these groups and turn them into teams—teams that are focused on raising money or supporting a cause.

You probably remember the story about Karen Klein; the 68 year old bus monitor who was violently harassed on Bus 784 as it rolled through the streets of Greece, New York. The kids were taunting her, calling her names and being downright nasty.

Following the incident, a group of people formed an association to raise money for Klein so that she could go on vacation and forget her experience. Klein took part of the money, (they were able to collect over $600,000) and she formed her own foundation. The Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation which is part of GiveBack.org, which allows individuals to set up foundations online. Here was a new team dedicated to doing well.

Teams just don’t happen, they have to have a common goal and work out their issues of working together.

Kurt Lewin,    a German-American psychologist, known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational, and applied psychology studied  the dynamic qualities of groups and established some important parameters of group dynamics.  Kurt Lewin found that all groups were based on interdependence among their members. In other words, groups and teams are based on “we’re all in this together” mentality. Whether you’re planning a picnic or building a gang, there must be some connection between the members.

How do you build your teams? First you need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your potential “team members. “.There are many standardized inventories that can be used to help with this process; I find the easier they are to interpret the better.

I have used BEST inventories during the past 10 years for team building and other types of skills building.

Whether you have two or 100 in your group; you want to know who you’re dealing with and  then  maximize the  skill level.

In my next BLOG, I’ll talk about what you can learn from BEST Teambuilding.


Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships  through training and her writings. Her book, “Red Hot Customer Service” can be ordered from her website, www.Lisbethcalandrino.com.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:05+00:00August 26th, 2012|Blog|5 Comments

About the Author:

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning trainer, entrepreneur, and blogger and has spent over twenty years developing custom tailored marketing and customer service programs for businesses. Her recently published book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Sizzling Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales defines the steps necessary to build a competitive advantage and turn great companies into unforgettable or red hot companies. Lisbeth admits that much of her knowledge came from her Italian grandfather who despite very little formal education and a limited English vocabulary, managed to became both successful and wealthy. Lisbeth has wonderful stories about Grandpa DiBiagio’s and her time spent learning how to managing Grandpa’s fruit stand. Because of Lisbeth’s experience as a business owner, having been the managing partner and owner of 7 furniture and carpet stores for 14 years, she is able to bring her extensive business knowledge and experience to all of her clients. Lisbeth’s awards include executive of the year award from the International Executive Association, Albany chapter (a business networking group) and first place honors in an international marketing contest for alternative medicine. A two time cancer survivor, she has spoken extensively about her experiences of cancer, offering words of comfort and inspiration. As an activist, Lisbeth has initiated and contributed to many charitable causes. She has worked with at-risk youth, spoken out against injustice and advocated to and helped to build resources for women. As a presenter, Lisbeth Calandrino is highly motivational, information-rich, and very entertaining. Her acute business sense, contagious enthusiasm, positive energy and fun sense of humor make her a dynamic presenter. Lisbeth is a member of New York, Historic Albany Foundation, educational director of Business Referrals Networking Group and member of the board of directors of the Animal Protective Foundation of Scotia, New York.


  1. Brian Quinn August 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Lisbeth nice blog and one I can relate to. With thinned out IT staff team building by need is becoming a regular occurance. It’s why I joined this Agile methodology group. I often try to encorporate smart techniques for plowing through tasks and hurdling obstacles.

  2. David Kipping August 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Hey Lis
    Great article as usual – I really don’t know how you keep churning out such relevant and interesting stuff. Keep it coming!

  3. Lorraine Martin August 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm


    Love this, my 35 years in State government as a project manager and now owning my own business, I know this to be true! My experience is that it’s hard to get a group to do the prep work needed…everyone just wants to jump right in to start work…it ends up taking twice as long…..
    The other thing that’s needed is someone needs to be the leader, you can’t have a team where everyone thinks they are in charge.


  4. Lisbeth Calandrino October 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I love your statement about a team. Thanks so much.

  5. Lisbeth Calandrino October 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Dave you’re the best. I love your newsletter.

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