MASO (Midlands Aids Service Organisation) welcomes its third cycle! For the latest group it’s all very new and exciting. Lots of fresh ideas and opinions floating around ready to be utilised. The team (comprised of 10 local volunteers and nine UK volunteers), works on community projects, responding to communities’ local needs and supports communities to respond to HIV. This cycle is actually the biggest one yet! 

The programme brings young people from different backgrounds together (multi-cultural team), with the aim of sharing ideas and contributing towards making a difference in their respective communities. It is important to note that, there are various issues that arise when young people from different backgrounds come together for a good cause. One of the obvious problems is communication, because not everyone speaks the same language and people have different conversation styles. In this regard, team building is of paramount importance as it helps the team to work through various issues that hinder progress.

Resource development

With reference to Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group development, cycle 3’s forming stage went exceptionally well. During the first week, the team got together and this stage was characterised with excitement, anxiety and uncertainty, amongst other things. The focus during this stage was to become familiar with each other and gain an understanding of the team’s purpose, determining how the team will be organised, who will be responsible for what, discuss major milestones and resources available for the team to use. The second stage, storming stage (brain storming) is where conflict was at its greatest. This is because team members had a clear understanding of the task, felt confident and began to address important issues related to plans, workshops and the main event - The August Festival. In Gweru, August is a month of holiday (Heroes Holiday - honours the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who gave their lives in Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence.) So as part of our awareness week, the team decided to host an August festival. 

Posters designed for the August Festival

As discussed above, tension arose within the group and there was need for a team building exercise. There are literally hundreds of team building exercises that address a wide range of issues surrounding teams. ICS Team MASO opted for ‘honest circle ball game’. Team members were instructed to form a circle, each participant who got hold of the ball was expected to express their positive and negative feelings pertaining to the team’s progress. The idea behind this activity was to improve team members’ trust, their relationship and to communicate in a more effective way. Various issues were raised and this included questions surrounding leadership authority, rules, structure, individual roles and responsibilities, the group’s tasks, communication styles, individual strengths and weaknesses, cultural backgrounds and how team members show respect. This game had such a positive outcome for everyone because the team was able to point out positive aspects and discuss areas that needed improvement.

Team building activity: Honest Circle Ball Game

The team’s experience explicitly reveals that team building activities are a powerful way to unite a group, develop strengths and address weaknesses, improve team work, and enhance problem solving. Furthermore, team building activities eliminate barriers to communication by allowing teams to work in an environment that fosters cooperation and allows room for different opinions without fear of reprisals.

Researchers at work

Quote of the week - “Rume rimwe harikombe churu!”, which translates to “A team that works together is more effective, productive and ultimately more successful!’’

Written by Keitra Brobby-Damte and Melissa Tafadzwa Gondo