Professional Fields

Team Building

Our Center offers two types of "Team Building" facilitations.

One is Inter-agency focused, or across organizations, where communities or large departments need more cooperation and "workability" between area agencies (or for large departments who need more cooperation, between their internal divisions).

The second is Intra-agency focused, or within the organization, for better understanding and rapport between staffing groups as well as better understanding and rapport between staff and their clients.

1. Team Building – Inter-agency

Community Disconnect: Increasing Working Alliances between Community Groups/Agencies

This training agenda is a facilitation of community organizations/groups that seek a better alliance. The goal is to overcome obstacles that have left organizations in conflict with each other. Three objectives are listed:

1.) Foster improved communication and cooperation across community organizations or across divisions in large organizations, examining the shared goals and the purpose(s) that overlap and the missions that intersect.

2.) Examine "Founding Members Syndrome." This syndrome is present when organizations or divisions say "You can't do that because our agency/organization is":

  • the biggest,
  • the oldest,
  • the most crucial to success,
  • the most involved with the client,
  • the most important

3.) To improve area services in your locale with strength-based strategies that will engender more staff optimism, client empowerment and create more shared language as well as mutual process and procedures.


This agenda is a full-day facilitation of treatment/agency groups that seek a better alliance. It will strive to reach three objectives:

  1. Foster improved communication and cooperation across working groups.
  2. This training seeks to improve "in-house' work cultures, the environments within the respective work groups/departments.
  3. To improve educational services in your locale with strength-based strategies that will engender more staff optimism and client empowerment.

Agenda – Day One
9 am to 9:20 am Greetings, introductions and participant expectations
9:20 am to 10:15 Module 1

Common Ground—Common Goals
The 3 C's of communication, cooperation and collaboration
10:15 to 10:30 am Break
10:30 to Noon Module 2

Strength-Based Cultures: Catching The Energy, Releasing The Potential
12 Noon to 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm to 2:15 pm Module 3

Perceptions and Values:
Demonstrating Agency Difference and Diversity
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm Break
2:30 pm to 3:45 pm Module 4

Increasing Cooperation and Understanding: Finding the Real ColorsÓ Of Your Staffing Groups and Clients
3:45 pm - 4:00 pm Wrap-Up



This full-day institute is a strengths training that focuses on skill-building for direct practice. Four (4) modules will be presented, utilizing multimedia presentations, interactive lecture and facilitated small and large group exercises. A mixture of small group discussions, videos, case scenarios and full room exercises keep the training pace lively and engaging. The emphasis for this training through all four (4) modules is on skill-building and "theory-to-practice" group work for direct application of these various curriculums. A review of the modules include:

1. Common Ground—Common Goals: The 3 C's of communication, cooperation and collaboration
Problems come between agencies or initiatives causing important treatment services to suffer. These rifts are complicated, often bitter and end up grinding cooperation to a halt. The reasons for these rifts are as diverse as the agencies themselves—they can involve singular incidents or cumulative strain. Misunderstanding, fear and mistruth stand in the way of mending fences and improving collaboration. However bitter and complicated a situation may seem, it is reassuring to know that solutions can be found. If groups are willing to sit down together, optimism is renewed and resolution gains a foothold.

Noted in the book "Why Teams Don't Work" the culprit for lack of productivity and harmony involves a lack of individual accountability. So too with rifts between agencies or program staff. Laying blame on the other party ("finger-pointing") robs us of cohesive liaisons. Abundant research on team collaboration states that accountability is generated by a perception of individual payoff. Regardless of popular thought, this "payoff" is not always money! Research conducted by the Gallup organization found payoffs are often the conditions of being held in high regard (integrity) the ability to "make a difference."
This module will redirect the conflicted parties back to these "payoffs." Groups will be guided through activities that stress their mutual elements. Small and large group exercises will find the common ground that exists between the strained parties. In the helping professions, there are many mutual concerns: a common clientele (students/families), common problems and common activities—and of critical importance—common goals.

2. Strength-Based Cultures: Catching The Energy, Releasing The Potential
"in-house" improvements (agency work culture) as well. Consider research that indicates an "8 to 5" adult will spend almost 70% of their waking life connected to work—whether getting ready for work, traveling to/from their work, actually working or decompressing from work, it all adds up to a tremendously large part of our lives. This workshop will focus on how to make that time count! It will examine a staffing group that have moved from mediocre to "world-class" and now demonstrate top-tier excellence! Most agency/employee seminars examine why staff do not change—this presentation will take a deep look at how staffing groups can change and why they improve. The foundation for this workshop has been the study of successful work groups and their bosses by the Gallup Organization. 15,000 mid-level managers were polled as to what made a "successful manager." The results are shocking. The most successful managers seemed to break the conventional "rules" generally suggested for supervising staff. These broken rules and their unconventional alternatives will be explored. These "best practice" worksites were strength-based in their approach with staff. Strength-based management calls for administration to delineate between talent, knowledge and skills. Talent is inherent—defined as "born-with" strengths that come naturally. Talent cannot be taught, but it can certainly be coached! All staff have diverse talents and strengths that need to be discovered and amplified for the best employee performance. Knowledge and skills on the other hand are acquired—these are elements that can be taught. Knowledge and skills are critical for optimum performance, but are most advantageous when they are aligned with innate talents.

Staff training is generally used to fix knowledge deficits and gaps in employee skills. Yet, training dollars are literally wasted as most training is utilized to fix employee flaws or improve employees who aren't working up to their potential. Learn how training is best utilized when it teaches knowledge and skills that bolster natural talents and strengths.

3. Perceptions and Values: Demonstrating Agency Difference and Diversity
Cohesion and collaboration is hindered when we see factions as distinctly different than ourselves. Strength-based practice demands that we remain aware of our own cultural and professional biases. This type of bias can lead staff to believe that the "rival" factions needs to be "more like us." It can prompt a belief that our professional values, agency operations and objective are the "right way" and agency goals and procedures dissimilar to ours are "not as good". Leigh (1998) reminds us of culture's importance, "culture is a problem solving device and a technical tool that facilitates the helping process and should not be viewed as an impediment to it. The core of any group's culture is primarily a set of techniques for satisfying needs, for problem-solving, and for adjusting to the external environment."
This module will be filled with energizing large room activities and exercises that will build stronger acceptance for the diversity within departments and their staff. It will focus staffing groups on a "posture of reception" that is critical for accepting procedural differences and building better service coordination.

4. Increasing Cooperation and Understanding: Finding the Real ColorsÓ Of Your Staffing Groups
"do it right"—yet "doing it right" is often a matter of differing personality styles. The details we focus on and what holds our attention and interest is anchored in what we consider important… which is all influenced heavily by personality styles! This module will increase understanding between educators—which will help ease strain and conflict within your departments / divisions.

Exploring personality types helps Interview/assessment staff to (1) understand themselves better and, (2) to more fully understand the personality type of other agency staff they interact with. What staff consider important is what they will defend and what they will be provoked by—the advantage to knowing their emotional personality type lies in knowing their emotional coping strategy. Better understanding keys rapport. This module will help staff to rebuild effective relationships.

Michael D. Clark (MSW, LMSW) is a trainer and consultant to the helping professions and is a national faculty member (contractual) for the U.S. Department of Justice and Health & Human Services. He has provided team-building & strength-based training to over 200 communities. Mr. Clark has previously held positions for 18 years as a Magistrate and a Senior Court Officer with the Ingham County 30th Judicial Circuit Court-Family Division in Lansing, Michigan. He is now the director of the Center for Strength-Based Strategies that is committed to the research, development and training of strength-based strategies for our family-serving systems.
"Change-Focused Youth Work: The Critical Ingredients of Positive Behavior Change" Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Vol. 3, 59-72. This article can be accessed electronically:

He is known nationally as a strength-based consultant to Education, Child Welfare, Mental Health and Criminal Justice, and has presented throughout the United States, as well as Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the Pacific Rim. He also maintains a family & individual psychotherapy practice in the Lansing area.
● 872 Eaton Drive, Mason, Michigan 48854-1346 / phone (517) 244-0654 / fax (815) 371-2292 / email:


· State of Maine, Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse Services and AdCare Educational Institute, Inc. Waterville, Maine

· Travis County Juvenile Probation Department, Austin, Texas

· Management Team Building, Family Justice, Inc. "Strength-Based Supervision" Increasing Resources and Building Critical Partnerships New York, NY

· Butler County Commissioners Forum on Families and Children, Butler County Family and Children First Council, Hamilton, Ohio

· Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, Child Welfare Consultation with Shasta County Child Welfare Department, Redding, Calif.

· National Conference - National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice and the Oklahoma Department of Community Corrections Oklahoma City, OK

· State of North Dakota, Office of State Court Administrator – Juvenile Court & Juvenile Drug Court Seminar Fargo, ND

· Marion County Juvenile Court, Salem, Oregon

· Southwest Key, Inc. (youth treatment & residential programs) Conroe, Texas

· Berrien County Juvenile Detention Center (Barry County Trial Court-Family Division. Berrienn Springs, Michigan

· United States Probation & Parole Services, Western Michigan District,
Grand Rapids, Michigan

· Constance Brown Hearing Center, "Team Building, Personality Styles & Staff Motivation"
Kalamazoo, Michigan

· Clackamas County Community Corrections, Oregon City, Oregon

· Association of Fund Raising Professionals – West Michigan Chapter, workshop presentation: "The Dynamics of Motivation: Finding the Personality Style of Your Staff and Clients"
Grand Rapids, Mich.

· Children's Mental Health Council & Kootenai Medical Center – North Idaho Behavioral Health Program, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

· Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, 1 day team building workshops for direct services staff : "Peak Performance"
Fortuna, Calif.
Red Bluff, Calif.

· DeKalb County Juvenile Court, Decatur, Georgia

· State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Juvenile Justice Services, New Hampshire

· Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services,
Auburn, Calif.
Loomis, Calif.
Sacramento, Calif.
Davis, Calif.
Redding, Calif.
Eureka, Calif.
(2 sessions) Yuba City /Marysville, Calif.

· Maui Children's Initiative- Island Multidisciplinary Substance Abuse Treatment staff
(Maui County) Kahalui, Hawaii

· University of Wyoming & State of Wyoming, Department of Health / Substance Abuse Division
Sheridan, Wyoming

· Department of Mental Health-Orange County Community Mental Health Center,
Middletown, New York / four sessions

· South Central Behavioral Health Services, Inc.,
Grand Island, Nebraska
Hastings, Nebraska

· Association of Fundraising Professionals – Chicago Chapter, 8th Annual Midwest Conference on Philanthropy, Keynote Address: Dynamics of Motivation
Chicago, Illinois

· Lane County Juvenile Court, Juvenile Drug Court and Community Corrections,
Eugene, Oregon

· Columbia County Commission on Children and Families,
St. Helens, Oregon

· Clackamas County Juvenile Court,
Oregon City, Oregon

· New York Department of Social Services-Orange County,
Middletown, New York

· Robert Woods Johnson Foundation – "Reclaiming Futures" National Program site (Multnomah County, Oregon - Department of Community Justice)
Portland, Oregon

· Superior Court of the State of Arizona, Yuma County Justice Center,
Yuma, Arizona

· California Department of Health & Human Services – County of Placer,
Loomis, California

· Community-Based Behavioral Health Services in Dutchess County,
Poughkeepsie, New York

· Youth Services of Freemont County, Lander, Wyoming

· Buchanan County Juvenile Office – 5th Judicial Circuit Court, St. Joseph, Missouri

· American Probation & Parole Association – Professional Development Program,
Elkhart, Indiana
Olathe, Kansas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Washington, DC
Bend, Oregon
Wichita, Kansas

· County of Los Angeles County – Probation Department – Residential Treatment Services Bureau – 2 days Strengths training
Oxnard, California
Downey, California
Lynwood, California
Lynwood, California

· Milwaukee Family Literacy Partnership, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

· Wicomico County Partnership for Families & Children, Salisbury, Maryland

· Advocate Charitable Foundation – Advocate Health Care Hospital System, "The Strengths Approach for Employee Management " Chicago, llinois

· Superior Court of Guam, Guam Juvenile Drug Court, Agana, Guam (US Territory)

· National Center for Family Literacy,8th Annual National Conference – Louisville, Kentucky

· Puerto Rico Addiction Technology & Transfer Center (ATTC) –
San Juan, Puerto Rico

2. Team Building – Intra-agency

The first part of this team building/staff retreat is small group work that will involve facilitated discussions regarding:
  • perceived influence among team members
  • team roles – increasing effectiveness
  • internal/external control
  • communication styles
  • shared vision(s) for success

In the second part, team building from a Strengths Perspective looks to identify and amplify an individual's innate talents as they intersect with a work group and collective group goals. Michael D. Clark, MSW is a certified trainer – True Colors® Facilitator which is a lively and engaging Personality / Temperament Type Assessment. This is a dynamic personality inventory that integrates both the Myers-Briggs and the Kiersey-Bates personality testing. This inventory is both simple to use and accurate which makes it ideal for staff with high caseloads.

Most staff would readily agree, "We're not all alike" and find it obvious that clients "see the world in different ways." Yet, department staff are not always given the tools to discern the differences in personality styles and recognize the differences they create in perceptions.

Exploring personality types helps staff in direct contact with clients to (1) understand themselves better and, (2) to more fully understand the personality type of the clients assigned to them.

The critical teaching point is that how a staff might approach one client might be completely different than how they'd approach someone of a different personality style. Better understanding keys rapport. This module will help staff to build an effective helping relationship and enhance motivation with our diverse client groups.

This is a full room exercise that is truly lively and prompts a great deal of laughter, ending the retreat with energy and paving the way for new connections and understanding.