9 Principles of Team Building

Introducing a passenger changes the dynamics of the relationship between motorcycle and rider. It affects suspension, handling and the amount of luggage you can carry. Over and above that, you’ve created a team. Larger, more complex teams form during group rides.

Team BuildingAs soon as you have more than a solo rider on a motorcycle, effective relationships play an even greater role in creating a safe atmosphere that’s fun for everyone. Although it takes commitment, work and discipline, the effort is worth it.

Since a team is defined as two or more people formed around a common goal, you belong to many teams throughout your life. People come and go, joining you for different parts of your journey. Each has something to teach you and something to contribute, whether it’s difficult or fun. Your challenge is to appreciate the gifts they bring without losing focus on where you’re going.

9 Principles of Team Building


  1. Unity of Purpose. Members join the group because they want to share the destination, journey or the group culture. Essential as a baseline, clarifying values and establishing goals at the outset, can avert trouble down the road. If you don’t want to travel to the same destination as the others, or in the manner in which they ride, it’s time to find another group. Or go solo.


  1. Communication. Agree on how you’re going to convey messages within the group, whether it’s between operator and passenger or between operators on a group ride. Whether it’s hand signals or two-way communication devices, it’s imperative that you get your message across clearly and succinctly. Making assumptions in a group ride or a work team can land you in hot water.


  1. Constructive conflict. Embrace conflict that exposes you to a new perspective, promotes collaboration and is free of emotional entanglement. Selecting destinations, routes, departure times and stops are potential stumbling blocks on a group ride. Disagreement is OK as long as it’s resolved before you set out. Having that conversation while underway is not advisable. Speak your mind without worrying about what others will think. Holding a dissenting opinion to yourself could be withholding critical information that’s as a minimum, necessary to make an informed decision. It could even affect your safety.


  1. Mutual respect. Active listening and respecting the other person’s perspective gets things out in the open and clears potential misunderstandings before they become an issue. It presents an opportunity to clarify your perception and consider information you may not have thought of or been aware of.


  1. Clear Goals. Make sure the goals for your team are realistic. On a ride, that includes deciding on your ultimate destination, how far you’ll travel in a given time and when you’ll stop for breaks. The more members in the group, the more useful this is in keeping the peace.


  1. Active participation. The more engaged people are, the greater the likelihood to evolve an effective team. The trip is more enjoyable for everyone when each person does their part, respects the dynamics of the group, prepares and is ready to depart on time, and has completed any tasks they agreed to take on.


  1. Collaboration. When you’re in a group, not everyone gets their way every time. Having a strong leader who listens, is open to feedback and stays focused on the goals facilitates collaboration. The larger the group, the greater the skill required of the leader.


  1. Specific roles. Whether you’re talking about two people on one bike or many people on a group ride, each person is unique and brings complimentary skills and roles to the team. Letting everyone work to their strengths builds a strong, cohesive team.


  1. Trust. Whether it’s applied to the process, each other or yourself, trust is fundamental for the safety and enjoyment of everyone on the trip. Damage it and it can take a long time to rebuild. Sometimes the best solution when trust is broken, especially in the short-term, is to go it alone.


Team-building principles are as applicable on motorcycles as they are for creating effective teams in a recreational or work setting. Apply them wisely for a smooth, enjoyable experience.


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photo credit: HogPix ™ (Verwoodspring) via photopin cc


Author, writer, and student Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

2 Comments on “9 Principles of Team Building

  1. I shared the team building post with my staff today. The biggest challenge facing organizations is to work together. Despite periodic reminders of “We valueTeamwork”, performance evaluation ratings on teamwork, organizational values statements, staff do not always get what it looks like day-to-day. Your list provides an illustration of what teamwork looks and feels like. For managers, it is assumed that we embrace and require teamwork in everything we do. That means you have to demonstrate teamwork every day. Reminders and examples are a good way to remind yourself when the spirit of teamwork drifts out of reach.