Dream Team Awards Celebrate Best Team Building Practices!

Dream Team Awards Celebrate Best Team Building Practices!

Judging by this year’s Dream Team nominees, our strongest teams have several characteristics in common. They meet frequently and regularly as a team and in subcommittees, engage with each other, embrace and encourage new volunteers, and delegate tasks to share the load, foster a sense of belonging, and decrease burnout. Effective teams communicate using every mode available, recognize effort as well as accomplishment, and make conscious, purposeful efforts to celebrate achievements.

Enhanced team effectiveness results in stronger teams with stable and increasing numbers of volunteers, capable of achieving their best outcomes in achieving AFS’ Mission of expanding Intercultural Learning and understanding. Each team is different, embracing different issues and environmental conditions, so there is no one size fits all, but there are best practices, and all eight of our candidates engage in many of them. Specifically, best practices include:

  • Monthly all inclusive all area team meetings;
  • Frequent, regular, task oriented operating committee meetings;
  • Promptly welcoming new volunteers, identifying interests, and connecting newbies with more experienced and active committees and task teams to provide meaningful connections and work as well as social engagement;
  • Volunteer recognition activities, such as nominations for national awards (Emerging Leader, Mission, e.g.); special area team recognition events; certificates and other signs of appreciation and recognition; and handwritten, personal thank you notes.

In addition to these fundamentals, our Dream Team Nominees worked fearlessly and creatively to find ways to engage both their volunteers and wider communities in intercultural learning activities, even during lockdown! We’ll be featuring more stories about these ideas as inspiration in the future for your team. The exciting thing about a team that works well together is the creativity that is sparked by the support of a welcoming, enthusiastic environment where everyone wants to be a part of the effort, sharing the work as well as the joy.

We celebrate and honor our Dream Team Nominees (in alphabetic order):  Greater Chicago; Heartland; Michigan; Midland Central; Missouri Gateway; Sierra San Joaquin; Silver & Gold; and World Flags. Evaluation of these and our other AFS International and AFS-USA National Volunteer Recognition Awards begins soon and culminates in the announcement and award ceremony at the Volunteer Assembly in November.