There’s more to a team than a group of individuals
Being part of an organisation that values development is important to me, so I’ve really enjoyed leading some of the work we’ve been doing here on our own team and leadership. In particular, the sessions involving drama based learning to allow us to practise ‘difficult’ conversations with fictitious characters.
As it’s the first time I’ve blogged about this, let me reminisce a little. A few years ago we explored the use of MBTI within our team to understand personality. Ever since I’ve been fascinated by organisational behaviour and recently studied privately to qualify as an organisational psychologist. Having the opportunity to put theory into practice with a team you know so well is both rewarding and challenging.
We’ve followed an interesting path as a team, through activities on individual strengths and the contribution they make to a creative, motivated, and dynamic team. “What, us?” I might hear colleagues cry – for it’s easy to overlook the value of your team from within.
And what do you do?
Some of the more traditional development work we’ve done has focused on “strengths” – what are we each good at, do we recognise this in each other and ourselves, and how do we capitalise on these positive differences for the benefit of the team? We’ve done some simple exercises on giving feedback to each other, and it’s surprising how much is overlooked in the routine of day to day working.
In other sessions we’ve set some tricky practical challenges. For example, to illustrate the effect of different personalities we deliberately grouped staff by “type” and had them compete to produce the most outputs in a “word factory”. In another day on ‘leadership in teams’ we had two groups in separate rooms, with some tough constraints on how they were allowed to interact, such as keeping one group waiting for a critical piece of information.
In exploring “conflict” within teams there is always a danger that this term has negative connotations. However, in practice there is conflict within any group, some of it positive. When these become a source of tension it can be helpful to have some skills and strategies to call upon.
This is where the drama based learning approach to be very useful. For our conflict sessions, I was joined by Mike Cockburn from Sogno and actor Pete Ross to act out a scripted scenario. We then explored the situation through group coaching with each of the characters (staying in role) to consider how to reach a better outcome.
Managing the managers
Pete returned recently for another drama-based workshop on “managerial conversations” using a scenario I’d written to help staff to explore their management styles. Of course, it’s difficult to experiment with unfamiliar approaches in real life with your own staff! So, just for the day, a new member of staff “Brian” presented them with some difficulties to resolve. Challenging but also, I hope, fun at times.
Working for fun
Talking of fun, enjoyment is also important at work for motivation and well-being. So in another session we explored aspects of creativity, including having some meditation led by the Buddhist chaplain, and an exercise looking at when we experience “flow” at work.
I hope this gives a flavour of how we are trying to develop ourselves as a team, something I hope we will continue to do with enthusiasm and commitment and will have a positive impact on how we all work.
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