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The Importance of Being

The end of the year is a fitting time to reflect on the successes (and failures) of the year, not just in terms of accomplishments but in terms of relationships.

In today’s busy world how often do we end up operating in a way that causes us to miss what’s going on for some of the people around us?  How often does the ‘doing‘ get in the way of actually ‘being‘ with other people?  My observation from working with a newly-formed senior team who are in the early stages of a development programme is that what this team needed was more time together rather than more ‘things to do’.

During the course of our initial day together it became apparent that much of the value from the day came from the opportunity for people to spend quality time together, finding out about each other and sharing their different experiences and backgrounds in a supportive and non-judgemental environment.

Through some facilitated dialogue, the team members left the session with a much clearer understanding of their colleagues and a greater sense of shared direction and support than they had on entering the session.

While we did the usual workshop things like creating a vision and identifying the gaps between the team’s current state and its vision, we also allowed plenty of time for conversation and sharing of stories.  We found a way to keep a balance between ‘doing stuff’ and ‘being together’ and finding this balance allowed for some deeper connections to be made beyond the purely transactional.

The team members developed a better sense of each others’ interests, values, experiences and wisdom.  In the months prior to the session there had been lots of activity which had been entirely necessary but to move the team towards operating in a more strategic way and to begin to provide leadership to their respective teams, a different approach was needed. Knowing and relating more to each other at an individual (as opposed to functional) level opened the door to allow the team to move into a more strategic space and to address the challenges more easily and in a more collegial way.

Being versus doing

With only a few days left until the beginning of a new year, take a few minutes to reflect on how much time you spend ‘being‘ with your colleagues, your family and your friends. How much time do you spend actually listening to what they have to say and really understanding them?

Some teams allow 5 or 10 minutes at the start of meetings or at the start of the day to do just that. They use the time to share what’s going on for them (personally or work-wise). This is a time where it’s ok to not always have a perfectly formed view of the world or to know the right answer but to value the opportunity to listen.  It can be a bit scary to go there and to expose yourself without your full guard up but if you can find a way to do so, you will gain significant and long-lasting benefits as a result through improved relationships and increased understanding of each other.



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