A colleague and I recently had the privilege of working with a newly-formed senior team who are in the early stages of a development programme. The programme is designed to develop a group of talented and experienced individuals into at a high performing unit.
During the course of our initial day together it became apparent that much of the value from the day was coming from the opportunity provided 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; looking at where the team feels it currently is; and identifying the gaps between the current state and the 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 it is my sense that finding this balance allowed for some deeper connections to be made beyond the purely ‘transactional’.
Coming out of the session my feeling is that the team-members have a better sense of each others’ interests; values; experiences and wisdom. In the months prior to the session there has been lots of activity – which has been entirely necessary in getting the team to where it is now. What is needed now is for the team to start to operate in a more strategic way and to begin to provide leadership to their respective teams. Knowing and relating more to each other at an individual (as opposed to functional) level will surely allow the challenges of moving into this space to be more easily addressed as well as creating a more collegial approach.
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 this recent session is that more significant steps forward have been taken as a result of ‘not doing‘ so much as might have normally been the case with ‘doing’ lots of things. What this team needed was time together rather than more ‘things to do’.
Given the above, you might want to reflect on how much time you actually spend just ‘being‘ with your colleagues – not in a New Agey / Flowery way but in the sense of actually listening to what they have to say, and understanding where they are at. As an idea, some teams simply allow 5 or 10 minutes at the start of meetings or at the start of the day to share what’s going on for them (personally or work-wise).
This is a space 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 hear from another human-being not an automaton! It can be a bit scary to go there and to expose yourself without your full guard up. However, if you can find a way to do so, my view is that you can gain some significant and long-lasting benefits as a result through improved relationships and increased understanding of each other.
Go on – I dare you!