Saturday, January 24, 2004

Building Teams

This past week I did two team building retreats for two completely different groups, from level of responsibility, to the jobs they did. One was primarily men and the other all women. Even though the goal of each of the workshops was the build strong, cohesive teams, and many of the interactive exercises were the same, the results were dramatically different. One group the outcome was blatant. They walked out of the room at the end of the day, percolating with ideas and new ways to utilise the new found awareness of each other and individual talents into a plan of action and distribution of tasking. They learned who each other is other than their job descriptions. The newfound awareness created a bond that won't easily be broken. And even into the week the energy was still tangible and the feedback I was given as positive as I could ever have hoped for.

The second group. all women, reacted differently. Not more emotional or (as some of my clients love to tease me about) touchy-feely.....but more subtle. And it wasn't until the end of the second day where the bonding was more apparent, definitely cemented further on the train ride home to Ottawa. These were no longer just co-workers but friends, willing to work together with whatever it takes to get the job done and be there as a helpful resource for each other. Distance would not be an issue with this group and I can almost guarantee emails will flow, asking for input, advice and feedback, further bonding these colleagues together. My ultimate goal.

Facilitation is just that, being an enabler to change. And sometimes it's knowing how to orchestrate questions to draw out information and awareness and, other times knowing when to step back and task the group to make up the questions....for if they ask ones they want the answer to, they'll remember those answers for a very long time. No longer will these be faceless names on emails or phone calls. They will be colleagues with families, people with hobbies and talents outside the workplace, common backgrounds or passions which will make these relationships stronger.

And now the ball is in their court with what to do with this newfound awareness. Not only do they know personality types but how to work with the uniqueness of the various types. How to build groups, task accordingly and allow the individuals to go with their strengths.

When these separate groups went their way, I can almost guarantee they will look at each other through new eyes. They will now be people, not job descriptions. How much better would the workplace be if people were treated as individuals, not means to an end or deadlines?

Many heads of companies and organisations hesitate to spend the money for these kind of workshops and retreats, but what they don't realise is the outcome and benefits far outweigh the costs and the results prove this every time if for no other reason than the staff feel valued. It shows them the 'powers that be' know they are worth the layout of cost and are the most valuable resource any organisation has. For without their people, they would cease to exist.

When is the last time you provided a vehicle to make your staff more effective....stronger, recognised for their talents and strengths and helped them build on them? What could be the downside for enabling people to do better? In doing so, people begin to work smarter, not harder and burnout diminishes as does stress leave and staff turnover. The cost of the latter is far greater.

Something to think about.

Donna Karlin

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