Category: Designs

Introduction to High Performing Teams

The High Performing Teams Workshop

Overview and Design

Teams and team building are the critical concepts we cover in this half-day workshop. We offer a unique experience that illustrates the journey teams take on their way to high performance. Not many teams get there. Most give up somewhere along the way and become satisfied with OK performance that never lives up to their potential. We know from our work with hundreds of teams, this does not have to happen to your team.

Our discussion begins with illustrating the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model. We show the process that underlies solid team development that leads to high performance. We call our work “Immersive Facilitation.” From the very beginning of this session, we immerse the participants in a fun activity that illustrates the core issue of interdependence. The concept of interdependence is the glue that holds teams together and makes high performance possible.

We use the learning from our simulation to understand the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model, a unique graphic that is at once a map, a process, and vocabulary that enables team members to see where they are, where they want to be, and what they can do together to move themselves to high performance.

Our discussion begins at a high level focusing on the big picture of teams and team development. As we move through the workshop, we help participants to be able to use the model to do an assessment of their back home teams.

Team members learn the seven stages of team development as well as the keys to each stage. Improvement can begin at any stage and within any key. This new understanding gives participants a way to discuss team issues easily and productively.

Our work is strength-based and future-focused. We illustrate several practical next steps that teams can use to liven up their team, increase engagement, and align themselves with high performance.

One of the most important topics we cover is sub-grouping. All teams are made up of sub-groups. These “smaller teams” are how work actually flows through teamwork. If the sub-groups work well, the team thrives. If not, work slows down, irrelevant competition arises, and we get less than stellar results. The real secret to team building is learning how to optimize the sub-groups.

The end of our sessions always includes a check-in with all the participants about how they will apply the learning to help their own teams approach the critical choice-points necessary for moving into high performance. We have learned over many years of helping teams become extraordinary that “team issues” never resolve on their own, they must be worked.

This session is designed to be a high-value tasting session that introduces teamwork, and team development to our participants. We know from experience that real teamwork is led from everywhere. As safety develops, trust builds. Open communication and real-time feedback become norms. All of these factor into building a remarkable team. This introductory workshop illustrates the way to begin building high-performance teams. The participants leave with a new understanding of how to begin to enhance their own work team experience.

Value

Our clients receive the real value from attending and participating in this session. They consistently identify the following:

The language of team development: From the stages a team’s journey to high-performance, participants learn the keys that support each stage and the actions that can be taken to move forward. Team members take away an easy way to describe their team’s development.

A way to do an assessment of their back home team. By learning the model and some actions that can be used on their own teams, participants learn how to assess their own team.

The power of sub-teams within a team. This little-known secret to team development creates a new understanding of “group dynamics,” making course corrections easier to understand.

The importance of feedback and openness to teams. Building trust and creating space for team members to say what needs to be said.

The importance of team membership. Real teams can be led from anywhere. Heating up team membership and getting ownership of results is a team responsibility.

• Introduction to additional resources. Access to a wide variety of additional readings, workshops, graphic templates, all time-tested, are presented as choices for optional follow-up.

Costs and Materials

Please call us for pricing.

 

Going in Reverse

 

 

Sometimes flipping your perspective leads to innovation. A number of years ago, I got to meet the great bicycle visionary, Dick Ryan. I have always been a big bike fan, and quite by accident got to see Dick’s prototype, the Avatar, a recumbent bicycle. In conceiving it, Dick flipped the concept of upright riding, and refined a kick back, lie back bicycle that immediately changed your perspective and yielded a far more comfortable ride. I just loved the feeling and as soon as they went into production, I bought one. And I have loved riding it for years.

Reversing doesn’t always yield respect though. Sometimes the spandex speedsters make fun of me, all smiles going slowly up a hill. They grimace, and yell, “Doesn’t that go faster.” My reply always is, “I got this to slow down.” They never say anything to me on downhills as the recumbent turns into a luge!

We teach this technique along with 27 others, to help people refine their innovative thinking skills. Flipping perspective can be a conscious choice, and you can get better at it with practice. It’s helpful to see other’s perspectives, and it develops the ability to see rather than just look. In our work, we call it the Reversing technique, and it’s a powerful way to gain insights not ordinarily available to us. Reversing often develops empathy and is an essential component to design thinking.

If you are ever near our headquarters and want to change your perspective, I am always willing to give you a ride on the Vanguard, Dick’s production name for his original Avatar. Come by and experience getting “bent” as they say in the lingo of recumbent riders. And, if you’d like to discuss our ITS (The Innovative Thinking System) workshop or become a trainer of ITS, give us a shout, McNeil Consulting is the Master Trainer company for the US market. We’d love to talk to you about turning work into play. Watch out for me and others on our recumbents. We see things differently.

Stem Cells for Group Process

Sometimes a well-placed metaphor is just what a group needs. A while back I consulted to a department in trouble. This area was mission critical to the success of the company. Three divisions comprised this function and although successful completion of the work required interdependence among them, the very structure of the department fostered irrelevant competition. Furthermore, everyone knew about the issues, but these had become “undiscussable.” What to do?

At an off-site, we divided the group randomly into three smaller groups. We gave the groups the following assignment:

In a fairy tale, tell the story of our department. You may use all the characters usually found in the great stories we remember from our youth, dragons, kings, princesses, queens, elves, goblins, etc. The tale must begin with, “Once upon a time . . . ” It also must end with, “And they lived happily ever after.” You must write this tale and read it to the entire group. The tale will describe our current state, only in fairy tale language.

We gave them thirty minutes to complete their work. Their presentations were fantastic. They were creative, hilarious, and filled with healing, self-deprecating humor that loosened their perceptions and allowed them to see themselves differently. Their issues were smaller than they thought. And now they had just become discussable!

Towers that stood alone surrounded by deep forests with large thorn bushes became laughable in the telling. However, there were still real feelings connected to a history of real hurt and pain. The group needed a way to transcend these historical sources of rancor.

A solution came from one of the groups in the form the most creative metaphor I have ever seen. A team member suggested that we could implant “stem cells” in places where old patterns needed to be replaced by newer ones. She said that stem cells were undifferentiated cells that could adapt and change into what was required to bring about new health, flexibility, and vitality. In her words, these stem cells needed to contain both feedback and forgiveness. The combination of both would allow for a new sense of collaboration.

Three new groups formed, and they worked separately on where to place the stem cells. They worked for an hour. When the groups presented back, they surprised themselves with their consistency. Team members signed up to make the changes and to create the new ways of working. The team also thanked the leader for being vulnerable enough bring the issues to the forefront so that they could work on them.

And the moral of this story is that group issues don’t go away on their own. They must be worked. Nothing beats a good story and a great metaphor for innovating new group processes.

Upgrade Your All-Hands Meeting

Calling all your people together is a powerful intervention. I recommend approaching it from a design perspective. Think of it as an event as opposed to a meeting. Design it well and make a real statement about the company, the leadership, and the employees.

Here are a few ideas that will help you to design a great All-Hands meeting:

Get the Whole System in the Room (or as much of it as you can)

These days it’s much easier to have large conversations. Use groupware to transcend time and place. You want a large face-to-face presence, and you can get remote sites into the conversation as well. When we facilitated sessions for East Coast CIGNA, we held them in the early morning and invited their Scotland office to participate. It was noon for Scotland and early AM for headquarters in Wilmington. We had lunch together after the morning meeting in Delaware, and Scotland had drinks and dinner after theirs. Everyone loved the experience.

Use Round Tables

We like round tables that sit no more than six. Seat people randomly so that they can meet others. As a leader you are designing norms of behavior. You want people to feel safe and included. Six is a great number for cafe style conversations. If you are using groupware and decide at some point your want to record the collective voice, you can start the conversation at the table groups, and pass the critical contributions through the groupware for all to see. You need only one collection device and someone to manage it for each table. Instantly you can tap into the group mind, get everyone involved. You can also do this manually using small tabletop flip charts. Have the table pick a spokesperson.

Create Fast Feedback Cycles

Keep the presentations short. Make sure your presenters rehearse. They need to be crisp, enthusiastic, and high energy. Have them ask for feedback. Use the table groups as above. A quick way to get a lot of useful data is to prompt the table groups to converse about the presentation capturing “highlights” – what stood out for them. Then ask for any concerns they might have. End with asking for any additional questions. Keep the whole experience to 20 minutes or less. Repeat with another speaker. Do two and take a break.

Use a Theme Team

Before the meeting create a “Theme Team” consisting of a cross section of the group. No more than six. Their job is to create summaries of the data collected from the group during the feedback portions of the meeting. They are a consensus seeking team. They present back to the whole group short summaries of the information to the large group. If you have high potentials that you want to see in action, appoint them to the theme team. The ability to organize information, reach consensus, and present information back, candidly, with a bit of polish, energy, and humor is a complex skill. There is no better way to develop this skill.

What’s Next?

These are a few ideas. If you’d like to get better at helping leaders to hold killer All-Hands meetings, ask to join our guild. This work is a craft. It’s both an art and a science.  You will need to practice, you will need to take risks, and you will need feedback. Our guild provides all of these. Most of all it’s fun! Of course you could always ask me to come and help you design your next large conversation. We will work side by side and you will learn first hand.