Team Workshops

 

 

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Team Workshops

Coming together as a team to work on specific topics is a good way to increase empowerment, commitment and accountability. A team workshop, however, shouldn’t be seen as a separate, individual event, but should instead be seen in context of the overall development stage and thus resulting needs of a team.
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Two essential elements of each team is understanding the goals and objectives placed upon them by the company and other stakeholders (the “What”), and collectively defining the behavioral norms and standards they need to reach these goals (the “How”). Additionally, there are several further factors essential to high performance, including safe space (an environment in which trust and respect flourish), balanced interaction (where each team member interacts equally with the others), challenge (stretching the comfort zone) and progress (sensing forward achievement). All of these elements can be addressed through team workshops – ideally in a structured, conscious and intentional manner.
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The first and foremost critical element of well performing teams is having a clear understanding of their goals and objectives. Most managers and team leaders think that this is the case, but years of experience have shown that this is rarely if ever so. Generally speaking, most team members have an understanding of their own individual goals, but remain fuzzy on the goals of the team. They don’t really know where they’re going as a team and what their overall objectives are.
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This is a good starting point then for a team workshop: creating clarity around the team’s overall objectives and the qualities of the environment or context surrounding and influencing the team.
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The second critical element of high performance is establishing a collective definition of the behavioral norms the team wishes to use as a guideline in fulfilling their goals and objectives. This might include defining how they organize, how they exchange information and interact, how they deal with crises, and how they learn and grow. This collective definition forms the foundation of their “Team Charter” and serves as a self-defined regulatory contract.
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These two elements are often combined into one “Kick off” workshop which ensures that 1) each team member has a clear understanding around the team goals and 2) has an equal voice in defining the behavioral norms. Additionally, this helps leaders understand and internalize their own role in leading the team which ideally is far less operative and task oriented than most habitually practice. If necessary, individual coaching for the team leader can help solidify his/her understanding of that role.
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If any of the other critical factors of high performance are missing or endangered – safe space, balanced interaction, challenge or progress – then they too can be addressed either within the context of an already planed workshop or as needed in a separate event. Of course, at the end of the day it is habitual patterns that establish healthy and supportive environments, so becoming aware of ourselves and others remains the foundation of each and every successful workshop. Waking up to and owning our own helpful and unhelpful mental and behavioral habits is the key.
Team workshops are extremely helpful, but we must not believe that once held, these topics have been understood, and are closed and finished. Goals and objectives shift and change as companies, customers or environments change and this needs to be communicated as required. The “Team Charter” must also be adjusted to the changing scope and needs of the team as they develop along their learning curve, or as members and stakeholders come and go.
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Both elements can be seen as part of a reiterative process.
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Additionally, workshops can be held to address issues such as strategy, challenges, conflict, performance improvement, and changing roles.
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Complexity has become the norm for many of today’s teams. The more we can support them with awareness, clarity, transparency, and the promotion of self-regulation the more satisfied and high performance oriented they become.