These are some of the ideas and approaches I use when working with teams. These are useful exercises in team development, but their real value is in helping teams structure how they relate and communicate. Used regularly they improve collective functioning, raise morale, aid performance and encourage creativity. More importantly they also give value to individual contribution, foster dignity and respect within the team, and improve job satisfaction.
The Solution Focused Reflecting Team
The Solution Focused Reflecting Team (SFRT) model was developed by Harry Norman in conjunction with Bristol Solutions Group. Using this approach the team is able to hold creative, inspiring and refreshing meetings, and to develop greater respect and resilience while getting on with the job in hand. SFRT identifies and combines the strengths of individual team members to strengthen the team, thus enhancing performance and levels of personal satisfaction.
The Semantic Polarities model
Developed by David Campbell and Marianne Groenbaek, the Semantic Polarities approach brings a new way to help people move out of polarised, fixed positions or difficult relationships towards resolving workplace problems. Effective techniques encourage new viewpoints and provide practical steps to creating dialogue and discovering simple solutions to complex organisational problems.
One way of enabling better conversation is this method developed from the Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. Focused Conversation leads team members through four specific stages of exchange so that they can process their experience as a group. Participants learn how to reflect together on any chosen subject – from resolving a quarrel to developing strategy – to hone their questioning and listening skills, and to structure their thinking. The method emphasises how people relate and as a result is an excellent tool for improving team function and performance.
Core Team Purpose
Many ‘teams’ are not teams at all, just groups of people who are expected to work together. When there has been no effective preparation to help the group form, the ‘team’ label can actually be a hindrance. Identifying Core Team Purpose requires recognising the values, ambitions and contributions of individual members and integrating these into the purpose and cohesion of the team.
Virtual Restructuring, or VR, is a method I designed to help groups, teams and organisations function more effectively. It does this by making ‘invisible’ processes and interactions between members more apparent and visible so that they can be discussed actively managed, rather than producing the undercurrents and tensions that can negatively affect productivity. This is a systemic approach that can be used in almost any setting or context, and has been used with different sized groups from a team of four clinical nurse specialists to a service organisation of over a hundred employees.
These are some of the structured activities I use when working with teams. Every team development day is different because no two teams are alike, so the structure of development depends on the needs of the team.