That’s twice this month I’ve been able to help an already highly functional team hone their interdependence, communication, and appreciation.
And it wasn’t only work. Between these two teams, I have eaten lobster, lost at putt-putt golf, driven in the Indy 500 via video, and bowled.
No, these aren’t the rewards some companies offer top earners–trips to the Caribbean, concerts in Times Square–but they’re fun, and they strengthen. team. Believe it or not, in each group at least one person had never bowled, or played putt-putt. Yet, cheered on by teammates, each one was blessed with beginner’s luck and had a wonderful time.
As I left, I chatted with the manager of another department about her tennis game. She told me that she’s working with a new coach. “But you already play so well,” I said. “And I know you practice almost every day.”
“Oh, I do pretty well,” she said.
Then she asked me about my day. After I described it (in glowing terms), she said, “I wish my team had the time and budget to blow a day playing. We don’t even have time to talk to one another.”
I couldn’t help wondering if her department was stuck.
When was the last time your team had a day away from work, or a chance to spend an hour playing a game together?
Is your team stuck?
Good Observation Skills Can Give Us Valuable Information beyond What Is Being Said
We spend much of our lives in various kinds of groups, but many of us seldom take the time to observe, discuss, and try to understand what is happening within them.
The ability to evaluate group behavior will help us become more effective group members and facilitators.
When we observe what the group is talking about (topic), we are focusing on the content, or on the task at hand. Most discussions in groups emphasize content. “Is that topic covered in the report?” “Who is supposed to introduce that topic?” “When will we need those materials?”
Choosing meeting topics, analyzing information, and creating project schedules are all examples of content or task issues.
When we observe how a group is working together (interactions), we are focusing on the group process, or maintenance. One of the easiest aspects to observe is the pattern of communication.
Who talks? For how long? How often? Whom do people look at when they talk? Who talks to whom? Who interrupts whom?
…Other kinds of group process observations may include: How are decisions made? How are leaders chosen? How are group members interacting with one another?
The kinds of observations we make give us clues to other important things that may be going on in a meeting, such as who leads whom or who influences whom.
What interesting interactions and patterns have you noticed when you’ve observed in this way?