Engaging hearts and minds

How do we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential? This question is posed by David Mcleod in the Mcleod Report and echoed by HR and OD professionals. There is no easy formula.

Towards the end of a recent team development event, one of the participants turned to her colleagues and said, ‘I feel like I belong’. It might not be a particularly scientific or quantifiable comment, but it struck me in a number of ways.

People are readily corralled into teams and expect that to mean something. The team is a basic unit of performance for most organizations, melding together the skills, experiences, and insights of several people. 

At their best, teams can be powerful vehicles: a high-performing team is capable of transforming the fortunes of organisations. It can encourage robust dialogue that leads to new ideas and approaches. It can enable individuals to contribute their best. It can galvanise discretionary effort.

Often, teams are stalled by a combination of factors:  lack of clarity about purpose, interpersonal conflict or lack of engagement.  Our workplaces have become increasingly stressful places, whether it is through the advent of new technology and the corrosive impact of 24/7 communication, or the increased competition that has arisen from globalisation. It can be all too easy to forget the human being, endeavouring to navigate their way through complex environments.

So how does a team development event help to ignite some of this potential?

On the recent event at Brathay we:

  • Created opportunities for the group to explore and articulate their future direction.  This involved using a variety of tools to both understand the current situation and to shape a future strategy or goal or approach.
  • Shared experiences that disrupt the normal pattern of working. Reflection on personal and group behaviour creates new insights. Research in neuroscience suggest that at a moment of insight, a complex set of new connections is being created. These connections have the potential to enhance our mental resources and perhaps even to overcome the brain’s resistance to change.
  • Encouraged a deeper understanding of dialogue: allowing differences not only to be acknowledged but regarded as a valuable asset.
  • Looked for ways to build trust.

At the end of two days, the team had had a number of work-related conversations focused on improving performance, they had insights about their effectiveness and what they might need to do differently, and just as importantly, they were expressing something of the intangible sense of belonging that engages commitment and loyalty.

Contact a member of our team to discuss how we might support your team to step up onto the next level.