Putting the team first

Back in November, I co-facilitated a team building course called Putting the Team First. I haven’t blogged about it until now, well, because NaNoWriMo, and Christmas shopping, and other stuffs.

So here’s my first learning and development related post in, like, forever . . .

Let’s get one thing straight

I attended the training for trainers (T4T) version of the course back in December of 2013 and one of the first things we needed to get straight was the name of the course. People were calling it Putting Teams First. The designer (who was also one of the trainers) was very specific on this point.

It’s Putting the Team First, thank you very much.

Why so picky? Because that’s the focus of the course, to improve performance, one team at a time. We put the team first and each class focuses on one team, the entire team, if possible.

The hand off

The T4T was being delivered to train regional advisors and consultants in the material and methodology because our internal college, which is national, was handing off delivery of the course to the regions.

While I had scheduled multiple sessions of the course for each sector in Ontario throughout the year (in my former capacity as training coordinator) this was the first occasion I’d had to deliver the course in the year since I’d received the training.

So, I jumped at the chance.

Theme and methodology

The theme was a nautical one and the one-day course was divided, as usual, into modules. The introduction was Boarding, followed by Packing for the Journey, The Crew, and Under Full Sail.

Boarding dealt with the usual icebreaker activity, establishing trust, and navigation (the agenda) for the course.

Packing involved identifying issues that the team faced and prioritizing them according to what could be addressed by the team (cargo), what was negotiable (dock), and what was out of the team’s control (warehouse).

We also did a fun exercise on prioritizing salvage in the event of a shipwreck. The team had to work together to come to a consensus regarding what the most important items would be. The answers were prioritized by the Coastguard including rationales for each.

The crew moved on to Tuckman’s Model. I’d encountered it before, but it was never given its proper name. For those who don’t know, Tuckman’s is the model of group dynamics that includes four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Some thought was given to where the team thought they were on that continuum, but we didn’t belabour it.

We also delved into team player “types” with an emphasis on the fact that everyone is a mixture of all four identified types, but that one manner of “expression” may be predominant. The four types were contributor, collaborator, communicator, and controller. Participants identified themselves and gave some thought to how tasks might best be allocated based on the strengths of each type.

Finally, in Under Full Sail, we returned to the issues identified by the participants back in the Packing module and the team had to once again work together to create an action plan to address their most challenging issues.

The idea is that the team will have the tools that they need to take action on their plan after leaving the course. We don’t check up on them, however. It’s entirely up to the team to take the information and run with it.

So that’s what a day of team building is like where I work.

What kinds of team building training have you facilitated? Participated in? What did you think?

The Learning Mutt