How 3 Hours Saved a Dying Team

5 Dysfunction of a Team, Good to Great, Superteams, and many other books share a lot of ideas that help convert a less productive team into a high performing one. These books offer various ideas and tools to guide managers and leaders to push their teams to move to the next level.

At Focus, we have been privileged to work with over 1,000 teams facing different challenges. We always talk to the leaders about their expectations before we conduct any workshop for their teams. During these meetings we see a lot of distressed leaders who feel that their teams are not going in the direction that aligns with either the leader’s or the company’s vision.

team spirit

Source: Pexels
Last quarter, I met a leader who was very worried about the future of her team, her company, and her own career. As a manager, she was facing the typical problems that almost every manager encounters. People in her team had stopped sharing feedback about the good, bad, and ugly events happening in their company, they had begun challenging each other’s intentions, they started blaming one another or the system before thinking, and feeling insecure in the team while not thinking about anything that’s beyond their unvarying 9 to 5 routine. The ripple effects of this could be easily seen in the company’s performance in the country. The company was falling apart. This is a kind of team that job consultants are hungry for. They get so many people who would definitely want to change their job. All this, in the hope of getting a boss, a leader, a manager, and a team that works exactly like they want it to. This leader had already applied a lot of theories, tools, and methods before she thought about trying a different method that we call Experiential Learning!

We truly believe in the famous saying – “The way one plays is often the way one works.” The idea is quite simple here: give teams an unusually different task, an atypical set of team members, a deadline, and a platform to pool their strengths, and finally, make them play together.

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team work

Source: Flickr
In one of the sessions, we divided this team into smaller groups, ensuring that people-who rub shoulders regularly aren’t working together. We gave them a camera, some props, and a task: make a movie that should represent the real picture of their team. This took them into a fantasy world that consists of better teams, more achievements, open communication, togetherness, and true bonding.

“This idea is great…”

“This idea would work better if…”

“Or, what if we add this…”

“I think it would be awesome if we do…”

These are only a few examples of points coming from the team members very openly during the planning and shooting stage. The movie shooting was a roller coaster ride for the participants as they accepted, rejected, and built upon many ideas that were coming from each and every individual. When they raised a request for a time extension, they realized that they had spent close to 2 hours together, having this fun. After this activity each one of the participants couldn’t stop raving about their teammates, the positive behaviors, the result, and the ‘magic’ that boosted their camaraderie.

When we sat together to discuss and share about the entire experience, we noticed that all the previously existing guards were shattered and people became much more open in receiving and giving feedback. When asked, the team came up with the top 5 learnings that they felt they would undoubtedly implement at work.
Below are those top 5 learnings:

  1. Fun:
    team fun
    Source: Flickr
    ‘The team that laughs together stays together’ was the core idea that was appreciated not only by the leader, but by all individuals too. They felt that when the fun goes missing, they see all the problems like fighting feedback, resisting change, doubting intentions, etc. emerge.
  1. Sense of Achievement:
    team achievement
    Source: Pexels
    The entire experience gave them a stark reflection about setting milestones in the journey of achieving their goals. They felt that even before they achieve one goal, they set the next one without any celebration or reflection on their achievements.
  1. Idea Sharing:
    team idea sharing
    Source: Pexels
    They didn’t stop for even a second to notice where the ideas were coming from. This gave them the freedom and power to openly discuss the merits and demerits of each and every idea. They noticed that they received many more ideas this way.
  1. Playing to each other’s strength:
    man-couple-people-woman
    Source: Pexels
    Teams knew for sure that they wouldn’t succeed if they don’t pick the best people for different roles. In the process of selecting the right people, even before they realized it, they started appreciating one another’s strengths. They admitted that this was a rare occurrence.
  1. Working towards a common goal:
    common goal
    Source: Pexels
    During the entire course of shooting the movie, everyone was concerned only about one goal – to deliver a great movie! They didn’t mind changing roles, arranging resources, planning everything to a ‘T,’ and doing the same thing time and again until their best was delivered.
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The success of this team can be seen not only in their performance reviews but also in the way they cherish their togetherness. Do you see your team starting down this path? Contact us today to find out how we can help!

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