Tuesday, September 08, 2009

team building processes

A focus of the last few months has been some team building processes among us here at Opawa. So I thought I should post our processes, for those interested in building teams.

A team starts with bringing people on board. Initially we used tools including a presentation, an interview/s and reference checking. This allowed us to see a person, nervous and all, speak to a group, to explore values and beliefs with them, and get a bead on their track record.

Then a few years ago, we realised that we were still pretty naive as a church and that there were people with real competencies that could help us. So we asked a human resource person to input into our processes.

As part of that review, we made some changes to our recruiting. Firstly we began to ask much more questions focused on behaviour. Like “Can you tell us about a time when you got in a situation over your head?” Such questions are not seeking right or wrong answers, but to gain an angle on how people react under pressure, on how they resource themselves and thus how they might respond. Secondly, we begun exploring personality profiling. It is one tool among many. But it gave us yet another take on a person. In addition it gave us an idea of how they might be in a team and how they might best like to be coached. So we had a heads up on whether a person likes lots of encouragement, or likes to be left alone.

Which was all well and good. But in the last few months, we’ve taken another step.

We’ve flipped the personality profile on its head. If every person is a uniquely gifted person, then that means that each team has uniquely gifted people and thus will have a unique culture. No two teams are identical. A team that works well in one context might not another. This lead to us taking two half days out as a team. (Using the excellent expertise of the human resource people).

In the first day, the team, with their consent, shared their personality profiles with each other. What was known only to the individual and to the selection group was now named among us as a working team. Light bulbs went off as people shared their strengths. Heads nodded in understanding as weaknesses were named. Having shared as unique individuals, we then looked at ourselves as a whole. All the personality profiles were laid on top of each other. We were so encouraged by the way we need each other and we complement each other. We realised that in the grace of God, our roles in the team actually suited our personality profiles.

We went away, to meet again in a month’s time. This time the aim was to form a unique code of practice for this unique team. Together we went through a process, sharing our dreams of what a healthy team would look like, categorising and prioritising, working on how, with our unique configuration and work/life balance (we’re all part-time), we can make these priorities work.

It’s been an energising process. We know each other better. We respect our individuality more. We have a language to move forward. We are taking a shared responsibility to make this work.

So that’s a bit of our journey. It’s not an area I feel confident in, nor had any training in while at theological college. So for me it’s all been guess work and intuition. In putting this up here, I am sure that many of you readers will be doing the team building thing heaps better. So please do enrich by commenting on what you’ve done, the practises that you’ve engaged in to build a healthier team.

Posted by steve at 03:14 PM

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