Some thoughts on team work..

Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn Twitter or Facebook will know I’ve recently been doing some work with a University Widening Participation team. They have been a great team to work with – they have a really challenging remit around making education more accessible and have loads of amazing ideas about how to do this.  So - like many teams - they have that real challenge of day-to-day targets around delivery whilst keeping an eye on the strategic vision, quality assurance and future planning.

And to throw into the mix… like so many teams at the moment, quite a few of the members have never actually met each other in person!  My experience has been that it’s much easier to work virtually when you know people already, and I think virtual working when you are new to a role is something really challenging for anyone.

So it was great that they came together so positive and keen to look at their own practice and how they could work even more effectively as a team.  We worked over two group sessions using the team management profile as a tool, and also offered individual sessions.
At the second team sessions, we used the elevator pitch which many of you will be familiar with – you get into a lift with somebody very senior and you have 20 seconds while the lift ascends to tell them about what your team does and the impact it has. 
It was really impressive to see that small groups working separately came up with very similar and very clear visions for the team  - why it was there and what it did.

A challenge to all of us – does the team you are working with know why it’s there and perhaps even more important what difference it’s making?

Using the Team Management Profile enabled us to have a model to work with to move ahead looking at the strengths of the team and where they could develop. The team felt it was uncanny that from the  team map I was able to predict that they were fantastic at getting the job done, but perhaps need to allow time to reflect and to  work on that quality assurance bit more,….and how much does this apply to almost all the teams that I work with.  And teams I’m a member of both in my paid work on volunteer capacity!

We are generally very good at ‘doing’ – planning a task and executing it.  Sometimes the reflection,I n the checking out the quality and the learning can get left behind as we rush onto the next task…

As we come to the end of this year, which has been so different in so many ways, perhaps that is the time to step back and think about the different teams you are in – why don’t you suggest a virtual debrief over coffee and mince pies (bring your own).

You could share you thoughts about what has worked well this year in the team?  What have we achieved?  What do we need to make our priorities for next year and how we going to take the learning for this year ahead? Perhaps this year more than any other this is a key question.

There will be many teams that are operated virtually for nearly all of their work time and it will be good to reflect on what’s worked well and what you’ve missed

As one manager I worked with said to me ‘Jill I’ve missed just walking round the office – picking up what people are doing and helping them to link with other people…’   However good online meetings are you lose that.

So let’s all challenge ourselves to take the best of team working forward and learn from all gone on this year!

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