Do you know what it's like to be in the flow? Those times when you are at work and your full capacitites are engaged along with your instincts. I remember this as a mother of a newborn baby. Some days would be blissfully perfect and I really thought I knew what I was doing. On other days things didn't go so well and I would feel like a complete failure, on my own with no clue as to how I could make things better.
I am reminded of this when I think of being responsible for growing groups and teams. So many of us choose to be leaders because we are wanting to collectively create something worthwhile for the world.
However things don't always go smoothly. When your role ceases to be fulfilling or the relational side of your work becomes difficult and draining, you may disconnect from your purpose and instead start to dream about making enough money to retire and stop working. Have you ever had this fantasy?
This may reflect how alienated you can become from the world of work, rather than a need to give it up.
Teams can disconnect in this way too
Whether a team is under-functioning or functioning well with plenty of potential, there are times when you will need to ask the question “what is going on here?” and explore this with the team.
Of course it is often only when things start to go wrong that we feel the need to ask this question. If we go with the notion that whatever aids our growth may be broadly defined as “useful” even though it may be unpleasant then let's look at some of the learning edges that force leaders to stop and look at what is going on:
• Their team is trapped in a negative dynamic and is getting worse and worse
• People in the team have stopped seeing the value in each other
• Frustration is evident but not being processed
• Meetings are totally outcome focused with no real sense of connecting as a team
• You listen (because you know you should) but in most meetings you take control.
Here are five tips for working with growth edges in teams:
1. Give the team your feedback when the dynamic feels blocked by sharing your impressions of what is happening and describing to the group the behaviour or pattern. Then invite the team /individuals to give their own version of what they notice.
2. Set up an exercise to do in small groups in which members learn in their own way to value and affirm both themselves and each other
3.To help a team connect and be more present from the beginning of a meeting, find out what is on top for people and what they are distracted by.
4. Remember to ask open questions – questions that do not have one right answer, but give plenty of space for the team to come up with several possible answers eg: What do people think about that?
5. The more anxious a person is in facilitation, the more controlling their facilitation becomes. Practice noticing how you are feeling before and during your meetings, then let go, so that you can be present to the energetic needs of the team.
For more on how to tailor make communication processes specifically for your team you may want to check out Moving Mountains.