Knitting your team together takes time. Time for experiences, for reflection, for learning new ways, for trying out new ways, and trying again. To have much impact, we need a day together, without distractions.
But time is a precious resource. Because so many people in your organization depend on the availability of members of your executive team, time taken for executive team building creates more difficulties than does time taken for building other kinds of teams. Building your executive team must show a much higher return on time invested than we require for building other teams.
By working with the members of the executive team in short sessions prior to bringing everyone together, I orient myself to the team's situation in advance. This helps me prepare for our working time together, which makes the time we do spend together far more productive.
As your facilitator for your team building exercise, it would be my responsibility to craft a safe "container" within which we can work, using the totality of our relationships with each other. You all know each other well, but you don't know me, and I don't know you. That's why we allocate part of our time to introducing me to you and you to me. For team-building efforts for teams other than executives, that time taken is a sustainable cost.
For executive teams, it's more of an issue, because time is so precious. An alternative is to include an additional short session prior to our team-building day, when we work together for about two hours to map out goals for our team-building day. This is productive in itself, but just as important, it gives us a way for me to get to know you and you to get to know me. This program is available as a workshop or clinic.
We focus on results. We create experiences that lead to new choices, new abilities, and new behaviors that apply directly to what's happening in your company.
I've found that abstract tasks or games do help, but tasks that closely emulate what really happens during the workday are much more likely to yield insight and present opportunities for both individual and team learning.
We define and explore several problems that are either actual workplace problems, or close analogs of actual problems.
What we do during our team-building event depends on what your team wants and needs. Some topics other teams have explored include:
- How Executive Teams are different
- The true costs of killing the messenger
- Using simulation to make better decisions
- A full menu of group decision-making processes
- Saying "No" and Hearing "No" respectfully and effectively
- Names, labels, metaphors, and characterizations: costs, benefits, and consequences
- The Pygmalion Effect and its side-effects
- Making space for serendipity
- Mastering Meeting Madness: more with less
- The dangers of WIIFM
- "Sitting in" on the meetings of subordinates
- Understanding and managing scope creep
- How to create a positive political culture
- Hows, whys, and whens of rumor management
- Managing resistance to change
Where we hold the event
We can work at your facility, but if we do, we risk interruptions and distractions. It's your choice, and we can work anywhere, but we recommend off campus. We require nothing fancy — not a resort, not a fancy club. A function room in a hotel will be perfectly fine.
We sometimes think of team management and membership skills as rather free of emotional content. We hold this belief even though we know that our most difficult situations can be highly charged. Despite our most sincere beliefs, taking a team to the next level of performance does require learning to apply these skills even in situations of high emotional content. That's why we use a learning model that differs from the one often used by others.
Our learning model is partly experiential, which makes the material accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical team problems, we make available to your team members the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.
Entire executive teams. We work with only one team at a time.
Our preferred format is one full day, plus a goal-setting session late on the day before.
- "Rick is a dynamic presenter who thinks on his feet to keep the material relevant to the
— Tina L. Lawson, Technical Project Manager, BankOne (now J.P. Morgan Chase)
- "Rick truly has his finger on the pulse of teams and their communication."
— Mark Middleton, Team Lead, SERS