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A team 'reset'



Developing and delivering brand-new programmes is one of the highlights of our work for the Australian Leadership Skills Centre. One example from 2023 is when we developed and delivered our brand-new Team Transformation Programme for a work unit with several teams with a history of team dysfunction and conflict. Collaborating with their managers to design the programme around the various teams’ specific context, the programme included Team Management System Work Preference Profiling for each participant, as well as sessions on self-awareness, team effectiveness, emotional intelligence, changing perspectives, conflict, empathy, and authenticity. The programme was delivered to two groups of participants over several weeks. The aim of this programme was to encourage participants to create better interpersonal relationships within the workplace by raising their own self-awareness, changing perspectives, and improving empathy.

 

Team issues, bullying, conflict, isolation, poor interpersonal communication, and general lack of cohesion have always been a challenge at workplaces, but it has been amplified in recent times.  It is a very real legacy of the COVID period, but also of our changing interactions with technology, and with our communities. These factors have had a very real impact on many people’s interpersonal skills in communication, empathy, conflict resolution, problem solving, and leadership. Mental illness rates, life satisfaction, depression, aggression, self-harm, suicides, and general wellbeing are affecting workplaces negatively, and rather than merely accepting this as part of modern life, we really should also address it and work towards improving workplaces. We were delighted to see managers who wanted to do just that and address the issues rather than letting the team dysfunction fester.

 

Developing and running new programmes that are tailored to the needs of individual organisations is one of the Australian Leadership Skills Centre’s specialities. Professional development programmes can be crafted to create real impact for workplaces and can be a great change management tool, if designed purposefully with specific parameters in mind. When designing this programme, we built a programme that created an environment of discovery and learning, where participants were not lectured at about what to do, but rather, learn more about themselves and others, and in so doing, challenge and rethink their interactions with their teammates. Utilising Work Preference Profiling as the cornerstone of this discovery, we began with self-awareness, and then incorporated the other concepts and ideas into the learning process.

 

Even though our programme was on teams, we began with an exploration of self-awareness.  Self-awareness is key for teamwork. Without understanding ourselves, our thoughts, and our behaviour, we can’t make changes. And without understanding ourselves, we can’t understand others, and develop empathy. Most importantly, in a team situation with our peers, the only thing we have full control over is ourselves – our thoughts, behaviour, actions, and words. Successful teamwork is entirely contingent upon self-awareness. 

 

Based on our observations of workplaces, and particularly those individuals who are seen as ‘difficult’ in the workplace, many issues arise from a lack of self-awareness and empathy for others, and also from patterns of behaviour. People lock themselves into patterns for various reasons - because patterns are comfortable, change can be challenging, and behaviours become habitual – even when those patterns and behaviours may not be logical, individuals find stability in those and stick to them. So, if an individual is used to an antagonistic relationship with a specific person, group, or cohort, they will persist with the antagonism even when it makes no sense, because the antagonism, even if it involves conflict, is familiar. Asking the individual to alter their behaviour without building their own self-awareness regarding such patterns will result in very little change.

 

While the Team Transformation Programme was designed with a specific workplace in mind, all our programmes can be contextualised and curated to meet the needs of multiple workplaces and multiple industries. The interaction of our expert facilitators, our carefully crafted content, and the input of participants creates a unique and powerful learning environment. It is about more than just delivering information – it is about leading individuals in self-discovery and challenging their own perceptions of themselves and their teammates. Over the course of both programmes, we saw numerous light bulb moments when individuals came to a realisation or new awareness that helped them unlock something within themselves. The challenge for the individuals, the team, and the workplace is bringing that new awareness into the workplace itself and utilising it to change the way they interact and work. Having the whole work unit participate in the programme makes this more likely, as everyone has been immersed in the same learning and has had an intensive shared experience.



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