Providers raise their game

first_imgSophistication and innovation are the new watchwords indevelopment exercises. Lucie Carrington analyses the latest trends inteam-buildingTeam-building is the black polo neck of the training world – it’s perenniallyfashionable and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. But while polonecks haven’t changed much since the Beatles, team development that firmsinvest in today has little in common with what satisfied them even 10 yearsago, when it was all about being cold, wet and adventurous. “It used to be that firms simply wanted a group of people to be moreeffective. That’s not what’s going on now,” says John Atkinson, chiefexecutive at Yorkshire-based Fusions Training. “It’s much more likely tobe about some sort of cultural change, with organisations looking for people tobehave differently.” The nature of what makes up a team has shifted too. Teams are much morefluid now than they used to be, Atkinson says. “We still have long-termteams but we also have project teams and short-term teams, such as a cabin crewthat changes from flight to flight. Then again, we have teams that are simplynetworks of people within an organisation.” Endless raft building has also left a sense of activity fatigue, accordingto some experts. Julia Middleton, who heads up the leadership organisationCommon Purpose, has specialised in creating senior cross-sectoral teams.”Among the senior people who participate in our programmes, there isalways a whole group who have done team-building, and as soon as they see theBig T exercise coming up, know how to behave and so switch off learning modeand move into performance mode,” she says. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they know how to behave when they get backto the office. Middleton’s view is that if team development activities are towork, they have to have some other objective as well. In addition, the market has also become intensely competitive. This hasenabled employers to demand more for their money and forced suppliers to addmore value. The result is that team development has become much more focused onbusiness aims and outcomes. It has also become more measurable. Supermarket giant Tesco’s approach is a case in point. “We do quite alot of different team-type activities,” says Kim Birnie, group learningdirector. These range from what Birnie calls ‘me-and-my-team’ stuff, whichhelps managers deal with particular issues, to divisional programmes that cancascade down through thousands of staff, through to corporate leadershipdevelopment. “We use creative learning techniques so that people will enjoyit,” Birnie says, but it’s very much about business benefit andreinforcing Tesco’s corporate values. “We say that if you are trying tocreate a new team, then there’s a Tesco way of doing it.” As a result, most team-building is delivered in-house. For example, Tescohas developed its own team development tool, called High Performing Teams, thatmanagers can use. They don’t have to use it all but can pick and choose thebits they want – those which are appropriate for their team. Outcomes are also very important, Birnie says. “We are very good atholding people to account and follow up on what they said they would dodifferently.” Suppliers have understood that their clients want team-building that addsvalue to their business. Programmes and activities are now much more tailoredto the needs of individual teams, says Gary Platt, a senior consultant atWoodland Grange. As a result, there is now a massive emphasis on helping participantsunderstand more about where they fit into the team. With this comes an array ofpsychometric measures and team analysis tools that are used as the basis formany programmes. Some suppliers are more attached to these diagnostic tools than others.Woodland Grange uses a mixture of Myers Briggs personality types, Belbin teamroles and the Strength Deployment Inventory. But they are simply a means to anend, insists Platt. “Whether these models are true or not, I couldn’t care less. They arean important way of getting people to think about what they are doing, how theyare behaving and how that might be affecting the people they work with.”Along with other experts, he believes that’s a crucial step in the teamdevelopment process. Taking account of organisational culture is also important when developingand delivering team-building activities – especially when using outdoorchallenges. Platt talks about ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ organisations. Values and abelief in letting people get on with things drive hot organisations, Plattsays, and Virgin Atlantic is probably one. However, cold organisations, such asthe Civil Service, are driven by rules, codes and hierarchy. “There would be no point in using team-building activities that fosterideas about values, beliefs and empowerment for a cold organisation when itsimply doesn’t fit into the way they work,” Platt says. In fact, the use of team-building activities at all can be questioned.”You can resolve many team issues without picking up any activity, throughreviewing how people work and facilitating discussions and problem-solvingprocesses,” he says. This is the approach Jan Matthews takes in what she calls ‘team therapy’.This has come out of her work as a trained counsellor and therapist. “Teamtherapy is about helping people find ways of doing things differently,”Matthews says. “The work I do is very much about getting individualswithin the team to stop moaning about situations they aren’t happy with anddoing something about it.” Matthews has developed this approach working with Warwickshire CountyCouncil Social Services. She offers a minimum of three sessions with a team ofabout 10 spread over six months. Impact also offers this sort of team coaching as part of its work withsenior teams. “More and more, we are becoming coaches of teams and workingalong side them,” says senior account manager Ian Cook. The greater sophistication of team development hasn’t completely squeezedout the motivational approach to team-building, especially for more junior orfront-line teams. “It’s still useful if you’ve got a bunch of people whowork hard and need to work well together,” Cook says. “It’s about giving them a strong shared experience that they can referback to.” Which is pretty much where team-building started all thosedecades ago. Tips for top-notch activities– Plan ahead – do not contact your supplier at the last minute because youhave just found that you have some extra cash – you are not going to get goodvalue for that – Know what you want to achieve – is it genuine team-building or a problemmanager who needs help? – The clearer you are about your objectives, the more focused the suppliercan be – Whenever practicable, involve the team in defining objectives – Get the backing of team managers – Find a supplier who wants to get to know your business and invest in thatbackground research – Do not consider a firm that is not prepared to tailor its team-buildingactivities to suit your people – Ensure activities are clearly relevant to your workplace build in time andmoney to review the success of the programme – Measure your results – if the aim was to reduce the number of mistakes andincrease revenues – has it happened? The right motivationTeam-building and motivation wenthand-in-hand when Cereal Partners, manufacturers of breakfast cereal, called inFusions Training to run a series of workshops for the Welwyn Garden Cityfactory last autumn.”The workshops were targeted at getting the new bonusscheme to work,” says Daryl Richards, training and development manager.The scheme is based on reducing wastage and saving energy, and the activitiesFusions developed were designed to meet that objective. For example, a simpleexercise of getting water from ‘a’ to ‘b’ had obvious parallels with productwastage.”We opted for a motivational day with a bit of fun,”Richards says. “Staff weren’t keen at first and there were plenty ofpeople who insisted they weren’t running anywhere. But it worked brilliantly.””It was incredibly motivational but it was also a way ofgetting people to think twice about what they do and how they do it.”There has been some lasting impact too, Richards says.Relationships have improved, and so too has productivity. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Providers raise their gameOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Taste test

first_imgUsing data collected from Facebook, Harvard sociologists have addressed one of the great unsolved puzzles of social science — do we form friendships with people because we share similar interests, or do we share similar interests with people because they are our friends?As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the findings suggest that while people who share similar interests in music and movies are more likely to befriend one another, few interests are likely to spread among friends. It’s a result that challenges earlier research, which found that a host of social problems, from obesity to smoking to loneliness, quickly spread across social networks.“The idea that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is something we’ve known about for a long time,” said Kevin Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology who co-authored the paper with independent scholar Jason Kaufman and sociology graduate student Marco Gonzalez. “It’s not terribly surprising that, if you and I like the same things, we might become friends.“What we’ve been able to show, however, is that this phenomenon is not actually as widespread as we once thought,” Lewis added. “There are only certain types of tastes that breed a connection. We’re also finding that this very common notion that what your friends do and like rubs off on you is not very widespread at all. We are not suggesting, of course, that taste in movies or music necessarily operates in the same way that obesity or depression does; but this paradigm that ‘everything spreads’ — it’s simply not true.”The researchers gathered information from the profiles of students at an anonymous college. Once a year for four years, the researchers took snapshots of students’ profiles, recording their friends and what kinds of music, movies, and books they liked. That information was then broken down further, into genrelike “clusters” representing broad areas of interest that might diffuse throughout a network of friends.Armed with that data, researchers used a computer program to evaluate how students’ friendship networks and preferences evolved over time, and to model the possible causes behind the changes.“We used a simulation-based approach,” Lewis said. “So if we have a snapshot taken at two different times, the model examines all the possible trajectories that could have led from one point to another and identifies which is most likely.”Importantly, Lewis added, the model controlled for a variety of possible causes for why two people might become friends or reasons why someone’s tastes might change over time, ensuring that researchers weren’t misdiagnosing the causes of those changes.In the case of music, the results showed that people who listen to classical or jazz music are likely to be friends. The same was true for fans of light and classic rock. When it comes to onscreen entertainment, fans of raunchy comedies and gory movies are likely to be friends, as well as fans of darkly satirical films. Surprisingly, Lewis said, there was no connection between book preferences and friendship.Only one type of taste — an interest in classical or jazz music — was found to spread across friendship networks, Lewis said.“It’s not often you find a non-finding to be important, but I think this finding absolutely is important,” Lewis said. “There is a tendency to believe in peer influence — we all believe that what our friends like rubs off on us because it’s very easy to think of examples when that has happened. But we don’t remember the myriad instances that it doesn’t happen.”“Much of Facebook’s business model is based on the assumption that Facebook users ‘influence’ one another through displays of things they ‘like’,” said Kaufman. “If you say you like a band, product, movie, etc., Facebook purports an ‘influence’ effect whereby your friends become more likely to adopt that preference in turn.“What we found is that only in very specific instances does anything like ‘influence’ occur,” he continued. “This stands in contrast to an active research literature on the ‘contagiousness’ of various behaviors, such as obesity, smoking, and happiness, and gives pause at the millions, if not billions, of dollars spent every year on so-called ‘social media’ advertising campaigns.”last_img read more

Arsenal-target Aubameyang starts for Dortmund

first_imgShare on: WhatsApp With the January transfer window to close at midnight (2300 GMT) on Wednesday, time is running out for the deal to be completed.The Gunners want to sign a striker to replace Alexis Sanchez who joined Manchester United last week.Aubameyang has scored 141 goals in 212 games for Dortmund in all competitions since his arrival in 2013.Dortmund are seventh in the German league after drawing both of their last two games, goalless at home to Wolfsburg and 1-1 away to Hertha Berlin, without Aubameyang. Berlin, Germany | AFP |  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was recalled to Borussia Dortmund’s starting line-up on Saturday despite the on-going speculation of a move to Arsenal.The target-man was included for Dortmund at home to Freiburg, his first Bundesliga appearance since December 16 having been dropped for Dortmund’s last two games.He started as striker with English teenager Jadon Sancho, 17, on the left wing and US international Christian Pulisic, 19, on the right.Dortmund have reportedly rejected a second bid by Arsenal of 58 million euros ($72m) with the German club thought to be holding out for 70 million euros for their top-scorer.“We have a clear position,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc before kick-off.“Our demands must be met and so far Arsenal’s attempts have not matched them.”last_img read more

Yorkshire academy helps families living with Parkinson’s

first_img A Yorkshire golf academy has teamed up with ‘Golf in Society’ to offer families living with Parkinson’s the chance to relax, learn new skills and socialise. Over 20 people attended the first event at the Rudding Park Golf Academy, Harrogate, and were partnered with club members as ‘Golf Buddies’ to play the game they love.  Golf in Society is a Social Enterprise initiative aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of an ageing population by introducing them to the world of golf. The Rudding Park event was held in the run-up to Parkinson’s Awareness Week, which continues until Sunday. James King, Rudding Park Golf Manager, explained: “The Repton Short Course with six par-three holes offers a fantastic opportunity to continue to enjoy the game and the camaraderie.  The day was a huge success and we are already planning another event in May” Anthony Blackburn, founder of Golf in Society, said “Days out like these are priceless. Not only do they provide physical, mental and social stimulation for the person living with Parkinson’s, they offer the carers the chance to recharge their batteries too.  One gentleman we help was told he would never play golf again when diagnosed – he now plays every Thursday with me and it’s the highlight of his week” To find out more about the next Rudding Park ‘Golf in Society’ Day email [email protected] To find out more about Parkinson’s Awareness Week visit www.parkinsons.org.uk 20 Apr 2016 Yorkshire academy helps families living with Parkinson’s last_img read more

Kerttu scores an 11-shot runaway win

first_img Finland’s Kerttu Hiltunen swept away with the English U16 girls’ open championship at Lyme Regis, finishing 11-under par and 11 shots clear of the field.After she holed her winning putt her fellow Finnish players ran on to the 18th green to soak her with water in celebration.The 15-year-old had a three shot lead at the halfway stage and took charge of the championship in this morning’s third round, when she scored one-under 73 and extended her lead to five shots.The final round was something of a procession as she played her way to a closing 72 – and the most convincing of victories. “This means everything,” said Hiltunen, who has already won the Finnish international U16 title this year.English players Ellie Gower (Chateaux des Vigier) Rafiah Banday (Royal Mid Surrey) and Jess Baker (Gosforth Park Ladies) all tried to challenge during the day, but there was just no stopping Hiltunen.The trio finished in a tie for second place on level par, with Gower shooting one-under in the final round.Hiltunen has been playing in the English U14 and U16 championships for three years and dearly wanted a win. She’s come close before and this year she was determined to claim the silverware.She came into the event in great form, having just taken the U16 Hazards Salver at the English U18 girls’ championship and she was confident from the start, when she opened with six-under 68. She kept up the momentum and each of her rounds were below par.Hiltunen has been working very hard on the practice ground and she commented: “I thought I was going to win because my swing is so good and it is getting better every day,” she said.Next, she turns her attention to the British girls’ championship – and she thinks she can win there too! Watch this space. For full scores click here 9 Aug 2018 Kerttu scores an 11-shot runaway win Tags: Lyme Regis, U16 Image copyright Leaderboard Photographylast_img read more