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

Run DMC Suing Walmart and Amazon for $50 Million

first_imgNew York hip-hop legends RUN-DMC have filed a lawsuit against corporate retail giants Walmart and Amazon for $50 million, according to a report by TMZ.  The group claims that the two companies are selling various merchandise products with their famous logo illegally, and have been for years.The lawsuit goes as far to say both companies have worked in collusion with other companies (who are also part of the lawsuit) for years to sell, advertise, manufacture, and distribute products such as hats, t-shirts, glasses and other various items with the RUN-DMC logo, which the group claims is extremely valuable.If they win the lawsuit, it really would be Christmas in Hollis.[via TMZ]last_img read more

PA & NJ credit unions approve merger of trade groups

first_imgMember credit unions of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and the New Jersey Credit Union League voted to approve the consolidation of the two trade organizations, PCUA President/CEO Patrick Conway said Thursday.He announced an affirmative vote of the trade groups’ memberships ratifies the definitive merger agreement approved by the boards of directors of PCUA and NJCUL in March.A total vote count was not released.The PA/NJ Credit Union Association will be open for business on Jan. 1, 2020 and become one the nation’s largest two-state trade organizations that will serve more than 520 credit unions.“This is an exciting day for credit unions in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” Jeff DeBree said, who serves as PCUA’s board chair and as president/CEO of the $174 million Penn East Federal Credit Union in Scranton. “I would like to thank my fellow PCUA and NJCUL board members as well as our member credit unions in both states for their support of this new organization.” ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more