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Case study

Team building workshop for a publishing company

We ran a one-day team building workshop for the senior management team of a scientific publishing company.

The brief

We were approached by a publishing company looking for an experienced dynamic facilitator to work with a team of senior managers for a half day using behavioural tools.

After a series of telephone briefings and conversations about the team in question, it became clear that rather than using behavioural tools or personality profiles, the client particularly liked our idea of letting the team agree what was important to them and what approach they wanted to use for working together – and that this would be key to gain their buy-in to the importance of continually developing as a team, not just individually.

Our brief as a team facilitator was to help them:

  • Explore why it’s important to feel supported in a team
  • Share what they have to offer one another
  • Document the strengths (and weaknesses) that come out, the profile of the group
  • Start to build a team pact / commitment
  • Help ensure balanced team meetings and decisions

What we did

To capture their progress working together as a team, we surveyed the group ahead of the day, asking them each individually how they think the team is working currently. We will then repeat that same survey again 3 months on to see if there’s any measurable improvement.

The survey included rating scale questions (i.e. score 1-10) such as:

  • We have mutually agreed and understood aims and objectives.
  • People express themselves openly and honestly and deal with difficult situations.

We also asked for more detailed insight, asking open questions like:

  • What does your team do well? What could your team do better?
  • Please identify a personal strength of yours that you think contributes to the team’s success. Why is it important and do you think others are aware of it?

In the workshop itself, we started out by exploring the team’s purpose (why the team exists, why it is needed) and culture (how the team works together and the values, norms and behaviours that are expected).

Participants reflected on these questions:

  • What is our job as a team?
  • What’s our goal?
  • How do we know when we’ve done our job?
  • What benefit are we bringing to the organisation and the world?
  • What should our team stand for?
  • What do we believe in?
  • What are our unique strengths?
  • What is our value?
  • How should we present ourselves to the wider company?

We then moved on to use two frameworks to help organise the group’s discussions and insights: the User Manual and Team Canvas (see sidebar).

“James facilitated an excellent team building workshop for IOP’s Senior Publishing Management Team. With three new members we wanted to make sure we were all aligned behind a clear purpose and to bring each member’s individual’s strengths to the forefront to help us perform at our best. We learnt a lot about each other and what makes us tick, and how we can support each other more as a result. The emphasis throughout the day was firmly on us thanks to James’ subtle and observant style. Everyone came away feeling very positive and we had a clear set of actions we could take forward together.”

Antonia Seymour, Publishing Director Institute of Physics Publishing

Team Canvas

Team Canvas (above) is a strategic framework that helps bring team members on the same page. It is made to align teams, increase cohesion and performance and to create productive team culture, fast. The group collaborates to fill in the team canvas, which is printed out on A1 on the wall.

(Click the image above to zoom in)

User Manual

Team members create their own “User Manual” to help others work with them better. Each team member fills out this one-page worksheet, then discusses with colleagues.

(Click the image above to zoom in)

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