Helping a group recognise their behaviours

It’s been busy!  I’m back to resume the blog. I’ve lots to tell you about. So, how about starting with that trickiest of things, personal behaviour.

Getting engagement

As a facilitator there are a number of ways to get people to recognise things they are doing that might get in the way of adding value to the work they do.  Watching situational videos or reading examples are fine but a bit passive.  Discussing case studies gets a bit more engagement however it can be rather abstract.  Playing games is another useful device, but people have seen a lot of these and they do get repetitive.

So we invent our own situations and get people to engage in activities that are novel to them.  This requires more effort from us, but it makes life more interesting too.

A real example

An example of this from our recent work:  We had a group of 30 staff from various locations who were about to start more cooperative working.  Our client asked us for “team building that wasn’t team building” – mmm ok, interesting brief, just the sort of stuff we like to get involved with.  Let’s understand a bit more, together.

Preparation is key

We spent some time talking things over with the client bouncing around a few ideas and together we realised that the root of the problem was that there were very different types of people involved in the organisation.  Some were ‘steady Eddie’ types that could be depended upon all the time.  Others were more ‘high performers’ who were great in a crisis but boy, did they get bored and dysfunctional the rest of the time.

We had a good think about this and set up a workshop to sort out how the new organisation was going to work.  As part of this event we designed a special activity where we divided the room into four groups.  As facilitators, we had the confidence of knowing that no-one had seen this before so it would tax the minds of even the high performers.  In essence each group had a fairly straightforward task to perform however embedded within the task was a much harder one with a greater prize.

Facilitating the task

We set the task going. Immediately, the energy in the room went up. Everyone piled in and we saw the usual tuckman behaviours you’ll all be familiar with.  Then after a while we started to get the behaviours we were looking for, we let it run a bit further.

As you’ll have guessed by now what started to happen was a split in the room.  The ‘steadies’ were still deeply involved in completing the task while the high performers had become bored and were picking up their mobiles checking emails, getting coffee, in fact anything other than the task.

We shouted out: STOP!

That got everyone’s attention.

Facilitating learning

Then we did the facilitator thing we are all good at – getting people to look at what was happening and start to reflect.  We got the re-engagement needed and directed the energy of the group back to analysing themselves.  They began to self-identify the behaviours in the room and relate this to what was actually happening at work.  Deeper learning started.

a bit more…

We drew everyone’s attention to some props in the room that hadn’t been used yet.  Suddenly a realisation spread that there was a task embedded within the task, and a bigger picture emerged.  Both high performers and the steadies quickly came together to solve the problem and to everyone’s satisfaction cracked the larger puzzle. Result!

Later exercises started to draw on this and each of the group members understood that they had a part to play in making the organisation successful.  We increased tolerance of their different ways of working by highlighting the differences and helping them realise for themselves that they needed this diversity.

Have we completely solved all the issues? No.  Have we helped the group come together as a more successful unit?  Yes.

Job done. That’s why we get invited back.


6 thoughts on “Helping a group recognise their behaviours

  1. Nice article Adrian. I really want to know which activities you used (although i’m sure you won’t tell…)

    • Hello Mark, thanks very much for the comment. I’ve been rather busy recently with lots of facilitation projects am now settling down again.

      I’ll have a think about the techniques I’ve been using and get back to you shortly

      I must update this blog, lots to tell you!


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