Ever notice that some teams work really well together? Their individual and collective creativity is at its peak, they get along well and respect each other, they always meet their deadlines and their work is highly profitable?
What differentiates this group from the one that fails?
Most teams are formed without any thought of how well they will work together. Someone retires or takes another job, and and leaves a spot in a particular department. The next in line is often promoted from within and steps in to take over the job. But do we ever question if he’s the right fit for that group?
Do we ask questions such as:
Does he have a similar work style and ethic as those in his department?
Does he have a similar way of communicating?
Does this department know him and trust him?
Is he good manager material?
Sociometry, a science developed by Dr. JL Moreno in the latter part of the 19th Century, allows us to look at the underlying connections in a group, as well as the covert, often unspoken disconnects that can inhibit productivity within a workplace. Through sociometry, these conflicts can be weeded out, unspoken connections can be identified and nurtured, work teams can be realigned and the organization can function at a higher level, allowing for more productivity and increased morale. The more satisfied people are at work, the more work they do. They more the staff gets done, the more successful the business.
Often when there has been a crisis within an organization, employees are expected to just carry on as though nothing has happened. This could manifest as a death, a downsizing, a move, termination of a top-level employee (either through quitting or firing), a merger, loss of a major account, or any a number of other scenarios.
Studies in work environments have demonstrated that if the staff’s anxiety and loss have not been attended to, productivity and morale fall sharply, and the use of sick days and personal days rises. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interests to encourage employees to have their process and get to the other side of the crisis.
Through the action methods of sociometry and sociodrama, the staff can be assisted in doing just that, so that together, they can work through the big loss or shift, and be assured that the company – and they – can survive it, and go on to thrive.
Skills Training Through Action
More often then not, when an employee joins an organization, or is promoted to a new position, s/he is given a job description and a list of expectations, but little or no coaching or guidance. This scenario can result in an employee excelling as s/he steps into this new and challenging role and/or it can result in the revealing of his/her growing edges, that is, those areas where the employee requires professional development.
In addition, studies have determined that when it comes to job satisfaction, your relationship with your boss matters even more than the size of your paycheck. Workers with unsupportive supervisors are twice as likely to feel sad and helpless, according to researchers at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
But how does an employee or supervisor learn this new role and address those growing edges, without jeopardizing the health of the company?
In skills training seminars, employees will be specifically guided through a process of practicing specific work-related skills to allow him/her to master what it takes to do his/her job. Whether it’s a manager learning how to coach an employee, or a customer service representative learning how to speak with an irate customer, skills training through action will allow the employee the opportunity to try out a number of different responses in a safe learning environment. Because s/he has worked out the “kinks” in a “professional laboratory”, when the situation arises on the job, the employee will be well prepared to handle the challenge, feel empowered and confident, and do a better job.
Whether giving direction to one staff member or motivating your entire team, knowing how to communicate well in conversations with colleagues is essential. But how effectively do you do it?
Through the technique of role training – actually practicing the behavior in a supportive learning environment – you can master your communication skills, and improve your professionalism.
Moreover, when employees feel heard, understood and treated with respect, productivity and morale rise.
Role training allows you to practice hands-on skills, so that you’ll know what to do – specifically – when situations arise. This will ensure greater self-confidence, which will inspire your colleagues and your team.
When a company is planning its future, it is often done by sitting around a conference room table and tossing out ideas. That setting certainly doesn’t inspire creative thinking – but action does. If a company is preparing a 5 year plan, why not have staff members experience a future projection, where they can step into the organization 5 years hence and speak from that place? With well thought out interviewing, this process will allow for increased spontaneity and creativity, which will elicit ideas that are “outside the box”. It also will increase excitement for the future of the organization, thus increasing morale and a sense of teamwork.
In work environments, there is often unresolved conflict that not only is not processed, but is rarely even spoken about. Moreover, most managers are not trained in how to resolve these types of conflicts, or worse, may be in the midst of one of them with a staff member. The proverbial “elephant in the middle of the room” impedes employees’ ability to concentrate on their work, and thus affect productivity.
Anxiety and spontaneity are inversely related. The more anxious a person is, the less spontaneous he or she can be. Therefore, when there is conflict within an organization, or poor communication, or a crisis of some kind, everyone’s spontaneity and creativity suffers. As a result, morale suffers, people are afraid to take creative risks at work, the staff feels disconnected from each other, and they don’t feel bonded towards a common goal.
It doesn’t matter at what level the anxiety exists – on the Board of Directors, amongst managers, between managers and employees or between employee and employee. That anxiety or conflict affects the “mood” in the organization, and that negativity is contagious.
Through the process of a classical encounter, employees can be helped to state their concerns in a mutually-respectful way, and work through them productively. Each staff member will benefit from such a process, because they have all been feeling the negative effects of the tension.
This process can also be an opportunity to educate the staff on effective communication, such as being assertive vs. aggressive, thus allowing for a greater environment of mutual respect.
Everyone avoids things they may have discomfort doing – it’s just human nature. Therefore, it’s important to create an atmosphere of learning to assist both management and front line staff in just how to initiate and follow through on those conversations that they sometimes would prefer to not have.
Effective communication is a skill that can be taught and, with practice, can be mastered. When we learn this skill, our first inclination is to imitate others who are effective in their communication. With time and practice, we can develop our own style, so that it becomes part of who we are, but this takes direction, time and practice. Moreover, those skills are best practiced in a safe and supportive environment, to allow for appropriate risk taking that won’t have negative implications for staff or with colleagues.
Stress and Burnout
Work can be extremely taxing, and without proper self-care, stress and burnout can occur. Our workshops are designed to help identify causes of stress, build support for the individual, and provide skills that can help individuals to decompress.