Team facilitation sessions are a continuous process at EduLab. I’ve had the privilege to learn about team facilitation in an educational institution together with the Edu-Lab-Master Mr Blair Stevenson. I’ve had the opportunity to see him role model behaviour and take part in the facilitation of one lab-team. Last time we “measured the pulse” of the team I’m participating in coaching, the team seemed to be trending downwards in their self-assessment. Blair suggested that I talk to the project manager of the team and we see if we can help break the negative trend (going the wrong way).
I sat down after our team meeting with the project manager and we talked through some issues on his mind, which helped me get a better understanding of what could be going on in the team and why the team felt they wanted to achieve more than they actually thought they did. After our discussion I offered to come and facilitate a couple of sessions with the team. For our session today I asked the PM to give “homework” to the team. The homework was the creation of “a backlog item” that would rank highest as a todo-item for each individual on the team for the moment.
As the session started I asked the team to see me as an observer and have them go through the backlog items and talk them over like they “usually do”. Of course I have no idea if they do it that way usually, but I made an assumption that they do talk about work coming up next. Then I gave the team a prioritisation matrix and explained shortly how to read the matrix. I asked the team to talk about the work items they had in mind and reflect on them by using the matrix.
It’s interesting how much you see and learn in 45 minutes when you have a team talk about their work! You “see” things that are not spoken: the body language, mimicry and also silence. I didn’t see or hear anyone say a word about deadlines or dates for doing specific things in the meeting, so my assumption is that the team works best that way, for now at least.
I personally need dates to be able to set goals and break those goals into steps to realise them. I didn’t talk so much about setting deadlines (yet) with the team, but it’s up to every team to create values and ways-of-working that work best for them and their culture.
Based on the observations I made today we agreed that I’m going to design some activities for the team and we then meet up next week to take onboard a team member who has been away for a while. I promised a team building activity and activities to help facilitate the self organisation of the cross functional team. All this to make them feel they are trying to steer the way into higher temperatures than the last time.
Before I thanked the team for letting me learn from them I talked a little bit about the importance of re-focus and focusing on important issues, especially when the Gate 3 pitching was so close ahead. I also gave the team a load of positive feedback telling them that they have lots of great ideas and talent and that I would love to see them succeeding in the Gate3 pitching with their product demo, and of course make their dreams come true at the same time.
Now I’m planning ahead – to talk briefly with the project manager at the end of the week to ask him to prepare some things for the workshop I will be designing and where they will work on becoming a team of 4 instead of 3.