It is October and I suspect we are still reeling. September was quite a month.
HM the Queen died showing us what duty means until the last. However, her very last gift to us was an opportunity to let your pent-up feelings go. We cried for her, but we cried for our lost family and friends, we cried covid out. This is just as well as we enter a time of desperation as the cost-of-living crisis worsens and affects 90% of the population.
We have to find ways to think positively about all this. Please think of three things that are positive in your life. Mine are these. I have met some youngsters at who new schools who are blissful about life. My young friend who has gone off to university is very happy because her housemates have the same approach to life she has. Then for me something very special, I have just met a teacher at one of our local private schools who teaches sculpture. It gets better he has experience of teaching at an academy in Hackney – what a wealth of experience that brings. Privileged pupils are being given an insight into art and all it brings to the world but from someone with an experience of reality which should prevent privilege and elitism. Wow!
Then a couple of days ago I met up with an old (I have known him a long time!) colleague and we were reminiscing. He was a director in a very big organisation. According to him his only claim to fame is that he knows how to create teams and then develop them to be the best they could be. I know this is simplistic. He knew his business inside out and has the gift of lateral thinking; however, he is right he has an instinct about people that brings the right person into the situation and then gives them the freedom to fly. However, he was always there for support his people were brave because he was in the background checking up surreptitiously that they had the confidence to shine. Confidence often brings creativity at a high level and his people did shine.
Then I was involved in a charitable art exhibition and sale. My tasks were on the periphery, but I watched the art team at work. It was fascinating as there was no history, this was a new team. Hopefully, we all know about the stages of team development: FORMING –STORMIMG- NORMING -PERFORMING -MOURNING. (If you don’t know this give me a call and I will explain it and why it is important). This group had been formed quickly and were STORMING. Remember this is the phase when people wonder what they have got themselves into; and for self-preservation they are critical of others in the team and all too willing to blame other people. The chairperson was doing his absolute best to keep them on task by focusing on purpose and the event was a success. However, he was struggling because of time constraints and also because he had a Monitor-Evaluator in the group. If you do not know about Belbin’s team roles and their implications give me a call and I will be pleased to talk you through it. To remind those who do know the concept Monitor- Evaluators are hugely annoying and vital to good work. They question everything, they micro-manage, they are tenacious, they appear negative. They drive everyone mad. This one managed to alienate lots of people, she did make some aspects of the event better. However, her real value will be when they do their post-mortem provided the chair can get her to frame all her comments in terms of being even better next time and not look back and allocating blame.
I said my job was on the periphery I did the introductory speech and then set about helping people network. I realised that I do something I had not noticed before and it is a good tip. When I introduce people I always say, “This is Sarah, she runs this café on the High Street” and “This is James he is a trustee of the charity that runs the drop in café for street sleepers”. In other words, I find something they have in common and tell them what it is. Then I leave them to chat and hope they have an interesting conversation instead of standing around awkwardly for ten minutes. Out of those conversations have come some very interesting business alliances and although people are not employed by the same people they are most definitely on the same team.
If you run a team or one of these alliances please remember one of the keys to success is also having fun. And that is down to you!!!! We need to take our businesses seriously, but we do not have to be serious while we do it.
This is the caricaturist’s view of me in full flow – hope it makes you laugh.
All of this stuff is important in my role as a mentor. Whether you are in a conventional team, run a team or are part of one of these new business alliances learning how to select, recruit and develop the team through its various stages and with the technical and team characteristics of the members is beyond vital. If you want to know more why not give me a call and we can talk about your team’s challenges. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. I hope you will be one of them.