Creating Effective, Joyful Work Teams

What does it make possible when people who work together know each other as whole people?

For starters, knowing each other is a prerequisite for trust.
And respect.
And caring.
And having each other’s back.

So then, what is the worst that could happen if people who work together do not know each other as whole people – when they only know each other by positions and labels?

You don’t need us to tell you that that worst case includes lack of trust. Lack of respect. Lack of caring (or perhaps open animosity). And often just the opposite of knowing someone has your back – the sense that someone actually wants to put a knife in yours!

In a world that requires collaboration and teamwork to get anything done, it makes logical sense to have rhythms and routines for building those trust relationships. Imagine if work was consistently crafted to be supportive and even joyful. Imagine how much more productive each and every team member would be!

If you’ve ever been part of a meeting at Creating the Future, you know that our meetings are indeed supportive and joyful – even with new people showing up every time. Just scroll through this blog and you’ll find recordings of meeting after meeting where people are laughing and encouraging each other, AND getting a ton accomplished! Or click on this recent meeting hosted by Susan Detwiler as a great example.

That is not by accident. That relationship-building is intentionally designed into every one of our meetings, no matter how formal or informal.

This blog post, therefore, will kick off a series of posts in our weekly eJournal where will share several of the Catalytic Listening practices we use to build trust and relationship into all our meetings. (That weekly eJournal is different from this blog. If you are not already subscribed, you can do so here.)

Taking time - effectiveness v efficiency (then & now)“We don’t have time for that touchy feely garbage. We have work to do!”
We’ve all heard this statement. We may even have been the one to utter those words!

Sadly, our modern desire for speed relegates the slow unfolding of relationships to the Waste of Time department. In some twisted logic, that business model says that it is more efficient to skip relationship-building and get right to work.

Then, when lack of trust and miscommunication lead to drama, missed deadlines, cutting corners or all the above… we blame the team members themselves. It never occurs to us that we have set that team up for failure through a business culture that insists relationship-building is a waste of time. (Click on the graphic above to enlarge it.)

Our colleague Edrie LaVoie notes that “Going slow makes things go smooth. And “smooth” makes things go fast!” When we start work immediately, without getting all the information we need and without building relationships, we slog through the work, taking 2 steps forward and one step back.

And somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that that is efficient!

When we take time up front to get to know each other, to gather information, to build trust, and to just ask and listen, the work itself takes less time. And the time it does take is smooth time. It is joyful time.

Try these practices and share what happens.
For the next few weeks, our eJournal will share the rituals and practices we use at our Creating the Future meetings. Those simple exercises ensure that our team members are getting to know each other as whole people, bringing out the best in them as people and as team members.

UPDATE: The following are links to the practices we’ve posted so far. To receive upcoming journals with additional practices, subscribe to our eJournal here.

Practice #1 focused on how to begin meetings to bring out the best in people.
Practice #2 focused on how to end meetings, to bring out the best in people.
Practice #3 turned reflection into weekly celebration.
Practice #4 
focused on prioritizing the time it takes to build trust.

As you try out these exercises, you can learn from what others are experiencing in their own experiments by joining our Community of Catalytic Thinking Practitioners at Facebook. You’ll find that group here

We look forward to a day when every meeting is a gathering of people who are supporting each other and working together joyfully, from a place of trust. Until then, we look forward to hearing what you are doing to have that happen in your tiny patch of the world!

Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA via Wikimedia Commons 

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