Monday, January 24, 2011

Another tool--the Facilitated Discussion

After a meeting with a client, my friend and colleague Pam complimented me on having "lots of arrows in my quiver." She meant that I had many methods to choose from, when customizing a program. Wow. I love that. As the psychologist Abraham Maslow said, "If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail." Last month I wrote that coaching a few employees may be more appropriate than training the entire group. Another awesome tool is the facilitated discussion.

Facilitators use structured questions, exercises, and specific debriefing patterns to help a group productively explore issues. Techniques such as "The Workshop Method" or the "Affinity Method" are useful to:

•Channel and guide participant input
•Integrate diverse and creative ideas
•Build an informed group consensus
•Develop purposeful, workable solutions.
If the team's dynamic is dysfunctional or simply unknown, a facilitated discussion can uncover root causes and create action plans. Because members feel listened to, they are motivated to participate and follow through on these plans.

But make no mistake: facilitated discussions are alive with both promise and risk. They create a venue to hear the real struggles and hopes of the participants. Rather than applying a formula, these structures allow us to deeply listen to the real situation and work with it. We may have to tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. Deeper levels of conflict may be exposed. But, just like the rigors of creating better health--we need to persevere through discomfort to arrive at healing. The pain is the precursor of new potentials and creativity.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Friday, January 21, 2011

Excited about upcoming training at Menlo Logistics. Our day together--gr8 mix of analysis, experiments, play, and practice. #in

Monday, January 17, 2011

Best practices when facilitating groups

Facilitating a group process is challenging but the rewards for the group are great. Here's a list of ideal facilitator actions. See Ingrid Ben's "Facilitating with Ease" for more info.

__ asking for dissenting views
__ paraphrasing a lot
__ showing respect for opposing views
__ non-defensiveness
__ validating speakers
__ redirecting sarcasm
__ confronting the facts
__ using norms for control
__ showing concern for others'
__ making interventions
__ checking on how people are doing
__ disclosing personal feelings
__ letting people vent
__ bringing proper closure
__ mediating conflicts between
two people
__ making sure everyone stays
from "Facilitating with Ease" by Ingrid Bens

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some highlights from Time Management discussions yesterday

Had a great time with the good folks at Bimbo Bakery. Our Time Management crash course was a blast. We covered the basic principles:
Time Audits
Goal Setting
Energy Matching

We also discussed many ways to handle the deluge of email and other interruptions. Here are some other hightlights from from the day.
Other best practices to remember:

1. Unload your brain into a planner at the end of the day. You’ll sleep better and be prepared to jump into duties the next morning.

2. “Kiss that frog!” Procrastination drains energy. Complete the task that weighs on you and you’ll have more energy.

3. Plan for the unexpected. Provide time in your schedule for “Murphy’s Law” events. A more realistic schedule will keep you less stress and you won’t disappoint others. If you have extra time, use it to improve processes.

4. Having time to think and improve processes is the best way to leverage time. Your improvements will save more time and eliminate fire-fighting at work.

© 2011 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Use surveys to improve training

Fun with bar charts! My new EI/trust survey assessment. Use before and after training to gauge skills and health of team. Call or write for more info.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Got Trust?

Best-selling training gurus Steven R. Covey and Patrick Leoncini, (his 5 Dysfunctions of a team model seen here) and training researchers at DDI all agree—the levels of trust within a team determine its effectiveness and health. Without trust, teams can be plagued with hidden agendas, defensiveness, and passive aggressive maneuvers. During team meetings, the best ideas are lost, as members censor themselves. Without the necessary conflict of ideas, the team is more likely to make inferior decisions--with disastrous results. Without trust, this cycle worsens as members shield themselves from blame, withhold crucial insights, and produce more inferior results. As members withdraw (psychologically and emotionally) from the group, their first priority becomes self-preservation.

Do I trust others at work? Am I a trustworthy member of my team?

To create trust on the team, members must let down their guard and show vulnerability. This is hard! And often counter-intuitive. We’re primed to compete and hide our weaknesses. But if our leaders model a healthy sharing of their feelings (fear, frustration, confusion), others will feel safe to follow. Now a new cycle can begin. As trust grows, members discuss conflicts or misunderstandings before they escalate. They discuss their inferences, instead of assuming the worst of their colleagues.

EI skills make us trustworthy. As we recognize our emotions, we can acknowledge them to others—building empathy and avoiding mixed messages. As we practice tolerating and managing our reactions, we communicate with more skill and less reactivity—helping others feel safe even in conflict. As we examine our unconscious self-talk, we intercede before an unhealthy assumptions creates problem behaviors.

Team reflection: Have we made poor decisions because members did not feel willing to share vital information? Is there a current issue that is taboo? Any current conflict can uncover deeper issues within the team. Can we invest time to understand each others’ point of view? This investment can pay huge dividends.

Journal prompt: How comfortable am I with self-disclosure at work? On a scale of 1-10, how much do we trust others at work? How can I improve levels of trust with my coworkers?

©Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Self-serving quote :)

For those who are reluctant to spend money on an outsider, it's important to consider the hidden but staggering costs associated with being a dysfunctional team. The cost of losing and having to replace one good member will more than cover any initial expense of a good consultant. And that’s before factoring in the value of higher productivity and reduced stress.
From Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni