Group Development

The main premise

Organisations prefer to roll out programs for entire teams assuming the individuals in these teams either have the same development needs, or the teams should develop together ensuring that those with relevant experience and application know-how support and help their colleagues. Unless these conditions are met or met sufficiently, group development may be mortgaged from day one as members in the group will not understand why they participate in the programme.

To make group development efficient and enjoyable, the objective of the exercise should be well stated in advance, preferably by line management including what is expected of people with different backgrounds and different experience levels.

Adults integrate, they do not learn

The methodology used to advance groups relies on two major facts:

  • Groups have convictions that are often not managed explicitly and consist of the informal, well known views of those that set the tune in the team/group, if these members understand how their role can transform the team, they can greatly influence the dynamics stimulating the group to think more openly about how to adopt new ideas discussed.
  • At an individual level adults want to incorporate their own experience and their own truth in any new framework that is discussed that will determine future ways of working. If an adult does not understand why adopting a new approach would be an improvement or if that does not fit his personal experience, many adults will take distance and observe. As observers they will listen and potentially participate, but not with an eager mind to adopt what was said into their daily practice nor will they wonder how to do that.

In that context, group development is very much an exercise determining where we want to go, by asking the group to take the lead in going there. In training environments and in seminars, the ATC professional guides groups to create a common understanding of what they believe in, in order to position any new material within that context. Even if he objective is very clear, achieving the objective requires far more than telling people what the answer is. We ensure the answer is offered, but challenge the group to adopt the approach themselves.

No one refuses changes

In some cases, teams or groups appear highly opposed to any change for whatever reason. Presenting alternatives, even questioning the status quo could ignite such teams with disastrous results. Typically management is aware of such tensions and should express this.

Our approach would take this reality into account. At first, the group would be guided to explore the status quo and interpret it in view of the performance of competitors, expectations of clients, willingness of suppliers to do business with us, or potential talent the organization requires. The role of the ATC professional is establishing how the status quo is hitting a ceiling and potential equilibriums that existed in the past are either losing their importance or have simply disappeared. At that stage, groups request answers. Providing those answers needs to be managed properly to avoid these answers to be rejected out of hand. Several approaches exist to increase the likelihood of teams to adhere to (some) of the message.

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