Floating successful ideasOn 1 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today CraigToms, HR manager at Tibbett & Britten, reveals that communications issueswere the drivers for a recent team-building programmeAction-centred development – team-building programme Designed by: Develop, Whitwell Learning Ltd, Whitwell, Oakham, Rutland,LE15 8BW Phone: 01780 686555 www.whitwell-learning.co.ukWhen I was appointed as HR manager for the Bicester contract at Tibbett& Britten 20 months ago, there were a number of people objectives thatneeded some attention – not least of which was turnover of staff. Althoughthis, in part, could be attributed to external factors such as the availabilityof alternative employment opportunities in the area, it gave us reason toreview the style of management, behaviour and leadership qualities of the team.Similar to many, Tibbett & Britten has a percentage of line managers whoare promoted from the ‘shop-floor’. Sometimes as a result, these internalappointees find it difficult to establish the necessary distance and respectthey need from colleagues they worked alongside before, and often thelighthearted office banter can get out of hand, with new managers finding ithard to lose the tag of still being ‘one of the guys’. We decided to embark on some team-building programmes and discussed thiswith Develop Whitwell, based near Oakham on Rutland Water. A planning session was convened between the general manager of Tibbett &Britten, myself and the trainers from Develop. Through this we identified themain areas for improvement in the management team that this programme wouldhopefully address. First, was the quality of communication between managers and other membersof staff. Second, defining leadership and what it looks like. Third,problem-solving in our industry. We need managers who can think on their feetand tackle a problem themselves rather than rely on pushing it higher up thechain of command. We wanted to provide each manager with a tool kit to givethem the confidence they needed to do this. To achieve this we decided to use a mixture of residential and in-housetraining sessions. The team-building consisted of three weekends (Saturday withan overnight stay and Sunday) spaced at three- or five-month intervals. Thetime between the weekends was used to supplement the action-centred developmentwith in-house core management skills programmes also delivered by Develop trainersat our Bicester site. These focused on five key areas: creative problemsolving; effective communications; performance management; coaching andmentoring. We also took the opportunity of involving a number of managers fromour sister sites to ensure the courses were cost-effective and run to capacity.The team-building weekends began as very fun-oriented, but evolved intosomething much more serious as the team began to knit together. I have to saythat they were absolutely brilliant and it gave us the opportunity to look atone another in a new light and appreciate strengths that would never havesurfaced if we had not been away from the working environment. Catalyst In the first weekend at Whitwell there was one particular activity thatproved a definite catalyst for starting the team-building process. It reallytested our individual confidence and trust in one another. It involved team members standing on a raised platform – four feet off theground – eyes closed, arms folded, with their back to the rest of the team,leaning back off the platform relying on the ‘guys’ behind them to catch thembefore they hit the ground. There were at least a couple members of the team who were very nervous aboutthe exercise and it was looking as if Develop’s ‘Challenge by Choice’ policywould come into play, where no member of a team is forced to do an activitythey feel uncomfortable with because of group pressure. But they all decided togo for it and the rewards for the whole team were obvious. The second weekend was based on a programme where we trained as ‘Argonauts’(as in Jason and the Argonauts), in search of the golden fleece, and withoutgiving too much away, the more serious side of team building began to takeshape. Activities centred on the fabulous facility of Rutland Water. I came tounderstood what the trainers had meant when they said the outcomes ofteam-building activities are never certain, when we had to put together atotally unscheduled rescue attempt for a yacht crewed by some of our teammembers that had got into trouble. Suffice to say that a number of the team gota little wet in the process. ReflectionThe third weekend gave us a chance for reflection – to look back at the twoprevious weekends and the core management skills training programmes and seewhat we had achieved together. In the new environment, we have seen an increase in openness and trust – weare now more proactive and our problem-solving skills have improved. We had previously been a collection of individuals – a group but not acohesive team – exacerbated by a system of shift working at the distributioncentre. Whitwell in action Whitwell Learning has been in existence for 16 years and two years in itspresent form. Its training consultancy arm. Develop specialises inaction-centred team-building programmes such as those devised for Tibbett &Britten. As Jon Gower, senior consultant at Develop, explains: “Eachteam-building programme is tailor-made and its format depends on the individualcustomer’s requirements. Before we devise a programme, we meet the HR manageror the team manager to discuss what they want to get out of the programme; whatthe desired end result is for their team. We use this as our starting point todevelop a programme that will move the group forward to achieve agreedoutcomes. “We do not use a set format for the team-building programmes bututilise a mixture of activities from the extensive range on offer. These varyfrom low-impact exercises, simply using a blindfold and a piece of rope, tohigher impact activities that might require the team to carry equipment over a10ft wall. Some activities test mental agility while others may testproblem-solving skills or allow the group to explore internal dynamics. “The activities are a catalyst for discussion. Even if we used the sameactivity for 10 different groups, it would provide a variety of outcomes.”Whitwell benefits from its location on Rutland Water and much of theapparatus for the activities sits on the shore of the reservoir. Yachts andcanoes are often deployed in the team-building exercises and use is made of alocal climbing wall facility just five minutes from the centre. All theequipment used is risk-assessed and the correct safety gear is provided. The ideal delegate-to-tutor ratio is 10:1, but Develop has worked withgroups of up to 150 people split into team sizes of about 20. As Jon says:”The smaller the group, the more personal attention you can give and thebetter able you are to discuss particular problems and weaknesses.” As for timescale, Whitwell is open seven days a week and so can meet companyrequirements for team-building programmes during the working week or atweekends. Tibbett & Britten opted for three weekends spaced between threeand five months apart because the nature of their business makes it difficultto carve time out of the working week. However, other companies may see it aspart of the package to take their teams on an ‘away day’ from the office. Jon says: “If you particularly want to work on building team identity,I would always advise groups to stay overnight – the evening provides anexcellent opportunity to discuss the day’s events together and further cementteam relationships.” Time to reflect He also advises teams to get together at the office or at Whitwell one ortwo months after the programme to revisit their experience. “Get out the flip charts and notes from the course, stick them uparound the office and ask a few questions – ‘where are we now?’, ‘what did wesay we were going to do?’ and ‘did we do it and if not, why not?’. “There isn’t much to be gained from coming to Whitwell for one or twodays simply to return to the office and continue with what you have been doingbefore,” he added. Tibbett & Britten team-building weekends were complemented by managementdevelopment sessions back at the office – a combination that workedparticularly well and gave the members of the team plenty of time forreflection between the chunks of action-centred development at the weekends. Jon says: “For those who take part in one of Develop’s team-buildingprogrammes there is a great sense of personal achievement. People often say: ‘Inever thought that I’d ever do anything like that’. It gives them greatself-belief, the feeling that we can all do it and more importantly that we canall do it as part of a team. VerdictIt has turned us into an effective teamWe have seen the benefits of using ateam-building and in-house core skills programme like the ones used by DevelopWhitwell. After the course, we had become a consistent and effective teamthat benefited from having a standard approach to dealing with issues andproblem solving. The combination of the weekend programmes of action-centreddevelopment and the more intensive core management skills training programmeback at site has really worked. I found the creative problem solving a uniquecourse and full of things I’d not seen before – and I have had my share ofmanagement training. Of course there were the old favourites like force fieldanalysis and the fishbone technique but there were some ‘off-the-wallalternatives’ like ‘whack packs’ and word association exercises that reallyassisted with brainstorming and that everyone seemed to enjoy. Much ofDevelop’s training provides a focus on having fun.And best of all there has been a tangible benefit from thetraining programme to Tibbett & Britten in that turnover at our Bicestersite has dramatically improved. I am absolutely certain this has been assistedby the training we have undertaken. The feedback received from staff points tothe fact employees have seen the benefit of the training the managers havereceived and managers now feel better about their jobs.EFFECTIVENESS * * * * *ABILITY TO MEET BUSINESS NEEDS * * * * *VALUE FOR MONEY * * * *APPROPRIATENESS TO ANY BUSINESS * * * * * ENTERTAINMENT VALUE * * * * * Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article
A Handbook of Management And Leadership – A Guide to Managing for ResultsOn 7 Feb 2006 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article A Handbook of Management And Leadership – A Guide to Managing for ResultsAuthors: Michael Armstrong and Tina StephensPrice: 27.50Pages: 242Publisher: Kogan PageISBN: 0749443448Michael Armstrong and Tina Stephens are both well qualified to publish this book on management and leadership. With such credibility in their fields, I looked forward to sharing their insights into the subject.It is a useful and well laid out manual. Written in a very readable, if somewhat dry style, it is an easy-to-follow guide suitable for the student and those new to management practice, with sufficient information to be of use to those with more experience. The format means you can literally look up a subject without having to plough your way through unnecessary information, and it is also a useful coaching tool.Armstrong and Stephens have produced a succinct guide to management. The book is a broad study of the different aspects of management and leadership, providing comparable theories that may interest you enough to explore the subject in greater depth. I found the sections on change management, customer relationships and continuous improvement to be informative, but brief.My only criticism is that having described the differing behaviours found in management and leadership, the authors then concentrate on management practice, rather than leadership. I would have liked more examples that demonstrated the difference between the two in practice.At £27.50, the handbook is not cheap. If you are looking for a detailed study, this is not for you. But as a handbook to keep on your desk, it works very well.Useful? five starsWell-written? four starsPractical? five starsInspirational? three starsValue for money? four starsOverall four starsReviewed by Dianne Hughes, HR operations manager, Crown House Technologies Related posts:No related photos.