Blindfold me and take me into a plain room with 12 to 20 employees from the same organization. Don’t tell me who they are, what they do, or the specific challenges they are having at work. I want my expectations level at zero.
I will take off my blindfold, set up, facilitate, and de-brief the following activities:
- Gravity Pole
- Journey in the Forest
- Amazing Maze
Through Awareness Coaching, I will be able to tell you all about this organization: their strengths and their challenges.Even better, the team members will be able to come up with the answers themselves.
The key is awareness.
“The all important link between performance and behavior change
in organizations is the elusive quality of awareness.”
The Wisdom of Teams – Creating the High Performance Organization,
Katzenbach and Smith, Harper Business.
When we become more aware of our own actions and beliefs, and those with whom we work, we work better as a Team. These new perspectives and new appreciations compel us to treat each other better and interact more productively.
These activities are the vehicle. Participants enjoy the unique challenges of each one. They strategize, search for solutions, find surprises along the way, and play full out. All they can think about is success. And like life, it doesn’t always happen. That is when the learning kicks in.
Awareness is noticing if you or your teammates:
- Follow the rules
- Bend the rules
- Play honestly
- Speak up and assert
- Choose to listen
- Communicate effectively
- Communicate unproductively
- Ask for help
- Go it alone
- Get frustrated and angry
- Use frustration to change strategies
- Take responsibility for the outcome
- See the big picture
- See the tiny details
- Have fun
- Have fun only if successful
- Play win-lose
- Play win-win
These activities reveal so much. Because I believe that how we play these activities is how we do life, I am able to see and observe how organizations really, really, really act and behave in the trenches.
Awareness Coaching is guiding and allowing the team members to gain specific perspectives into their own behavior and attitude and how it affects others. To me, the difference between typical team building coaching and awareness coaching is that awareness coaching blends personal one-on-one success coaching with group success coaching. Maximum engagement is achieved through whole group activities, groups of 4, dyads, and individual challenges — so that the learning jumps back and forth between individual eye openers to group discoveries.
Journey in the Forest — Individuals learn how they perceive the challenges in their life. One lady several years ago stood up and remarked how this metaphorical journey reflected her life perfectly. Until this moment she had not taken the time or effort to step back and see the whole picture. She was anxious to get back home and make some decisions. When I asked her for an example, she said it was time to change her relationship choices. Not all are that dramatic!
Back-Talk — Teams of 4 create personal ways to communicate with each other as a Team. I remember one person commenting that he used to assume that people in his department who didn’t understand him were stupid or resistant to his ideas. It just might be the way he communicates. He now takes responsibility for both giving and receiving the information.
Amazing Maze — The whole group attempts to find the hidden path from one end of the maze to the other. This powerful activity tells more about a group than any other. Is your group a TEAM or not? Who are the TEAM players and who are not? Is there room for improvement? What is this TEAM’S chemistry? What is your TEAM’S potential?
My personal turning point in Awareness Coaching came on a train to Callaway Gardens many years ago. I was peacefully reading a book when a man and his 4 children boarded. They proceeded to run all over the place screaming and playing tag. The father did nothing. I found myself reading the same line over and over again. I was mad. Just as I was about to say something to the man, he apologized to everyone and said his wife had just died. They were on their way to her funeral. Somehow, I didn’t notice the kids the rest of the trip. That was a huge lesson in awareness and judgment for me. To this day I do not judge my Team Building groups and ask them not to judge themselves during our day. That is Awareness Coaching.
Larry Lipman is a Success Coach specializing in TEAM BUILDING!