Using creative provocation, skills development and reflective practice to help a cross-global comms team develop a shared identity and a shift in focus and engagement.
A Head of Communications in a global financial services company asked us to support her in developing the effectiveness of her newly-formed team. A wide geographic distribution of team members meant infrequent opportunities to work face to face as well as a wide variety in established ways of working and cultural norms.
Drawing on a co-design session with the Head of Communications and the Head of Learning and Development, we ran two development days for the team, an initial one day session followed six weeks later by a half day follow up session. The initial session focused on forging a shared identity and culture for the team while acknowledging the challenge of working across a global and cross-cultural context. The day included a combination of a simulation exercise where team members took on roles other than their own, the use of images and drawing to highlight different perspectives and assumptions across the team and an extended reflection and application session to draw out and crystalize learning. Throughout the day our facilitators also took time to highlight dynamics and patterns of behavior within the team as well as potential areas for development.
The follow up session consolidated the learning from session one in the light of the team’s experiences in the intervening six weeks. It was a combination of a skills development session focusing on empathy and listening skills and a short scenario exercise to test their progression as a team since the first session.
At the end of the project we provided a thought paper for the two sponsors, using our systems-psychodynamic model, our understanding of the organizational context and our experiences with the team to highlight the challenges and potential approaches for the team in working across geographies and cultures.
Client feedback was very positive, emphasizing the high level of engagement from all team members and, in addition, clear that the work provided:
- A structure and approach that allowed much greater openness and helpful discussions around key issues than had possible in the past.
- A constructive shift of focus from individual pasts to a future together.
- A basis for making key structural changes within the team to increase shared strategic thinking, engagement and openness
- Improved communication between team members and between the team and other parts of the organization.