Unfortunately the last few weeks have been a complete nightmare for our group in our Garage Project. Everyone has suffered from this it’s been incredibly hard to watch, let alone manage for myself. It’s been the most upsetting thing for me, that not only the people in our group were suffering but that it was also starting to plague the rest of the cohort around us. What was a uniquely special and boisterous environment was turning into a pale reflection of itself, with no one really sure of what to say or do around each other.
It became so overwhelming for me that I set out to vent myself to Richard the councillor at Ormond for 1.5 hours after people were calling me out for not eating at lunch and ‘looking my age’ (which meant that I had aged 6 years in a day) which was a hilarious and the best way to communicate to me. It’s really the only time I’ve ‘put my hand up’ for help which I would never have done in a previous life but given the resources are there in Ormond I took it up. After the vent I got more clarity on who I needed to talk to and tactics on how I could do that. What I then took from subsequent meetings I was able to use to provide assurance to others and go some way to keep people from drowning (including myself).
What I found I was struggling with was the lack of communication back to us as a group and having honest conversations about that was really positive. Also taking some initiative to begin those conversations and be proactive about solving my problems was quite good. It certainly wasn’t a smooth process or a particularly enjoyable one but it just serves to show how important communication is to the overall satisfaction of everyone in highly ambiguous situations — rather than allowing an imagined worst-case scenario stressing people out in the meantime. Crisis management…bleuhhh…
‘Team’ as this whole experience has further emphasised is just so important and knowing your role, your contribution, your effect and your chemistry is critical to get right not only in the early stages, but at every stage. And having a shared framework and language to check in (using diagnostic tools) and ways to have conversations and flag problems early is priceless. ‘Legitimising’ this Forming and Norming behaviour helps avoid or work through Storming stages and is very much ‘productive work’ in and of itself which isn’t otherwise properly valued as you generally have the expectation that people (and yourself) will hit the ground running and Perform.
Thankfully we had a workshop run by Rufus Black on Friday which really helped us as a cohort build some shared understanding around these concepts, the various roles people take up in a group and how honest people can be through the process. It was well facilitated and expertly coached and explained to us.
In teams, disappointment happens. People don’t contribute as much as expected, the work isn’t as good as hoped, people find it hard to work or communicate effectively with others etc etc. Where it becomes a recurring pattern is where things start to become a problem and it’s up to the team to work it out and now having a framework to do that with has been incredibly helpful for setting up productive conversations around those issues without it becoming deeply personal or inflamed.
Another workshop was also run by Michael Vitale around providing constructive feedback which I considered vitally important. However I hadn’t specifically considered the emphasis on the ability to ‘receive’ feedback and that’s what this workshop was all about. It also absolutely hit the nail on the head and a turning point in my opinion in some sense for the cohort. Just providing rules on how to receive feedback really is so good so you can ‘listen to understand’ rather than ‘listen to respond’ which is another underinvested skillset.
I’m so glad these talks and workshops have been run. They have possibly been the most enjoyable seminars so far, given the need but also my broader goals at the start of the year and what I wanted to achieve out of it. Thankfully now it seems like everyone has been able to move on. I think everyone is absolutely happy with the outcome given what we’ve all gone through.
Hearing from Anthony Farro (CEO of Vivant) as well was inspiring this week. I so want to work with a person like that. He is very much the type of person I’ve been searching to learn from for what seems like forever. A person who understands the abstract BUT ALSO has the rigour and framework to test/prove/communicate those findings and turn them into actionable products. Really getting the best of everything and getting the best out of people too from all ends of the spectrum. I HAVE to get more time with a person like that. I have no idea how to do that really…