Team development – Case Study

How trust-based teams can drive business performance

What was needed

The core to good teamwork is continual self-correction which is only possible through openness and trust. Our client had undergone numerous team-building initiatives all of which had felt good. However, budget challenges were making it more important to demonstrate value – which meant ensuring that there had been significant changes that had followed through into the workplace. They therefore wanted to experiment with something different in order to test whether they could demonstrate more than a ‘feel good’ factor.

What was done

Previous approaches had focussed on either workplace issues in a facilitated environment or on behavioural style as a method of giving and receiving feedback. Team Focus proposed an approach designed to increase the emotional intelligence (EI) of the team. This was attractive because the company was already convinced that the team-building so far had been fun but relatively superficial and they had also introduced some EI ideas into their leadership training. A team was approached to pilot the event and was chosen because of their keenness to continue pushing the boundaries of excellence. The process was as follows:

  • each individual completed the PfS EIQ3D which is an innovative way for getting at the basic EI dilemma which is ‘how can a self-report questionnaire identify what it is that you are unaware of!’ EIQ3D gets around this issue by inviting the person to complete the questionnaire (self-report) but to also nominate a third party to act as their ‘challenger’;
  • each individual received individual feedback based on the questionnaire and was then helped with how and what they were prepared to share with the team;
  • the team event involved personal revelations about what was important, valuable and difficult for them when working as part of the team. The team was then introduced to the FIRO® model – a powerful way of addressing the fundamental issues in teams which are “do I really want to be here?”, “what am I really supposed to do here?” and “am I really prepared to reveal my emotional self?”. This model was then used to discuss how to improve team collaboration through developing these three areas.

What the benefits were

The feedback from the team three months later was as follows:

  • connectedness – the impact was deeper and more personal than previous team events they had experienced and this had greatly increased their sense of connectedness;
  • collaboration – communication, which had already been good before the event, had now risen to a new level and all team members reported a greater willingness to approach each other, to collaborate and to support each other;
  • openness – several team members reported revealing more readily when they felt challenged or when they were floundering and that their mistakes would be supported rather than penalised;
  • energy – all team members reported feeling much more energised and positive about coming to work;
  • productivity – the backlog of work had come down considerably which was extremely satisfying and motivating;
  • long-term perspective – several team members reported having a longer-term perspective concerning staying with the team and the company;
  • the CEO’s perception – his comment was that, in his recent dealings with the team, he was aware of their power because they really “felt and acted like a team”.

FIRO® is a Registered Trademark of CPP Inc.