“In the drum beats there was a continuous stream of subliminal messages that were operational excellence inclined and if understood work for team harmony and success. Very good team building event. ”
Drumming and your Team
The team enters the room with no knowledge of the task before them. There is an air of tense expectation as they taunt each other with memories of the last team building exercise. Then their eyes come to rest on the African hand drum beneath each chair. For some this excites a playful streak as they choose which drum is to be the one for them. Immediately tapping it and letting their voice be heard. Others are taken back and semi paralyzed by old horrors of music class or lessons, being asked to mouth the words. Buying into old believe systems of having no rhythm. From the moment people enter the room the drum circle begins to mirror back to us the personalities and coping skills of the team. After a brief introduction the facilitator begins by playing what the group hopes to achieve. Again there is a wave of reaction as most people recoil from the challenge certain that only failure and embarrassment must ensue. A few of the more adventuresome will rise to the challenge thankful that it is not jumping out of an airplane or budgie jumping from a cliff. What's the worst that could happen? First the skills to get the job done and remain unhurt are presented. But we all know it is not enough to just be able to physically do the job, and so we push on. We learn a language to communicate the rhythm from the leader to the team. Language defines the team in so many ways. Do we have a language of inclusion and support, or is it a language of competition and judgment. Does the language communicate in a direct and concise way or is it fluffy or misleading. Next we specialize. Every team has to know where to put its resources and the skills available to maximize potential. By now we are playing together in unison. As we become more clear on how to execute the rhythm, our intent becomes increasingly focused and the group shares a single vision which is measured by the incredible power of the sound that is generated. As the people on either side play they support you to play and suddenly we are a part of something much greater than ourselves and yet without us the whole cannot be. We are buoyed along by the music and a sense of having reached a greater potential than we could have alone is clearly felt. The energy is still rising in the group but not from a place of fear and apprehension but from a new found rush of joy and sense of accomplishment. Hey I can do this…!! Now we begin and split the group into sections, each section has a different rhythm to play. Timing and execution are more critical as we establish relationships with the other lines which have to mesh. The facilitator begins the foundation rhythm with one group. The degree of commitment and focus determine how strong the foundation is and how stable the other rhythms will be. The booming of the bass notes fill the air and some people will have their eyes closed as they bring all their attention to bear, some are watching others for additional support as they play. The sound is big and solid when the second line comes. Right away heads come up and smiles appear as the music is taken to another level of dynamics. Something amazing is happening but what. Synergy is happening. When rhythm one is played well and rhythm two is introduced we get something greater than the sum of the parts. There is a third rhythm that is created that only exists because of the presence of the other two lines. We feel this synergetic potential clearly in the music, do we feel that from our team at work. Do the relationships we establish and the roles we define for ourselves in the workplace create a synergetic effect? If you do your job and I do mine are we both made more effective with a greater return to the team and the individual? The music will tell us immediately and we feel it and it feels good. Now we are cooking and several rhythms are weaving in and out of each other. The music has brought the neighbors who are drawn to the power and the energy. Old paradigms are being tossed out the door; perceived limitations are being broken down, as the group begins to believe in themselves and the objective, as played at the beginning, starts to be seen as possible. But now we must introduce more to our song to keep it interesting and to continue to challenge ourselves. The facilitator introduces a whole new section of the music that is called the unison sequence. As its name suggests it is played by the whole group as one and is a complex rhythmic pattern that will be inserted into the middle of our piece to create tension and creative anticipation for the listener and player alike. Again the moans of “it's impossible” are heard as our comfort zone is again squeezed. But in no time we are riding the unison sequence and feeling the excitement as we execute it perfectly. Quickly we realize that playing the rhythm is not too hard, nor is playing the “unison sequence”, but the transition from one to the other is very challenging. Indeed transitions in life are the hard part. Leave me in my rut! Just don't make me change. The music reflects this tension as we move from one part of the song to the next and it is this very instability and tension that bring excitement and interest to the ear. Is your team at work able to manage transition and change? Are they flexible and responsive? If yes than they will experience change as exciting, if not it is destabilizing and stressful. Finally we are ready to put all the parts together. We have learned a song, drum rhythms, unison sequence, and depending on time and the courage of the team perhaps someone will wrestle a bear or hang from the trapeze just to spice up the show. Either way, when the last boom is hit and the sound reverberates down the hallway, the exhilaration and satisfaction is palatable at having pulled off the impossible and of having experienced complete unity and inclusion while expressing your individuality and uniqueness, not to mention that long time dream of being a rock star!!
High Performance Team
These elements are:
Leadership: the team must have a strong vision of what it wishes to accomplish and a consensus of how the goals will be achieved. This requires leadership to have a clear vision and a commitment to communicate it constantly and clearly.
Communication: What is the language used to communicate this vision. Does every one understand it and is it expressing the same thing to everyone.
Feedback: Without some means of feedback leadership is in a vacuum and has no way to know whether their communications are being received and understood. This requires the one of the most important skills that an individual and an organization can have and that's the ability to listen. Listening is a lifelong practice and there are many levels and ways in which we listen. Listening with the intent to understand and not to just answer is easier said than done. The drums give us immediate and unbiased feedback as to whether we are listening or not.
Specialization: high performance teams utilize their resources in the most effective way possible and encourage each individual to bring their unique gift to the task. They seek out individuals with special skills and then let them focus on using them to best forward the team’s goals,
Trust: a high performance team cultivates a safe and trusting environment for individuals to express themselves. The higher the trust level amongst members the more committed individuals are to a collective vision the more they will support and enable each other to be the best they can be, with no sense of threat to themselves.
A team that has a high level trust will learn new actions quicker and be more willing to be creative and “think outside the box”.
Passion: A high performance team is passionate about what they do and see their work as contributing to a greater good. A high performance team has fun!