Organisational Well-Being

Watch as Karen Gray of T-Space presents at Citywork London's Corporate Well-being event to appreciate how reflective practice can provide an effective route towards organisational well-being....

At this specialist corporate well-being conference held in Nov 2017, Karen Gray of T-Space talks about how reflective practice can offer an extremely practical route towards organisational well-being. She shows how allowing time for groups within organisations, from leadership through to the operational core, some time to think, talk and reflect on how they are 'being' in their work leads to a heightened awareness of the recurring themes present in the organisation. By tracking these themes within regular reflective practice processes, she underlines how the organisation is afforded an opportunity to learn, consider and respond resulting in a major impact upon organisational well-being. Our slide are provided below too.

Contact us if you'd like to discuss how T-Space could actively support your own organisational well-being process.

Presentation Slides

T-Space for Teamwork

We all appreciate from our common sense that a team will work best together if all members hold good, strong relationships with each other – it feels to us like a general rule we can apply. But of course those good relations are not always easy to come by, or indeed manufacture. Past experience and personalities can get in the way, creating friction and sources of teamworking difficulty. Processes are held up, or delivery timeframes lengthened by any frayed connections that exist within the team. Therefore, teams need a plan of action, so they can move more towards behaving like the cohesive team they can be.

That’s where Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team comes in. His model provides us with 5 behaviours which a team, well actually its individual members, can become aware of and practice, enabling their team to collectively oil its wheels and operate most productively. It’s all about what you do, how you behave, as a good team member – personalities and negative experiences from the past need not be excuses.

So what are these 5 Behaviours of a Cohesive Team?

Building Trust – This is about admitting mistakes and weaknesses, accepting questions, offering apologies and giving the benefit of the doubt. These behaviours help to generate ‘vulnerability-based trust’ between team members, a huge source of powerful connectivity.

Mastering Conflict – Once trust is built, the conflict that inevitability occurs wherever there is a difference of perspective or opinion is must more easily managed. Here the focus is on debating important issues, focusing on ideas to collaborate, expressing feelings, listening to others and encouraging a calm demeanour.

Achieving Commitment – If differences are openly discussed and worked through, commitment will more easily build to the agreed way forward. For this to happen, team members need to be voicing objections, clarifying their agreements with each other and taking responsibility to row in behind a collective group decision, even if they didn’t agree or it wasn’t their original preference.

Embracing Accountability – When commitment is present, accountability can more easily be taken. Here, team members need to be clarifying roles & responsibilities, creating up front agreements on the shared goal and what each will deliver, holding each other to account on delivery and giving each other supportive (specific, positive and behaviour-orientated) feedback to encourage their collective journeys.

Focusing on Collective Results – With collective accountability, the shared goal will become very clear and meaningful. Here, cohesive team members will be avoiding distractions, prioritising the team goal over individual preferences, allocating time to work together, leading by example, setting clear KPIs and celebrating collective successes.

So how is your team doing?

At T-Space, we can use the 5Bs assessment to help your team understand its cohesiveness index. Then through 3 x 1 day team workshops, we can review outcomes, learn about and practice the cohesive behaviours, consider possible ways forward and fully support team members to devise a collective plan of action on each of the 5 core behaviours. Very soon, your cohesive team will be feeling good and powering away towards great collective successes.

Contact us to find out more.

New Year, New Respect

As the New Year emerges, and we re-join our work teams to apply our renewed vigour to drive organisational productivity, one key element will undoubtedly support us to operate as the most efficient collective – we should reconsider the meaning of ‘respect’.

In my work with all manner of teams and groups in the workplace, this word keeps coming up. Mostly it is complained about as ‘a lack of’ and used in the third person, e.g. they don’t respect me/him, they need to show a little more respect, he is so disrespectful, etc. We’ve all heard it, and there’s generally no mistaking that more demonstration and presence of this ‘respect’ in our work relations would lead to more satisfying role interactions and more real ticks in our action boxes.

But what does respect really mean? Well, it is a noun and a verb, with derivatives often as adjectives. When you do it, as a verb (to respect), you give the noun (respect) and generate the feeling of the adjective (in a respectful way). The word respect is derived from the Latin re (again), and spectare (to look at), so meaning ‘look again’. Essentially, the action of respecting is to look again at people, i.e. really see them, notice how they are talking, take in their language, appreciate the way they are likely to be feeling, hear what they are telling you, and see them for who they really are. To do this, though, we need to put the ever-present and often over-riding mental picture that we have had of our work colleague (often it’s been there for a while, and it’s not always a good perspective!) to one side, so that we can properly see past it, and look again at their reality.

This required concerted effort, but having seen and heard them afresh, what are they trying to tell us, how are they really feeling, what ideas do they have to move things on, how do they feel, etc, they can add more value, both to themselves and to the organisation. We can only know these things though by firstly ‘looking again’, and then questioning to find more to look again at and consider together. This type of respectful and productive interaction will help both you and your work colleagues find more answers and feel more efficient together. Giving the time to really respect, i.e. look again and understand anew, is so very much worth it in terms of work relations.

In Latin, spectare also means ‘to watch’, which in English links to seeing the full view again, but also of being careful. So in addition, respect means ‘be careful again’ – i.e. take care of your work colleagues & relationships, so that interactions can be as helpful as possible within your work. Caring in work terms can be as basic as responding to e-mails, returning phone calls, or following up on items you promised to activate, or if you can’t, then contacting your work colleague to let them know why, and what your revised plan is – using positive, encouraging language and being supportive with them to find new ways forward together.

Respect is a bit like trust, it must be given before it can be expected to come to you. So this New Year, do re-open your eyes, look again and be careful again with your work colleague interactions. Give time to respond & talk and really see your workplace partners for who they really are. Keep it up, and before you know it, you’ll be more productive together and also more respected yourself - simply because you’re willing to give it.

Karen Gray, Director, T-Space


At the Core of Leadership

In this piece, I’d like to consider leadership and the essentials which those leading must do and focus on to be considered a highly functioning leader. 

Whilst specific roles are considered as ‘leadership’, and so require the role-holder to function as a leader, the taking on of leadership in any role is essentially a personal decision. In being a leader, we individually and actively decide to be up front, pushing forward and chartering new territories. In this voyage of intentful leadership discovery, the new leader is giving things a go and continuously learning what works well (and what doesn’t!), always recognising the key leadership imperative to keep themselves, work colleagues and the organisation appropriately safe within the process.

It is helpful to consider leadership as a function of the system, i.e. something done within the system of the organisation, to help it move forward safely and most productively. Essentially, the leader needs to be in charge of the how the system works and how it progresses. To lead well, the leader need to activate these 5 core leadership functions:-

1.    Support the organisation to clarify, agree on and continually revisit its Primary Task
That is, help the organisation as a collective to define, verbalise and regularly reappraise what it must do or achieve to survive. This conscious group agreement will then keep everyone aligned and contributing to this core objective within their varying roles.
2.    Generate and share a vision of the future and define, with the group, a strategy to achieve
It is vital that the leader develops, holds and generously communicates their vision of where they’d like the organisation to be getting to in terms of position, operation or both. This needs to be clear enough, so that followers can actively help the leader to define the strategic ‘how’ of getting there.
3.    Provide a containing structure to allow safety and encourage creativity
Leaders need to figuratively get their arms around the organisation, to hold it securely, just not too tightly, so it can breathe creatively. A containing structure arises from clear accountability, consistent processes and active encouragement of innovation & new ideas, in line with primary task.
4.    Attend to ‘flow’ at the boundaries of the system – energy, roles & resources
If the leader focuses on the boundary, he/she can see how resource, roles or energy are coming into, or going out of, the system, and then manage this in line with organisational strategy and primary task. Leaders should encourage the edges of the system to be permeable and all roles to be clear.  
5.    Locate and attend to defensive or resistant behaviours – both in self and others
These ‘stepping away’, avoiding or defending behaviours will always be present, as organisations and individuals use defences to manage their anxieties. For a leader, noticing these is crucial as they will always signal underlying stressors. Talking them over openly will generate the advances required.

So whether you’re a leader new to the role, or looking to take more leadership in your existing role, actively attending to these five core leadership functions will help you mind your work system and move it forward progressively.

Read original text by Anton Obholzer, Chapter 9 in The Systems Psychodynamics of Organisations (Karnac Books).

For further support in leadership coaching, please do connect with us at T-Space.