Team gel

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

Mr Green has an extensive work experience at low and senior levels. He is in his 5th job as a result of promotions due to added qualifications and experience. He boasts that nothing comes on a silver platter but one has to work for it.
In his working life, he has learnt how challenging it is to keep a team together. He recalls in one organization he worked for where the manager used to ensure that his team engaged in a field tour to the national park with all expenses paid by the company. Mr green was quick to comment that the staff members liked it and looked forward to the next trip, perhaps to visit another corner of the country.
Mr Green reflected on this trip and thought that he didn’t think it helped to bring the team together. The staff members spent most of the time in the car traveling, and the only interruptions were when they got out to see an outstanding feature or scenery on the way. Normally, the sitting arrangement was based on friendship and people who harbored disagreements at the place of work never sat together. The manager still remained the boss and everybody looked up on him for direction and guidance. Hence the trip continued to remain formal and office differences were carried to the field. Only a little bit of pretence spiced the trip, everybody trying to be informal.
Mr Green now led a similar institution where staff differed with each other. Some people even considered Mr Green too autocratic since he was keen on results. He however wanted to gel his senior management to enable them to share common vision, goals, objectives and aspirations. He knew if he did this in his place of work, everything would be considered business as usual. He chaired management meetings every other week. He called the managers in his office every other time as necessary to clarify on a number of issues. He wondered how he would do it differently to ensure that his team interacted extensively and also reflected on achievement of their vision and mandate.
His mind considered many options but there was this one that was most appealing. He resolved to take the managers on a tour of several of the company’s field centres where they would have a chance to interact with the field staff. He considered that although there would be minimal interaction during the journey, much would happen as they interact with the officers and other stakeholders.
He tasked the Operations Manager to plan for the trip. He was to alert the field officer about the date of the visit and ask them to make elaborate presentations of their areas of jurisdiction and their achievements. They were then to be asked questions by the management team as well as be given further ideas. The field officers were also requested to organize for few meetings within their region of operation with the various key stakeholders who they work with. The field officers were also to organize for visits to particular sites of interest in their region. This was to be captured in a detailed programme, which was to be availed to all the managers.
The day for the trip came. Every manager was in high spirit, as after a long time, they were moving out as a team. Since they were with Mr Green, they were convinced that there would be no pressure of work for the three days when they will be in the field.
The field station to be visited was five hundred miles away. They flew together early in the morning. On arrival, they were ferried in vehicles to the field officer’s office. The vehicles to ferry the staff were to carry a maximum of four passengers including the driver. Hence decisions had to be made who was to travel in which car. The major challenge was who to travel in the same car with Mr Green. At the place of work, Mr Green was Chauffeur driven and preferred traveling alone. During the field trip, the vehicles were few and the team had to share them.
At the field office, the officer in charge welcomed the visitors and gave a brief of the station and the region. Questions and comments followed randomly from the participants. Mr Green kept quiet and only moderated the session ensuring that the discussion revolved around the vision and objectives of the company. Where the field officer could not explain, Mr Green solicited for views from the participants and also gave his suggestions. Some of the suggestions given by Mr Green were radical and members of his team were quick to tone him down.
A visit to the offices of stakeholders working with the field officer then followed. The field officer was the one in charge of the group and introduced the visitors to the recipients. Everybody would introduce him/herself and what they do in the company. The officers from the recipient institution also did the same.
The field officer gave the mantle to Mr Green who explained the purpose of the visit. Mr Green explained about the cordial relationship between the two organizations and how this has helped to glue their relations. He also highlighted areas that need to be improved to make both organizations benefit more. The senior officer from the stakeholder organization also made a presentation about their relationship with officers serving Mr Green and what needed to be improved. Other officers were requested to make comments and diverse opinions were given from both teams. Recommendations of areas for follow up were done and certain officers appointed to undertake follow up. Through the generosity of the stakeholder institution, both teams shared a cup of tea, snacks and a bottle of bottled water. The same type of visits was repeated for several stakeholder institutions.
In the evenings, the teams took dinner together. Mr Green insisted that everybody attends the dinner. Food was served and drinks were served in plenty. As this happened, jokes of every kind were exchanged. Mr Green was careful to choose a seat anywhere in the table. He was particularly keen to choose a seat next to a timid officer or those he felt there was need to enhance bonding. During the discussions, he was keen to creatively engage to dispel those negative energies that make officers to disagree with each other.
A field trip was done to sites of interest. Normally, Mr Green preferred visit to sites where his institution was undertaking an activity. This would give an opportunity to interact with clients and to assess whether they were performing well.
The trip was over and staff reluctantly went back to the office. In the boardroom the dialogue between the senior managers had changed, being dominated by their outdoor fieldwork experience. Those good practices they saw, reception remarks and refreshments, size, color and arrangement of offices, recommendations agreed on and inquiry on status of implementation. The boardroom was filled with these new experiences. When Mr Green introduced the agenda of debriefing on the field trip, everybody had something to say and a recommendation for improving the affairs of the company.
Jog your mind
Explain the kind of leadership exhibited in this case study?
Comment on Mr Green’s leadership influence tactics
@Ayub Macharia, May 2014

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Leadership Stuff

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