Team INmersion – Our Experience of Team Development
As a team, we always benefit from opportunities that help us spend quality time together working on things that nourish us from a human perspective. Opportunities for shared learning, personal development and perspective sharing really feed who we are and help us understand ourselves and each other better.
Having worked together intensively throughout 2020 developing virtual developmental learning experiences, we felt that a great way to end the year would be to experience one ourselves. So, as part our end of year celebrations, we took some time out to undertake our own Team INmersion.
We knew that we wanted to engage differently to achieve clear outcomes around better team working. “The chance to work together on our own Team INmersion programme was too good to miss” for our Managing Director, Matthew. He felt that we needed to come together in an inspirational environment that felt unlike everyday work online and where we could engage with one other in a different way. Also, as our methods of working are developmental, he was keen for the team to improve their collaboration and problem-solving skills, enhance self-awareness and increase appreciation for each other. It was a chance to ‘walk the talk’ and benefit from the experience, by internalising what it feels like to be a participant in one of our programmes while experimenting with some new ways of doing things in a virtual context.
We also wanted to make an impact (one of our team values is being impact-led) where, by coming together, we could help support an organisation doing valuable work driving social change. It is an approach that we apply in our work with others but not something we had undertaken ourselves in a concerted way as a team. To do it virtually was logistically less complicated, given that our team spans several countries and continents.
Andy Gale, Emerging World’s Business Manager, who primarily works on back office administration with little opportunity to experience our programmes felt that “the opportunity to participate in a team immersion event based on the experiences we deliver in the field with a partner organisation was very exciting”. This sentiment was shared by Sally, our Marketing Manager. Sally has spent a lot of time over the last few years learning about the impact of our experiences through data and feedback from programme participants, and partner organisations. She was looking forward to an opportunity to experience first-hand the programmes we undertake to bring the data she works on to life. It also represented a great opportunity to see herself and our team working together outside of our usual roles and responsibilities.
Bringing it all together
Some of our team members worked innovatively to develop a robust Team INmersion programme for all seven of us in the core team. The programme spanned 5 sessions, which included 3 half days over Zoom with individuals of the leadership team of Pwani Teknowgalz – an organisation based in Mombasa, Kenya that supports the growth of STEM education for underprivileged young women. Over the course of the programme, we incorporated some interesting elements to bring the context of their work and the challenge they were presenting to life: We had a virtual tour of Mombasa that really immersed us in the partner’s environment; we held small group discussions with the young women supported by the partner organisation to understand how it has impacted their lives; and we used Action Learning, a problem-solving methodology that underpins our work, to solve their most urgent and important organisation challenge.
Our learnings and the impact
We were pleasantly surprised about the level of engagement we were able to generate virtually and really pleased with the overall outcome. Sally especially resonated with supporting young women’s education. She felt “inspired by the passion and resilience of Ruth and Aisha, the Directors at Pwani Teknowgalz, and how they have had to work hard to develop trust within the communities in which they serve”.
Elements of the programme, such as the virtual tour of the City of Mombasa and the Pwani Teknowgalz base, gave a real sense of location, culture, and people. Working closely with the partner on a real issue that they are currently facing was powerful in creating a feeling of involvement with their organisation and engagement with their team. The small group discussions with the young women supported by the partner impacted us all deeply, as it showed that, as Andy put it, “the world is a small place where people from very different backgrounds can come together, share experiences, and offer advice and support”.
Impact on Teamworking and Purpose
In addition, we have a new relationship with a partner organisation that we want to support on an ongoing basis and who felt that the experience helped them, plus, we can communicate passionately about the value of these experiences from our own personal experience – something that not all of us could testify to previously.
What the team thought about the experience
We all shared our take on what this experience meant for us personally, here are some snippets of our feedback:
“Since the experience, I feel that I have a greater understanding of the impact our programmes have on participants and partners. Now, when I look at the data from programmes, I feel that I will have a more tangible understanding of what those numbers mean”.
“Simply…this was a great experience from a team perspective for us all to get to know each other a little more, work together to develop as a team and to come together to help an organisation with their challenge”.
“This was a hugely valuable opportunity and thank you to everyone that put it together and facilitated it for that gift to us”.
“Powerful experience to bring the team together outside the normal work context”.
“From having had this experience, I have no doubt that other teams would benefit massively from having a similar opportunity. We are all working at a distance and in stressful conditions, working hard to get stuff done. Giving people the opportunity to connect with each other as humans around something inspirational fulfils a need inside all of us at the moment. Addressing this while also offering opportunities to experiment with new behaviours that help us to collaborate, problem-solve and become more able to successfully navigate ambiguity and complexity offers great value. And providing a safe environment in which we can give and receive feedback from colleagues in terms of how we show up is almost priceless.”
“Apart from the getting support from the Emerging World team on the challenge we had proposed, I have acquired new lessons and skills that will assist me lead the organisation as the director such as empowering others and listening more. The entire Emerging World team were remarkable and dedicated to support my colleague and I come up with tangible solutions for our challenge”.
To hear more on Ruth’s perspective of working with us, click the link here
Interested in your own Team INmersion or would like to understand more about our Virtual Immersion Experiences