Adventure Associates

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Telecom Company Creates Strong Cross-Functional Links

The Need

This company had a relatively new group of managers on their leadership team – many of whom were recently promoted into their positions. Although the group was having some great successes and had survived and thrived through a major change effort, a “silo mentality” existed between market channels and departments. The leader of this team knew that he needed to do something to eliminate the myopic “my department only” thinking and build a true team of leaders to enable the organization to succeed in their highly competitive market. He wanted to create an opportunity for his team members to gain a better understanding of each person’s role on the team and to identify what linkages between departments needed improving. He also wanted to strengthen the personal relationships on the team.

The Adventure Associates Process

After interviews with both the leader of the team and several other team members, AAI partnered with the planning group to design a two-and-a-half day program with evening sessions. Participants were assigned some pre-work prior to the session to enable the group to hit the ground running when they arrived.

The program began with an Myers Briggs Type Indicator session to help participants learn more about their own work styles as well as the work styles of each team member. Team members appreciated learning more about what made their colleagues tick and strategies to better speak the language of team members with different preferences. True to the Adventure Associates’ Way, outdoor team challenges were integrated throughout the session to give the group opportunities to practice effective teaming, taking into consideration people’s different personality preferences.

Each team member came prepared with handouts detailing his or her key priorities, challenges and support needs from other teams. Presentations were scattered throughout the multi-day session and helped to create a sense of greater interdependence.

The first evening program gave participants an opportunity to share a little bit about their personal life. Each person brought 5 – 10 items that were symbolic of what was truly important to that individual. Many people reported that in a two-hour period, they had learned more about one another than they had in years of working together. The second evening program gave everyone an opportunity to appreciate each person’s contribution to the team.

The other major component to the program was a "start / stop" activity to prioritize key strategic improvement efforts for the team. Each participant brought three things that the leadership should start doing and three things that it should stop doing that would contribute to improving the organization’s effectiveness, productivity and morale. The group shared and prioritized their ideas and then broke into sub-teams to create action plans for implementation back in the work place.

The Results

The team immediately implemented several ideas including sending out weekly information blasts over voicemail that highlight company news updates and wins. Each person on the team is taking ownership for the different improvement strategies and the work is moving forward.

Team members reported that there were a lot more conversations going on between departments after the meeting. People are making a greater effort to keep each other in the loop and they are asking for help from one another. The silo mentality is breaking down. The focus is switching from competition to collaboration. As one team member reported, we came to the session as a group of individuals and we walked out of it as a team.