I participated in an Art of Participatory Leadership workshop. The workshop lasted 2.5 days. The first evening session, after an early dinner, was dedicated to getting to know each other. This evening session was a very worthwhile investment. While investing 10 % of the available time in personal introduction may seen as a lot, it helped greatly in relationship building, and developing common ground and trust.
Workshops are about something we want to achieve to get our work done. This can be a burning question to investigate to deepen our understanding and find ways to deal with tricky issues; processes that need review to make them smoother and more agile; or stories to share to change our perspective on certain issues and receive inspiration from others how to advance our own thinking and doing.
People connecting with each other and forming relationships has business value. It improves teamwork and builds trust.
How much relationships building do we need in a workshop?
I often observe in workshops and meetings that relationships are taken for granted. But that is not always the case. Even in short meetings like Brown Bag Lunches we miss an opportunity if we do not invest a few minutes into connecting the people in the room. Connecting people in a workshop is no luxury; it is a must to get our work done; anywhere, anytime.
We need input from people with a diversity of viewpoints to help generate innovative new ideas. If our circle of connections grow too small, or if everyone in it starts thinking the same way, we’ll stop generating new ideas.
Why we should encourage and support new relationship building
- I trust whom I know and I share with whom I trust. To discuss issues (especially sensitive and challenging ones) openly and receive honest feedback an atmosphere of trust is needed.
- New people to the group and also shyer and more introvert people appreciate to be introduced and connected to the group. We can make them feel comfortable and encourage contribution.
- Diversity is boosting learning. Each of us has her/ his contacts, an informal network of (often) like-minded people. By reaching out to other people from different teams, organizations and industries we bring diversity into the room.
Sharing complex knowledge requires trusted professional relationships. You cannot just throw people together and hope they will work effectively on difficult problems.
Some ideas for connecting people in meetings and workshops
It is our task as facilitators and organizers to create the environment where new relationships are built and existing ones are strengthened. It needs little time to connect participants. It does not have to be a presentation round. It can be more dynamic and more fun.
- 3-4’ Say hello to the neighbor sitting in your back, or in front of you or next to you. Just informally, some small talk, and a nice chatter will fill the room. No follow up. Just this. 3-4′ that’s it.
- 10’ Speed networking.
- 20’ Speed networking while moving: same as speed networking with the difference that people move freely in the room; on an agreed sign (e.g. clap by the facilitator) everyone stops and has a chat with the person standing next.
- 30’ Sociometric introduction combined with small chats in the clusters that are forming.
How do you facilitate connections?
- Design for successful learning events – three essentials
- Trust, the essential ingredient in networks
- Input and conversation the flipped way – for stronger connections and deeper engagement