I’ve recently run an 8 day course over two weeks (4 days per week) for eight male shop floor first line supervisors and found it fascinating watching the team bond and grow together.  On the first day they were a group of relative strangers who whilst working for the same company worked in different departments and didn’t know everyone else.

Over the course of the first four days I watched them interact with each other in the group exercises, share information about themselves and generally go through the forming, storming and norming phases.  I constantly changed the mix of groups for every exercise.

They quickly established working practices for the reviews and group work about what they would cover and how much details they would go into.  As we went into the second week the groups started helping each other during the feedback sessions, supporting each other (they clapped every exercise feedback from day 1), finishing sentences if the presenter got stuck and generally just encouraging each other.

I ran a problem solving exercise on day 4 and added one of the observers into the mix.  The results were fascinating as the group originally just ignored the new members and didn’t listen to her during the sharing of information stage.  It was only when she started “pushing” herself forward and physically interjecting herself into the middle of the group that they started taking notice of her.

Possibly as a result of her observing for most of the week they soon integrated her into their structure and she became an integral part of the team, to the extent that on a couple of days the following week she couldn’t observe due to other work commitments and the team actually missed her.

Normally I run this course over 4 two day blocks a month or so apart and haven’t had any other team become as close knit as this one did and really noticed the difference in quality from allowing them to spend all week in each others company, and mixing up the groups throughout.  Obviously all the credit goes to the group for their input, effort and commitment, it was so refreshing to see a model so well executed and delivered though.