We began the engagement by working with executives from the Alliance to determine teamwork training topics, scope, timing, and expectations. A pilot training class resulted in feedback that sessions were too long, given the pace of work at the work site. So we modified the training to cut class time in half, and rolled out Phase 1 core skills (meetings, communication, creativity, and conflict management) to 175 employees within one month.
We rolled out Phase 2 team skills (team goals, roles & responsibilities, decision-making, and problem solving) over a two month period. The first issue was that teams identified by management was not the collection of people who needed to engage in these sessions. So ‘real teams’ were identified and training continued. Despite the fact that these training sessions were focused on resolving real work issues, attendance began to fall off. When management attempted to re-emphasize the importance of these sessions, one of the alliance partner’s senior management team admitted their general lack of support for teamwork training, and attendance plummeted.
To demonstrate that the teamwork skills could in fact make an immediate impact on work progress, we agreed to stop training classes and instead began coaching key team leaders. Establishing good meeting structures and processes was the most immediate impact, simply by making team members more accountable by recording and monitoring their action items. Helping team leaders as they manage conflict that has been avoided for years was another significant accomplishment.