Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Time for a Work Out?

Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of time that a professional athlete spends training, working out and preparing to compete, versus the amount of time she actually competes?  Reality is in most cases the preparation, training and work out time exceeds 90% of their time and the actual performance or competition is less than 10%.

It seems completely flipped in the world of business.  In fact, it actually is probably more like 1% of our time we actually train, develop, work out and prepare, and we are expected to perform at a high level 99% of the time.  What’s wrong with this picture?

It should be obvious.  Nobody, and I mean nobody performs anything at all at a level of expertise and excellence without ongoing training and working out.  We hear and read so much in the business literature about teams and teamwork and building and leading healthy and productive teams.  Yet I find that there is not enough emphasis put on working out as teams and preparing and stretching.  Like a muscle needs to be worked out to grow, so does a team!

When is the last time you worked out your team, or participated in a team work out?  Some of you won’t even know what I mean by this and most of you will probably say never.  I’m not talking about a planning meeting; I am talking about a true team work out.  Whenever our company leads a corporate planning or other type event, we always start with a team work out.  Sometimes when we work with our clients on developing the agenda for our event, they say, “What do you mean by a team work out?”  Here are a few Q’s and A’s on the topic:

Why should my team work out?

 The world of business operations is the only arena in which we spend little to know time working out together, and yet we are expected to perform at a high level at all times.  Contrast this to other areas such as team sports, where teams spend 90%+ of their time working out together, and less than 10% of their time performing.  The only way to improve how we work as a team is to work out together.

What is a team work out?

A team workout is led by a professional facilitator who takes members of a team through a simulation activity.  There are dozens of such activities on a professional business coach’s toolkit, which focus on and workout particular issues much like different weight lifting exercises work out different muscles.

The most powerful learning associated with a team work out is an effective debrief, where the facilitator processes with the team what the experience was like.  This is an experiential learning process, where people learn from what they felt and how they behaved in the team system.  A professional facilitator is able to “slow it down” and help people process what happened and related it to their real life work environment.

How long does it take?

Most of our team work outs take a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum of 60 minutes.  The average work out can be carried out, debriefed and learnings summarized and embedded within about 45 minutes, although we prefer to have an hour.

How many people can participate?

Most team workouts can be used with teams from 8 to 20, with some of our simulations applicable to larger groups.

What do we learn?

Team members learn through experience, how they and their colleagues behave and how they interact with each other in the context of the team system.  Through the debrief team members are able to make new “resonant choices” regarding who and how they want and need to be in the workplace.

How much space do we need?

For a good team workout, it is best to have a space of around 600 square feet.

How do we proceed?

Most of our clients bring us in to deliver ten team work outs per year.  Often team workouts are included when we are facilitating planning events, board retreats or other of our full and multi-day initiatives aimed at creating alignment and high performing teams.

Cameron’s Call to Actionktc_icon

  1. How much time has your leadership or other team spent working out together in the last year? Does it show?
  2. What team muscles or competencies would you like to have stretched and grown?
  3. Contact a professional coach that specializes in supporting growth and get your team involved in a work out – you will get a great return on your investment.

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and workplace mental health.