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A Safe Space For Team Sharing

Least week, the Learning Innovation Hub strategy team got together to report back on recent professional development activities. I learned that some meetings can actually inspire rather than bore. With connection being the central theme of Learning for the Future, we need to actively work to improve connections within our teams.

A number of team members recently attended professional development experiences at Vivid Ideas 2017 and rather than it stopping there, we got together to share the ‘lessons learnt’ those sessions. In addition to introducing fantastic ideas to incorporate into our professional and personal lives, I felt this was an invaluable team bonding exercise – showing that we have a ‘safe space’ for sharing. What was the secret of this successful meeting?

Relatability

This unexpectedly positive meeting touched on subjects such as resilience, creativity, sharing failures, as well as practical skills relating to our daily work. We all chose to share the ‘lessons learnt’ in different ways – which made the hour dynamic, interesting and disappear very quickly! Despite the hugely different nature of the roles within our small team, the mix of universal and practical topics discussed was relatable and involved everyone, such as the importance of understanding the why, the purpose of anything we do in the workplace. For example, when Mike Catabay (Educational Media Producer) was sharing about an event he attend on How Your Story Can Change The World, that things fall apart when there is no purpose and the why is overlooked.

Personal

Whilst concepts discussed related to our professional life, they also touched on the importance of personal development. Discussion around mindfulness, health and looking after yourself made me feel less like a cog in a wheel, and more like a person in a team. After I had shared my experience of the About My Brain Institute event, Lilia Mantai (Senior Learning Designer) reflected on how directly our personal development impacts our work life.

Interactive and Creative

Rather than silence as each team member ‘reported’, questions were asked and conversations developed organically. There was laughter and involvement from all team members, with everyone leaving the meeting with a ‘take away’ or self assigned action item. There was no rigid structure, leaving room for creativity. As particular themes emerged from the Vivid events relating to creativity and innovation, the meeting began to mirror those themes. For example, creative and innovative approaches include not being afraid to share your failures (so the whole team can learn from them) and solving problems more effectively by diving deeper into the problem or looking at it in a different way.

How can we make our meetings better and promote safe spaces for sharing?

Most meetings we attend may not be a suitable arena for team bonding and sharing in this. The positivity of this experience came out of the blue and therefore there’s not a simple ‘recipe’ to be replicated. However, a quick search in Lynda for ‘successful meetings’ turned up 3590 results (students and staff have access to Lynda – see here to get started). I plan to explore some of these resources and report back to my team – perhaps at the follow up meeting we are planning already. Maybe you can too!

Due to the sheer quantity of meetings that occur every day in our work lives, I am certainly now more conscious of how I can contribute to make my meetings more successful.

Post Script: After this meeting, new LIH team member Karina Luzia offered to provide a counter response to the ideas shared, both from the perspective of a new team member, and also how those ideas relate to the academic experience.  In the absolute spirit of the openness outlined above, we’ve scheduled a follow up session for Karina to offer her reply.

Feel frees to share ideas, experiences or differing outlooks below on the possibilities of fostering more positive connections in our workplaces.

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