Activity Xmas Gift

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013No Comments

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How extreme team building could help the public sector

Thursday, July 15th, 2010No Comments

The public sector is facing the biggest change in its history. George Osborne, Chancellor in the UK’s Coalition Government, is asking Whitehall departments to reduce spending by up to 25 per cent. How will notoriously conservative (with a small c) civil servants cope with change on this unprecedented scale? As hurricane winds of change sweep through government departments, how will leaders and employees cope? How can organisations help their people learn to survive and thrive in the brave new world of changes. In the words of Bob Dylan

Jack Broadley is a former Royal Naval officer who trained officers at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. He now runs a consultancy specialising in developing future leaders, working with clients to maximise performance and enhance levels of effectiveness, especially during periods of rapid cultural change such as mergers or acquisitions.

His solution is extreme. ‘We see extreme sports activities and team building as a metaphor for change in organisations,’ says Broadley. He believes that putting people in team building activities such as high ropes or on the water can replicate many of the challenges faced in organisations. ‘It requires reacting quickly to rapid change, and above all the environment is unfamiliar,’ he says. Sound familiar to anyone in the public sector?

high ropes

Challenge leaders to be authentic

‘Putting people in an environment where they learn quickly from their mistakes can be hugely beneficial for managers and teams,’ explains Broadley. But he adds there is a difference between challenging and frightening people. And surely many in the public sector are frightened enough. ‘We don’t believe in scaring people, they learn better when they are in a supportive environment,’ he says.

As a practitioner in this field, Broadley is keen to stress that one of the keys to business to getting more out of team building exercises is putting the skills learned into context. ‘What is critical is that people take the skills and apply them. It’s not  just a fun day out of the office,’ he says.

Broadley notices that when managers and teams are undertaking a sport such as sailing, relationships that, on the surface, seem okay in the office environment can break down. ‘When you put people on a level playing field, they can’t just rely on rank or hide behind their desks. It is about developing authentic leaders,’ he says.

‘It keeps things real. Managers learn about their own strengths and where they have to rely on other people. The do-it-yourself approach is definitely old thinking,’ believes Broadley.

Quite how the press and the public sector unions would react to managers hanging from ropes or yachting on the taxpayer is uncertain. But one way or another, Broadley argues that people within organisations, public or private, need to be better equipped to handle change.  If you want to consider some team building activities for your organisation, click here.

And, you can contact Jack Broadley via his company website.