Tools to help your team thrive

The metaFox deep pictures “Growing Together” combine 52 powerful images with coaching questions that unlock the hidden potential of teams or resolve conflicts within a group.

What makes a great team?

A well-performing team will hold a number of qualities, such as trust, commitment, mutual support, patience, flexibility and complementing skill sets. Different people will consider certain qualities to be more important than others. In its ‘Project Aristole’ Google researchers found ‘psychological safety’, i.e. the team members’ ability to “feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other” the most important quality of successful teams.

In a team offering psychological safety, group members feel comfortable to ask any question and bring up controversial topics. According to Project Aristotle, in order to get there, it helps to frame work as learning and approach it with curiosity.

However, what exactly does a team go through, to arrive at a stage of highly effective collaboration?

The dynamics of team development

Every group of people will go through certain processes throughout its life span. Researchers have come up with various group development models over time to describe these. In the following, we briefly present the Firo B model, named after the California seminar room where it was originally developed by Will Schutz in the late 1950s. John Whitmore, co-creator of the GROW Coaching Model, presents the model in its most simplistic form. Having only three stages, we consider this the most applicable version:

1. Inclusion

In its early stages, a group determines if they (feel like they) belong together. The individual members’ needs for acceptance and fear of rejection are guiding behaviour to a large extent. Therefore, most will act carefully and watch out for future norms, set by (explicit or implicit) group leaders and fellow members. This is where displaying openness, curiosity and vulnerability, as described above, can help to spark psychological safety.

2. Assertion

With an increasing number of people feeling included, the dynamic of individual assertion will emerge. Group members will express power and mark territory – or in business speech “establish roles and functions”. People try themselves out and competition can lead to great productivity, sometimes at the expense of others. A team’s leader might have a difficult time, but they should still appreciate this phase as productive and valuable for the team’s development.

3. Cooperation

With roles and responsibilities being established, some teams make it to different degrees of this third stage. In the previous phases, energy was turned inward to the emotional needs of dependent people (inclusion) and towards competition between independent members (assertion). Once the cooperation stage is reached, energy can now be directed on a common outward goal. To achieve it, now interdependent team members who support each other on a bad day.

metaFox deep pictures Growing Together

Conversation fuel towards psychologically safe teams​

Even without a team knowing about the models and concepts described above, it can benefit greatly from raising awareness for group dynamic processes. At the same time, it is often difficult for individual group members to bring up these subtleties and state their needs.

The deep pictures Card Decks combine powerful images and coaching questions in a deck of 52 picture cards. The theme “Growing Together” are specifically build as coaching cards for teams.


How to use the deep pictures Growing Together

The deep pictures “Growing Together” can be a valuable tool for effective coaching and to help conversations emerge. You can try different methods:

A trigger for conversation

When starting your retrospective, your supervision or a strategic meeting, make space for people to discuss team processes they see. Spread the cards, images facing up, in front of your team. Invite people to “take a card which is your personal metaphor for where we are as a team.” Let people share their image card to visually represent the group’s state and illustrate the coaching journey.

A facilitation tool for appreciation and feedback

Use these coaching cards in a team-building exercise: with small groups of 3-5 people, and the images spread out openly, let everyone select one card each for everyone else. Every participant will end up with cards as appreciative feedback from everyone else in their group. Read more on this method here.

Coaching cards for managers - questions to dig deep

In order to uncover, address and resolve specific processes within the team, you can choose a set of questions which feel relevant to the group and its state and invite your team members to choose which of these questions, arranged in your selection, they consider most relevant to discuss now. In this way, you can coach your team without needing coaching skills.

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