Group Technique

Work with energy

Good Group Tips

 

In principle, energy in a group is like current in a river. Sometimes it flows strong in a specific direction with all group members feeling strongly about the same thing. It might be huge, shared enthusiasm. It might be huge, shared anger. Sometimes group energy is virtually stagnant or almost undetectable. Sometimes it is turbulent with opposing and complex swirling currents.

Like group energy, you can’t change a river’s current with the flip of a switch. At best you can hold it up briefly or redirect it, but strong currents cannot be eliminated. The energy has to go somewhere.

Practical Tip: When trying to lead a group with a strong current work with the group energy and not against it. At best, redirect group energy in helpful ways; ways that work incrementally towards group objectives. Work with the group’s most energetic people and encourage slight changes of course.

If a group is stagnant or turbulent and you want to get them moving in a shared direction, do so by offering a way forward. Make a compelling suggestion rather than a punitive threat.

Maintain credibility. Do not offend. Go with the flow.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Light hand on the tiller

Good Group Tips

In principle, when the sailboat is nicely trimmed; that is, the sails are set perfectly for the wind and direction of travel, the skipper can have a light hand on the tiller. The tiller is what steers the boat, connected to the rudder. Ideal sailing is no pressure on the rudder and no need to hold the tiller tight.

Often groups sail almost by themselves, with perhaps a facilitator, leader, or supervisor on watch. When there is little tension, one can lead passively by making sparse but meaningful comments, by writing summary notes on a screen or flipchart for all to see, or by simply being present and providing security.

When wind and waves are turbulent and quickly changing, when there is tension, the group leader needs to be more active and hold the tiller tight.

Practical Tip: As a group leader or facilitator, steer no more than necessary. Trim the group according to wind (group energy) and direction of travel (desired outcomes) and keep a light hand on the tiller; but never so light that it will get away from you if there’s a gust.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Hear, hear

Good Group Tips

In principle, groups can be very efficient when there is a culture of quick and visible agreement, like in the British Parliament when someone makes a statement and others yell, “hear, hear!” On the other hand, groups can be very inefficient when there is a culture of making points over and over in different ways with different nuances with additional tidbits of information.

Further, in group settings we are often quick to find fault and air concerns, a method of group critique that we often assume will result in a better end product. It is refreshing when critical comments get balanced with positive, encouraging shows of support.

Practical Tip: When someone says something you agree with, show it instantly with a “hear, hear” or at least a head nod. It is very useful for the whole group to see such cues. If your general view is expressed by someone else, restrain your need to present the view in a different way with a different spin with a few extra tidbits of information.

Encourage your group to adopt a “hear, hear” culture where members readily show their opinions to the whole group. Saying “hear, hear” is one way but variations include thumb signals, keypad voting, and standing line ups.

Instant, positive feedback. Hear hear!

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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