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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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The Name of the Game


As you might have guessed, this insight has been inspired by ABBA. I have unashamedly loved ABBA since I was 5. Even when I was enough of a Rock Chick for Bruce Dickinson to ask me to be in one of his videos (long, but true, story), I still loved ABBA.

I have enjoyed watching ABBA being rediscovered; first with the release of ABBA Gold, then the stage show Mamma Mia and, more recently, the film incarnation of the show.

It occurred to me, as I sat down to enjoy the new Mamma Mia film, that the peaks in the group’s popularity have dovetailed with times that have been difficult, economically and politically - the 70s, the early 90s and 2008, for example. And, as most daily headlines testify, we live in challenging times again; indeed, it seems we have forgotten that there is more that unites us than divides us. 

Abba gives us that illusive feelgood factor and the new film is no exception. We laughed (a lot), cried (quite a bit) and a few brave souls even sang along. But the buzz as we all left (top tip, stay until the end of the credits) was that lovely warm fuzzy feeling of having shared a genuinely enjoyable experience.

Reflecting upon such a positive experience, and how shared joy can make such a difference to how we view the world and those around us, I couldn’t help but think about the number of requests I’ve had recently from trainers needing help designing training sessions for dysfunctional teams.

Whilst the individual circumstances of these teams have varied, the common thread throughout was that they were in distress and it was impacting upon individual performance and the success of the team. In particular there were clear signs that relationships between team members, and those they interacted with, were under strain and getting in the way of solving the underlying causes of the problem.

In such circumstances, it is really important to create an environment when team members can talk candidly to one another in a safe and supportive environment. They need to share their frustrations, concerns and, sometimes, genuine hurt or anger at the situation they find themselves in.

They will then need to have an opportunity to agree what will happen differently in order to rebuild the team and the relationships within it.

What is also essential, is to give these teams is a chance to recalibrate; to laugh together, to succeed together, to be impressed by one another.

Look for activities where they get immersed in a challenge, that they will need to work hard to succeed, but ones that don’t take themselves too seriously (you want people laughing, not getting stressed). Make sure that the activities will be ones where they work together and will encourage one another.

If you have seen that the talents of someone in the team are undervalued, look for activities that will give them a chance to shine; to remind everyone that this a good person to have in your team.

They don’t need to be long or expensive either. Some of my favourite activities that I recommend for such teams take less than 30 minutes to run and involve such everyday objects as nails, golf balls, egg boxes, chocolate buttons and tiddlywinks.

Whichever activities you choose to help these teams to reflect, regroup and refocus, remind them that, in this instance, The Winner Doesn’t Take it All; it is (after all) about Knowing Me, Knowing You because that is the best thing we can do :-) 

All the best


Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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