How to Grow a Great Staff Culture

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Managing Director of Learning Architects. More information: learningarchitects.com/about or call +64 21 590 572
Monday, January 14th, 2019|Education, Leadership, School Leadership

The quality of the relationships that exist amongst the team will determine how well the team gets its work done.

The basis of any cohesive staff culture is determined by the depth of the relationships that exist amongst team members. Donald Clifton, the founder of the strengths-based psychology movement and creator of the CliftonStrengths Finder, believed that every time a team met, its members should learn something new about each other. These exercises are designed to help you grow a great staff culture.

With a better understanding of one another, your team will have the potential for deeper relationships. This can translate into a happier, more trusting, and more productive workplace. If leaders are intentional about how they create a climate where staff relationships continually deepen, then the organisation will flourish.

If you implement these exercises with a focus on how we can deepen relationships, you will be off to a great start. These are some of the ideas which we’ve found to be highly effective at helping people connect and deepen their relationships. We suggest you explicitly state the goal of the activity in terms of how it relates to your staff, linking it to your annual plans.

We suggest you follow up with a discussion about the intent and purpose of the activity. This is the ideal time to take it deeper and provide rigour to the discussion. Of course, you may just wish to have fun!

Strategies to Grow a Great Staff Culture

All of these ideas can be changed up or adapted for different audiences, such as your students. Feel free to suggest ones you’ve used and we will include them in this list.

This activity takes a bit of preparation but is worth the effort – it is one of my personal favourites. In essence, it requires someone to conduct a survey of all staff and revealing the information at an upcoming social event.

Purpose:

  • To provide a fun way for staff to get to know one another better.
  • To showcase how a Google Form and Slideshow can be used.

Instructions:

  1. Use a Google Form and gather the following information:
    • Name
    • Photo
    • Something they think others may not know about them that they are willing to share. This could be something a little obscure, or even riske!
  2. Collate the information using a Google Slideshow, putting each person’s ‘clue’ onto a separate slide. On the following slide, place the photo and name of the person. Alternatively, you might wish to have all the clues and organise it as a sort of BINGO session, where the clues are revealed towards the end – your choice.
  3. Hold a social event to run the game. The idea is for people to try and figure out which person relates to which ‘clue’ which creates great discussion and in many cases, hilarity.
  4. We found putting people into teams is a great way to have some fun.

In our work as PLD providers, we’ve set this activity up so that the person who has never used a Google Slideshow is responsible for collating the clues about each person. Of course, you might decide to buddy him or her up with someone who can help collate it!

This exercise is a guessing game where each person in the team has to come up with three ideas.

Purpose: to deepen each person’s knowledge about the team and encourage interaction and communication.

Instructions:

  1. Have each person list three items – two must be truths about themselves and one must be a lie. The lie must be believable.
  2. Place these up for all to see.
  3. Get participants to try and figure out which is the lie for each person.
  4. Once all participants have guessed, the first person reveals which is the lie and tells the story behind it.

This activity requires some drama and opens the possibility up for exploring bias.

Purpose: to help the team develop a sense of how to treat each other’s job role and to explore how people may treat others based on their role.

Instructions:

  1. Put a label or name tags on each team member’s back with a name of people type like a builder, athlete, doctor, teacher, mechanic, homeless, hard of hearing, etc. You might choose different roles to spark varying viewpoints.
  2. Group members have to treat the person according to how they view their role/label.
  3. Group members will see each other’s tags and for a set amount of time ask questions to each other according to the tags they have on them.
  4. Each person has to figure out what the label is on them on the basis of how the rest team treats them and ask them questions.
  5. Once a person figures out their role/label they can exit the game.

This one is great to reveal experiences that members may have had. This activity I’ve done with many classes over the years, but it can equally become an adult learning exercise.

Purpose: to explore aspects about people that we don’t know.

Instructions:

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle with chairs.
  2. One person is in the middle – their job is to prompt.
  3. The prompter asks ‘Have you ever…’ placing something on the end of the sentence stem.
  4. If people have experienced or done the activity, they must move.
  5. We suggest you warm everyone up with some non-riske ideas that get everyone moving… eg. ridden a horse, fallen off a trampoline, etc.

This one is really fun and will cause a LOT of laughter. Get ready to be silly!

Purpose: to have a lot of fun and laughter!

Instructions:

  1. Make a list of as many well-known songs you can think of. These can be theme songs or just well-known anthems… it doesn’t matter.
  2. Write each song onto a piece of paper and place these into a hat.
  3. Break the group into teams and have each team draw a song.
  4. Take turns for each team to hum/whistle or act the song (decide this based on the group, or change it up for different groups).
  5. The other teams have to guess the song.

Change it up by having points and prizes. If you really want to increase the difficulty, introduce a food each group has to eat prior to performing (eg. Weet-Bix, crackers, marshmellows, etc. but don’t let anyone choke!).

If you have other strategies please suggest them in the comments for this post and we will include them in this list.

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