How to train a harmonious unit

by Brett Henebery07 Apr 2017
Teams can be made up of different personalities and temperaments, so how can organisations go about training them to be a harmonious unit?

Speaker, trainer and coach, Mark McPherson – who spoke at the Learning & Development Masterclass held in Sydney on 30 November – told L&D Professional how this can be done.

“The simple reality is everyone is different. We all come with our own upbringing, experiences, knowledge and what we think is the 'right way' and the 'wrong way' to act,” McPherson said.

“If you want people in a team to be a harmonious unit, then we need a variety of approaches simply because everyone is different.”

McPherson pointed out that L&D professionals can't simply leave it to what some people think is common sense because what is common sense to one person is most certainly not to another.

“We need a combination of formal policies and procedures; training and coaching on how to work together in harmony - and cooperatively and collaboratively [and sadly in some cases, just how to be nice]; and formal and informal agreements,” he said.

“And ultimately, a method and a process whereby people can bring new ideas – and even grievances – to the table to be add and discussed.”

McPherson said that in his view, before training or any of these things can take place, L&D professionals need to have some sort of documentation about what is and what is not expected from people.

“I call them standards of behaviour. Other people call them expectations, and yet, other people call them rules. But I don't think it matters,” he said.

“L & D professionals have an opportunity here to show some real leadership and help individuals, teams and indeed whole organisations work out and agree what are the 'standards of behaviour' we need to abide by so we can be harmonious and ultimately as productive as we can be.”

McPherson said that this way, L&D professionals can get help, provide education, training and coaching on how learners can live up to those standards.

But suppose a team is already harmonious but not necessarily productive. What kind of motivational training can give learners that all-important boost?

McPherson said there is no doubt that there are many ways to motivate people to work harder, more efficiently and more productively. However, he pointed out that different people react to different methods to get them motivated.

“For some people, rewards work. For others, a sense of pride they get from producing high quality work and lots of it, while for others, it's a sense of purpose - they understand what they are doing, why they're doing it and how it fits into the big picture,” he said.

“For others, it's simply getting a pat on the back for coming to work each day and doing their best.”
McPherson suggested that before L&D Professionals resort to implementing some sort of 'motivational training' to get staff to be more productive, there's a few steps they need to implement first.

“It sounds so basic yet I am surprised time and time again, how often organisations don't get the best from staff because they haven't properly informed staff exactly what it is they expect from them,” he said.

“If, for example, you're on the frontline of an organisation dealing with the public: how many customers should you be serving in a shift and how long should you be spending on average with each customer?”

He added that one of the best pieces of motivation from his own experience is letting people know exactly what level of productivity is actually expected from them.

“It sounds so basic, but it's surprising that some people don't actually know they're not as productive as they could be, or as productive as other people, as they've never been told what the accepted levels of productivity are?” he said.

“If your job is to sweep the railway station from one end to the other and make it 'as clean as possible', has somebody actually told you how long it should take to do the job? And is it clear what 'as clean as possible' actually means?”