Team conflicts? How to Explore Comfort Zones through Inner Work Exercises
In today’s dynamic workplace and rapidly changing economy, teamwork, in my opinion, is the key to success. Effective teams rely on a harmonious blend of skills, personalities, and roles.
It rarely happens that a team works together in the same constellation for several years. Team members come and go; depending on the project, it is reshuffled anew. Therefore, it is all the more important that each individual first understands their role in the company precisely and feels comfortable in it. Discovering where team members feel most comfortable and empowered within these roles is essential for optimizing a team’s performance.
Why is it so important that each team member feels confortable with its role?
Before delving deeper, it’s crucial to understand the significance of role comfort within teams. Obviously, when team members operate within their comfort zones, they are more likely to excel, contribute meaningfully, and collaborate effectively. Recognizing each member’s preferred roles can foster better communication, reduce conflicts, and lead to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction in the new work paradigm.
Inner work exercises can play a pivotal role in helping teams uncover the strengths and preferences of each member. I would love to share with you some hands-on inner work exercises designed to identify who feels comfortable in which roles within a team.
But wait! There is one first important first step that cannot be missed out:
Step 1 – Establish Psychological Safety
Before engaging in inner work exercises, teams must cultivate an atmosphere of psychological safety. Encourage open communication, empathy, and non-judgmental acceptance. When team members feel safe sharing their preferences and vulnerabilities, the exercises become more effective in uncovering role comfort.
Step 2 – Do Hands-On Inner Work Exercises
Now, let’s explore several hands-on exercises designed to help teams identify role comfort in the new work environment:
Exercise 1: The Role Playground
Create a “role playground” by drawing a large circle on a whiteboard or paper.
Assign various roles within the team, such as leader, organizer, mediator, innovator, executor, or communicator, to different sections of the circle.
Ask each team member to place a marker or sticky note on the role(s) they feel most comfortable in.
Encourage participants to explain their choices and what qualities they believe make them well-suited to those roles.
Discuss the results as a team and identify potential overlaps or gaps in role preferences.
Exercise 2: The Role Rotation
Divide the team into small groups, ensuring that each group represents a mix of roles.
Provide a list of tasks or scenarios that require different roles within the team.
Rotate the groups through each scenario, allowing individuals to take on various roles.
After each rotation, ask team members to reflect on their experiences and discuss how comfortable they felt in each role.
Share insights as a whole group and explore any surprises or realizations that emerged during the exercise.
Step 3 – Reflect and Discuss
After completing the hands-on exercises, it’s essential to facilitate reflection and discussion within the team. Encourage team members to share their insights, including which roles they found most comfortable, why certain roles resonated with them, and how they believe their role preferences can contribute to the team’s success in the new work landscape.
Step 4 – Integrate your Insights into Team Dynamics
Once role comfort zones are identified, your team can integrate these insights into its daily operations. Here are some strategies:
Role Allocation: Assign team roles based on individual preferences and strengths.
Role Rotation: Occasionally rotate team members into different roles to promote skill development and cross-functional understanding.
Role Flexibility: Encourage team members to step out of their comfort zones when needed, but also respect their preferred roles in the evolving new work environment.
Step 5 – Build a High-Performing Team
When team members are aware of their role comfort zones and work in harmony, the team becomes a well-oiled machine. Teams are more likely to achieve their goals, innovate, and adapt to challenges efficiently. A high-performing team is one that leverages each member’s strengths and preferences to create a synergistic and productive environment in the context of the new work era.
In today’s collaborative workspaces, understanding where team members feel comfortable in various roles is a key factor in achieving success. Hands-on inner work exercises can help teams uncover these role comfort zones, leading to better communication, reduced conflicts, and improved team dynamics. Embrace these exercises as a means to foster a deeper understanding of your team’s unique strengths and preferences, ultimately propelling your team towards greatness in the ever-evolving landscape of new work.