Magazine article Training & Development

A Personal Mandala for Team Spirit

Magazine article Training & Development

A Personal Mandala for Team Spirit

Article excerpt

Here are five learning activities for developing spirited, high-performing teams.

Many organizations (and teams) have lost their spirit, even their interest in spirit. They operate with visions and values that only faintly stir the hearts and souls of their employees. When heart and soul are missing, workers may withdraw or compensate through compulsive, frenetic, obsessive, or addictive behaviors. These organizations merely keep up with current demands, providing meager service. They are often wounded and in pain, unable to foster authentic communication or heal themselves. They are without spirit and without joy.

Many efforts to infuse organizations and teams with spirit are prompted by research on high-performing systems that says spirit is a key underlying consideration for success. Just as scientists identified atomic particles as the unseen but essential building blocks of the physical universe, the unseen but essential qualities of team spirit can be identified and named. These qualities provide a common vocabulary for teams to talk about their work together.

The figure, "The Team Spirit Spiral," shows six team qualities, characterized as phases.All teams, whether consciously or unconsciously, move through and operate in all six phases - linked by the final critical element, service. Each phase has a unique contribution in realizing spirit in a team. The phases spiral together simultaneously and interdependently. Ordinary work groups can become spirited, high-performing teams by consciously attending to each of the phases.

Here are five learning activities to help build team spirit and develop high-performing teams.

Exercise 1: Initiating Activity - Personal Mandala

Learning goal.

To provide an initiating experience to promote communication and relationship among team members, have them tell their stories and visually express their uniqueness as persons and team members.

Preparation.

1. Photocopy the Personal Mandala handout for all participants ([ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] on page 48).

2. Tear off sheets of flipchart paper for each participant and place them in an out-of-the way place in the room.

3. Tear off two-inch strips of masking tape and place them on the walls in groups of four to six, two strips for each participant.

Learning activity.

1. Explain that a mandala (the Sanskrit word for circle) is a visual representation of prized values, beliefs, and viewpoints held by individuals and groups that captures their essence or spirit.

2. Give participants sheets of flipchart paper and a variety of colored markers.

3. Distribute copies of the Personal Mandala handout and review the four quadrants with participants. The ribbon at the bottom provides space for a personal credo - an essential principle or perspective that the individual relies on as a guide for everyday life. That can be an inspirational thought, the title of a book or piece of music, a line of poetry, or any belief that the participant can express in a phrase or short sentence.

4. Instruct participants to use only images, icons, or pictures that symbolize their responses to each of the four quadrants. The credo is to be written. Ask participants to put their names at the top of their papers. (Allow 15 minutes.)

5. Next, assign participants to teams of four to six people. Designate a separate area of the room for each team. Note the masking tape positioned in each of those areas, and ask participants to tape their mandalas to the appropriate wall.

6. Within the small groups, each participant should describe what he or she has drawn in each of the four quadrants and answer questions from the team. Suggest that one participant monitor the time so that each participant has an equal opportunity to share. (Allow 10 to 15 minutes, about two to three minutes per person.)

7. Reassemble the full group. Ask participants to share their individual goals for the workshop and one other quadrant of their choice. …

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