Life force of a team — key elements for self-organised teams (2/3)
Working in a self-organised team isn’t all happy and rosy; it can be complex — after all humans are not simple. If we look at a team as a living organism, what would be the life force?
What essential elements make self-organisation possible, and bring to life what we collaboratively create beyond what any of us could pursue individually?
Here is part 2 with (read part 1 here) some of the collective learnings we have identified at SenseTribe so far. Please keep in mind that this is my personal experience, with some input from the tribe, which may or may not be transferrable to experiences in other self-organised environments:
5. Self-care before solving the issue
We are all responsible for managing our own emotions, no matter how they may have been triggered.
That is difficult sometimes, especially when we clearly see ourselves as the ‘victim’. When we act before taking care of our emotions, this often leads to conflict, no matter if this means we blame ourselves or others (often one includes the other).
Non-violent communication and meditation practices have been very useful to help me identify needs in such situations and to increase my level of self-awareness.
Even though my impulses often tell me to resolve situations as they arise, we as a team have on a bumpy and insightful journey learned to separate operational meetings and spaces for ‘being’ together & handling emotional issues. This has also naturally helped us in many cases to separate individual from organisational challenges.
6. How you appear at work, impacts all
Self-care means you also care for the collective, because your well-being directly impacts your ability to cope with what the day will bring. I have for example noticed that most crisis situations around me occur when I’m not regularly practicing meditation and sports.
It supports collective well-being to inform your team when you have a personal issue bubbling under the carpet, ideally also by clarifying how you’d like to be treated.
When team dynamics mix with personal challenges, things can easily heat up.
People at the verge of an emotional breakdown are much easier to handle when they come with instructions.
All too often the team has been a mirror for me and encouraged me to deal with a personal matter that was affecting my balance at work.
7. The value and challenge of tension
Tension emerges based on individual experiences that are caused by a specific stimulus (more info here).
In teams it can also emerge through diversity and different perspectives. There is value in tension as it helps us let go of learned patterns and thanks to tension we often end up somewhere new. However, there is only so much tension one can handle without suffering from it.
Working in a self-organised environment means living with tension, living with uncertainty and with a constant sense of the diversity of perspectives in the room.
I personally believe that as a result, well-being practices are even more important in self-organised settings.
We sometimes have to agree to disagree and accept the fact that multiple views may be true in order to allow us to move forward.
In fact this is one of the factors that stimulates collective intelligence and the creative ability of a team (read more about the value of tension here).
8. Let go of old patterns to make space for new ones
We all have patterns that do not serve us. Let’s help each other become aware of them. Let’s also keep in mind that this awareness can be painful sometimes.
Let’s not forget that our observations are perceived through our own subjective perception. We naturally include assumptions and judgements, which may not be true for the other. Also, we cannot force anyone to change or impose a course of action.
There is however the possibility to clarify an organisational need that requires a change of work patterns (you can find more about how to do this here). Once we have an agreement on the organisational need we need to address, it becomes easier to agree on a course of action.
Want more? Read part 3 of this article collection here.
Why get into this?
Given the percentage of our time we spend at work, let’s spend it in places where we can enjoy human connection and also learn and grow as human beings.
I cannot think of a better place to do that than a self-organised team. We get to experience a unique living system that evolves in often surprising ways, with blood pumping through the veins and outcomes that often differ from what any individual could come up with.
You probably will not find what you expect, and the experience will likely transform you.
SenseTribe Consulting S.L. is a pan-European multidisciplinary tribe that has been collaborating for one year. We practice (among others) Sociocracy 3.0, non-violent communication and participatory leadership, and we offer storytelling, collaborative process creation and training experiences around effective collaboration and collective well-being.