Getting my team onboard

In case you aren’t sure whether to read this or not… I have been dealing with an issue of cooperation in my team. I happened to be at a workshop on Problem Solving, in which I was able to use the method of Intervision to find several ways I could ensure better cooperation. Read on to find out how!

Photo by Pukpik on Unsplash (Copenhagen harbor – looks a lot like Amsterdam, right?)

I know that “getting people on board” is the way to accomplish a joint goal. Because as a former sailor, I know that if you leave people behind, while you are the one sailing, they will just be watching from the sidelines and may or may not even know how much fun you are having as you enjoy the cool breeze, the lapping of the waves and the occasional little salty spray that brings a smile to your face as you negotiate your course up the river, across the sea, or even just tacking around the lake.

If they knew what fun I was having on my virtual boat, they’d really want to join in. And I wouldn’t want them to be jealous when there is definitely room for more on this vessel. If they were afraid to get seasick – I’d offer dramamine and life jackets, and a promise to return to the dock as soon they aren’t comfy.  You never know how much fun it is to sail together until you’ve given it a try, so why not jump aboard?

My problem

My team at work isn’t sure they like sailing at all. Or if they like it, they don’t have time to sail, don’t want to learn how to sail, or would prefer to do other things on their long to-do lists. And yes, if I were sailing a small boat on a lake on a summer’s day, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just enjoy myself and stop when I was done. I’d still have fun, sailing by myself.
But in this case, it’s more like I’m crossing the Atlantic ocean on a biggish yacht, where I need to also take off some time for sleep and we have to get to New York by a certain date, when our new passengers will join us. And if I’m sailing, trimming sails, navigating, then who will cook meals, and check my calculations and also take over some of the watches? I can’t do it all – it’s not a summer’s day ‘job’.


Yesterday, I pulled myself out of sick leave, (just got over a mega stomach bug), and was at an Adlerian event – “National Courage Day” (one of the main principles of Adlerian psychology is ‘Encouragement.’ ), where I had chosen to join the workshop “Samen problemen oplossen” [Together solving problems], led by the very experienced Theo Joosten. Secretly, I hoped to find a way to solve some of my own problems, but at the very least, to learn something new that I could use to help others solve their problems.

Intervision*(see definition below)

It was to my great surprise that Theo suggested using Intervision as a method of problem solving – “Duh.” – I said to myself – “I’ve been doing that for years now, so why didn’t I think of using intervision to help myself!? In Hebrew, we say, הסנדלר הולך יחף , which translates to “The shoemaker himself goes barefoot.”

Below I’m going to explain the method I learned, and add my own insights in red on how to get my team onboard!

We used the Incident method, for Intervision. I myself have previously used something I like to call the ‘gossip method,’ but this one worked very well, was structured and clear. What you need to do this: A group of peers – from 4 to 15 – a moderator and pens and paper.  A flipover or whiteboard is helpful too.

Before you start:
Choose which problem to discuss. (and Joosten recommends not dealing with conflicts, which are deeply emotional and fresh issues going on, but rather a more neutral problem that still needs to be figured out and solved).
This problem should be specific – he gave a nice example: Don’t say “my kid is lazy” but ask “How can I get my kid to do their homework?” See, nice example of a problem that can be solved, right?
Another note about the problem: Is the person with the problem willing to accept help with their problem? Remember – some people just need to let off steam, or want to stay in a victim role (my words, not Theo Joosten’s).

The Incident method:

  1. Information (5 min). The problem is presented, with all the solutions that have been attempted so far, and then a specific question to the participants is asked.
    My problem: I want to get my whole team together for a meeting in order to explain our plans for next year, and to get them onboard with the last phase of work needed to complete these plans and in that meeting to delegate work or to discuss any questions they have. My question to the intervision group: How can I get the team of very busy colleagues to take the time to come to this meeting?
  2. Clarification. (3 – 5 min) In this phase, everyone at the table can ask questions to clarify the problem but NOT give any advice or suggestions. Also, no opinions or empathy – in short  – no discussion here!
  3. Brainstorming suggestions (3-5 min). I really loved this idea, which I had not used before with groups – but it worked with us. Each person wrote down as many ideas as they could think of to solve this problem. (No discussion – just writing down ideas).
    I also wrote down a few thoughts of my own, but that wasn’t necessary :). This time, I was allowed to be at the receiving end.
  4. Sharing the suggestions! (5 min). Ok, hold onto your seats, ’cause I got A LOT of interesting suggestions from our small group. Interesting note – if you moderate an intervision group like this, then let one person give one idea, and then go around – this way everyone will be involved! And the problem owner is not allowed to say a thing while this happens. Try using another method – not a meeting – skype?
    1. Team outing in nature
    2. Managers enforce participation in meetings.
    3. Last chance to influence next year’s program!
    4. Make a film about plans and what is needed.
    5. Have 2 to 3 meetings – everyone should attend at least one of these meetings.
    6. Ask the teachers – what do they need from me – in order to be ready for next year?
    7. Ask other colleagues in my position how they solved this issue.
    8. Ask the help of my manager to talk to my colleagues.
    9. Make 6 small teams which are self steering and have them find their way to do what has to be done.
    10. Have an informal lunch meeting where work pays for it!
    11. Work only with a small group and just do it ourselves without the rest of the team.
    12. Have 7 X 2 meetings with people to explain it all to everyone in their small groups.
    13. Adjust my expectations – remember the goal of what I want. Is having a meeting the only way to achieve that goal?
    14. Meet not during working hours – like on the weekend?
    15. Make sure others have influence on how to achieve our mutual goal.
  5. Problem owner clarification of brainstormed ideas. (3 min). The person on the receiving end is FINALLY allowed to talk (a little) and to ask questions if they didn’t understand any of the suggestions.
    At this time, I asked what was meant by ‘adjust your expectations,’ and then I got the explanation that I need to remember what my goal is – and maybe having a meeting isn’t necessary in order to meet my final goal.
  6. Making choices. (3-5 min) This happens in 2 stages:
    1. First eliminate ALL the choices you don’t like (or you’ve done already), without having to explain and without the person who offered the suggestion having their feelings hurt! Try to leave only 3 or 4 options left.
      I got rid of a lot of them. Some for practical reasons, some because I was a little upset about my problem, (so didn’t want to go for more rewarding and fun activities), until I was left with these 3:

* Try using another method – not a meeting – skype?
* Ask the team – what do they need from me – in order to be ready for next year?
* Adjust my expectations – remember the goal of what I want. Is having a meeting the only way to achieve that goal.

2. Next stage is to choose what I am going to do THIS WEEK!
So, I choose to adjust my expectations – throw the meeting away. It won’t happen. Okay, gone! Then, I will ask my colleagues what I can do for them to help them be part of the program and be ready for next year. Finally, if they want to talk to me face to face, we can use Skype which makes us all more flexible re: time and place!

7. Closure.  At this stage, check how this feels, if it will work. And finally, always a good idea to thank everyone for being there!

Getting it all done

Funny, but when Theo Joosten asked me what I’d do on Monday,  I blurt out, “Monday blogs,” of course, as I love to write my blog on Monday when it has the chance of being retweeted by “@MondayBlogs.”
And yet, I thought, maybe I can combine these two things? Send a link to my team? Intriguing, right? Creative? Am curious about the outcome. As our deadline looms closer and closer – I feel that by asking my team how I can help them is a much better way than just telling them what I need from them.

Dear Team members, please let me know what I can do for you, so we can accomplish our goals together!

Definition of Intervision:

  • Supervision can be defined as an individual learning method, guided by a supervisor. … Intervision is an ‘intercolleagial’ learning method in a group of equals guided by a chairperson, focusing either on improving personal functioning of staff or on improving treatment/care work.

One thought on “Getting my team onboard

  1. Thank’s for your description Audrey, not only of the method used but also about how you experience your problem. It makes it so real almost touchable. I love your solution using several options! To read all those options in a row, I litarally feel space coming, the problem not frozen but fluid again: Movement! Yes!

    Liked by 1 person

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