A team that delivers tangible results in the field and that is based on collaboration, trust, effectiveness and transparency. That is what I would like to achieve in Burundi. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as real teamwork takes changing long established patterns and routines people have. How do I make that happen? Knowledge management literature provides interesting guiding and methods to change behaviour.
Behaviour change aims to solve team challenges or to bring the team to a higher level of achievement. If I look at that, I think for our organisation they are both important. For a new Knowledge Management (KM) approach to take root in the employee’s daily practice, it’s about changing the behaviour of people in order to reap the benefits of KM in full.
What I learned from literature is that greater improvement in teamwork tends to occur when team members develop their own behavioural change strategies rather than just executing a change strategy that has been imposed upon them by “the boss”. Moreover, changing behaviour works best when there are goals set that are clearly result oriented, i.e. when employees have a specific task that needs to be completed before a specific date. The ultimate goal of the events/programmes that are organized to change behaviour is to actually increase teamwork, increase communication among colleagues and to increase the efficiency of working in teams. Those kind of behaviours can be triggered by organizing contests or playing sports together. Of course the KM games and team building exercises like the sportive Friday are not goals in itself, but they can familiarize our staff with solving issues as a team and learning that issues are easier solved together than alone. Discussing experiences afterwards in regular team meetings and applying them to the daily work can be the start of behaviour change.
It’s interesting to ask our teams the questions: ‘How well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?’ and ‘How well do we need to be in terms of working together as a team?’. Before beginning a team building process it’s important to determine whether the team feels a need or urgency to build itself. If the result is that the team does experience a gap between the team’s current effectiveness and needed effectiveness you can move on to the next step.
Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan (‘Team Building without Time Wasting’) start off with the question: “If every team member could change two key behaviours that would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviours should we all try to change?” After recording all the selected behaviours the team needs to prioritize the behaviours and determine the most important behaviour to change for all the team members. Once the team has agreed on this they also have to discuss and reflect upon each other which personal behaviour items they would like to change for the sake of the teamwork. In the end the team has then decided on one common/team behavioural item and a personal one for each team member. The task the team gets is to have brief (5 min) monthly questioning sessions to encourage each other on demonstrating their behavioural change items as a person and as a team. After 6 and 12 months a facilitator can held mini-surveys to follow-up and see if and how the team is performing more effectively.
Marieke van der Vliet
Marieke van der Vliet - Knowledge Management Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region at HealthNet TPO
Background: Marieke has a background in International Relations (University of Groningen) and Development Studies (CIDIN, Nijmegen). Before she started within HealthNet TPO, she worked for the Dutch NGOs Maatwerk bij Terugkeer as a Programme Officer and for VluchtelingenWerk Nederland as an International Officer.
Currently Marieke is stationed in Bujumbura, Burundi, to coordinate a PSO funded Knowledge Management project that covers the HealthNet TPO programmes in Burundi, the DR Congo and South Sudan.