Duncan Limbert, Senior Learning and Development Manager

A few years ago I was approached by David (not his real name) to provide some advice regarding the relatively new team he led. The team consisted of a highly diverse group of senior individuals with responsibilities ranging from analysis and accounts to problem-solving and strategy. David described how team members had great strengths but that they were clashing all the time. Individually they all wanted the team to succeed, but they did not communicate with their colleagues effectively and appeared not to trust one another. This was a problem as the team performed an important role in the bank where full, frank and open conversations were an important requirement for success.

Having discussed the issue David and I agreed that I should run a MiND workshop as a means of getting the team to understand and explore the differences in their personal profiles while at the same time considering why those differences were important to the success of the team. Since the team were spread internationally, we decided to hold the workshop in the Santander headquarters in Madrid as this was a ‘neutral’ location for everyone.

In Santander we have access to a wide range of tools to help facilitate workshops of this kind, but I specifically chose MiND for two main reasons. The first is that one of the dangers in using a tool to help facilitate an event like this is that it ends up being about the tool and the real objective of the workshop gets lost. The MiND tool is good in this way as it is not overly complex, so in a MiND workshop it is easy to stay focused on the objective without the tool taking over.

The second reason is that it is based on solid scientific evidence. I think this is especially important when working with difficult groups as it means you can prove your point rather than having to rely on your audience believing you, as is often the case with psychology-based tools.

The workshop itself was amazing and had a far better effect than either David or I could possibly have imagined. The team were fascinated by the neuroscience and by the time we started exploring the different preferences and approaches of the team members it was as though you could see the scales falling from their eyes. For the first time, the team members began opening up to one another in such an open and honest way that one person was even in tears when he realised the impact some of his past behaviours had had on some of his colleagues.

The change in the performance of the team following the workshop was fantastic. Having previously been bordering on dysfunctional, the team bonded and worked together brilliantly with many of the team members becoming good friends. The key thing was that they didn’t just attend the workshop and walk away. They continued to use the language of the MiND model in their subsequent team meetings as a ‘safe’ way of addressing issues that would previously have resulted in conflict and argument. They also asked me to run workshops for their own teams so that there was a common language and understanding throughout their part of the organisation.

Even though it is now more than four years later, David and the other team members still describe the MiND workshop as a major turning point in their lives whenever I bump into them. Most have been promoted to even more senior roles since then but I know for a fact that at least one of them still displays a copy of his profile on his desk, not only as a reminder to himself but also as a means of helping other people understand him better.

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