How many times have you had the opportunity to talk to your neighbor, and you have been surprised at how many things you can have in common. Not to mention how rewarding it is to meet other people who share some of your interests, passions or personal experiences.
In the world of work, it functions the same way. You may have worked surrounded by a lot of people but not having the chance or not having chased the opportunity to meet them. You may well have worked with them for a long time while being perfect strangers at the same time.
I’ve repeated this practice frequently, in team-building meetings and retrospectives. The feedback received has always been positive. People value devoting time to discover and get to know their workgroup.
I would like to share how I carried out this practice. It consists of forming a great network of connections, following this dynamic:
- Gather the work team, hand out sheets of paper and markers
- Explain “Personal Map”: Start by drawing your name in the center of the sheet and around it you write all the information you want to share. For example hobbies, values, friendships, studies, goals, knowledge, family, trips, interests, meals, etc. In my case, as a facilitator, I show my Map while explaining the dynamic
- Each person paints their Map on the pages.
- Once everyone has finished, invite them to make a big circle and have one person start the dynamic.
- This person will comment on the 3 main categories he or she wants to share with everyone. The rest of the people will be paying attention because at the end of the explanation if someone has something in common, they will raise their hand and share their 3 main categories. Those two people start the network, you can throw a thread to establish the connections.
- Perform point 5 until all participants have spoken.
- Take pictures of the great network of connections that was formed
- Place all Personal Maps in a visible place, near the workplaces.
It is impressive to check that there is always a connection that links the whole group of people. You will find common interests with people you’d never imagine.
As a learning experience I can say that it is an excellent practice that you can apply at all times. When you observe that there is no good communication, that there is no empathy, that you have tense relationships or you can also apply it if the teams are well, it will be a way to strengthen their team relationship and achieve cohesive teams. Teams can be in the early stages or take time to work together, it will always be a good time to do it.
For me it worked very well because it allowed people in the team to know each other better, improved communication in the teams, tolerance, empathy and allowed to reduce costs in training by knowing the interests of each person.
When I started with this practice, I found several people who did not want to share their aspects, a valid decision, in this case we respected their decision. When they saw that the rest of the team openly shared personal aspects, little by little this kind of person is changing and sharing more.
I also met many people with rejection, who did not see the value of this practice. I asked them for a vote of confidence and invited them to participate and see the results. At the end of the session the feedback was positive and these people told me that it had gone very well. Little by little I am introducing practices that allow me to manage the change in the best way.
Personal Maps allows you to improve communication, increase empathy, improve the work environment, increase confidence, improve the common welfare and all these actions positively influence the performance and results of your teams. It is an easy, efficient and high value-added practice.
You can also do this practice online through the website https://www.mindmup.com/ and then share the results.
Let me end this article with Jurgen Appelo’s sentence “Management is 5% instruction and 95% communication”. I invite you to do it and to improve your network’s communication.