I just got home after spending the weekend at a family reunion in Bristol, UK. Even just saying the words family reunion causes responses ranging from sympathy to jealousy; from laughter to sighs. Some time ago my parents decided to get the family together once every two years. Although everyone kept in touch we never all got together on any sort of a regular basis.
And so the family reunion was born. In truth these events are everything you would imagine – fun and laughter…emotion and tears. We always hold them over a weekend – Friday and Saturday night.
And the only rule is that whatever we do during the day on Saturday, we do all together…
This Saturday – a beautiful spring day – we spent avoiding sunburn at Bristol Zoo (enjoyable) and at Clifton Suspension Bridge (stunning).
A few years ago, we moved to hold our reunions every year. Everyone’s lives are getting more complicated and the thought was that once a year would make it less of an issue if anyone missed a year.
Whilst I was sitting on the Saturday afternoon, with my family and with a cold drink in my hand, I found myself having to work really hard to take my mind off the two family members who started this whole tradition, but who are now both no longer with us…
I thought about sport. No good. Zoos and bridges were in my mind, but no joy. I thought about work – nope. I tried for analogies between families and teams. Better.
I remembered a training course I attended where an expert talked about leadership, culture, teams and families (OK – I added families but still). She was very good our expert. So good in fact that I remember appreciating the slides and transcript that we were sent afterwards since I kept missing chunks of the discussion as I was too busy thinking about what was being said.
Her first message was that there are only three types of jobs: technical, managerial and strategic. An engaging start for sure!
Technical roles can be very technical – for example a brain surgeon or a pilot counted as a technical role. Managerial roles involve little or no technical components, although she was quick to point out that individual frequently move from technical to managerial roles. In the model, there is only need for a small number of strategic roles whose main purpose is to define where we are aiming to go and how we are going to get there. Only three types of jobs…there we go…
Later the discussion turned to leadership and she told a striking story of an organization where one leader was consistently assessed as being the best supervisor of the best teams – teams you wanted to be part of, to work with and to have on your project. What was the key? How did this leader achieve this impressive record?
Most factors were unsurprising – communication, vision, recognition etc. The unusual and most memorable was that this leader operated a policy where once a month their team finished work at 12:00 noon on a Friday.
And the only rule is that whatever the team did during the afternoon on Friday, they do all together…
And it works. As groups spend time together, they learn more about each other, more about individual and collective strengths and weakness. As they learn they grow. And as the team grows, their impact on the business grows …as does their ability to impact on the business. They invest in themselves and in their relationships.
The only rule helped me on Saturday afternoon as I say with my family…missing, reminiscing, thinking…