Design for One-Day Retreat LO2942

Leslie Maddock (
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 10:13:10 -0500

Replying to LO2817 --

When an assignment starts with an question as vague and essentially
meaningless as "How can the group be developed and strengthened?" you have
a challenging task indeed! Refocusing on "How can the group accomplish
X?" might make for a lot more satisfying day.

I think that when groups like this have problems with morale, and either
can't function effectively together or won't (the turnover), the problem
most likely don't lie directly with the group itself.

It may lie instead with the assignment the group is set up to
meet--perhaps it's not clear, or the participants disagree with it or feel
that they have been through this kind of exercise futilely before. The
problem may lie with the constitution of the group--maybe there's an
unequal balance of power, or a lack of clarity about roles, or a sense
that the work isn't important or won't serve the participants
organizationally, or any number of things that are outside of the
participants' control. "Visioning" and "Roadblocks" are particularly
difficult areas to tackle if the group feels that it can't define or
implement a vision without understanding clearly what management is
looking for; or if management itself is providing the roadblocks to

Solving the problem may not, in fact, be within the group's power. You
may want to spend time first with management, getting them to clarify the
uncertainties the group is reacting to. What is the point of the team?
What specific things is it expected to accomplish? What is the purpose of
each subteam? What does management want out of their interaction? Why
have a team instead of individual assignments? How will the group know if
it has achieved its goals? What will the end product look like? What
rewards are there for participation and successful completion of the job?
Is this team doing real work or just getting together because that's a
"good thing" to do?

Are systemic problems in the organization creating the problems that the
team is supposed to "solve?"

Once you have helped management clarify these kinds of issues
sufficiently, removing the kind of ambiguity that poisons group activity,
maybe you can help the group examine whether or not they buy into the
assignment. Are they the right people for the job? Is it clear that
there are organizational rewards for this work? Does each team member
understand how he or she is expected to contribute--what special skills or
interests they were selected for, and how he or she will grow
professionally from the activity? Do they understand their individual
assignments and how these assignments relate to the group purpose? Are
they supposed to get something done through the magic of the group
experience? Do they understand what resources are available to them?

Where does accountability lie?

Once all of this is clearly understood and agreed upon, it will be a lot
easier for you to help the group structure themselves as a team to get the
job done.

Leslie Maddock
"Leslie Maddock" <>