There might be some general statements about ways in which potential Team members have reacted to specific events that have previously occurred in other groups—but nothing about what is happening in the current group: “I remember a committee I served on several years ago, and we found it really hard to get our work done without a clear agenda and consistent direction from our division head.” This is a good start, but what about the current group?
Are group members saying something about the way in which this group is setting the agenda or something about what the person in charge of this committee is or is not doing to provide direction? Uncritical and unspecified praise (or criticism) about activities in the current group, or reflections back on a previous group (or even the current group at an earlier time in its existence) does little in helping the group move forward. All-too-frequently, a reference to how “we did it at my previous company/job/department can be received as indirect criticism of what is now happening in the group. The lack of specificity and commentary on current operations of a group often results from failure to adequately engage group related issues about control – or even inclusion.
Let’s assume that the potential Team has moved successfully past inclusion and control concerns. The best working environment would then be one in which there is a strong, supportive culture operating in the potential Team or (even better) the overall organization. As in the case of great working environments for inclusion and control needs to be met, this kind of culture is nice to have—but how is it created? We suggest that this type of culture is created and sustained if it is founded on a process of Appreciation. One of us has written an entire book about the creation of an appreciative organization (Bergquist, 2004). However, in the current essay, we will summarize three basic appreciative strategies as they can help to bring about a strong culture of support. These strategies concern group and organizational structures, processes and attitudes (Watson and Johnson, 1972).
First, the structures of an organization (or at least the group on which we are focusing our attention) must be appreciative in nature. This means that systems of reward should be grounded on demonstrated success (especially success in the midst of major challenges) rather than on the basis of avoided failures. The appropriate motto is “catch them when they are doing it right.” This success might be attributed to the work done by individual group members or the overall group.
Strategies associated with group or organizational processes should also be appreciative. As we noted above, praise and appreciation should be attended by specificity regarding what was achieved and why it was achieved. If there is a nostalgic focus on past groups or past performance of the current group, then this “best practice” reflection should lead to a focus on the best practices being engaged by the current group at the present time. Once again, the potential Team should first attend to what it is doing that is effective, then consider ways and times when it has not emulated these practices.Download Article 1K Club