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February 20, 2013

Team Building in Ivisan

A few hours after we went back to Manila from Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, I found myself boarding the plane en route to Ivisan, Capiz. I was heading there upon the invitation of the Mayor himself who personally requested for a "team building" session for his RHU staff. The desire was to make a cohesive team so that they could be able to perform in their work better thus enabling them to produce better health outcomes for the entire Ivisanons.

How do we build a team anyway? I think the formula is easy, although the actual formation can be challenging. The formation of a team, first and foremost, finds it foundation in getting to know one's members.  After all, a team is an amalgamation of unique individuals who have their own set of motivations, values, beliefs and behavior. What we did in Ivisan was a basic simple introduction of one's self and to tell the story behind their names. For many, it was revealing. They were then asked to recall the many highs and lows in their lives and trace them in a "lifeline". They were asked to share it  some of whom were emotional and teary eyed while remembering the challenges

The realization is that the members of the team can be diverse that communication now plays an integral part in team formation. Communication is the blood line of any team. When there is no communication, the team is dead. We had many exercises on communication. The group enjoyed playing the "Blind Squares". In the Blind squares, the members were all blindfolded and were told that they need to form one big perfect square with their bodies. They were not to remove their blindfolds throughout the activity. It was a good exercise on verbal communication.

Blind Square  on Vimeo.

Another game the group played was the Silent Pass The Message. It's a twist in the classic "Pass the Message" game but in this case, you don't verbally pass a message but you act it out. The last person in line must be able to guess the message based on the action being passed by one member to the other. It was an exercise on non-verbal communication.

To stabilize a team, everyone must learn how to manage conflicts within. The group played two games, two versions of "Chairs". In the first version, the big group was divided into two and each small group was given a secret task, totally opposite and in conflict with the other group's task. The task was to "bring all chairs near the white board" while the other task is to "bring all chairs to form them in a circle". I remember doing this with my own RHU staff while I was still an MHO in Candoni and it was totally crazy.

The other version of the Chairs was something I learned while attending a retreat in Ateneo. Members were paired and were seated facing each other. The challenge was that they must convince the other person to stand behind their chairs.

Both versions actually emphasize that in resolving conflicts, it must always be "Win-Win".

I enjoyed my brief stay in Ivisan. It made me reminisce about my own daily interaction with my former RHU staff. I suddenly missed the conversations with my midwives and nurses especially over dinner while awaiting for patients at night. I suddenly missed the conversation with them especially when we go to far-flung barangays during vaccination days.

How I wish that many will recognize the efforts of these front-liners. I am content that I was able to contribute, not matter how small, in the formation of these health workers.

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