You are here

Fostering Collaboration with Team Washing Instructions

Close up of a clothing label that reads: "100% team player, likes focus time in A.M. prefers email over text, motivated by solving tricky problems. Do Share your Ideas, Do give me time to think, Do not avoid difficult discussions"
September 27, 2023

Understanding the interplay of individual work styles is an important aspect of fostering a productive and amicable workplace. Much like clothing labels guide us on how to best care for our garments, imagine if we could carry and show “care instructions” for ourselves at work, highlighting our motivations, communication preferences, and how we like to collaborate...

In a recent team retreat at BC ELN, led by newly appointed Executive Director, Sunni Nishimura, this concept took shape as engaging opening exercise: Team Washing Instructions. Each team member shared their personal care instructions, highlighting their distinctive traits, preferences, and needs. This foundational conversation set the tone for the entire retreat, emphasizing that every team member has a distinctive blueprint for ideal performance. Recognizing these differences allows the team to not only accommodate and support one another but also leverage these unique attributes to improve the overall productivity and cohesion of our team.

Fuelled by our Day One conversations about work styles and team values, on Day Two we turned our attention to how we will meet the challenges of an internal staff shortage and the integration of a new strategic framework in the coming months. We rolled up our sleeves and took a hands-on approach of laying out all our projects for the next year, creating a visual “big picture”. We identified project leads and strategized re-distribution of some activities to ensure services are maintained while we conduct searches to fill vacant positions. We’ve committed to checking in on our progress at regular team meetings through the year, and to continue the conversations we started about using tools (e.g. Asana, Slack) to support our work.

Having the opportunity to put our regular work to the side for two days was incredibly beneficial. We had open and compassionate discussions about what's effective and what isn't, gaining deeper insights into each other as individuals. Crafting a collective view of our efforts and understanding how we each contribute to supporting the organization made us feel more connected and supported. Acknowledging and respecting our distinct approaches doesn't just bring us closer together—it makes us stronger.