By Patrick Darnell
Many of my classmates have had similar experiences to the following account:
“It was said through out the management ranks that I had a knack for getting my staff to perform well and even a better knack for dealing with guests, especially disgruntled or irate guests. I think my success was due to the fact that I tried very hard to listen to people and tried even harder to understand them in every way possible. This allowed me to get to the root of the problem and solve that problem effectively. Motivating my team depended on me understanding each one of them and how each one communicated and being able to communicate back to them on the same level (Stockwell, Daniel, September 8, 2006).”The most successful teams I have had the joy of being a part of have, never had anything to do with monetary rewards. When I was between jobs I had the opportunity to cover middle school classes for a brilliant teacher, Mrs. Carte at Queens MS at Pasadena Independent School District, PISD, in Texas. She and husband were having their first baby. She wanted to leave her classes in good hands. What, who; me? At first I was unsure, but as Resource team leader at Queens, she picked me to cover the eight weeks.
Substitute pay is minimal. It turns out the experience with non-mainstream resource middle school students at their level is one of my milestones; major point of reference. Like my classmate Daniel Stockwell, above “I tried very hard in listening to students and teachers, and tried even harder to understand them in every way possible.” I suppose Mrs. Carte in her leadership role realized this upfront. I was able to combine a sense of trust and accomplishment in my communications with my new found peers and fledgling scholars. This was due as we soon learned that I was genuinely interested in knowing about each student, because I wanted my evaluations to be just what the doctor ordered.
I emphasize composed chaos that became our days together in school. Mrs. Carte had pre-determined that I would be successful in maintaining the delicate balance she had worked hard to develop. My intervention skills, that were not even part of my vocabulary at the time, supported the continued academics of the resource students. However, I often say to those who listen that I learned more from my variant youths than could I ever have taught them.
After eight weeks, I became a regular feature at Queens because the other teachers in the resource Department sought me to fill in when they had to be away. Big worries follow resource teachers day to day, because many of the students have very little between them and jail. A teacher being out is a concern; I had become part of the team by offering in some small way support, counseling, representation, personal touch, and sometimes bending of the rules.
The two year long experience led to many different spin-off activities. I want to mention a couple of them. One spin-off was that I found night work, just so I could continue subbing at PISD Queens MS, as part of the resource team. One semester another teacher Mr. Castro and the music teacher Mrs. Wester, and I got together a “Guitar Preservation” group of students. Mrs. Wester had twelve guitars sitting in a closet collecting dust to lend for practice. One hour after school on Thursday, we met to teach some guitar. Someone once said: Build it and they will come. Soon we had many resource students attending our lessons, keeping them off the streets at least that one hour on Thursday.
We faced a harsh ruling when we tried to organize a recital. Though the students were advancing in guitar, they were not advancing in the grades enough to be in a school-sponsored after school program. What a bummer.
After two years I moved to a new job and locale, and the students have been left to others. I sincerely think some of the kids became proficient in music, at least I hope so. If left to our interventions, we would have cut an album, in spite of the academic rules. There was some genuine talent potential in our students.
Was that Organization Development, OD?
Process Interventions are Organization Development, OD, skills that help groups or teams become more effective. Have you found others who have the underlying talents, but lack the skills to synthesize? Do you find in your journeys associates who generalize, but lack the ability to ask probing questions? Probing with query is similar to the “Socratic” method of teaching... that can be very useful in group/ team intervention. The following discussion helps to frame the concept of OD Interventions that can be experienced at any stage in life.
“Support,” through set-a-side surefire blocks of time for workers to participate, and be paid, with their daily specific duties covered, is paramount in sponsoring team intervention activities. Once a company sponsored continuum precedent is in place, workers will bend to the task of dueling in team intervention. Consider: “If the worker never feels confident that his job is not at stake, or being covered by others because he is being punished,” there can be no fruit borne from any interventions.
“Coaching and counseling” is keying personnel in the startup of the process of team intercessions. Without accessible coaches, shyness or white coat syndrome of most team members will impede the proceedings.
“Modeling” is an enormous mission to give the attendees. How in fact is the model to be made; what skills are needed; and to what degree of completion is the model to aspire? Yet, it is the most exciting part of team interventions. The modeling takes away the jitters of sitting around -- perceived as not doing anything. The shift is toward the adult passion of “hands on” learning. Many adults learn fast through experiences. “Knowledge of observations acquired through the senses rather than through abstract reasoning” in adult education most verifies the intervention vision. Targets, ideas, and deadlines in the future will become simpler hands-on modeling for the OD team intervention graduates (Brown, 2006).
Also, modeling can be the project that makes all the team members equal. Managers as involved team members no longer can order, or dictate and ride others. Like everyone in line at the Drivers Licensing DPS counter, each is equal. The Mayor, the Dog Catcher and the Tailor all have to stand in long queuing lines together getting their pictures taken. So it is when the model takes shape in team involvement time; each to each is equally important. At model inception spin-offs are birthed rapidly.
After the top three most important set ups are complete: Support, Coaching, and Modeling, then will the intervention begin to payoff? Team members might experience different sensations when certain issues come up, or when “satisfactory results are highlighted.” Constituents will learn about the sum total of experiences even when unsatisfactory items are suffered and abandoned. “Feedback” starts to spew forth, and individuals find harmony in performances. “Proportionate” solutions begin to emerge out of chaos, and the truer meanings of rules are illuminated, giving finality and later resolve when rules are re-visited (Brown, 2006).
“Agendas are prepared” to allow members of the team to confer, and concur on the mission. With the vision firmly in the minds, agendas depict the learners’ time to work through intervention missions in the lab. Similar to the experiences of my classmates, and my own journey into the unknown regions of me, reporting and discussing progress promotes a long term growth potential for the brave workers (Brown, 2006).
How, you may ask, can a series of tasks completed outside the regular work space be an experience that changes lives? I answer: Benefits for those who are exposed to intervention activities are nothing like “book learning.”
The ruling is in the affirmation, confirmations, and encouragement celebrated after completed tasks. To be exposed to, involved in, or affected by something could be the “most thrilling ride I have ever experienced.” For the less animated, or the less demonstrative: “You might experience a slight tingling sensation in your face; whichever, don't ignore the tingle.”
Involvement in something over time such as active participation and contribution in an activity, exposure to events, or attention of people over a period of time, leads to an increase in knowledge and skill. “Knowledge of” then leads to “skill” of something gained from being “involved in and exposed to” interventions over a period of time.
Stockwell, Daniel: Organizational Change HRM450-0603B-03, September 8, 2006, Phase 3 Discussion Board
Brown, D and Harvey, D (2006) an experiential approach to organizational development, 7th edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ; Pearson/ Prentice Hall
Darnell, Patrick (2006) personal experiences at school, 1990-2006