My Shoe Represents How I Feel About My Role in Our Team
Nov 22, 2017
We've used this activity many times with teams to help them understand the landscape they work within may not be quite like they perceive it to be. The team landscape is for ever changing and evolving and not always toward star performance. It can evolve for the worse as well as for the better.
You can't put your shoes on, then your socks on. That's a fact. You can't do this anymore than you can change perceptions until you first establish what the current view is.
Individuals may often feel like outsiders, not connecting their contribution to the bigger goals of their team. This can lead to frustration, a sense of alienation and not wanting to contribute above and beyond.
Try this activity with your team next time you want to develop a better understanding and awareness of what lies within the team landscape. It will cost you no more than an hour of your time and the price of some rope. A small investment with big returns!
The aims of the activity are:
- To encourage an open discussion about how individuals see themselves in relation to the team.
- For the team to share how they see the role of others within the team.
- To develop an awareness of the team landscape, its dynamics and how this evolves over time.
Participants express how they feel they fit within a team, and the team responds by expressing how they see each participant within the team dynamic.
Setting Up the Activity
You will need the following items:
- A long rope or a roll of tape. The rope is better as it will not stick to the floor and pull up carpet tiles etc. and can be used outside or in areas where tape cannot be used.
- Flipchart and pens for capturing feedback.
Follow these steps.
- Lay the rope on the floor to make a large circle, say 3 - 4 metres diameter. This circle represents the team as a whole.
- Tell participants they will be asked to place one of their shoes within the circle (the team) to represent how they see their role or position within the team. Give them 2 - 3 minutes to think about where they'll place their shoe.
- Ask for a volunteer to go first and then allow each other team member to place their shoe when they are ready, following one after the other. No talking is allowed as shoes are being placed in the circle. This will take 2 - 3 minutes.
- Once all shoes are in place each person is asked to explain why they placed their shoe where they did and what it signifies about their position/role/relationship within the team. For example, someone may say that the reason they placed their shoe toward the outside of the circle is that they feel disconnected from the team and on the fringe of what goes on and don't really feel part of a team. This is now an insight that has been revealed to the whole team and is one characteristic of the team's landscape.
Allow discussion to take place amongst the team members so that others can share how they see each person's position within the team. These insights help the team to understand the team landscape better. Allow 15 - 20 minutes for discussion.
- After the discussion give everyone 2 - 3 minutes to think through how any new insights they have learned from the discussion may change their view on their position within the team. They should prepare to move their shoe to reflect a more accurate position based on these insights. Some people may not see a need to move their shoe for whatever reason which is fine.
- Ask each person to reposition their shoe. Again no discussion is allowed. This will take a further 2 minutes.
- Ask each person one at the time to explain why they moved their shoe or not and to share what they plan to do differently in the future with respect to the new understanding they have of the team landscape and their position within it.
Look for what actions, attitudes or behaviours will change?
Set up: 2 minutes.
Explain the activity: 3 minutes.
Shoe placement round 1: 3 minutes
Round 1 Discussion: 15 - 20 minutes
Reflection Time: 3 minutes
Shoe placement round 2: 2 minutes
Round 2 Discussion: 15 - 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour maximum.
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