This week at theQ2Q team meeting I kicked off with a 3-minute task where I asked the team to gather round and balance a pole. Ok, so it wasn’t really pole dancing, but what on earth has this got to do with IT Support I hear you ask??

Here’s how the session went…

Harrison volunteered for the first part, balancing the pole by himself with one finger. After a few seconds he mastered it. Easy right?

I then asked him to pick some one to join him. Shannon stepped forward and after a bit of jiggling about and almost knocking the pole off, they got it balanced between them. Again, not too challenging.

I then asked the rest of the team to join in, but didn’t allow them to talk to each other, so they all gathered around and placed a finger under the pole, still easy after a minor wobble.

The next instruction was walk with the pole in one direction then in another, without talking. Mike came up with the simple (yet genius!) idea of putting his finger on top of the pole to balance it, and a couple of the others followed, a little messy but the pole stayed in place.

Final task… lower the pole to the ground, then raise it up again, still not speaking to each other. This was very wobbly, especially on the way back up as some got up faster than others (depending on how old their knees were!!) and those with their fingers on the top decided to put them underneath using the theory that leaving them on top would prevent the pole being raised.

So, what was the point of all this???

I asked them all to feed back what they’d learned, and true to form, there were plenty of things they could relate to Q2Q and teamwork. The key lessons were:

• When it was just Harrison holding the pole, it was simple. Working on your own, when there is a task that’s suitable for one person, is straight forward. Had I asked him to walk with the pole, that would have been a lot more challenging, and having a teammate with him to help “balance the load” would have been significantly easier.

• Not being able to communicate verbally was frustrating. Not knowing what others were thinking and relying on visual clues was inefficient. Had they been able to talk, share ideas, and plan, the wobbles could have been eliminated.

• The more vocal of the team found it impossible not to speak (cheats!!) but quietly bickered about what the best move was. In IT there is always more than one solution to an issue, so it can often be challenging to agree on which is “best” so learning about conflict resolution, healthy respectful debate, and the ability to understand and appreciate other’s perspectives is essential.

• Moving the pole as one body was challenging without speaking as no one was setting the pace. If I hadn’t told them which direction to move in, and simply said “walk”, they would have probably dropped the pole, so there needs to be an overarching direction and pace always set in the business.

• Lowering and raising the pole was unbalanced as some people naturally moved faster than others. Some thought it was obvious that the speed at which they moved was the “right” speed and hadn’t thought about the old folks’ knees!! In every team you need the balance of those that can be the fast thinkers and movers in a crisis, and those that can instil calm and thoughtfulness to ensure all angles are covered.

• Not putting fingers on top of the pole when raising it felt like the right thing to do so that the pole was free to rise quickly, but in hindsight, speed shouldn’t have been the primary focus; balance was more important. Highly relatable to IT solutions as the “quick fix” can seem the obvious answer, but the slower, long term, root cause solution will usually be the better win.

These team sessions are a highly valuable few minutes of time out from the hustle of solving IT issues and are great fun too! Maybe next week we will move onto juggling or tightrope walking!!

If working with a tech support business with great pole balancing skills sounds appealing, or you simply want to talk about the challenges within your business, get in touch with us – the kettle is always on, and we can show you our many other circus skills at Q2Q IT!