Reality check for Teams

Within the framework of ECM, we understand that teams are much more than the sum of their parts. In other words, teams are not simply composed of their members’ bodies, physical processes and rational decisions, but they are systems in their own specificity, whose highest operational category is communication.

In principle, a team communicates with the parties in a similar way to individual conflict workers. The team receives the purpose of the mission or intervention and asks about the primary themes of harmony, justice, security and truth in the episode. The difference is that conducting individual reality checks are not enough, because if the team is more than the sum of its parts, then it needs to conduct a reality check as social system in itself, as a unit in itself. For this, a first step is to check the internal communication modus in the team internally: 

In order to carry, on a team reality check is necessary to take an outside perspective, a snapshot, whose results can then be brought back into the system to correct any possible dysfunction. This is the reason why support from an external and ‘all-partisan’ third person as supervisor is necessary. Ideally, supervision should also be incorporated in a regular manner in the teamwork routine. 

 Does the team understand itself?

At the early beginning, this question relates to check if, at least on the surface of the narrative, there is a common understanding about: what is the reason for the existence of the team itself, its composition and function, its purposes, goals and working principles?

Thematic PyramidAre the primary themes of harmony, justice, security and truth sufficiently communicated, integrated and attuned within the team?

Although at first sight the team is an episode itself, the team as holon actually is not an episode, but has an episode, because in its entirety it is much more than the parts visible to the exterior. At the same time, if the team is already dysfunctional in the episode itself, it will not be able to enter in resonance with the parties.

Are communication, functions and competences of the top, middle and grassroots team members clear and congruent?

Actors' Pyramid

As social system, a team is also composed of top, middle-range and grassroots leadership, which allows us to use the levels of the pyramid also for a reality check.

  • The formal and functional top leaders are responsible for the a priori teambuilding. They are basically in charge of the communication flow within the team, which implies that the team structure, functions and competences for each member are clear and there is an understanding about them before a conflict intervention. During the intervention, top leaders are in charge of external communication and decision-making.
  • The middle-range team members are responsible for sorting out the vertical communication flow from the top leaders to the grassroots and vice versa. This implies filtering, bundling, processing and making the communication decision-relevant. The same applies in the other direction, where the middle ranges ought to also serve as communication channel from the top leaders to the grassroots.
  • Since grassroots members tend to be the ones who accomplish most of the fieldwork and frequently also cultivate personal contact to the grassroots of the parties, is necessary to make sure that the grassroots are fully included in the team structure, competences and responsibilities. With them communication needs to be active, so that the vertical equilibrium also from bottom up is guaranteed. 

Would I want to be part of this team?

A team can be more attractive, more emotional, more intelligent, warmer, more spiritual, and more capable of resonating than each of its members. 

  • Sexual-family layer of the team: It relates to its aesthetic or Dionysian aspect. Music, dance, sport and games as elements of the communication style, independently from the theme, contribute to the inner balance of the homeostatic equilibrium. This expresses liveliness, the joy of work and conveys such important qualities like openness and creativity to the parties, as well as to other teams and actors in the field.
  • Socio-emotional – community layer of the team: It relates to its ethic or Apollonian aspect. In the larger context of the fieldwork, can the team find its place and act accordingly? Is the team structured in a way that it can call upon its full potential? Is the external reason for the team’s existence (e.g. its mandate) in a harmonious flow with its internal disposition (e.g. its ethics) so that a flowing and productive work is possible? Mutual respect, friendly recognition and continuous flow of communication between teams are the vital reserves of environmental energy that any team has at its disposal during a difficult intervention in the field. To plan for this reserve is the responsibility of the top leaders. In daily life, such external environmental energy comes from the resonance with the parties.
  • Mental-societal layer of the team: It relates to the team consciousness, which develops transpersonally through simultaneous, selective and also conscious changes of its members, it arises out of the internal resonance of all layers included. This layer includes the ‘we-consciousness’, which makes a team a system capable of self-recognition in the first place. It is what differentiates a team from a collection of people. It allows the team to react to changes in the environment to open or close itself, to reflect, correct and to change.
  • Spiritual-policitary layer of the team: Since this layer goes beyond the categories of ‘I’ and ‘we’, it cannot be operationalized directly. We can so designate this layer as the ‘team spirit’, different from the ‘team consciousness’ construed in a mental-cognitive manner. Team spirit is the transrational substance of social systems, which out of the arrangement of individual actors make up a holon of a higher kind, a team. It cannot be ordered or acquired, but it can be felt, taken care of and multiplied. Several practical exercises such as breath, voice and movement-oriented group meditations have been proven to bolster and support the team spirit. 

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