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TAFE Queensland SkillsTech

Leading Teams has been implementing the Performance Improvement Program with TAFE Queensland SkillsTech since early 2014. We spoke to General Manager, Mary Campbell about the effects of the program.

Describe your organisation

TAFE Queensland is the largest and most experienced provider of further education and training in Queensland offering practical, industry-relevant training to over 160,000 students annually, across more than 500 program areas.

TAFE Queensland SkillsTech delivers training in the automotive, building & construction, engineering and mining industries from four campuses in metropolitan Brisbane, as well as providing on-site training in industry.

TAFE Queensland SkillsTech has approximately 620 staff who empower individuals, industry, and communities to achieve their career and business goals.

Why did you engage Leading Teams?

My Senior Executive Team generally performed very well as a team, however I was aware that they rarely engaged in “genuine conversations” and were reluctant to challenge one another. Another issue was some team members reverting to their silos and disengaging from the group when under pressure.

I was introduced to the Leading Teams model at an AUSTAFE conference led by facilitator Tim Ferguson. I was very impressed with the principles of accountability, transparency and feedback underpinning the Leading Teams model. I believed it could be beneficial in professionally developing my Senior Executive Team.

As some members of the team were also relatively new to TQST, I also felt that the Leading Teams model could help unify the team and nurture a high performance culture at TQST.

How did the program commence?

The program commenced with the Senior Executive Team who developed their own behavioural framework with an agreed set of values, behaviours and language to hold each other accountable. All Senior Executive Team members received a peer assessment against the framework. As they grew more comfortable with the model, team members began to use agreed upon language from the framework to engage in “genuine conversations” with each other and their respective teams.

What were the initial reactions of your team to the program?

The Senior Executive Team were very interested in the program and where it could lead. They were initially a little bit guarded but generally enthusiastic and open to the model and the ideas that were being generated in the initial sessions.

Which areas in your business use Leading Teams?

The Leading Teams model has been very successful with the Senior Executive Team and senior leaders across the region. TQST is now rolling out the model across all teams in the organisation.

What is different about Leading Teams?

Leading Teams offers a common sense, evidence-based and practical approach. The model focuses on dynamics rather than mechanics with an emphasis on everyone taking ownership and being accountable for their behaviour at both an individual level and as a part of a team.

What improvement/s have you experienced in your organisation (what has been the impact of using Leading Teams)?

My Senior Executive Team are committed to implementing the agreed behavioural framework and as a result have stronger professional relationships.

Leading Teams has provided the organisation with a set of tools that they can use for “genuine” conversations which has led to them being more supportive and trusting of each other. This has helped to break down silos and allow for more supportive cross-team interactions and collaborations.

It’s definitely given us a solid foundation to improve our work culture.

What have you learnt about yourself throughout this program?

I have learnt that to do my job properly I need trusting relationships in the workplace. This is more apparent in tough times.

It has given me greater self-awareness. I am now more reflective about my own behaviour – not always in a negative way but in a more self-aware way.

How does your Leading Teams facilitator work with you to deliver the program?

Our Leading Teams facilitator was very easy to work with. He put ownership onto the team to develop the behavioural framework and to set common goals that everyone was committed to. The expectation was that the commitment would come from and be owned by the team. He made it clear that everyone was accountable to themselves, each other and the organisation. We felt very supported by his professional approach. He contacted each one of us personally to de-brief and plan new sessions. As part of the Leading Teams journey we were constantly challenged and encouraged to invest in relationships with our work colleagues. The simple, common sense approach of our Leading Teams facilitator helped us to stay focused and committed to achieving our goals.

What have been some of the challenges of implementing the Leading teams program?

It needs constant effort and nurturing for engagement. Everyone needs to be part of the change management process and it can at times be challenging getting everyone on-board.

What feedback have you received from team members within your organisation?

Overall feedback has been very positive. It has made for more trusting and supportive relationships. We now realise that checking in with each other is important. There is definitely more cohesion and accountability within all teams across the organisation.

Is there any other feedback you could provide in relation to the Leading Teams program?

We are privileged to work with such a committed organisation and we are provided with regular feedback for continuous improvement. We definitely believe in Peter Drucker’s line that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and with Leading Teams we are consciously working on improving the ‘culture’ of our business, which in turn, will improve our performance.