Restorative Practice and Team Work
Team work can be challenging. No matter how great individuals are, when you put them around a table to figure out a problem or deliver a project under pressure, the cracks can begin to show. Maybe Person A is dead set on one particular solution. Maybe Person B sulks when their suggestion isn’t taken on board. Maybe Person C wants to leave all the hard work to other people. College projects can be just as tricky – especially when everyone involved is a part-time student and managing work, family commitments and all the other problems that life is throwing them at the time.
When our group formed to work on our Restorative Practice project this year, there was a lot of trepidation. We all wanted to do a great project but we didn’t know each other very well and we didn’t know how we would all perform under pressure. Through our project, we learned a lot about keeping circles, ice breakers and effective use of the listening piece but one thing we didn’t anticipate was how modelling Restorative Practice would benefit our work as a team. Relationship building is such a critical part of Restorative Practice but it is so easy to overlook. In our team’s case, relationship building just needed a quiet, safe space and a healthy dose of vulnerability. At our first project meeting (tucked away in a corner of the Maynooth campus) one of us plucked up the courage to talk about their fears about running a circle and their worries about public speaking. Soon, we were all sharing our fears about this project.
In hindsight, sharing our vulnerability at that early stage built a really strong foundation for the team. That conversation really bonded us together and the group evolved into a nurturing community. Because we were frank about our weaknesses, we assigned each other roles we were comfortable with but we also encouraged each other to take step out of our respective comfort zones.
Having created such a safe, supportive space, there was no friction on the team. We accepted each other at face value and dividing up tasks was very straightforward. Even when things didn’t go as planned, we trusted each other as individuals to resolve any problems as they arose. This trust gave us all confidence in how we delivered our share of the project.
This project really made us all reflect on teamwork. Imagine a workplace where teams spent some initial time getting to know each other and discussing personal challenges before diving into the tasks at hand. Good relationships do support productivity and they also lead to a much more enjoyable working experience!
This week's authors are Ciara Flanagan, Janet Webster and Tracey Rogers. They were students at the time in Maynooth University and all heavily involved in Restorative Practice. Thanks to all for this contribution.
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