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13:57 on Thursday
26 June 2003

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"I never thought that I'd ever do anything like that"!

Whitwell Learning has been in existence for 16 years, and 2 years in it's present form. Its training consultancy arm, "Develop" specialises in action-centred team-building programmes. As Jon Gower Senior Consultant at Develop, explains, "each team-building programme is tailor-made and its format depends on the individual customer's requirements. Before we devise a programme we meet the Human Resources Manager or the Team Manager to discuss what they want to get out of the programme; what the desired end result is for their team. We use this as our starting point to develop a programme which will move the group forward to achieve agreed outcomes".

"We do not use a set format for the team-building programmes but utilise a mixture of activities from the extensive range on offer. These vary from low impact exercises, simply using a blindfold and a piece of rope, to higher impact activities which might require the team to transport equipment over a 10 ft. wall. Some activities test mental agility whilst others may test problem-solving skills or allow the group to explore internal dynamics. The activities are a catalyst for discussion. Even if we used the same activity for 10 different groups it would provide a variety of outcomes for each group to discuss."

Whitwell benefits from its location on Rutland Water and much of the apparatus for the activities sits on the shore of the Reservoir. Yachts and canoes are often deployed in the team-building exercises and use is made of a local climbing wall facility just five minutes from the Centre. All the equipment used is risk-assessed and the correct safety gear is provided.

The ideal delegate to tutor ratio for the team-building programmes is 10:1 but Develop has worked with groups of up to 150 split into team sizes of around 20. As Jon says: "The smaller the group the more personal attention you can give to individuals and the better able you are to discuss particular problems and weaknesses."

As for timescale Whitwell is open seven days a week and so can meet company requirements for team-building programmes during the working week or at weekends.

Jon says: "If you particularly want to work on building team identity I would always advise groups to stay overnight; the evening provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the day's events together and further cement team relationships".

He also advises teams to get together at the office or at Whitwell one or two months after the programme to revisit their experience. Get out the flipcharts and personal notes from the course, stick them up around the office and ask a few questions. 'Where are we now?' 'What did we say we were going to do?' 'Did we do it and if not, why not?'. "There isn't much to be gained from coming to Whitwell for one or two days simply to return to the office and continue with what you've been doing before."

Says Jon: "For those who take part in one of Develop's team-building programmes there is a great sense of personal achievement. People often say 'I never thought that I'd ever do anything like that'. It gives them great self-belief, the feeling that we can all do it and, more importantly we can all do it as part of a team. If they haven't got smiley faces when they leave here we're not happy that we've done our job properly."  

August 2002




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Jon Gower
Tel: 01780 686555

Develop Whitwell

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