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
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