experience designer // public historian


Group culture, the most important part of a project.


Walking into a room with 22 new people is scary, uncertain. As I did last Monday.
Especially knowing you will be together for the next three, intense months.
Dreams come true though: as five days later I walked out of that room already looking forward to Monday, to seeing  them again.


So how do you get a group to feel so strong in just a few days? And how do you alter group dynamics?

In order to make an awesome project, you need an awesome group. Good functioning groups are also individuals working together.

So how do you work together?

Start on the HOW. How do you work together? Content is the WHAT, this will be covered after you know the how.

Step 1. Create a common goal or enemy.

When all the noses point the same way, the eyes are on the same price: than you can set sail for the new world!
So start of with identifying the group culture: what is helpful behaviour? What is hindering? (Think big: respectful attitude, open mind, active attitude // gossiping, being pessimistic, breaking agreements etc.)
Clearing up what we want, is creating a solid base. Something you can always come back to.

Next up will be writing down your expectations. Personal expectations, those of the group, those of the project and of course: from your client to you. Get yourselves on the same page!

Maybe, also find out which role you have within the group. If you need some more information about yourself, try reading up on your personality.

After preparing the group, create how you maintain this on a daily basis: habits.

Step 2. Constructive Group Habits

There is no way you can manouver a group that does not share what is going on.
So start checkin-in and -out. Every morning, stand together and ask how everyone is doing. How do you feel ? What do you look forward to? And close of the day together: What do you take away? What was the moment that effected you most today?
Also create Fika's: short coffee breaks meant to mingle. No telephone, work, others: talk to each other on a social level.
What helps a great deal to keep the energy up is energisers: little games to get the energy up again. Amazing way to bond and have a laugh!

Step 3. Feedback

Oh feedback! Learn how to share what you feel. One rule: always speak from the I: I feel. Not: 'so image when you would go to the toilet, you feel alone.' No! When I go to the toilet, I feel alone.

Feedback to yourself, feedback to others personally. Make the common ground you have with the other bigger: it generates more trust. 
So to yourself, ask yourself what affected you after a day. How did it make you feel? What can you learn from this? How can you apply these learnings? What do you need to move forward? 

To others, offer your feedback as a gift. Also receive it as a gift, you can always chose to remain, change or reinforce. 
Giving feedback is made easily by answering these two questions: ' 1. What I appreciate most about you is ... 2. What I would like to see more of you is.. ' Guaranteed valuable feedback.

Don't forget to say Thank You! It's a present after all.

Step 4. Have fun, be present.

And read up on the integrative model of group development.  (See below)
These steps will clarify what groups go through and will help you understand group processes. So you will know that when you have an argument, it is ok. Get through this painful process, into stage three. Give feedback and find your common ground again. Don't question whether the group may like you or you may like the group: work within the group. Drive the group forwards together!

To make your own workshop on positive group culture, follow here.
And here to read on about developing group culture.

Good luck starting and maintaining your group! If you have any questions, doubts or if you would like to know more: don't hesitate to leave a comment!
Next up: How to start an idea.

stephanie de rooij