by Terri Hall
Learning a new model for stewarding our organization, including adopting policies, landing on practices that support our working together constructively, and negotiating team member roles in a way that seeks to honor individual gifts and interests as well as organizational needs is a huge lift! Making such radical change to our infrastructure has required us to ramp up the scope, depth and volume of our engagement with each other. Previous to our transition, our full team meetings happened most consistently via videochats. While those were productive and helped maintain a certain measure of connectedness, there was a spontaneous, maybe oxytocin-laden strengthening of our team that happened when we were in each other’s physical company. As a team, we now have more frequent, half- and full-day, in-person meetings in order to have the optimal conditions for tending to the work that lay before us.
Also, because of a heightened consciousness around having a work culture that is non-hierarchical, we’ve been engaging in recommended practices during our meetings that support us in encouraging and making space for all team members to provide input at each meeting. As we work through our meeting agendas, our process usually entails our going around in a circle, allowing space for each team member to ask clarifying questions, give reactions and responses, make any objections, and provide consent to decisions. At times, this process has felt a bit artificial, and we have had to support each other in remembering these new practices so that we wouldn’t fall back into the habit of having discussions that could easily become tangential, or favor team members who are naturally more verbal in a group setting. But we’re willing to become disciplined in this practice as we know that we will be most successful in fulfilling our mission as we support the expression of the voices of all team members and cultivate our ability to listen to each other.