Yoga and the Hokey Pokey: How to build a culture of change from the ground up

Posted in: AUA Conference, AUA Talks, Bath AUA News, Collaboration

By: Emma Greeley

Intrigued?  I know I was, which is why I signed up to Clare Shrewsbury’s talk at the AUA conference earlier this year.  If your finger is hovering over the delete button convinced this article will be nothing more than a discussion about mantra words, attempts to fold yourself into complicated pretzel shapes and generally shaking it all about, stop right now.

What Clare is talking to us about is people.  That’s right.  You and me, and our teams.  Specifically, she’s talking about how to engage and encourage staff in the workplace, using her own experience of bringing two separate and very different teams of people together as an example.

Within minutes we find ourselves offering up our name, workplace, how we feel right now, and something we’re good at, to the rest of the group.   The purpose of this exercise is to illustrate the importance of sharing and trust.

Clare explains how she learned from her initial mistakes as a team leader; the efficient delivery of projects and tasks taking precedence over her interest in the personal and professional development of individual members of her team. And, crucially, how she had failed to understand the correlation when things went a bit wrong…

We look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and understand the importance of esteem, and how this affects us as individuals, and as a team.

Clare’s aim was to develop her team to feel happy, empowered and confident in the work environment.  Beginning with communication, she established a weekly team meeting, each member of the group leading the discussion on a rotational basis.   Individuals were encouraged to bring one positive thing about themselves to the meeting, to showcase skills both inside and outside the workplace, share professional information and discuss and agree training needs.

As a result of these meetings Clare observed a more positive communication within the group, together with a confidence and trust that arose from the training and experiences. This in turn empowered the individuals and strengthened the team.

Clare reflects that team meetings were a good opportunity for her to understand not just her team’s motivations, but her own.

We discuss the value of employing the Johari Model which can be used to build trust between teams, by revealing information about ourselves and understanding how others perceive us.

We also consider how a ‘scavenger hunt’ where teams develop a website or canvas of values and common purposes, can be a useful device when there are shy or reticent team members.

Finally, we all warm to the idea of a Swedish style Fika group activity: a coffee break with our colleagues!

Apparently, in Sweden, Fika is used as an effective way to exchange knowledge and opinions about what’s going on in the company, and generally bond with colleagues;  resulting in better productivity for the company and better wellbeing for each employee – and each team.

What a good idea.  Coffee anyone?


Clare Shrewsbury’s recommended reading/viewing:




Posted in: AUA Conference, AUA Talks, Bath AUA News, Collaboration


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