My people want to learn and be developed!
Training budgets are tight – or non-existent!
My team need to share more and support each other!
We need to share best practice across teams!
All of these are things that I frequently hear from managers and HR professionals.
So I have good news!
We have been introducing managers and professionals to a quick, low cost approach to learning which:
- you can use without emptying your training budget
- can be rolled out quickly and easily
- results in both individual and team learning and…
- delivers some great solutions to problems your people may be struggling with.
The solution is ‘ Fly-on-the-wall’
What is Fly-on-the-wall?
It is simple and fast – taking only 20 minutes to leverage the learning and experience of others and gather new ideas to solve real work issues. It is extremely flexible and once the core process has become familiar to everyone it can be used in many different contexts. For instance, we have carried out interviews with recent clients and here are just some examples of how it has helped:
- “It provided new insights and practical approaches to complex problems, like tackling performance problems, getting new work procedures accepted and getting funding for new business initiatives”
- “It helped me get a better understanding of the part I may be playing myself – both how I help and sometimes when I am getting in the way of change. I’ve used it to identify ways in which I can flex their own management style to gain greater acceptance and reduce resistance”
- “My team gained a better understanding of the challenges facing others and how they could leverage their shared experience and skills to move forward. It has reduced some of the frustrations in the team because they now have a better understanding of the difficulties their colleagues are facing”
- “Using Fly-on-the-wall has helped the team develop a greater sense of trust and openness – they learn together and now take a more problem-solving and collaborative approach with one another”
Where Fly-on-the-wall has been introduced to groups, during a course or team workshop, post -training evaluation reports identify it as one of the most highly valued aspects of the learning experience. Many participants have introduced it back in their own organisations as a regular part of the their meeting process
How does “Fly-on-the-wall” work in practice?
The tool is best suited to a small group of people so that everyone gets the opportunity to get involved. The ‘Problem Holder’ prepares by identifying a real, current problem or situation that they want to improve. It could concern their own performance, that of another individual or an organisational issue…
A ‘Problem Holder’ is allocated about 20 minutes to focus on their issue following 4 clear steps:
- They start by describing their situation in 2-3 sentences – no more than 2 minutes – and finish with the question ‘How do I …?’
- The other group members listen and ask questions for clarification. Again – just for 2 minutes.
- At this point the Problem Holder ‘leaves’ the group and become the Fly-on-the-wall. They remain in the room and listen to the conversation and take notes but otherwise it is as if they have left the room. Typically this means turning their chair around so they can’t see their colleagues, but they can hear them.
The rest of the group then discuss the problem as if the Problem Holder was not present. The aim of the discussion is to provide, in a relatively short time, as many thoughts, ideas and perspectives as possible. This should last no longer than 12-15 minutes.
- The Problem Holder then rejoins the group and says what they found useful/thought provoking. This activity should again be only about 2 minutes.
From our experience there are three key things to remember to make the process effective:
- Stick to time – less can be more in this process
- Don’t spend all the time seeking clarification of the problem – this can limit ideas
- Discuss both the Problem Holder and problem – their personal style and approach will always be an important part of the equation
The technique is deceptively simple however the learning experience that results is complex, rich and often produces new breakthroughs in thinking.
Praise for Fly-on-the-wall:
Here at Greenbank we are such fans of the Fly-on-the-wall technique that we regularly use it in our sales and leadership programmes. It works in different regions and industries – in fact some of our past participants are still using it in their teams 5 years later. But don’t just take our word for it – her are just a couple of comments from others:
“Our people are busy, pragmatic managers so Fly-on-the-wall really appealed to them. During my follow up discussions after the programme many managers reported that this was one of the most significant ‘take-away’ tools from the entire programme. Often it was the first thing they applied back at work.”
“The Fly-on-the-Wall technique was a complete revelation to me. It is a seemingly simple but very powerful tool which brought instant clarity to my thought process. I have introduced it into my organisation as a technique that the senior management team use to solve problems and it has proved instantly popular”
Great ideas and powerful tools do not need to be complex to be valuable. Fly-on-the-wall is a simple tool that can be used quickly, every day to solve problems, build teamwork and empower hard pressed professionals to learn, maintain confidence and share the load of learning with their colleagues.
So – try it out for yourself and let us know how it works for you!
If you would like to receive an Fly-on-the-wall Exercise Briefing Sheet to help you use this technique with your people – please get in touch and I’ll happily send you more information. Or aarange a call so that we can share our experiences and help you to use it in your organisation.
Judith Hirst – Head of Leadership Development at Greenbank