Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rancho Capistrano Part 1

My company is big on training for their managers as they have numerous courses where they bring in experts to conduct intensive on-site and off-site programs. So when it came up as a goal on my performance review, I shopped for the best boondoggle. A two day course in a mission in southern California? I'm there. It is a nice perk of being part of the manager's "club"at this company. I have no other frame of reference, not having been a manager before, but I do believe that his company really tries to groom and coddle its managers. Which is great to promote a cohesive company culture, but a bit stifling when the company is an old-fashioned conservative company headquartered in the Midwest. Not exactly a perfect match for the innovative project that I'm on and the fast-paced new technologies, new tools, new gadget person that I am. But I always fall back to the 15 minute commute and great pay. So here is part 1 of the account of my boondoggle.

Rancho Capistrano is so beautiful you can't take a bad picture. Here is the set of pictures from the trip. The course "Improving Performance through Coaching", had an intriguing description which included "wear comfortable casual clothes, including hats, sunscreen, shorts and tennis shoes as we will be spending a lot of time outside". OK, I can live with that. I've been to team building touchy-feely courses before. I learned that people should stay 3 feet away with me, don't get too close! When I saw a bandana on the table I asked the instructor, "Is this a blindfold?" He laughed and replied, "No, it's a teaching tool." At that point, I knew what I was in for, or at least I thought I did. Here is our first experiential adventure, the "Minefield".

We were paired off into coach and coachee, where we alternated roles through the exercise. I was paired with a pure D (dominance), according to the DiSC test we took, where I am a high C and part S. Still we got along great, as I have many close friends that are D as well. In minefield, five plastic cups are laid out in a row. The goals was to walk around the cups slalom style blindfolded. The first coaching approach was "No coaching". I walked slalom style and ended up diagonally across the field. In the second pass, the coach had to stay on one end and "talk" the coachee through. The third style was "guidance" where the coach could hold the arm or shoulder of the coachee and walk them through. Much better results obviously but also the start of the "touching" part of the program. The last was an exercise in adapting to change. A rope was put up across the middle of the course about 2 feet high, unbeknownst to the coachee. I, the coacher this time, approached this head on, bringing the hand of my partner down to feel the rope and he easily hopped over and was the first to complete. And is his D way, he said, "Yay, we win!" I was baffled by some of the other approaches where the coacher simply directed "lift up your leg up.. higher.. higher!!" or having them lie down and scooch under the rope without touching it as if it were on fire and couldn't even be mentioned. Of course before I had my partner touch the rope, I asked if it was allowed to tell what it was or touch it. Even after seeing us complete the course, the other coaches didn't pick up on the easier direct approach I took. Of course, I was proud to "win" as well.

1 comment :

Bigqueue said...

At Sun we have what are referred to as woods meetings, and other meetings with a name that escapes me at the moment. (It will come to me 10 minutes after I fall asleep for sure)

The woods meeting is simply the type of off-site boondoggle that you sort of refer to...except they sometimes just find the most lame excuse for a meeting. (just to get out on the lake)

I think those meetings and their name came from DEC....everything in the computer business started at DEC or IBM....why not this too.

The other manager gathering I referred to was not so much a "fun event", but a sort of manager molding event. (Which is what the name referred to...but I have a mental block at the moment)

Ah was called "Charm School"...where managers learned their proper place...or should I say, the proper place of the people working for them. (can you tell I was only a manager for a short time....can you understand why I'm not one again! :-)

But your trip sure sounds a step or three above any "Charm School" or "Woods meeting".

BTW: Congrats on winning. Sounds like a similar thing that I learned at Kentron...."Never assume you know what an answer will be until you ask the question and get the answer." (I used to say "They will obviously not go for that"....and guess what...the direct approach works more often than I thought! As it did in your game.)

An introvert though?