Workshops on a rainy beach…

It’s raining. It’s pouring. But nobody is snoring!

Last week Caroline and I sat around at a nice resort near the beach … Don’t be fooled though, retiring to the beach was hard work!

We facilitated meetings at Limbe, on the coast near the border with Nigeria, where VSO Cameroon brought together all its staff to bond and WORK.  We were in a beautiful black-sand resort, surrounded by lush palm plantations and tropical flowers. But did we get to enjoy this marvelous milieu?  No time… It’s a good thing it was raining buckets.

The goal: to refine and revamp VSO’s ways of working with its volunteers and partners.  Good policies = better effectiveness = better ability for all of us to play our roles in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

10 hours per day of marathon policy development, strategy unpacking and logistics exploration.  This might normally have put the eagerest of staff members to sleep, but not this group.  Every session was filled with our teammates heatedly debating issues that affect the way we all work.

As our contribution, Caroline and I also got to share our skills by training staff in coaching, giving and receiving feedback, learning to plan, and developing communication strategies.  Here are a few highlights through the eyes of participants:

PUT ON YOUR COACH’S HAT: after a short demonstration, one staff commented: “It looks like you’re just asking people questions … what’s so hard about that?”  … Then the group tried it…Opinions changed: “I didn’t think it was so hard to just listen. I’m so used to being the person that talks the most” “This is going to take a lot of practice.”  “I wasn’t sure what to ask.”  “After a few minutes my mind started to wonder – I never though it would be difficult to stay focused.”

Hihihi.  Coach Caroline said… nope, coaching isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a blast when you get into it!

FEEDBACK. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY:  “always research and plan what you want to say before giving feedback to a superior.”  And in asking how they individually liked receiving positive feedback…“I like being acknowledged in writing: a formal letter with a date and signature.  Anything less means little.”

More on feedback learnings on Caroline’s coaching blog.

COMMUNICATION STRATEGY. WHERE’S THE MAGIC BULLET:  “There’s no magic bullet! Misunderstanding each other is so easy!  No matter what we do or don’t do it’s impossible not to communicate.”

Perhaps our week’s crowning glory came on the final day where we helped developed policy on Meetings … why to hold them, who to invite and how to make them more effective.  We had to think very hard on developing this workshop…  how do you prepare for a meeting about meetings?  Glad the rain improved the quality of our collective creative juices.  It turned out quite well.  We will never think of meetings in quite the same way ever again.

After each session the group stomped their feet in appreciation, slapped their hands in admiration and erupted into peals of comradely laughter.  Even Dario – VSO’s country director – joined the feet-stomping … in his stylish floppy Crocs.

Definitely appropriate footwear for rainy weather meetings.

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~ by Greg Spira on July 4, 2010.

One Response to “Workshops on a rainy beach…”

  1. Sounds Like Heaven 🙂

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