Building Teams In One Of The World’s Most Remote Locations – With Clean Language

Greg Hince’s teams work in one of the most remote locations on earth – Antarctica. In this video, he explains how Clean language has helped them to work better together.

“One of the things that we do with our field teams I’d say continuously but particularly before a field team… just before they leave to travel south, we will work with them to help them develop themselves as a community that can live and work together and manage themselves. Because when people are that far away, in intense environments like that, you can’t have somebody just managing from afar – you need the team to be self-reliant.

“And I guess the history of the team many years ago was that teams would typically blow up (metaphorically!) You would have high levels of conflict. People would come back from Antarctica and say, “I never want to do that again,” and that wasn’t the sort of team that we wanted to develop.

“In addition, you’ve got people that join the team at the last minute, just before the field season, so they might be new and throughout a field season you’ve also got people coming and going as various transport options come in through the seasons so teams are all… if you think of the forming-norming model, teams are constantly changing and constantly in a state of flux throughout a field season and often working with people that they’ve never met before. So they have to form and get along really quickly and and perform well together, and to a large degree look after each other because they’re they’re relying on each other for more than just their work since they’re also living together. You know, there they are their own, I guess, out-of-work community as well.

“Over the past few years we’ve been training them to work with with Clean Language with each other. It’s only probably been in the last two years that they’ve developed the ability to be able to do some of that with each other, whereas prior to that all we were really doing was holding sessions for them before they left, to get started, and then we would manage from a distance. So early on we might run session and ask them for this field season to be just the way you would like…? and for that you will need to be like… ? and the support you’ll need is…?

“And more recently the team, I guess, has discovered that what it really needs to be like to work well and effectively is to be a little bit like the microbial communities that we promote in the soil coming up, where these communities can adjust/change/adapt according to the extreme conditions that they’re exposed to so that in itself has formed a bit of a metaphor. And what we now ask is for you to be flexible, adaptable and resilient throughout the field season you need to be like what? And the support you need to be is what?

“And we’ve developed them to the point where they can ask each other these questions. And you see if they might be working outside for long periods and for Jack whose metaphor is that he needs… he’s a young student that needs to be like a young orca that’s always hungry for information. And people will call out to him asking, “Jack how’s your orca today?” and he will be able to respond and self check and self calibrate how he’s doing and know whether or not he needs a different kind of support to maintain his resilience.

“The biggest difference is that we have people coming back at the end of the field season saying, “That that that was the best field season I’ve ever had and I really want to do that again!” and that’s probably our ultimate measure. We no longer have people coming back to Australia saying, “That was that was terrible, that was crap, and I don’t want to work with this team.” People are able to creatively use their ways of doing their job together, without needing external intervention or or conflict resolution or anything like that. They’re just able to to do what they need to do and rely on each other, so lots of economic benefits in there.”

  • Greg and I plan to work together to tell this story more fully in a mainstream publication, ideally in a business magazine. If you have any ideas about where I might pitch the idea, please let me know!

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