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Sue Nash Consulting welcomes
you to the Action Learning Teams website. We hope it will give you
a taster of the benefits of Action
Learning and some complimentary interventions such as 360 degree feedback and MBTI, Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. Together with a bespoke team or leadership development programme you have
the ingredients for sustainable
change and development.

We hope that you will enjoy the
resources available to you on this
page. They hopefully serve to remind
you of facilitation techniques you may
have experienced or used in the past,
or to introduce you to new interventions
to use in action learning and team development in the future.

These resources will be changed
quarterly. If you want to be reminded
of a particular intervention then please
do not hesitate to contact us.

Telephone 07742 532970

Wishing you support, challenge and
fun in your personal and professional development in pursuit of excellence
and effectiveness.

Action Learning provides Support and Challenge

Why Support?

Members of any team require support especially during times of change. Within the public services in the UK there is much change which brings challenges around the health and well being of staff. The Education Sector is implementing a Health and Wellbeing Project in order to address some of these concerns. The Royal College of Nursing recently published ‘At breaking point? A survey of the wellbeing and working lives of nurses in 2005’ (Ball J, 2006) which identified that:-

  • ‘Nurses score more poorly than the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) average, showing that they are exposed to higher levels of stressors in their jobs, particularly in terms of demands and change

  • Nurses’ psychological wellbeing is lower than the general population

  • Nurses’ psychological wellbeing varies according to employer setting. Those working in the NHS, particularly in accident and emergency, have poorer psychological wellbeing.’

  • Ball (Ball, J 2006) and her colleague Pike also quote the THOR (The Health and Occupation Reporting Network) statistics that ‘show high incident rates of work-related mental illness for nurses, teachers, and medical practitioners.’ 

Action learning is a vehicle that organisations can use to support and develop staff as well as enabling the establishment of learning networks that facilitate sustainable development of individuals and their organisations.

Why Challenge?

Have you heard of group think or confirmation bias? Are you selective in what you hear, avoid conflict and don’t like challenge - then you are no different from the rest of us.  However, effective teams need challenge!

Action Learning provides the opportunity to challenge and be challenged in a safe environment – a skill that can be transferred to the work place.

Problem Solving in Teams using the 'Z' technique

When problem solving, there is a danger that we become bogged down, and only focus on our preferred ways of taking in information and making decisions.  In this way we lose out on the positive contributions of our non-preferred ways (MBTI) or ignore those in the team putting these contributions forward as they appear alien to us. 

A technique to help make better and more considered decisions is the Z-Technique. It is important that equal time is given to each of the four questions in relation to the issue that is being solved.  Our temptation is to spend the most time on our dominant preference.

Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, Feeling

Isabel Myers, one of the authors of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, developed this technique.
Krebs Hirsch S, Kummerow J M. 1998. Introduction to Type in Organisations. Oxford Psychologists Press Ltd. 
ISBN 1 85639065 9
Cited by
Rogers J 1999 Facilitating Groups. London, Management Futures Ltd.

Further reference

Managing staff and managing performance
Managing Staff and managing performance

There are many leadership and management books that give us the theory on how to effectively manage staff and performance – putting it into practice in something else!

There is much research and evidence to show that Action learning has demonstrated improvements in individuals, teams and services and researchers and writers such as Mike Pedler have been capturing this over many years (Pedler, M 1991)

Managing staff, managing performance and professional interpersonal relationships – have been recurring themes the participants bring to the Action Learning Sets we have facilitated over the last decade. Weinstein (Weinstein, K 1999) stated the ‘the same fundamental problem of how to relate to and work with other people.’ This is supported by the findings of the research by Cunningham et al (Cunningham et al 2002) who state that ‘building and developing effective relationships with team members was described by the clinical leaders as assisting their leadership development, enabled changes to the delivery of care and improvement to patient care.’ 

In many service organisations the staff budget amounts to around 70% of the total. Leaders of teams need to understand the theory and be supported and challenged in order to manage this expensive resource efficiently and effectively. Research and evidence has shown that Action Learning can make this difference.





The How and Why Technique

Establishing Ground Rules and Ways of Working for Action Learning Sets and Teams

It is well recorded that it is important to set ground rules or ways of working – (Pedler, M 1996 and Weinstein, K 1999). This is true of any group working together. The challenge is how to discuss some of these ‘rules’ and make them meaningful.  The practice of eliciting ground rules is now more common place and can often involve some of the well recognised rules such as confidentiality, commitment, trust, openness and honesty being thrown up on a flip chart with cursory reference to them. 

By using simply ‘How?’ and ‘Why? you can get more commitment and clarity.  Each participant takes it in turns to say
a ground rule/way of working that is important to them.  If they express themselves in terms of a value e.g. respect, then the other participants ask the question ‘How?’ until the behaviours supporting the value has been elicited,  e.g. listening and not interrupting, being non-judgemental.  If they articulate a behaviour such as –‘turning off mobile phones – the question ‘Why?’ is asked until the higher level value has been identified – in this case ‘respect’. As in any group the setting of ground rules should be an iterative process to be visited regularly during the life of the team or Action Learning Set.