How to team build in a racially-culturally-and-personality-conflicted team – HR Pulse

Published on 15 Jan 2013 in HR PulseFor more articles relevant to the HR Community

Brian V Moore

In 2002, we were called in to Eskom by Bruce Moody, a high-level HR officer at Eskom. He said: “We have some heavy cultural clashes in a technical service centre in the Northern Province [now Limpopo].

Do you think that you can you do something to change the situation?”

“I am sure we can.” I responded. “What are the challenges?”

Bruce pondered for a while and said: “There are some heavy racial attitudes from all sides. In fact, I don’t really know why I am asking you! What are you, a white man and your Indian wife, going to do to make a difference? This is a bunch of tough hardliners. They have a long history of conflict and nothing that we have done has worked.

“Let’s get this clear: These are heavy workplace disputes!” said Bruce. “There is continuous backstabbing and gossiping. They complain that everything is wrong and nobody is to blame! They are totally unmotivated and their productivity is very low, which is resulting in poor customer service.”

Arthie, my wife and business partner, asked: “What do you think is causing this?”

Bruce gave Arthie a knowing look: “Well obviously there is very low morale among them because of the constant bickering. There is racism, prejudice, laziness, no ownership, no accountability and poor communication – and I mean REALLY poor!” He took a deep breath, shook his head, and continued: “This is a hugely conservative area where old attitudes die very hard. It could be the worst case that you could ever take on.”

I felt confident we could take on the challenge

We were almost overpowered by his statements, but I had no doubts. If I could work in areas, as a peacemaker, where bullets were flying, we could duck a few words.

“We can do this. When do you want us to start?” We were given two weeks to prepare.

We hit the ground running

We had to find ways to build relationships swiftly with groups of people who we had never before encountered in an area of the country where we had NO experience. We spent the time studying the history of the area, and the cultures and languages of the people in the team.

Arthie and I then put together the Celebrating Humanity Team Conflict Resolution programme for diverse teams. This fun, exciting, inclusive and enjoyable programme included celebrating diversity, diversity management, team building and a sustainable long-term team-managed code of conduct.

And so we set off to the town where the centre was located

As we drew closer to the centre, we passed a huge flock of vultures feeding on the carcass of a wild animal. I silently prayed that it was not an ominous sign!

When we arrived, Jan – the depot supervisor – greeted us. He then took us aside and pleaded: “You must just motivate them. They need it.” I looked at his stressed face and saw a man in pain. He was ready to explode. Another senior member of the team said: “If you guys mention racism, just once, we WILL walk out.”

We had to change the mood from the outset. We spent that night in the training room transforming the venue into one of celebration: Balloons, happy colours, hand-drawn posters and a very unique seating arrangement…

The next morning we found separated groups sitting together. They were grouped by colour, language and level. All in their own comfort zones. All spiritually, emotionally and physically apart. Some were obviously angry and others totally disinterested.

Then we began to help them to celebrate their humanity

Three days and 21 working hours later, the same people were sitting side by side at a family barbecue. Children played with children. Wives chatted to each other while the men cooked meat, spoke about cars, sport and laughed as they shared jokes.

They had experienced each other in a fun environment, shared wisdom, seen value in each other, worked as teams, cleared all of their past interpersonal baggage, committed to a code of positive behaviours and removing their negative actions from their lives.

15 months after the first intervention, Jan sent this feedback

“I had a group of 30 people from diverse cultures. They could not get on with each other:

There was continuous friction between the different race groups, and between people from the same race and cultural group. The people were negative and not satisfied with anything.

Complaints were the order of the day. This also placed our depot in a bad light with management.

We decided on Brian and Arthie’s training. The people were very negative about the programme initially.

As the course progressed, peoples’ attitudes changed from negative to positive.

Communication, respect and ownership improved from all sides by 100%. The respect between different race groups has been restored.

Some of the people who were negative have changed so much that they have been promoted to higher positions with greater responsibility.

The foundation of the entire course was so successful that the group is now going ahead with a leadership course.”

Now that was the change that we had been looking for!

via How to team build in a racially-culturally-and-personality-conflicted team – HR Pulse.

Healing the dead?

Is it possible to heal the dead?This is a concept that is foreign to individualistic communities but very close to the heart of communalistic societies.

Here is a wonderful article from Zimbabwe that will bring more understanding of “Apologising for the past.”

http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/download/essays/Healing%20the%20dead.pdf

NNP apologises as it disbands.. Mail and Guardian

The party that introduced apartheid and enforced racial segregation in South Africa for nearly 50 years disbanded and apologised for its racist policies on Sunday, after an attempt to reinvent itself failed.

The New National Party, renamed from the National Party in 1997, voted itself out of existence after several electoral defeats. The once mighty and arrogant party ended its days with an apology for its apartheid policies.

“The National party brought development to a section of South Africa, but also brought suffering through a system grounded on injustice,” its former leader, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, told the party’s federal council on Saturday, while putting forward a motion to disband.

The move passed by a margin of 88 in favour, two against and three abstentions. The meeting was of the NNP members who joined the African National Congress (ANC) when the two parties merged last year. Now they will simply be members of the ANC.”

No party … could hope to successfully atone and move ahead in the same vehicle,” said Van Schalkwyk, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister in President Thabo Mbeki’s Cabinet.

He said that by dissolving, the party was throwing off the yoke of history and contributing to finally ending the “division of the South African soul”.

From : Mail & Guardian Online
www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/ breaking_news__national&articleid=201252

Posted by Brian V Moore
Celebrating Humanity International

Brian V Moore Website

Diversity Training in South Africa

Africa Dreams Website – Celebrating Humanity International

Celebrating Humanity Projects

Team Building in South Africa

Celebrating Humanity Blog

Celebrating Humanity on Facebook

Contact

Mobile: +27 (0)79 643 4457

Fax: +27 866 746 310

 

Healing the Soul of Africa.

A letter to the many people of Africa and South Africa who suffer, or who have suffered, as result of the legacies of the past.
During our workplace diversity training programmes we often come across people who are in pain over matters that happened in the past. Not only the recent past, many people are still affected by events that harmed their ancestors. This pain can be healed but often group belief systems stand in the way of peace.

Africa has a history of incredible harsh acts, programmes and policies by various groups targeting other groups. The British against the Afrikaner. The British against African and Indian communities. African versus Eastern South Africans. The “whites” against the “blacks.” The Afrikaner versus the “coloured”, “Indian” and “blacks.” Clan against clan. One political group against another. There have been far too many to mention.
These events caused a deep-rooted legacy of anger which will not be cleared until the “descendants” lay down the past through apology and forgiveness.


There is a fairly commonly held belief amongst the more traditional African cultures that one’s well-being and good fortune is dependent on the well-being of one’s ancestors.


Should an ancestor still be in pain because of a past injustice his living descendants will suffer. The only way that life can be lived normally is if there is an apology from the “descendants” of the original perpetrators and if that apology is accepted. At this point the living can move on and their lives will become far better.


Thus the apology by the British government to the descendants of a Zulu King, who was buried in manacles and recently exhumed and re-buried a “free” man, has healed the spirits and souls of many South Africans.


In the Northern Province we came across a young Bapedi man who could not look at any “white” person without feeling aggrieved. He was a young boy when he was caught up in the 1976 Soweto riots, where apartheid forces shot at and killed friends, relatives and neighbours. He watched many people die and still lived with the anger. Two “white” people apologized to him and his relief was visible and immediate.


Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe continuously brings up the terrible British colonial past. He uses his anger and that of his people to build the deep-rooted hatred of the “whites.” That Britain is no longer a “colonial” force is irrelevant. The damage has been done and the healing path has not been walked.


Tony Blair and his nation stand now on a “moral” high ground – founded upon centuries of injustice and domination. The result of the injustices will not go away without any action. If the British, through their leaders and Monarch, apologise there could be an immediate reduction in tension.

Yes, it is time for us to lay down our past, but not in the Western way of “let bye-gones be bye-gones.”


If we believe that past events were unacceptable and that we can heal the hearts and souls of our fellow humans, we must take the time to publicly apologise for the actions of our ancestors. In order to do so we must accept that even if it was not directly “my” or “your” ancestors who are responsible, in the eyes of those aggrieved, we represent the people/ ancestors who are.


Everyone, including the British government, PW Botha, the “descendants” of those who acted badly in any nasty or violent acts can heal our people/ continent through apologies. In so doing we will have a chance of a brilliant future together.


In closing, we the undersigned, unconditionally apologise to the people of Africa for any pain that I, or my ancestors, have inflicted upon them or their ancestors.


We ask them for forgiveness and wish that they are healed with time and that we can find a way to be humans together for a better World.
0724394220 (Fax) or e-mail us on brian@africa-dreams.com.
Written in 2002. Relevant today.


Brian, Arthie and Jean Moore (Snr.)
Celebrating Humanity International – formerly Mthimkhulu International – Corporate Consultants

Brian V Moore Website

Diversity Training in South Africa

Africa Dreams Website – Celebrating Humanity International

Celebrating Humanity Projects

Team Building in South Africa

Celebrating Humanity Blog

Celebrating Humanity on Facebook

Contact

Mobile: +27 (0)79 643 4457

Fax: +27 866 746 310

Get a team building proposal by email on brian@brianvmoore.com


Brian, Lliam & Arthie Moore