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  • Writer's pictureKate Crawshaw

Capacity Building For Leaders Around Psychological Safety.

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Designing a Team Leader Festival to support the development of high performing, adaptable teams.

Introduction: Aurecon, a global engineering and infrastructure advisory firm, recognised the need to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace and empower over 700 of their team leaders. In response to evolving workforce challenges and industry dynamics, Aurecon established a new team leader structure. The primary goal was to upskill team leaders in core leadership capabilities, fostering a collaborative and dynamic work environment. Serious Woo was enlisted to design a comprehensive leadership development initiative called "The Team Leader Learning Festival" to celebrate and embed the new structure, ensuring Aurecon's team leaders were well-equipped to drive individual and organisational growth.

The Challenge: With 1500 team leaders across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, Aurecon faced the challenge of adapting to the rapidly changing industry landscape and future-proofing their workforce through leadership development. The challenge involved creating a new team leader structure focused on supporting leaders in building high-performing, adaptable teams.

Our Strategic Response: Serious Woo's strategic response involved a blended learning approach, combining a one-day leadership workshop with the development of comprehensive facilitation guides and toolkits. We collaborated with Aurecon's in-house learning experts to co-facilitate, ensuring the utilization of internal expertise. This Train the Trainer approach ensured consistent and effective session delivery across multiple locations in Australia and New Zealand. The initiative included thorough research, appropriate model and activity design, and a focus on practical application. Inspired by Dr. Amy C. Edmondson's work on psychological safety, the program aimed to create an environment conducive to innovation, learning, and improved performance.

Key Components of Our Intervention:

  • Comprehensive Facilitation Guides and Toolkits: Serious Woo designed and delivered comprehensive facilitation guides, enabling multiple facilitators across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia to consistently deliver smooth and effective sessions. This tool was integral to the Train the Trainer approach, ensuring standardized and impactful delivery of the leadership workshop.

  • Aurecon Team Leader Festival: The one-day leadership workshop, named the 'Aurecon Team Leader Festival,' was designed to build core Team Leader capabilities through experiential activities and conversations. The workshop equipped participants with core models to lead themselves and others with greater authenticity, drawing inspiration from Dr. Amy C. Edmondson's research on psychological safety.

  • Incorporation of Psychological Safety Framework: The festival activities were informed by Dr. Amy Edmondson's "The Fearless Organisation Scan," focusing on domains such as willingness to help, inclusion and diversity, attitude towards risk and failure, and open conversation. This framework guided team leaders to connect with actions that support a psychologically safe and high-performing team.

Impact and Results: The intervention significantly improved Aurecon's team leaders' understanding of core leadership capabilities. Key outcomes included:

  • Enhanced understanding of strengths and weaknesses in the new Team Leader role.

  • Greater awareness of organizational support and available resources.

  • Increased emphasis on leveraging peer group experiences.

  • Enhanced celebration of the team leader role among peers.

  • Ongoing Community of Practice to support peer to peer learning.

Conclusion: The initiative's success demonstrates Aurecon's dedication to ongoing growth and leadership excellence. By investing in leadership development with Serious Woo, Aurecon successfully navigated the challenges of the evolving industry landscape, upskilling team leaders, and fostering a culture of collaboration, open conversations, and adaptability. Aurecon is now well-positioned to lead the way in the rapidly evolving engineering and infrastructure industry, equipped with a resilient and adaptable workforce.

One of the standout reasons we opted for Serious Woo was their unparalleled reputation for innovative and effective learning experiences. Their approach to design aligns seamlessly with our objectives, blending creativity with a deep understanding of adult learning principles with an unrelenting commitment on psychological safety.
The Team Leader Learning Festival itself was nothing short of a resounding success. Participants were not only captivated by the content but left with a profound sense of personal enrichment. The feedback we received was outstanding, with many citing the festival as a transformative experience in their team leadership journey.
A key element that contributed significantly to the festival's success was the exceptional commitment and preparation demonstrated by the actors involved. Their dedication to understanding our organisational context and the specific learning objectives was evident in the seamless integration of scenarios and role-playing exercises. Participants consistently praised the authenticity and relevance of the interactions, highlighting the actors' ability to bring the learning content to life in a pragmatic way.
The working relationship with Serious Woo felt more like a true partnership than a typical client-vendor dynamic. The team's responsiveness, flexibility, and genuine investment in the success of the festival were unparalleled. It was evident that they shared our commitment to achieving meaningful and lasting impact through this learning experience.
Our collaboration with Serious Woo was a game-changer for Aurecon's leadership development initiatives, setting the tone for the future. The Team Leader Learning Festival stands as a testament to the power of innovative design, engaging facilitation, and a true partnership approach. We look forward to future collaborations and confidently recommend Serious Woo to any organisation seeking transformative learning experiences.

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