Monday, 15 September 2014

Recording Your Team's Journey

Recording Your Team's Journey
By Karen Schmidt  

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I discovered a new garden on a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast hinterland with my car club (MX5 club of Brisbane if you are curious). The Maleny Botanic Gardens began construction in 2009 (opening to the public in 2012) and is the passion of Frank Shipp, a South African who fell in love with gardening aged 8. He decided to turn an old dairy farm perched on the side of a hill into a magnificent showcase garden. It is only early days but already he has managed to put in place a range of plants, ponds and pathways that will only get better with time. Unlike most botanic gardens, he receives no funding from the government for his work. Now that is real dedication!
One thing I noticed in the entrance area near the small shop that sells plants and snacks was a wall covered in photos. This is Franks' way of documenting the progress of the garden from rough paddock to serene oasis. I had a closer look at the pictures and could see the amount of landscaping that was involved. They have done a good job too because although it is on a steep slope it is easy to walk around. Future generations will be able to look back in wonder at what he and his team were able to achieve plus any new people coming to work at the garden will understand how it came to be.
I think this idea of relating the history, of telling the story of how your team came to be, is important for any workplace. The culture of a team is made up of the shared experiences they've had so if you try to bring in new people without them understanding what has gone into making the team they can be left confused or not appreciate what has gone on. This is particularly important if you run a small business as, like Frank, it will be your heart and soul that you have put into it and you need people to understand why you are so passionate about it.
Recording your story doesn't have to be difficult. It could be summed up in a one page document or, like the gardens, described in a series of pictures with captions. The process of putting together this record could be turned into a team activity that will bring people closer together as they recall the events that they believe are significant to the story. The end result will help you to create attachment in your team and to give you a great way to help new team members settle in faster.
If you want to see an example, I have created a page on my website called "My story" which has a short video as well as a written version. It's designed to help people understand why I am passionate about developing frontline leaders. To learn more visit
Karen Schmidt from Let's Grow! is the Workplace Gardener. She helps frontline managers grow into frontline leaders using her workplace gardening philosophy. During the process people become energised, excited and empowered to find ways to germinate the skills that lie dormant in their team. To learn all about her Budding Leaders Program, Coaching services and Resources Toolkit visit

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