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Your Team is your Tribe

By Beth Peakall

What makes the perfect team? To be in groups is, I believe, a human instinct. We are tribal beings. At work, as manager we need to create teams - the work equivalent of a tribe. How do we do it?  

Over 1400 years ago, a monk named Benedict knew then what we know now: the best organisations require effort to join. This effort is the main reason they are superior organisations - it sets up a virtuous circle where the best remain the best.  

So how do we get the best? Benedict sets out a clear, detailed procedure to ensuring only the best get in - and then how to support and keep them. He begins with admission, and says:


If someone comes and keeps knocking at the door, and, if at the end of four or five days he has shown himself patient in bearing his harsh treatment of entry and the difficulty of admission, and that he persevereth in his request, let admission be granted unto him.  

The rule of St. Benedict, Rule 58  

For the Benedictines, the next steps are the Postulant, Novitiate, First Monastic Profession and Perpetual Monastic Profession. The point of each is laid out, as is the time frame. The Postulant is the transition time into monastic life. It’s a time of work and study, with a mentor, to help you see if this is the right life for you. It lasts six months to two years.  

Your novitiate lasts a year and, with your mentor, you are guided to deeper understanding, which culminates in your First Monastic Profession. This lasts three to six years, and you are now a full participating member of the order. The Perpetual profession is, of course, the final step - a permanent commitment to the community.  

For us, it’s the application form and interview process. Are we clear in our needs? Do we ask the questions to ensure that the applicant can do the job and add value to our organisation and team?  

Do you have a Postulant and Novitiate process? In other words, do you have an organised induction process with someone to guide your new team member into the work? There is nothing like a clear, guided induction to ensure that a team member feels truly valued and can begin bringing their gifts and new perspective to the work at hand.  

The point for the Benedictines was to ensure that those that remained within the community provided support and give benefit to the organisation, while getting support and benefit from the organisation.  

So how do you create a great induction process to ensure a great team member? Begin by ensuring that there is one person in charge - involve the rest of the team, but make sure there is a "mentor" to keep track.  

Create a process which takes into account how this person learns best, as well as builds in time to practice the skills and knowledge you are imparting. Practice not only makes perfect but makes habit.  

Next, get the person up and working as soon as possible! Provide them with support and knowledge on how things are done, but listen to them and let them get on as soon as they can. Not only will they feel good, but they will begin establishing their worth with their colleagues.  

Lastly, remember it’s a process. People need time to absorb and practice what they have learnt. Mistakes will happen, and we all learn in our own way and in our own time. Just because one topic today doesn’t mean you won’t need to revisit it.  

We can’t ask people to make a Perpetual Profession to us these days, but we can get them to their First Profession. Make sure that you get it right from the beginning and follow it through with a solid induction process, and you will be rewarded.  

Beth Peakall is MD of TCLuk Training and TCLuk Housing, one of the UK's leading housing consultancies.

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