Travel Diary #6: "Find your why and shape your path".


03. November 2021, Verena Feyock

This is how a workshop becomes a motivation booster

I told you in the last Travel Diary how important - and how wonderful - personal meetings are: Our event in Salzburg thrilled everyone and bonded us as Saint Elmo's team even more intimately. During the preparations, I thought to myself: If you finally see each other again after such a long time, you have to make the most of this opportunity - that's why I offered my colleagues to take part in an additional workshop on personal development directly after the event. And so twelve employees and I experienced an exciting, intensive Saturday, during which each and every individual and we as a group were able to get to know each other even better. In addition to the focal points and concrete examples, I would also like to describe the learnings here: those of my colleagues as well as my own - because even (or especially) I, as a manager, was able to take a lot away from this exchange!

Most important prerequisite: Be open to change

"My Why, My Way: Find Your Why and Shape Your Way": The title of the workshop revealed that it was based on the idea and content of my book. After all, that's exactly what I had in mind when I conceived and wrote it together with my husband Christoph Rodenhausen: on the one hand, we wanted to develop a sustainable tool that would accompany colleagues interactively for twelve months and support them in working on themselves every day. On the other hand, we wanted to create an effective basis for interactive seminars in which we would devote ourselves entirely to the topic of "personality development and relationship management" using various psychological methods and team-building tools. Consequently, many examples and exercises from the book accompanied us at this workshop - and of course all participants received a personal copy as a gift!

Anyone who opens the book discovers this advice even before the first chapter:

"Before you start reading, tell yourself:
I am open to this book.
I am open to change.
I am willing to work on myself.
I am responsible for my own life."

I think: This also fits perfectly as a motto for our workshop, because here, too, the focus should be on qualities such as being approachable and being proactive.

Active listening for getting to know each other better

What is the best way to get in the mood for the leitmotif of "openness"? I started the seminar with the module "listening. This sounds much more concrete and comprehensible than the technical term "dyad," but in principle it means the same thing: In the dyad (Greek for duality) form of conversation, two participants always ask each other questions based on an identical list of questions. I had formulated the questions in advance, with the aim that the individual pairs would then introduce themselves to the whole group - each one to the person he or she had previously interviewed.

This simple task acted as a booster in terms of group dynamics, so I highly recommend it here. Presenting to each other has three positive effects at once:

  • really active, intensive listening
  • the relief of not having to promote oneself, especially at the beginning of such a meeting
  • the joy of the presented persons about the "stage" they get - prepared by colleagues, it can't be any better.

Discovering much that connects with the right questions

In addition to "Who am I?" or "What do I expect from today?", the questions also included: "How did I come to Saint Elmo's tourism marketing?". And there was a real aha experience: Because most of them found their way to SET, as we abbreviate our agency, not through classic job advertisements or job platforms, but through personal recommendations. Whether it's a young teammate or a long-time employee, whether they've come from Germany or abroad, they all share this experience: they came to us through professional or private contacts. This was a great bonding factor for the group - and an important insight for me as a manager: If you know how committed employees docked in the team, you can recruit new staff even more purposefully and successfully.

In the second workshop module, "Understanding," we then discussed the meaning of these four central concepts:

  • Personal responsibility - what does it mean to take responsibility for our own actions?
  • Personality - what makes us unique, where and how do we see our individuality?
  • Self - what determines our thinking, our feelings, our self-perception?
  • Reflection - how do we think about our achievements, our behavior?

Talking openly about differences too

First we went through the terms in groups of two, then we discussed them in the large group - and here we had our next "aha" experience: We use many words, but question so few. What does my counterpart understand by "personality", how does the Romanian employee define the "self"? The international aspect was also interesting: our group consisted of colleagues from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Romania, and we quickly realized that certain terms are interpreted and used differently in different countries. This was an important learning for our international team, which, with its focus on tourism marketing, aims to communicate effectively everywhere!

360°: Self-coaching in all areas of life

The fourth point - reflection - plays a crucial role in the area of personality development and relationship management. That's why I've given the topic of "reflecting on yourself" a lot of space in both the book and the seminar. This is not about self-reproach or a demoralizing list of personal weaknesses - on the contrary: we do not want to bring out negative energies, but the positive!

Anyone who has reflected and noted this in the areas of Family & Relationships, Health & Fitness, Fulfillment & Joie de Vivre, and Career & Finances has certainly provided themselves with a comprehensive inner review of the last four weeks.And that's where methods like journaling prove to be extremely helpful - in taking stock as well as in working out future goals. It's like sports: self-coaching only works if you know your strengths and potential precisely and can challenge and encourage yourself accordingly. This awareness should be activated and updated as often as possible: Far too rarely do we make it clear to ourselves what workload we have actually mastered or what steps we have taken toward new goals. That's why there are separate pages in the book for regular reflections: What made me particularly happy, what presented a special challenge, and what insight did I gain from it?

Anyone who has reflected and noted this in the areas of Family & Relationships, Health & Fitness, Fulfillment & Joie de Vivre, and Career & Finances has certainly provided themselves with a comprehensive inner review of the last four weeks.

Clearly see progress with visualization

Of course, it shouldn't stop at just taking notes. Because visualization is a fantastic method of presenting facts in an impressive way, I work with many graphic and illustrative elements, for example the wheel of life. In this circle, you can draw in where you currently are in terms of friendship, nutrition or knowledge/wisdom and where you would like to be in a year's time. So to speak, an info-graphic about one's own personality development: a tool that was also very well received during the workshop.

Also a value matrix with descriptive and sometimes surprising term pairings (such as normal/crazy) and keyword lists to check off made it easier to focus on one's own ideas and goals and to formulate them for oneself. After all, what we can literally grasp in an instant goes most directly to the head, soul and heart.

After the workshop is before the workshop: To be continued!

After these exercises, many more intense moments - I also read two stories in between, which we discussed afterwards - and breaks spent together, we went home in the afternoon. Everyone was very fulfilled and grateful for having accomplished so many positive things in just five hours, getting to know their colleagues so much better and building an intense bond with them.

Many also said that they saw the workshop as an impulse to take more time for themselves more often now - and would like to start targeted personality work with the help of the book. This made me very happy and proud - as did the feedback from the other Saint Elmo's employees: As soon as the contents of the workshop were shared in the team, inquiries came in whether we could not organize such a seminar again. Of course! The date for December has already been set and more are sure to follow, because such formats and content are simply great highlights in the New Work culture.