What makes groups of people tick?

The word “tick” refers to several things: the sound a clock makes (just add “tock”), an uncontrollable spasm (tic without a k) – usually related to a nervous/brain-related disorder, a nasty insect (well, actually, a nasty bloodsucking acarid arachnid) that buries its head in you and sucks your blood, a sort of pillow-case, a mark showing you’ve done something properly (your maths teacher will have given you ticks when you did a sum correctly and a cross when you didn’t), and to the mechanical functioning of things. Things in this case can also refer to people or groups of people. And it’s my job as a facilitator to help make them tick.

However, people aren’t machines, and so I’m obviously refering to their ticking in a symbolic way!

 (Pic.: Katja Machill)

As it’s late, and I won’t be ticking much longer, I’ll keep this short. In an essence, you can make a group tick by giving them 3 things:

1) Make sure they know and are supportive of what they’re supposed to “tick” for (the objective and aim)

2) Make sure they know who they are – not just how important they are, but which personalities are there with all their weaknesses and strengths, their rationality and creativity (go beyond dealing with representatives of organisations and find the people)

3) Make sure they know exactly what they have to do and relate that continuously with why they should be doing it (see 1).

Methods should be offered as an effective/efficient way to reach goals and objectives. There may be better ways. Be open and excited about finding them.

Provide “ticking” groups of people with a bit of time towards the end of their “ticking” to reflect on it. What did they like, what didn’t they like? Ticking people can be trusted to uphold the dialogue process, so use their energy and “functioning” to transfer the responsibility for the process to them, increasing ownership.

And lastly, enjoy the ticking of a group. I don’t know whether you have a similar childhood love: I always remember enjoying the ticking of my grandparents’ grandfather clock. It’s safe, sustainable, reliable, provides orientation and brings forth chime-bursts of audible colour. Ticking groups are one of the most rewarding experiences I know.


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