March 15, 2022

195: Lessons Learned From Managing People and Arranging Flowers with Elise Bernhardt

Managers know the value of team building, but not all activities are effective or right for your people. Traditional team-building activities like ropes courses, paintball games, or scavenger hunts often don’t speak to millennials or employees in other generations. They can also be competitive instead of collaborative, or require physical abilities that not everyone is capable of. Instead, managers can look for activities that are fun, accessible, and translate into productive relationships in the workplace, like floral design.

Today’s guest is Elise Bernhardt. Elise served as CEO or Executive Director of multiple non-profit cultural organizations during her 30 year career. She then reinvented herself as a floral designer and facilitator which combined her passion for flowers and bringing people together through her flower design workshops.

Elise and I talk about the lessons she’s learned from years of leading people and organizations of different sizes, as well as her unusual approach to team building that includes flowers, and what we can learn from that process.

Three members of the Modern Manager community get a discount on Elise’s floral design workshops. Get one of these when you join the Modern Manager community.

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Read the related blog article: How Floral Design Can Strengthen Your Team’s Relationships.



Instagram: @fleur_elise_bkln

Key Takeaways:

  • Many common team-building exercises can be stressful and competitive, making the experience feel less inclusive.
  • Ikebana is the Japanese art of floral design. It is considered a spiritual practice and a life skill. Flowers have also been shown to reduce blood pressure.
  • Floral design team building workshops are non judgemental and relaxing. They create opportunities for bonding, creativity, and self-expression because there is no right answer.
  • After completion, everyone shares observations about each others’ work such as color and placement. This is different from sharing feedback on what you like or dislike, or what you think would make the arrangement better.
  • Observational dialogue shifts how people reflect and share. It is a useful tool to carry over into workplace feedback. It focuses on what you notice and conveying that in a neutral tone.
  • The best team building exercises help us see our colleagues in a new light and realize unknown qualities about them.
  • Floral design can be done remotely. It can also be done separately and then collectively shared afterwards.
  • You can DIY a floral design team-building workshop by getting supplies from a local grocer and looking up online videos for inspiration, if needed. The only rule is that no stems can be the same length! Consider who can facilitate during the presentation portion so that it engages everyone and follows the observation (not criticism) approach.

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