August 04, 2010

Access Codes

If you have been in the working world for any amount of time, it’s probably safe to say you have been subjected to various team building activities.  Some of you may love them and some of you may dread them.  For me they were always hit or miss, but there is one team building activity that I truly believe will benefit all teams in the working world, Access Codes.

The idea is rather simple.  People, like ATMs and Computers, have access codes.  This may sound strange at first but unless you take the time to learn the individual access codes of your co-workers, you may not be able to get the information you need in the way you need it.  Take a minute to think about it.  If you learn about your co-workers and how they prefer to be accessed, and then you access them that way, won’t you have a more successful working relationship than if you simply access them the way you like to be accessed?


Direct vs. Warm Up

Direct – Cut to the chase

Warm Up – Don’t be rude, ask me how my weekend was.

Going Towards vs. Move Away

Going Towards (Benefit) – Focus on the benefits of the different options in front of you.

Moving Away (Risk) – Focus on risk-avoidance when analyzing the different options in front of you.

Big to Small vs. Small to Big

Big To Small – I need the big picture before I can dive in.

Small To Big – Both feet first.

Hall Pass vs No Hall Pass

Hall Pass – Check with me for my availability before stopping by.

No Hall Pass – Open door any time.

Rescuer through Done Deal

Rescuer – Problem? How can I help?

Options – Problem? Give me my options and I’ll help you decide.

Recommendations – Problem?  Give me my options and your recommended choice.

Done Deal – Oh, you had a problem?  What did you do to fix it?

The first time I did this team building activity I learned I was Direct, Going Towards, Small to Big, Hall Pass, and a Rescuer.

More importantly, I also gained a tremendous amount of insight about my co-workers and why some of our working relationships were not the best.  I learned that co-workers who were “Warm-Up” often thought I was rude.  I never asked how they were doing or how their weekend was.  It was not that I did not care.  It’s that when I am at work, my brain is in work mode and it’s hard to break away from that.  My co-workers learned that when they approached me with small talk, it drove me crazy.  The funny thing was that both of our intentions were in the right place.  We just assumed everyone wanted to be treated or accessed in the same way that we did.

Now that I was aware of my access codes and my co-workers’ access codes, I was shocked at how much better our team worked together.  I assumed that I would only work well with those who had similar access codes to me, but I quickly realized that some of my best working relationships were with people who were the complete opposite of me.  The “Warm-ups” help me break away from the daily grind and establish personal connections, the “Big to Smalls” help me see projects in a different light, and the “Move-Aways”, help me assess the risks when I am focusing too much on the benefits.

I have done this exercise several times, with several teams and have always seen tremendous benefits.  At Kenway Consulting, we have moved from simply participating in this exercise to facilitating the exercise with client teams facing day to day relationship and communication struggles.  Learn your team members’ access codes and watch your relationships grow and improve!

For more information on Access Codes or to set up a facilitation session, contact

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