Loretta and I have had the pleasure to support the professional renewal of Firefly Children & Family Alliance's Survivor Advocacy team for about eighteen months now. Our experience of curating workshops for them plus their willingness to collaborate with us birthed the new Professional Renewal Workshop Series.
We've outlined the work we did together, some data about outcomes, and details about how you can bring this workshop series to your organization here. I'm going to spend our time in this space explaining some of the why of the components of the program.
The objectives that the Firefly team outlined for us were:
Address high rates of burnout and turnover stemming from increased rates of domestic violence during the COVID pandemic and operationalize self-care and burnout prevention going forward.
Support the integration of a substantial number of recent hires with the remaining small core of seasoned team members by building trust, shared identity, common language, and norms for communicating and interacting.
We suggested beginning with building a brave container to do this work by utilizing the Group Agreements before turning to the VIA Character Strengths Survey and Core Values exercise. We sometimes get questions about why we begin with self-reflection in a team setting. I believe strongly that each of us needs to understand ourselves before we can begin to understand others and how we relate to each other. I often find that somewhere along the way, we've been invited much more often to look externally rather than internally, so taking some time and creating space to turn toward ourselves with curiosity yields a foundation of deeper understanding in which to engage in interpersonal work.
We utilize the VIA Character Strengths Survey because its framework is 24 Character Strengths, which are each in all of us. The top several strengths are classified as Signature Strengths, which are those that are most easily accessible. The bottom several strengths are classified as Situational Strengths, which are those that take more energy to access. An interesting conversation arises when we invite participants to review and verify their Signature and Situational Strengths. Sometimes, people say they're spot on, and sometimes they think they're a little off. By the time we finished our work together, everyone had identified their Signature and Situational Strengths, as well as sharing them with each other. This allows everyone on the team to know more about themselves as well as their teammates.
We utilize the Core Values exercise because it has been a really effective tool for our team as well as many clients we've introduced to it. This is a lesson and tool from Dr. Brené Brown, and it's especially interesting to me to watch people work with it because instead of answering questions and getting a report, people are invited to choose from a list of values to narrow down to two or three. The idea is to get to a couple of values by answering the questions: "Does this define me?" and "Is this who I am at my best?" The reason we do it is because these values are driving every decision you make, whether you realize it or not. These values inform feelings that arise, our reactions to stimulus-- everything! By identifying them, I have a better understanding of myself, and by learning about others' values, we have a better understanding of them, too.
To support the team's professional development and their integration into a team, other workshops included:
Setting and Communicating Clear Boundaries
Navigating Change and Uncertainty
Putting it All Together: Care and Feeding
*Full descriptions of these workshops are available here.
To support the team's well-being, we introduced mindfulness-based practices, such as guided meditation, handheld labyrinth meditation, kintsugi labyrinth, gentle yoga, and sound bath. The team really enjoyed combining gentle yoga with a sound bath for a one-hour practice that we call a chillshop, a term we learned from Octavia Raheem. The opposite of a workshop, a chillshop is a time to rest and restore. As part of the commitment to supporting the team's well-being, a chillshop is included quarterly in the professional renewal workshop series.
The work we do with the Firefly team is one of my favorite parts of the work we do at Thought Kitchen. The work this team does to support and advocate for their clients, who are survivors of sexual assault, is fulfilling and hard, COVID or no COVID. In addition, anytime I've worked with people, there have always been things to learn about how we can work together. When we told the Firefly team we were thinking about taking what we've learned together and offering it as the Professional Renewal Workshop Series, their response was, "Do it! EVERYONE needs this!".
We have capacity to bring the Professional Renewal Workshop Series to two organizations in 2024. To find out more and schedule a discovery call with us, click here. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon!