Creating a team skills marketplace

Cultivating an atmosphere where everyone understands their value and what they can teach and learn from each other, can really supercharge your team.  Fantastic insights can come from teams moving out of their silo’d roles and slightly blurring their focus.  When individuals start to ‘zoom out’ and see the whole view, this is a team that is operating at a really effective and mature level.
Nudging a team into this behaviour in an organic, and authentic way is the challenge.  With this in mind, I recently ran a workshop with my UX team at John Lewis, which proved to be really powerful.
I set out a few objectives, as I wanted the team to
  • Feel good and value their own skills, achievements and ability
  • Think about what they can offer and teach others
  • What they can learn off others
  • Encourage a more sharing, collaborative and aware team

I developed an initiative I called the ‘UX Skills MarketPlace’.  However this could work for any teams and skills sets. I made a poster to hype it and show the team that I was investing effort and value into it, I sent this out on a warm-up email and stuck it on the door to the meeting room.

I ran the session like this:
  1. Jot down on post-it 5 of biggest achievements in or 
out of work
    This could be a great project you delivered, an award you won, a talk you gave or a business you ran in a previous job or even being a new parent.  Something that they are proud about in their life.
  2. List the skills or behaviors 
that were used, onto post-its.
    E.g. skills; Axure prototyping, HTML, Javascript, sketching, IA work, report writing.
    E.g. behaviours; Communication, stakeholder management, conflict resolution, dealing with stress, self development.
  3. Share with group your top experiences or achievements.  Then the corresponding behaviours / skills it took to make that happen.
As each person shares, ask the group to jot down any notable experiences they’d like to learn more about
    By asking the group to share experiences first,  it creates an emotional pull and validation within the group that they know what they’re talking about.  Following their share, they can then say what skills or behaviours they needed to achieve this experience.  This then makes the individuals feel more confident about their own achievements with others recognising them and seeing the value they can offer.
  5. Having listened to the rest of the group, now as we go round call out what you’d like to learn more about and from whom
    Go round the group again with each team member calling out what they’d like to learn more about and from whom.  This helps build a degree of vulnerability that can help other teams members feel more assured that everyone has something to learn and develop.  Ideally you can bind it into their objectives for the year, that they learn and share or teach at least 1 thing from that session. The form that these shares can take can vary from a chat over a coffee, a 1-2 hour share/workshop or even weekly/monthly mentoring.


When we ran the session, I was amazed to hear the team converse with each other in a way i’ve not heard before.  People shared stories that ranged from helping in refugee camps, running their own businesses or just doing great HTML.  These stories surprised and notably shifted perceptions in a really positive way. For the less confident in the team it was really positive for them to hear other people’s vulnerabilities, that their ‘not alone’ and also being able to show their value by what they can teach others.  All of these behaviours will help the team when dealing with development, challenges, career development, support and general positive working culture.


Next steps

It would be great to do a follow up where each person can share what they’ve learnt and from whom, and how they will continue to learn..