Case Study: Past Engagement – An Interesting Coincidence And Opportunity Within The LII Community
A vision that includes a shared approach and shared purpose support the client and the community. Previous connections and engagements often serve Leadership Intelligence well, providing examples, references and best practices that we (and our clients) can benefit from. Our coaches also get a chance to work together with organizations and share their personal experiences and knowledge in order to best serve the team members. In essence, we use every experience as an opportunity to learn in order to carry knowledge forward.
Lynn, President of the Leadership Intelligence community, received a call from a leader within an organization that LII had previously worked with. He described a team with “a series of unfortunate events and a serious lack of communication between two sub-groups in the organization.” The groups were working together on an important upcoming project, but the situation had reached a critical point.
He wanted to know what work Leadership Intelligence had done in a similar environment to build a sense of support, trust, unity and teamwork for these combatting, uncommunicative teams.
Drawing upon recent exposure to organization culture, workforce engagement issues and leadership change cycles, Lynn understood that the key issues they were experiencing might include low self and team awareness, unclear team leadership and a lack of big-picture perspective.
Thanks to the Leadership Intelligence community’s spirit and dedication to larger organization trends, Lynn was able to refer back to an experience of mine. We as an organization had worked in a similar environment for that particular sector many years ago. In that instance, a department of about 20 members had been divided into two teams who simply could not communicate.
In that situation, the solution I found was to put team coaching into practice. First, I started by working with the manager to assess and strengthen his personal commitment to the team and his managerial approach. Through our discussion, he told me that he felt stuck in the middle of the two teams and confused on how to take a more dynamic leadership role.
Then, I met with his team members individually. They revealed that the manager could be abrasive, and they also talked openly about their engagement with the organization, their personal and career issues.
Eventually, we transitioned to holding team-wide and then department-wide sessions. I presented on organizational themes and the “identity crisis” the team was experiencing.
Through the meetings, I came to understand that there were two distinct teams in this department. But since the organization was in “crisis mode”, they hadn’t had a chance to brand themselves as two distinct areas of the organization. Thus, when they came together there was no organization, communication or sense of belonging or identity. Knowing this, I was able to approach the situation with clarity to help them work together.
Our team sessions focused on personality styles assessments, conflict management assessment work and teamwork exercises regarding common purpose, values, norms of behaviour. Some individuals felt abandoned; others were frustrated by a lack of clarity in their roles. There were conflicts between several personalities on the team and a general lack of pride in their work. I used the TESI Assessment (a team assessment tool) to help me see the overarching needs of the team. This tool brings out important information about individual team members, as well as the team as a whole.
The most beneficial team exercise the manager and I devised was to ask the two sub-groups to work together to co-create a document about who and what they were within the organization.
Both sides took to the task with great energy and spirit. The groups worked together with each other and with the manager to create a document; their document. Ultimately, the process resolved frustrations on both sides.
They produced a document that clearly defined their group’s overarching reason for being and a supporting dual mandate for both teams. Team members stepped up and worked together in a truly productive manner. Natural leaders came forward and partnered with their manager in the process and each member of the team fulfilled their individual role. Before team coaching these two groups were unable to work together; the process restored a sense of pride in their years of service and provided each team member with a sense of identity and belonging within the framework of the larger organization.
In relaying this case study to the client, Lynn created an opportunity for him to visualize the possible solutions team coaching could provide for his team. He was able to draw from the other client’s experience and their shared language in order to select what elements would best benefit his organization, and asked Leadership Intelligence to step in and help guide the process.
When an organization treats every experience as a learning opportunity, one quickly amasses a wealth of knowledge that can be applied to several situations to help others avoid mistakes, follow best practices or achieve deeper learning still, further enriching client engagement in team coaching settings as well as at the coaching community table.
As for the client organizations, those that take the time to record their team development journeys and share them at the broader management/leadership tables foster heightened information sharing, consistent application of adult learning principles, and an ability to further leverage initial resource investments while reshaping corporate culture.