When and why take a relationship systems approach to team development and overcoming team challenges? Fair question. One that I’ve answered straighforwardly in this blog post by refering to a real life example.
Imagine this team development challenge
After working in a business for years, you have bought the business with a colleague. You are now one of two Directors. Neither of you expected to leading the business 6 months ago. You’re no team development specialist, but suddenly the team is looking to you for leadership. You feel responsible for the success of the business.
- You lack confidence in your ability to lead the team. You feel like you don’t have the skills.
- You are an introvert outside your comfort zone.
- Your fellow Director prefers to focus on client work, shies away from strategic leadership, and is change averse.
- Workload leaves little time for strategic planning.
- Relationships with certain clients and suppliers have deteriorated.
- A legacy of high-stress projects has translated into a toxic workplace atmosphere.
- Recruiting the right people has been a long-term challenge.
- A key member of the team is considering leaving.
- You have a vision for the business, but it only lives in your head and heart.
- Achieving your vision means restructuring, and radically changing the culture of the business.
- Because your vision is to become a employee owned and managed business, you cannot just impose change and lead from a position of rank.
- The status-quo, workload and existing dynamics make enrolling the team challenging.
What challenges are this team facing?
Take a moment to reflect, there is a lot going at the same time:
- Time poverty
- Toxic communication
- Internal and external unresolved conflict
- A need for new roles
- Role nausea
- Poorly filled roles
- Stress across the team
- Pressures on mental and relational health
- Different change styles, and responses to change
- A need for operational and strategic alignment
- A need for alignment around a shared vision
- A need for skill development
- Lack of confidence across the team
What team development approaches will and won’t work?
Based on my own experience, I know that traditional leadership coaching, join-the-dots team coaching, or an organisational consultancy approach is unlikely to address the web of inter-related systemic issues that are impacting the client business.
These more traditional approaches have the potential to marginalise key challenges that need to be addressed. Worse they could exacerbate the threats and challenges impacting the business.
My approach was to work with the whole team using an organisation and relationship systems approach. The approach empowered the team to access new awareness and intelligence. It supported them to apply these new resources to help the changes – that were very much wanting and needing to happen – emerge naturally through them.
I did not ‘tell them’ what to do or how to do it, it came from them.
In the end no one left. The restructure, rebrand, and repositioning happened in the desired timeframe. The workplace became healthier and happier. They recruited successfully. Conflicts were resolved. The business grew. Roles were better filled. Most importantly, while I helped a bit, they absolutely made the magic happen themselves.
Being able to work efficiently and effectively with this level of challenge is why Sky Space Team Development CIC calls itself a ‘specialist team development partner for collaborative partnerships, teams and organisations breaking new ground and navigating change in a complex world’.
Read the full case study here.
Because of the intimacy of the case-study, I have respected the client’s request for anonymity.
Stephane is a certified Executive and systemic Organisational coach and is accredited by the International Coach Federation. He takes clients to a place where they can take full ownership of their feelings, relationships, triumphs, and challenges.
He lives by the sea in Plymouth, Devon and over the last 10 years has worked in the voluntary, social enterprise, education, public, creative, and professional service sectors across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. He is currently the International Coach Federation Devon Chapter Group Leader and hosts regular meet-ups for coaches, and coaching curious professionals in the area.
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