This week, I traveled out of town to work with a group of eight people who are struggling in their relationships with one another. Before the meeting I had talked to some of the attendees individually, and I heard people in so much pain. They had reached a point where they sincerely disliked one another, and this was making “going to work” a less than enjoyable experience – to say the least!
Each person indicated their apprehension to me before the meeting. They wondered out loud why they were doing it, what good could come of it, how honest people would be, etc. I acknowledged their concerns, but inside I was thinking about the hundreds of times I have found myself in the same situation: people coming into a training, or workshop or facilitation with me and being so skeptical about what we could possibly accomplish that would make a difference! I’m pleased to say that, in every case, while we can’t fix everything that’s wrong – we do make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes just hearing that others are in the same kind of pain can be a bonding experience! Misery does like company, after all.
The secret to moving teams – and individuals – to a more constructive and workable place lies in the proven process I trademarked. While it seems simple to have these five steps and, as one of my college students stated this year, “common sense” – unfortunately it’s not the way most groups come together. We tend to make someone else the problem. Or we get lost in a detail of something and run out of time to address the real issues.
So, what did I do with this group and what does it take to make a real shift? There are five proven steps, and I’ll look at how they worked with this group: First – state the desired outcome. We captured both desired outcomes for the day, what we wanted to accomplish in the time working together and for the team overall. It became clear very quickly that they were all in agreement about what they wanted.
Next – uncover and categorize the obstacles. This process can sometimes feel self-defeating. Why are we looking at what’s wrong? But in the process of doing this, the team learned how much similarity they had in the obstacles. They learned how many things were outside of their team’s control, but were having a negative impact on each of them working together. They were able to see that the one area they can fully control is their working relationships with one another.
Third – identify the human factor. Each person had completed the DISC profile and the motivators profile. They were very interested to see where they were the same, and where they differed. Most interesting to this group was how much sameness they had, but how vastly different they were from their leader. This helped them to understand a bit about the culture that has developed within the group. Looking at each other this way allowed them to be a bit more objective, and not as judgmental and accusatory.
Next – find the alternatives. When it came down to it, there were so many factors impacting this team but the one thing they had full and complete control over was their own reactions and ways of dealing with one another. They identified things they could raise to the group leader, but overall they wanted to take charge and figure out a different way of being together.
Last – take the disciplined action. This group ended up creating a clear list of Ground Rules that they each could agree upon and follow. They wanted to publicly establish ways of working together that were more respectful and less damaging to the relationships. They also wanted to present some ideas to their leader – knowing they couldn’t be an immediate fix, but they could be raised and understood more objectively.
Overall this group did an amazing job of working together, being open and honest and changing a previously negative course to a more positive one. I’m always amazed at how teams can find their shift, find their answers, when they have a clear and concise process to follow.
If you have a team that’s struggling, consider learning more about the S.H.I.F.T. ™ process. It really works!