Last week I spoke with a client who contacted me to solve some conflicts in his team and to improve the collaboration. When I proposed him to have a team coaching session his reaction was ‘No thank you, never again!’ His reaction surprised me first but when he told me his experience with team coaching I understood. It was a meeting where all the problems, everything that bothered about the colleagues and the company was put on the table and it ended in a lot of frustration and hurt feelings. It made things worse, not better.
I am convinced it is very useful to speak open and honest about what is important and relevant but to do it in a solution focused way. What difference does it make?
When we want to improve a situation we can either talk about the problem (what is not wanted) or we discuss how we would like to have things in a better future (what is wanted instead). I have worked with very many teams and my experience is that even when they have totally different ideas about the ways how to solve a situation (and stop the ones who are to blame, who are mostly sitting on the other side) there is always a strong common understanding of what it looks when things are better. Maybe it is not the same picture, but the answers are quite completing and overlapping when we ask teams ‘how it will look when you are working as a ‘dream team’? Often people are surprised to recognize, we want quite the same: be successful, have happy clients, be seen and appreciated in our work, fast decision making, transparent and fast information flow, get support when necessary and have good results. And to recognize a common goal, this is already a big step forward.
So what is next? Well, I simply assume there is already something working well. So, how did you manage difficult challenges? What did each of you contribute? And surprise surprise: there are always positive examples even in the biggest disaster. Talking about these (even small) success moments, appreciating the contribution and effort colleagues have made, changes the atmosphere and makes people more open to listen. And this is the necessary foundation to build a good collaboration. Listen to one another, listen to better understand your experience, your perspective, your needs and requests. What can we do to support one another so we have better results together.
We can solve problems so much faster when we first see and appreciate what is already working well. When we talk about what is wanted instead of complaining and analyzing what is not working. There is one magic question that can switch a conversation from problem talking to solution talking. ‘What do you want to see instead? How will things look when it’s better?’ Yes, and now it is time to analyze, to discuss in details. Solution focused team coaching sessions build trust and release energy and these are the main ingredients for a good collaboration.
If you want to exercise this approach while learning more about it, you can join us in our training here.