Working with managers, teams and various sizes of companies…we all feel stuck and that nothing is ever going to change.
I often hear:
- We are the way we are and nothing will change
- This is how things have been for 20+ years now, we can’t change
- People cannot change, I have worked here of x number of years…nothing changes
- Tried that before and we are still here
That’s bullshit. The company, team and people are changing, they may not notice it and change is happening.
Change is not only possible, it is inevitable
When consulting and working on long-term projects with teams, the initial meeting is used to determine:
- Where is the team right now? Often using the 7 Steps to High Performance Teams Model
- Where does the team want / need to be? And by when? Trying hard to place some QQT/R metrics on that goal.
- What is one current barrier that we know of to achieving our goal(s)? It is tough to have them choose just 1 … and if we can get agreement through consensus the team is doing really great.
- In the past when faced with challenges how has the team managed to be successful? Seeking exceptions and existing team resources that they may or may not be aware of.
- Developing a next-step…Small steps and concrete success.
Sometimes the above steps work and sometimes they don’t
If they do work – GREAT! we have a place to start and moves to make.
If they don’t work – Uh Oh…are they stuck and never going to change? NO
Change in companies and teams is not only possible, it is inevitable.
This gives me a chance to go into my Solution-Focused toolbox and try something simple and different enough that it just might work…
If a team seems un-movable, don’t just push harder and scream about how obstinate they are being…resistance is futile. Use the inevitability of change to slightly shift their shared perception from stuck to change.
Team Observation Task
If they are stuck and the questions above are not moving us forward. I stop, scratch my head, sit down, take a deep breath and say, “I don’t know what to-do. Can we all agree to do just one thing between now and next time we meet?” They usually respond with a yes…
“Between now and the next time we meet I would like each of you to observe, so that you can describe to me next time, what happens in your [pick one: team meetings, interactions with each other, interactions with the Project Manager, when working on a shared project goal] that you want to continue to have happen.”
Using some variation of the words above, usually gets some weird looks and snickers.
When we meet again I ask the team, “What did you observe, in detail, that you want to continue to have happen?” more than 80% of the people have examples…and that supplies us with our exceptions and can open the team to creating measurements based upon the observations shared.
Plus it helps, for you the facilitator, to be on the look out for cooperation.
What do you think?
Try the observations task and share what you observe? How could you try this with your team? Do you have any similar ideas?
michael cardus is create-learning
Reference: the observation question comes from Steve de Shazer ‘Keys to Solutions in Brief Therapy’ … I adjusted the wording for more team building and organization development focus.