We developed Collaborative Coaching after facilitating hundreds of focus groups, interviews, and training sessions in organizations with thousands of employees and leaders.
Over and over we have heard similar themes, across industries and geographies, about human dynamics at work:
- It’s at the team level where one’s experience of an organization becomes most real—you’re lucky if you’re on a healthy team, and otherwise, you have to deal with frictions and even dysfunction
- The people you want to keep don’t leave organizations: they leave their managers and leaders
- People often feel underutilized and underappreciated at work: Over time they slowly disengage and end up contributing less and less
- People’s individual psychological issues manifest in their work relationships—if someone struggles with control issues in their life, it is almost certain to show up at work, too
- Conflict is routinely avoided on teams and over time this creates misunderstandings, blame, and resentment. Work gets done but with less ease and cooperation
- Team collaboration isn’t as effective, creative, or as fun as it could be
- Team dynamics often get stuck: People have trouble moving beyond ineffective patterns, can feel burned out and stop focusing on their evolution as a team. They are simply surviving, and not thriving
Alternately, there are teams where members feel alive and team & leaders are lauded for their great work. On these teams we have seen:
- Leaders are self-aware and interested in personal and professional growth. They inspire and energize the people who work with and for them. They seek more development and self-awareness – and encourage it in others
- Conflict is dealt with effectively—team members have the attitude and skills required to have difficult conversations without blame. Resentment does not build up over time and different perspectives become a source of inspiration rather than contention
- There is clarity and consistency in the way decisions are made. Such teams identify more sources of value and are more capable of realizing that value potential. Their decision making process consciously includes multiple perspectives and goes beyond personal idiosyncrasies and the use of power to push pet options.
- Individual contributors are also interested in their own growth—they find that their personal growth is inextricably linked with their professional success
- The team continually asks itself and discusses tough questions about its interpersonal dynamics, effectiveness, level of joy, creativity, and evolution
Our experience and passion have led us to work at the team and individual level. It’s here where we have seen change will have the biggest effect on the people involved. We wish to support individuals to lead with more excitement and effectiveness and for teams to be places where people come alive and co-create extraordinary work results.
Given our backgrounds as trained counselors, coaches, and mediators, we share a bias for authentic conversations about what’s really going on in a team or with a leader. We are much more interested in talking about actual and specific human dynamics rather than talking in generalities. We appreciate the need to work deeply and to understand the inner conflicts within people that can undermine change. We engage in reflective coaching work with our clients aimed at examining some of their most basic assumptions about themselves and the world – and how that relates to the ways in which they work. We also work with teams to understand the complexity of multiple perspectives at play—there is never just one “right” way of seeing a situation, and by addressing the multifaceted nature of team dynamics, we are able to help each person see what s/he can do to make things more effective for everyone around. Including the human dynamics at play makes it easier – and more sustainable – to then address structural or role-based issues that need resolution.
We are interested in working with teams and individuals at all points in their journey to more effectiveness and more fulfilling ways of collaborating. The biggest predictor of change is the curiosity about change and courage to look at oneself honestly and to break habitual patterns by trying something different. We believe there are always more possibilities than we realize, and we challenge our clients to see the same. We love what we do, and we hope to help others love what they do even more.
Read more about team and workplace trends that inspired the idea to found Collaborative Coaching.