Home Concepts Strategy Coaching with Groups and Teams The Coaching Case: A Matter of Trust

The Coaching Case: A Matter of Trust

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Insight: Pre-workshop efforts played an essential role in the success of the workshop. Never underestimate the power of understanding and connecting.

I began the workshop by asking each participant to share a piece of information that their colleagues did not know about them. It was incredible to watch them become more open to one another as they discovered that the person they talked to on the phone every week was also a flutist, sang in a choir, had founded a professional dancing school or was passionate about baroque music. Suddenly, these colleagues were also people—people who had interests, hobbies and talents that they shared or could relate to.

I also consciously ensured that the breaks during the workshops would promote deeper connections. Because food is the ultimate connector, we all went to a cooking class at the end of day one. I enjoyed  watching the participants build trust and enjoy themselves as they prepared salads, whisked eggs and made jokes about their creativity and cooking skills. In addition, each time we broke for lunch, I asked participants to sit with a colleague they did not know well and leverage the opportunity to create or deepen their connection.

Insight: The need for connection is powerful, and it’s anchored in each one of us. We will naturally seize any meaningful opportunity to connect with our fellow humans.

During the pre-workshop interviews, I had uncovered an essential piece of information: Most of the team members were not aware that the frustration they felt with their current dynamic was shared by their peers.

When I projected slides summarizing themes that had emerged from the interviews, the team members realized that in addition to sharing hobbies and interests, they also shared the frustration generated by their common challenges and issues. (I also let attendees know that, for a topic to be included on the slides, I needed to have heard it from at least three interviewees.) This realization was so comforting and relieving that it caused a shift in the room: Suddenly, it felt natural for the attendees to engage in the difficult conversations that they had been avoiding.

I invited attendees to take a quick vote on the top five challenges their team was facing and form self-selected breakout groups to address each challenge. During the morning on day two, each group shared its findings and proposed a course of action. From there, we mapped out a “resolution path” for each challenge with an identified owner, action items and a timeline.

The participants agreed to review the action items in each staff meeting, and I enlisted their human resources business partner, who was invited to the workshop, to be their “conscience” and hold them accountable for the commitments they made during their two days together.

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