“Find what works and do more of that” – Steve de Shazer
I was working with a team of 5 people who were not getting along.
There was distrust, fighting, and anger towards the organization and teammates.
We spent about 30-minutes cross-talking and yelling over each other, and then I asked them to stop and do something with me.
We worked through the Distinctive:: Working Well :: 100 Days Better process.
From that process, we identified some things that are working well, how the people on the team made those things work well enough.
We then used the SOLVEDcards to problem-solve one area for team progress.
I also shared Progress-Focused Leadership and asked them to read + practice using solution-focused language with each other until we meet again.
And it did not work perfectly; everyone was not “fixed,” some people felt confused.
The team reported that they felt heard, better, and agreed to work on the areas of progress they identified.
One person asked me, “when are we going to get into the root cause of our problems?” I responded, “I feel that we did, and we determined that this challenge has multiple causes and entanglements. Perhaps doing something different will make you and the teamwork better.” I’m not sure that was a sufficient response, and we were able to continue talking after the meeting. Root-Causes that involve people are hard to identify, and if we can locate them, they are even harder to understand or change. We are not machines.
In a follow-up meeting, one week later, I asked the team:
- What is better since our last meeting?
- How did you notice these differences?
The responses felt different to the team and me.
They smiled, let each other finish before talking, laughed more, and spoke about where they were having challenges that were within the team vs. with the organization.
We spoke for about 90-minutes, and they reported that many of the 100-day improvements are happening, and they used the SOLVEDcards in other team meetings.
That is what happens when you slightly reframe a shared challenge.
The challenges do not go away, and you find different perspectives to make progress.