Strengthening your team after conflict
The culture of our workplaces is a bit like our waterways. When the water are flowing everyone feels nourished, productivity is up, profits are growing, and the creative beauty makes it all look sparkly. Everything is blooming. When things go wrong, we have a dried up flow, it feels like we are walking through mud and nothing is thriving.
When we look to improve workplace culture, the solutions tend to be around analysing, training and sometimes to coach leaders. Systems sometimes get changed, and teams sometimes get restructured. Now all of these things help. I have seen it myself. Together these approaches are a powerful combination. The one thing that is often missing is healing.
All of that disharmony that has been going on, it brings hurts. For your organisation, it hurts your success, your ability to serve your purpose and your people. And for your team, it goes deeper than that. This disharmony can cut them personally, especially if there has been a culture of shame and blame running rampant.
The secret ingredient is healing. Your people need to heal as individuals and as a team. The ‘suck it up and move on’ approach may work today, but when something comes up again, then the old hurt will surface and you will be back to square one.
Take a moment now to think of your organisation or your team as a stream. Each person is part of it. I invite you to take a moment to think of your team this way. I like to close my eyes and imagine a stream in my head. Let the stream you see be a metaphor or a symbol of your team.
- Does your stream have healthy banks, rich with vegetation? (Is your team supported?)
- How is the flow? (how is productivity?)
- What is the shape or the stream? Is it all together or does it spread out or fork? (how well does your team work together?)
- What is the quality of the water (clear, murky, drinkable, fresh, polluted?) (What is the morale of your team?)
- Is the stream supporting life? (if your team creating success)
- How did you go? Did you close your eyes and let yourself imagine the stream of your team? If not, you could spend a minute and do it right now.
Ok so you have had a look at the stream of your team – Let’s get questioning.
- What did the stream look like?
- Where does it need to be healed?
Now with that symbol held lightly, let’s look at the healing that your team needs.
Support and Boundaries
- What can you do to create support?
- Do you have all the structures and procedures that help people to feel safe?
- Where are the safe spaces that your team can voice their concerns?
- What does your teams want in terms of support?
Flow and productivity
- What gets in the way of productivity for your team? (interruptions, distractions, business, lack of support, lack of clarity etc…)
- What do you do to support your team to have productive time blocks?
- How do meetings run?
- Who is vocal, who doesn’t like to speak up?
- What blocks collaboration?
- How happy is everyone on your team at the moment?
- What are they enjoying about work at the moment?
- Which things are they finding challenging?
- What are the challenging personal dynamics at the moment?
- What is polluting the team dynamics?
- What is polluting the team dynamics?
- How valued do your team members feel?
- How is success celebrated in your team?
These questions are great to keep in mind when talking with your team as a whole and with individual team members. They create an excellent frame for understanding what is happening with your team and where the healing needs to happen.
It is about giving the space of your team to heal.
It is about giving the space of your team to heal. Here are three ideas on how to do that:
In small groups, listen with empathy to each other. Each person gets a turn to speak, and then everyone lets them know what they have heard they need. It is a powerful process. If emotions are still high, it is great to do this with the support of a facilitator.
Coaching for each person in the team can help them to see what has happened from a more empowered perspective as well as help them to create a plan to heal.
Meditation can be a profound way to bring healing to your whole team. You may like to do the stream visualisation as an entire team for example.
Healing your team after a time of disharmony can be a beautiful experience for leaders and team members alike. And it isn’t just about moving past the fallouts of the past; it is about strengthening your team members so together you are ready to face anything.