Finally Understanding Each Other

Services Used: Gallup’s CliftonStrengths

The company’s personnel at every level had a hard time understanding each other. In many ways, they attributed the problems to one person thinking that if this person just left the company, everything would work out. But analysis on the inside of the leadership team showed that the leadership team could be swayed by strong personalities very easily at any level of the business. This set up the leadership team to flipflop policy changes constantly, sometimes to the point of reversing last week’s policy decisions the next week. People lost faith in the leadership team. The teams never understood themselves, and they certainly didn’t understand what each person contributed to the team or how they might show up badly on the team.

We undertook three partial-day workshops using CliftonStrengths.

In Day 1, we taught basic principles of CliftonStrengths’ Talents and the science behind Positive Psychology. Each person dove into their own discoveries both in the goodness of their Talents and their own Blind Spots. This equipped each person to be ready for Day 2 – Forming Well-Working Partnerships.

For Day 2, the CEO had previously identified pairs of employees that needed to be able to work together well, including people who seemed to be “worst enemies.” Their abilities to work well together, despite their problematic behaviors with each other was essential to the company’s success. We then explored how to become vital partners with one another, including what goodness they might lend to their combined partnerships, as well as potential problem areas where they might rub against each other in the wrong way. As the teams explored these dynamics, they more easily saw that they each contributed damaging thinking and behaviors regarding their partners that impacted the company. They then determined what they would work on together to help their relationships. These pairs later became good friends.

On Day 3, we readjusted the learning from both Days 1 and 2 to address the company as a whole. We looked at how to provide Project Management from a Strengths perspective, how Strategic Thinking forms the basis of Stage 1 PM, Relationship Building themes form the basis for Stage 2 PM as the team starts to build the internal teams necessary to get things done, Influencing Themes start to grab resources either from outside the company or in combination to igniting the project, and finally, Execution Themes become the backbone of getting things finally accomplished. With this mindset, we set about finding an initiative that we could walk through the Project Management process, linking arms throughout the organization to accomplish the needs at every phase of the project. The team became very excited that they finally had a way to focus on what part each employee could do in the process. From this point, the team concentrated on successfully navigating the best way to accomplish their objectives, give each other what they needed, and weren’t afraid to “see” each other with the strengths that made them great at accomplishing their work.

It also helped the leadership team become more of one voice, made them more productive together, and they were able to see that their acquiescence to strong personalities created the flipflopping problems. They needed to capture more information from other people inside the company to make the best decisions – and only do this once! They gained more confidence in their decision-making capabilities and addressing the entire needs of the company instead of only a small faction of employees who were more vociferous.

Outcome: Everyone in the company learned how to become better partners with one another. The leadership team realized that they were the ones who created policy and went about creating it differently. They listened to people who offered their views, but then went looking for alternative views from others who were quieter. The team then started more serious vetting of ideas before making  final decisions, and then bringing them to the entire company.

This helped the leadership team become more confident that they had thought things through in a better manner, while taking into account the viewpoints of as many people as possible before making final decisions – which they made only once. The leadership team then helped everyone understand why they made the decision. Decisions were no longer held hostage by those who had very high self-assurance and were willing to push to get their way; instead decisions were based on strategic thinking, while listening to the full range of views and determining the best way forward.