As a coach, one of the most frequently expressed ‘warnings’ I hear from the head of the organization thinking of hiring The Third Zone is what they don’t want as an outcome in our working with their leadership team. “I don’t want a new flavor of the month. We have done that before and it doesn’t last. If we’re going to invest in you I want to be assured it will last indefinitely”.
Okay. I get it and this is a requirement that, frankly, I like. What it allows us to do around their issues is two-fold. First we get to create and present a plan that will last. It is one designed to restructure processes that will take the organization to their vision … faster, more efficiently and in a long lasting manner. Second, we get to convey that longevity of what we will achieve together is dependent on their active involvement in the effort from the beginning and the commitment to ongoing focus of what we will achieve together.
It is very exciting is to witness the transformation that takes place … transformation that is accompanied by enthusiasm and excitement from those responsible for making it happen. There is a sense of “We DID it!”. There is a sense of pride and knowing that things will be not only different but better. So far, so good. And yet … in some cases we see evidence that the ‘lasting’ flavor is beginning to melt. Oh no! Flavor of the month … here we come.
This week I was told about two cases of a ‘melt back’. In one case, business had gotten better and people were busier. Without realizing it, the team was pulled back to somewhat of a silo-ed environment that they had broken out of 3 years ago. This wasn’t by design. Rather, it was the result of losing focus of the changes they had made … ones that were slipping to the back burner. We resolved this by bringing the team together and they actually debated the issue. The question? Do we regroup as an effective and well-oiled team or do we continue down today’s path of reconstructing silos and remain a team in name only? Each ‘side’ did a terrific job of presenting their case and at the end, it was unanimous … returning to that favorite and long-lasting flavor was the decision. That means regrouping and doing what was necessary to get back on their successful track
The second situation was different. A “disconnected” team was really excited about coming together to learn, practice & then leave as a well oiled machine. This was 2 years ago. Energy was terrific and generally speaking every member of the team embraced the ‘new game’. This was about the time that the economic tsunami was in full force and survival ruled the day. Oh they did survive it. However, today they have reverted to a divided group. To some this is very frustrating because they know they can do it better. Their intention is to raise this issue and hopefully regroup around what they had previously learned so that they can be a genuine team once again.
So what does this mean? Can an organization really and permanently change their ‘flavor’ and if so, what is required? Here are some key things that a team must do:
- Above all, own the job of maintaining the changes
- Continue to reinforce & reward the ‘changed’ behaviors and interaction in all of the work they do
- Continue to evaluate how it is working; be open to tweaking it as the situation requires
- Identify the signs that signal that the team is sliding back to old ways
- Finally, team members must feel individually empowered and responsible for raising their voice if and when they believe that they are slipping back to the old and less effective ways.
It’s a great first step to hire an external coach to help bring about changes that will make a company more effective and successful. However it can’t end there. Make the above ‘requirements’ a part of your ongoing process and you stand a very good chance of enjoying the new and winning flavor for a very long time!