Putting great people together does not always equate to a great team or organisation. A new and separate dynamic surfaces when people come together to do their work.
We will explore this dynamic through the lens of Systemic Team Coaching and Relationship Systems Intelligence.
How often have you hired great people with the perfect competencies and experience, and a seemingly good fit to positively influence the team, but the team dynamic just won’t shift?
The team dynamic seems to subjugate the new individual to its status quo and soon after arriving the new team member falls in line with the toxic dynamic that was supposed to shift.
The existing dynamic it seems is so much more powerful than the parts and so leaders and their teams need to become competent at seeing the whole and influencing it in skilful ways.
The principles, tools and skills that are embedded with training in Relationship Systems Intelligence enable the team to work intentionally with these challenging systemic team dynamics.
It helps teams consciously co-create a dynamic that supports the whole team to overcome their challenges and achieve their goals and objectives, even in tough times.
In many organisations, the team’s dynamic, or culture, has a stronghold on the team’s ability to change the status quo. No matter what they try, things remain stuck.
Working with these situations systemically, and with Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI™) allows organisations to shift their organisational narrative to be more malleable, inclusive and empowering.
Here are the 4 most common systemic challenges in teams and organisations that keep them stuck. They often seem unsolvable and permeate the entire space.
Disengagement has a stronghold on most companies globally. The 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends reports: “Eighty-five percent of employees around the world are not engaged or are actively disengaged from their jobs.”
Disengagement causes organisations to feel like they are moving through swampy terrain. It drains the life force out of the organisation, making it slow to respond, depletes its agility and resilience and stagnates innovation.
Great people are hired enthusiastically, with the hope of changing the status quo, and then these great people are lost in the swamp of disengagement.
It sticks like an unshakeable cloud over the organisation.
But where does it start? Who makes the first move to change the status quo? Who should be empowered to change things? And how?
Bad communication is one of the most common gripes in organisations. At the same time, the flow of information is essential for organisations to find alignment, make great decisions and effectively adjust to the many changing circumstances.
Communication is about the flow of information and information is the lifeblood of organisations. Ensuring information flows in all directions within the organisation makes the organisation intelligent and responsive.
Wherever information is missing it will be made up by the curious and creative human spirit in the organisation. Missing information becomes the source of gossip and rumours, and once these are activated, they leave an indelible imprint on the trustworthiness of information in general.
The organisation becomes confused by the different and often conflicting information and priorities, causing various parts of the organisation to move in opposite directions.
Where is the root cause located? Where do you enter this seemingly invisible and at the same time large challenge to resolve it in a sustainable way?
Hierarchical rank and power
Is always present in all organisations. It is important for decision-making and supports the organisation to function effectively in its execution of daily responsibilities.
However, when things only get done by leveraging hierarchical rank and power, it perpetuates inequality, disempowerment and builds resentment.
The most common symptom of an unconscious use of power and rank is a ‘them & us’ dynamic between staff and management. This dynamic perpetuates mistrust and creates an organisation-wide standoff.
When rank and power are used unskilfully, it marginalises new ideas and the young voices from being heard, respected and included in the organisation’s decision-making structures.
But where is this invisible aspect called rank? Do I misuse it? Do you? What am I supposed to do with my rank? I can’t ignore it, and I am unsure how to avoid the consequences of my rank.
A typical example of this is the powerful voice of Greta Thurnberg at the World Economic Forum in 2021. Clear frustration with the status quo not being changed by the leadership.
Conflict, tensions and toxicity
These inevitable aspects in human interactions are unfortunately mostly dealt with unconsciously and largely remain unresolved in organisations when they occur.
Their presence permeates the atmosphere of teams, departments and entire organisations and impacts the ways of working.
Their unskilful presence creates an environment that adds to the stress of staff and increases mental health concerns.
Many teams, departments and whole organisations have adopted a war-like narrative full of bullish and childlike behaviour under the banner of ‘healthy’ competition, resulting in unhealthy tensions, conflict and toxicity.
The narrative of ‘eat or be eaten’ is, unfortunately, still too common in organisations and deprives them of ownership, collaboration, creative participation and innovation.
Where is the cause of this? Often, we find one person to blame (and sometimes there is one person that needs help), but even replacing that person doesn’t bring the planned results. Toxic behaviours quickly become the norm and changing this all-pervasive norm seems impossible. It just won’t go away.
What these examples have in common is that they take hold of the entire team or organisation making the source of the problem difficult to locate.
Of course, scapegoats for the problems are often found, but even when these are removed, the same problem arises in other parts of the team or organisation.
Systemic issues have these characteristics in common:
They are all-pervading, don’t have a specific location
They are invisible in that they play out in the interpersonal dynamic. Like culture is invisible.
They have been there for a long time and several strategies have failed to shift the status quo.
They don’t get named (like the elephant in the room), or are difficult to name, which makes finding strategies to resolve them very difficult.
These common systemic challenges can directly be worked with through Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI™).
RSI™ builds the capacity to identify with and collaborate with groups, teams, communities and other social systems. It leans on and strengthens the Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence of the individual team members. It adds skills and competencies for everyone in a team to work within a complex team dynamic.
It nurtures an appreciation for diverse people and values uniqueness as an asset to the intelligence of the team as a whole.
Let us have a look at how RSI™ approaches these 4 common systemic challenges:
(1) - All-pervading:
RSI™ teaches teams to see the system first (the team as a unit with its unique dynamic) and to work actively and intentionally with this systemic dynamic in creative ways.
RSI intentionally acknowledges the unique system and provides creative tools and techniques for the team to engage with this whole in creative and insightful ways so that it supports the team in achieving their goals.
(2) - Invisible:
RSI™ supports the team in learning about, identifying and naming the invisible aspects that permeate and impact the team systemically.
Through interactive tools, the team learns how to tap into their diverse views and experiences so that the status quo can shift.
The participative and active approaches embedded through RSI build trust in the team, bringing more and more information to the fore, which in turn strengthens the team in their collaboration and decision making.
(3) - Difficult to shift:
RSI’s™ principles and tools help the team to make the invisible visible.
It also urges teams to co-create agreements that align with the co-created ideal outcomes for the system or team.
The co-creation processes nurture buy-in and alignment in the team.
All agreements include an open and participative conversation about accountability, which is paramount for shifting the status quo as a system.
Once the system agrees on what it does want and what it doesn’t want and has agreements in place to work on the destination together, a systemic shift happens.
(4) - Don’t get named:
RSI’s™ tools and skills educate teams and enable a participative culture. Learning about conflict, toxins and how to find alignment, even when there is no agreement, enables teams to evolve as a unit and shift unresolved conflicts and toxic habits in a systemic way. The unit is always stronger than the individuals that are its constituents.
RSI is integrated into the company’s culture through training and systemic team coaching that supports the integration of the learning. It directly develops the team’s capacity to work with these challenging systemic issues.
Systemic team coaching is very different from straightforward team coaching.
It enables and equips the individual to function effectively within a team dynamic as an active and accountable contributor and influencer in the “we-ness” of the team.
Relationship Systems Intelligence creates a culture of resilience and belonging, even with remote teams. The 5 principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence are cornerstones to this approach. The principles are supported by tools and skills that create the foundation for sustained high performing.
Relationship Systems Intelligence is the core competence of Organisational and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC), an International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredited training. It is unique in that it fulfils the ICF Team Coaching Competence.
It is very inspiring to talk about the solutions that RSI™ has to offer your team. A model that really bring leadership to the whole team.