Would your team make the grade?

Would your team make the grade?

Team coaching

Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen talks about her daily practice.

When I started 7.5 years ago, individual coaching was still associated with dysfunction. Now it is almost absurd if you, as a professional, do not have a coach. Team coaching is somewhat lagging behind. Whereas in America every high performing team works on cooperation and ongoing reflection, in the Netherlands I am usually called up in the event of trouble or when results are not being achieved. Or perhaps the team thinks we are going to build rafts. While this is certainly good for team building, team coaching is about much more than that. In team coaching, you work on team goals that contribute to better cooperation AND a better team result.

I often tell my clients that I’ll “have a look at what’s hidden under the carpet”.

What needs maintenance?
I don’t do this myself. One of the first steps is letting the team itself report on what is going well in the team and where challenges remain. A comprehensive intake is carried out and a report is produced on the team. The dialogue that follows is crucial and not necessarily easy. Suddenly everything is on paper. The next step is identifying what the team wants to work on. Concrete goals and results are recorded in a coaching plan.

Every team has growth potential
A colleague and I recently worked with a police detective team. The results of that team’s own self-evaluation prompted an honest open discussion. This is difficult to achieve in daily practice. This is only natural, because the next day these team members have to be able to rely on one another in their police work. And saying what you really think makes you vulnerable. By being vulnerable on that day, real issues were exposed and clear agreements were able to be made.

Within a high school department, it was exciting to read what was really going on in the team. No topic is off limits as far as I am concerned, since I am confident that every team wants to be/become the best version of itself. Education is characterized by strong autonomy, which was getting in the way of cooperation. They discovered their commonality through their passion for the subject and for the students. Now, six months later, this team is working resolutely to improve its processes and is increasingly discussing and dealing with issues.

Team MOT checklist
Do you, as a manager, want to get to work with your team yourself and gain insight into where your team needs support? Send an email and receive the Team Health Audit Checklist free of charge.

Teams that regularly audit themselves (or have themselves audited) function better and stay ahead of the competition!

Read more about teamcoaching

Toxic communication paralyses cooperation

Toxic communication paralyses cooperation

Team coaching

If team members don’t dare to speak to each other, if they avoid conversations or if there is a lot of misunderstanding, then this can give rise to toxic communication. And as the term implies, the impact of this is serious. Toxic communication is destructive to teamwork. The team delivers less. Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen talks about her daily practice.
In my work I see that toxic communication is extremely common in teams, especially when upcoming changes are involved. Toxic communication is very human. In fact, we all do it, all day long. It is an awkward expression of unspoken needs or emotions. Especially in a business environment we can find it difficult to say explicitly what we think and feel. We would rather sweep it under the carpet than face the discomfort. Relatable?
Four forms
There are four forms of toxic communication: disdainful, stalling, accusatory, and defensive. They all have a negative effect on the mutual relationship and therefore on the cooperation. Team members are often not even aware of this. For example, gossiping or making sarcastic jokes. If you acknowledge and recognise toxic communication in time and make it a topic for discussion, the working atmosphere will improve enormously. People will dare to be vulnerable, have faith in each other and will be open to feedback.
Explicit communication as an antidote
If you let toxic communication go unchecked, sooner or later it will lead to conflict. It can result in mutual alienation, with people being excluded, feelings of insecurity and an increase in absenteeism due to illness. But above all, business results will lag behind. This is a real shame, because everyone wants to work in the best team possible.
During the team coaching, I teach team members to recognise toxic communication. Both from the individual and in the team. Then I teach them to take responsibility for their own impact in the team. After all, everyone contributes to cooperation. The manager has an extra responsibility because of his or her exemplary role. If you think it’s normal to talk about people, you implicitly give your team permission to do the same. I often use playful, interactive working methods, with the aim of getting real conversation on the table. The team learns to express itself explicitly about needs and emotions. And how to communicate that in an effective way. I then give the team tools – the antidote – to continue constructively with this. So that I am no longer needed. When I leave, communication has improved and team members hold each other accountable for toxic communication. For me, there is no better result

Connecting Energy article in InfoRegio Haarlemmermeer December 2020
(text: May-lisa de Laat /photo: Martine Goulmy)

Trust is like a jar of marbles

Trust is like a jar of marbles

Team coaching

Easily achieving results together. Working in a nice atmosphere. Getting feedback from a colleague. Helping your colleague. Assuming the good intentions of others. Just a few examples of mutual trust: the foundation of an optimally-performing team. Without mutual trust, a highly undesirable situation can arise. You can recognise it by the apparent impression of harmony, vague agreements, lagging results and above all a cool and sometimes stark atmosphere. You are kept busy as a manager, because everyone comes to complain about someone else. Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen talks about her daily practice.
The American lecturer Brené Brown uses the metaphor of the jar of marbles in her TED-talk “The power of vulnerability”. If you experience trust in relationships, you put a marble in the glass jar. If trust is damaged, marbles start to disappear or the jar can even break. Because when small cracks start to widen, a team falls apart. Trust is therefore not set in stone. It belongs on the agenda, just like your finances. By paying attention to the level of trust in your team, you ensure that the marble jar remains more than half full. Once you can see the bottom of the jar, it is already too late. Unfortunately I am often only brought in at that moment. What is already broken cannot always be fixed.
Managing Trust
Building trust takes time, while breaking trust is easy. Each team member is responsible for his or her own impact on the team. During team coaching, I press the pause button and I guide team members to also share personal matters with each other. That helps to be vulnerable and to get to know each other better. This immediately creates more understanding and trust. The manager has an exemplary role in building and maintaining trust. I guide him or her in this and I help the team members to discuss and increase trust, even after I have left. I do this by, among other things, making a team contract with the team with agreements about trust and collaboration.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, mutual trust is under additional pressure. Just like with other drastic circumstances such as a reorganization. Many people find it difficult or unprofessional to deal with emotions in a business context. Yet it is necessary to make emotions open for discussion. And to really identify the underlying question or need. My advice is to just do it. Trust is like a driving force in teams. You can see that in the results.

Let’s Connect!, Componistenlaan 233, 2215 SR Voorhout
www.connectingenergy.nl | info@connectingenergy.nl | +31 (0)6 19850504

Connecting Energy article in InfoRegio Haarlemmermeer 2020
(text: May-lisa de Laat /photo: Martine Goulmy)

What is going on under the hood?

What is going on under the hood?

Team coaching

Your team is no longer the same. The outside appearance is the same. Shiny and ready to go. That’s great, because you are eager to start doing business again. Much needed now, after a time of heavy losses. The continuity of your business has been affected. But under the hood of your team, parts have shifted. Through months of an emotional roller coaster, resulting in unresolved grief, worries about the future and increased stress levels by 40% (source NCPSB). Prevent sick leave and invest in a kind of mental MOT for your team.

Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen explains what is happening under the hood.

Surface acting is logical but not advisable
Surface acting is about pretending that things are going well and not sharing what is really going on. The so-called ‘Facebook story’. We share the nice things or the things we think other people want to hear. In my daily work I hear: “I don’t want to bother others” – “The other person is not interested”, “My manager just expects me to deliver”, “I’ve shared something like this before, but then I was told I shouldn’t have acted like that”. In other words, being tough is the norm!

From a neuroscience perspective, surface acting is logical. Our brain shuts down when discomfort, pain or grief are present. As humans, we are programmed to stay safe. So indeed, it’s ‘normal’ that we don’t share it AND it’s counterproductive – both personally and professionally. It is making us sick, both in the literal and figurative sense. Our emotions need to be experienced and expressed. It is a precondition for lowering our stress levels and creating space for the next step.

What do you see when you check under the hood?
A palette of emotions, including pleasant ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken us on a never-ending emotional roller coaster. Issues I am hearing – and I only mention the more serious themes to get my point across – are: loneliness, depression, (unresolved) loss of loved ones, signs of burn-out or bore-out, domestic violence, worries about income and job loss, concern for parents, old traumas that have resurfaced, relationship problems and behavioural problems in children.

These themes are also prevalent among the people in your team. By the time we can get back on the highway, these issues will not have been processed yet.

Give space where needed and power through where possible
As a manager, you hold a crucial role. A few suggestions:
Be honest about how you feel and actively share it.
Have regular one-to-one contact – ask specifically about emotions and ask open questions.
‘Press pause’ in a work meeting: identify what you are hearing.
Ask what someone needs when emotions are surfacing.
Make space for emotions by taking the time to reflect on them and allowing silence.

Remember that appearances can be deceiving. If there are problems hidden under the hood, you won’t get very far.
Feel free to call if you have any questions!

Burying your head in the sand serves no purpose

Burying your head in the sand serves no purpose

Team coaching

Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen talks about her daily practice.

“When I started as a manager in this team, I told them that I only want to hear about the positive in meetings.” This is a quote from a senior manager during a training course. The week before, I happened to be training some of his employees, who had confidentially expressed their frustrations and fears. Out of genuine curiosity, I asked: “Where can your employees turn to with their emotions?” Then there was silence … We continued with the training.

A few weeks later, a Young professional called in tears and panic. Her manager had lashed out at her on the app. She felt worthless and thought it was all her fault. She didn’t know what to do and was afraid of the consequences. Reading the messages she sent me in confidence, showed contempt and abuse of power. Yes, she may have misunderstood the assignment AND that does not justify this type of behaviour at all.

Managers also get tired
As a manager, you have a huge impact and I see that this is sometimes forgotten in times of crisis. Not surprising, actually. Managers face an extra tough job in these times. They also miss personal contact and have their own workload to manage, mainly from home. They also lose loved ones and, in the middle of arranging a funeral, still open their laptop for that important online meeting. They feel a responsibility for the results at a time when the economy is under pressure and every euro is needed to ensure business continuity. Their managers remind them of this every day. The pressure is rising …

We are not robots
I have said it before, we can no longer ignore conversations about emotions. We are not robots that you can just reset the next day and then everything is working again. What we need is space, ventilation and a generous dose of human kindness with support, care for each other and understanding. The great thing is – human kindness is free and never runs out!

What do you say to that?
I sometimes feel the helplessness of standing on the sidelines. I sometimes miss my old job as a manager. Not for long – because usually in a week like this, conversations arise in which people experience the magic of self-direction. To be reminded of what they stand for based on their values. They make courageous choices, even when there are worries. Leaders who, through tears in their eyes, are committed to support an industry that is struggling. To me, that is what leadership is all about.

What do you say to that?