“You Popped the Zit”

Not a pretty visual.  But this is what a client said to me the other day to sum up the impact I had on her team.  We were recalling a session I had done for her staff years ago.  It was the first time we had worked together and it involved facilitating the identification of goals, roles and process across multiple sub-teams.

Festering Boil

The group had recently churned through layoffs, management turnover, reorganization and a merge with another division.  People were angry, frustrated, bitter, resentful, withdrawn and, in some cases, behaving badly.  As the Uncommon Consulting logo might imply, this is my favorite kind of assignment.  The snarlier the better.  This team had all the charm of a festering boil.

Bringing it to the surface

The program went well in terms of the communication of the goal, clarification of roles and responsibilities and having all 25 participants engaged in discussion about what was expected of the team going forward.  They weren’t necessarily happy but the goal was now clear, roles were marked out, grievances were aired and accountability was assigned.

Popping the Zit

Less than a week or so after the session, I got a call from the client to tell me that half her team had left – some voluntarily, others not so much.  She was now managing critical deadlines with a lack of critical staff.  Yeesh.  But wasn’t this a good thing?  The goal was now clear, roles were now clear…isn’t this what you’re supposed to do to make things better?  Yes.  And sometimes it gets messy and painful in the process – in the short term.  With a long term view, what you want is a team that is enthusiastic about that goal and those roles.  Engaged in how to do it better, faster, stronger, more.  Motivated to see the team succeed because they value the goal, the team and their part in it.

One guy

One of the guys that quit was one of several who had been behaving badly (disrespectful comments to manager and colleagues, refusing to adopt new processes, generally being fussy without filter).  He came to the manager with his resignation and said he respected her and respected how she was managing the team toward new goals.  He said the thing was, that it’s just not what he wanted to be doing.  So he said he was going to go find a place where he can do what he does best.

Hooray for the team.  Hooray for him.

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