February 23, 2024

The (almost) hidden resources in the team

Hi, this is Carlo Perfetto speaking:

Change happens all the time: our goal is to identify it and amplify its useful parts. (Mark McKergow)

This concept is one of the cornerstones of Solution Focus and it means that in everyday reality there are (there have been and there will be) thousands of small moments, micro-events, which if well isolated and analysed are of enormous help in reaching a solution to a difficult situation. These 'micro-moments' are scattered here and there throughout our existence, in the past, the present and the future; we just need to have the patience and the ability to identify them, bring them to the surface and learn from them to move towards a solution.

Some time ago I worked with a group of managers in team coaching with the aim of rebuilding a collaborative climate. From the interviews I conducted with each of them, it was clear that the atmosphere was going to be particularly 'fizzy'. They thought they needed someone to 'teach' them how to collaborate, but I was sure they were already able to do it themselves.

That's how it went!

Resources in the present: what happens when the problem is not there?

After a brief introduction in which I shared the initial information and objectives of the coaching team, I launched the first question, looking for their resources towards the solution: "What is already working between you?" This unsettled them a bit, because they were actually already prepared to list what was NOT working at that moment (and especially because of whom...) while the question caught them a bit off guard. They hesitated a lot before starting to write something down, but then each of them started to write a few lines. In fact, by the end of the first hour of the meeting, they were reasoning together about the moments, events and situations during which it was clear to them that the longed-for 'collaboration' was already manifesting itself. It was an interesting way to focus their attention on the small moments when 'the problem of non-collaboration was not manifesting itself'! And, amazingly (for them!), they were finding them again!

Resources from the past: when the solution already manifested itself yesterday!

"Which complicated situations have you handled in perfect cooperation in the recent past? How did you do it?"

"Which emblematic examples of interdepartmental collaboration can you cite? How did you handle them?"

These are two of the possible questions with which the management team identified difficult situations that were largely solved in the past. These situations are referred to as 'sparkling moments' by some Solution Focus practitioners and can in fact be identified as those moments, in the past, when the team implemented strategies that enabled it to overcome difficult situations 'brilliantly', precisely by using collaboration.

What better way for the team to 'self-recognise' that it already had all the resources within itself to successfully cope with moments of low collaboration, given that it had already overcome others in the past?

The resources of the future: back to the perfect future!

"What do you want to happen and what will be the first signs that it is happening?"

Through this question (and similar ones), the team finally clearly identified what would be the tangible signs of their early progress in collaboration between different managers in different situations.

Explaining the 'first signs' of collaboration with practical examples not only draws the final picture exactly, but also helps to focus attention on the first clues of the change taking place and provides evidence of the commitment of the individual and the team in the desired direction. And it is precisely these early indications of change that will provide the fuel for the team to persist on its path of improvement!

A powerful question alters all thinking and behaving that occurs afterwards (Marilee Goldberg, "The Art of the Question")

The ability to help rediscover resources is typical of Solution Focus; in fact, according to this approach it is never necessary to over-analyse the causes of the problem, nor is it ever necessary to 'insert' something from the outside (methods, new options, more information, unless explicitly requested by the client) because the person who is facing the change already has all the resources at his or her disposal to be able to carry it out successfully.

When you are looking for the solution, start with what has worked, what is working and what you would like to work! It's simpler!

If you would like to learn more about how to apply Solution Focus in Team Coaching, you can have a look at our book or our Team Coaching course. If you want you can also visit us at one of our Free Coaching Meetups!

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