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From distrust to cooperation

Having worked together for over a decade, and after an accumulation of misinterpreted actions, the relationship between this manager and team-leader was strained, conflicting and on the verge of becoming a full-blown crisis. It affected both the morale of the whole team as well as its productivity. It also affected the odds of successfully managing a critical change project.

I was called in to help both manager and team-leader resolve their tensions and clarify the ways of working together. I accepted the mission after initial interviews because I could sense their good-will, their commitment to the team’s mission, and because there was real support from HR and the Director towards resolution. It was also possible for them to have sufficient trust in me, in themselves and in the process in order to engage in the coaching.

Although the road is still long and they will need to remain vigilant about not falling back into old patterns, the coaching was deemed successful because:

  • Both learned something about themselves in how they function, how they may have contributed to the situation and what is important to them;
  • Both learned something about the other person and both were able to integrate that knowledge into their ways of relating with each other;
  • They were able to bravely express (and listen to) underlying negative emotions from the past that were still festering – This made it possible to start from a cleaner slate;
  • They were able to align their values, mission and role and to identify the value that was added by each of them to their professional relationship;
  • They were able to review and adapt their 1:1 meetings to make them valuable for both;
  • They became allies into looking for ways to stimulate positive communication and collaboration throughout the department.
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