Much of the work that I do as an executive and organizational transformation coach is to create environments of trust and engagement. It seems obvious to say that without a culture of open dialogue and effective communication, the easiest challenges can remain unsolved. I sometimes get pushback on my proposals to dedicate a large amount of time as I enter into a new organizational system on relational "team building" topics. However, not once have I had any negative feedback after having done so.
Actually, the feedback has been quite the opposite. Organizations and their leaders that think their major challenges are strategic or process oriented in nature, realize that much of the disfunction is attributed to misaligned values, lack of curiosity and perspective sharing, and a culture of judgement and polarized thinking. Once these topics are given enough attention, organizations become unstoppable in terms of their impact, growth, and energy.
A few first critical steps of relational dialogue include:
1) Aligning on a joint vision for the organization : This may seem straight forward, but many times this vision is not created, built up, and lived across the entire organization. Or sometimes the vision is misaligned with the reality that the organization faces on a daily basis. Engaging in a dialogue to understand the organizations "why" is critical for the mission of radical transformation and positive organizational development.
2) Creating guiding principles and shared values: There are many different positions that we have, which is the great element that diversity brings. More ideas, more perspectives, more creativity and innovation. However, with these different perspectives can come misalignment and polarized opinions. It is critical that an inclusive atmosphere is created, and the best way to start is to find the threads of commonality that the members of the organization share. Taking some time to figure out what these are will be the glue that helps the organization come together during times of healthy dialogue or times of conflict.
3) Practicing giving and receiving feedback: We all know how receiving negative feedback feels. Even worse, we know how it feels to give. However, this is a critical element of forming a culture of trust and safety. We need to know that we can tell each other how we feel, and how each of our behaviors have as an impact on the organization. There are effective ways of giving and receiving feedback, however many of us are not trained in doing so. Dedicating time to practice this skill, results in organizations that can be completely honest and transparent with one another, resulting in more dialogue, more aligned decision making, and more impact.
These are only a few of the things that can support leaders and their teams to be more effective. Once you have a solid team based on a foundation of relational trust, the strategic and operational topics as well as complex decision making become much easier to work through.
Interested in learning more about these interventions? Would love to talk and see how we can help!