When a team decides to take a break from their day-to-day operations and opts to participate in a workshop, or development program, to improve their cohesion and productivity, it is making a clear statement of intent.

It declares its will to banish reactive and toxic habits for the team, while affirming its desire to start doing different things that add more value and positivity. Today I want to talk about how to comply with the team’s action plan.

If something “hurts” us as the external allies of a team (coaches, facilitators, trainers, consultants, etc.), is to make an intervention with it, and realize that the team has failed to put all the energy and resources necessary to accelerate and maximize its development process.

The other day I was attending a meeting with several managers of a team with whom I made an intervention a few weeks before. It was a question of assessing not only the impact of the workshop, but also of knowing the movements that the team had made afterwards, and thus maintaining creative tension before the next session.

The meeting was very pleasant and honest, since it is a group of people with a culture of development very present in the organization, which allowed us to speak in a very transparent way.

The managers commented that since the intervention, they had not been able to make progress in the action, since they had had lot of work with many key projects and many trips.

At this moment is when the coach, from its role as a closed ally, but also from the role of demanding challenger, has to act as a mirror so that the team becomes aware of the transcendence of their actions; or in this case, of their non-actions.

When this happens, and even if those involved tend to deny it, they are somehow claiming that the team’s development plan is “secondary”, which does not have the importance of operational issues that are on their burning agendas.

They are also not consciously aware that, by not taking advantage of the inertia of the development sessions, they are making people in the team (including themselves) lose a little more faith in the professional development events like these, and in this way, increase their belief that the situation of the team is very difficult (if not impossible) to change.

They also do not realize that they are missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of work, travel, or what happens at the time, as a unique opportunity to combine it with the actions derived from their action plan. Often starting to engage in these actions leads, “miraculously”, to diminish some of the problems or emergencies.

At that meeting I remember that the director of the area invited the other assistants, who were also managers within the team, to reflect on their responsibility in making the common dream created during the day go away.

The days, or the retirement of the teams are in many cases, potential “inflection points” that must be harnessed so as not to let the expectations of growth and improvement of the team die. Its members want to work better and more at ease within the group. It is something inherent in the gregarious condition of human beings. That is why they have a clear desire for it to be so, because when this does not happen they may even consider abandoning the team.

And finally, it is also necessary to point out that when those managers allow this illusion to wither, they also do not realize that they are also losing the opportunity to work and increase their leadership to make a higher value contribution, for the benefit of the people and their organization. Is it perhaps in some cases they feel more comfortable playing a role of responsible-technicians than “being” team leaders?

In the next post I will indicate some aspects to consider in order to ensure that the action plans of the teams are carried out successfully.

Until then, keep the flame of the development of your team alive.


Enric Arola