3 hours. Not a huge amount of time to get results.
The organization was struggling with policies and procedures not being followed. The senior leaders were putting a lot of time into dealing with individual incidents while those that remained unaddressed created increasingly large and complex problems in the background. It was creating stress for everyone.
I was called upon to put together a training session. What I proposed was a series of facilitated discussions. I wanted to get the supervisors together so we could understand and solve this problem together.
Ultimately, we needed people to meet expectations. Which first meant understanding why they weren’t being met. For this, I needed people to talk openly and honestly. With their supervisors in the room… And we had very little time to make a space that felt safe to share.
We started by creating expectations for our time together. We talked about safe spaces and asked everyone to contribute to a list of expectations for working together. We spent 30 minutes creating a foundation for success.
> Respect one another and each other’s ideas
> Respect that everyone thinks differently
> Listen, make eye contact, no eye-rolling
Everyone was given the opportunity to raise their concerns about the list before agreeing. Everyone committed to doing the things on the list.
And then, over three sessions, we talked about the issues at hand. The discussion was deep, rich, and impactful. They were candid with their feedback, but also empathetic and supportive. We uncovered root causes and listed action items. They agreed that they needed to continue meeting this way.
When I asked them how they were feeling and why, they pointed to the list of expectations that hung on the wall. THEIR list of expectations. The ones they had all agreed upon. The ones they had created to help them feel safe and be productive.
Q: How were you feeling after our last session? A: Amazing
Q: What contributed to that feeling? A: It felt like we could really speak our minds
Q: And what would you say contributed to that feeling? A: Hands point to list of mutually agreed upon expectations. Those. We agreed to be respectful, not gossip, and support each other. It really felt safe.
It was interactive learning and they had experienced some key components to getting expectations met:
> Get people involved
> Keep an open mind, offer flexibility
> Create clear, realistic expectations
> Use influence rather than punishment
We often rush to “doing the work”, skipping things like creating expectations, because it feels like we don’t have enough time. But expectations create a space filled with trust and safety and creating a space filled with trust and safety IS the work.
3 hours. So much impact.