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Systemic Solutions Case History

Managing Team Relationships

PROJECT: Re-organize Senior Management
CLIENT: Vice-President (2600 employees)
CONSULTANT: Martyn Carruthers
BENEFITS: About $250,000 saved and effective communications restored

BACKGROUND: During a management re-organization; the management structure, performance and relationships were examined. The following case history outlines one part of this larger project.

ISSUE: A senior executive officer was part of the original startup team, and was involved in all core initiatives, but experienced difficulty relating to the CEO, peers and subordinate staff. The management team had worked together intensively for six to twelve years.

Although the executive was widely regarded as a "genius project manager", the CEO and most senior management minimized personal contact with him, describing "fearsome mood swings". The cost of replacing him was estimated at $250,000; plus a few months of chaos and a probable "unfair dismissal" lawsuit.

SOLUTION: Individual systemic coaching with the executive. The goal directions were to clarify the issues, identify the causes and change the patterns. Background data was collected during interviews with the CEO and staff, including perceptions of the relationship structure in which the executive worked. Clear goals were identified and mutual expectations established.

SYSTEMIC DIAGNOSIS: The executive was aware that his workplace attitude was problematic - but he was shocked to find the extent. During coaching, he realized that he sometimes communicated to the CEO as if to a partner; to senior executives as if to siblings; and to junior managers as if to children. The executive was stunned to realize that he often used "close-family" relationship language and nonverbal behavior with these employees; and that he experienced and communicated unpleasant emotions if they did not respond with similar "close-family" behavior.

He soon realized that he transferred his relationship needs onto his co-workers. These needs, together with his unpleasant emotions about feeling "rejected" by his co-workers, motivated him to behave in ways that they preferred to avoid - behaviors that they called "fearsome mood swings".

As the executive focused on systemic solutions, he understood how changing his perceptions would benefit his company by maintaining and increasing team productivity. A strategic change plan provided a logical sequence for the executive to develop his relationship skills.

The plan was designed to create effective and pleasant workplace relationships and less counter-productive behaviors. He implemented the plan over six weeks, with the coach's ongoing feedback and support.

RESULTS: The executive quickly learned how to achieve better results through effective relationship management. He gained insights and skills for making relationship choices that served both him and his organization. He understood how his relationship entanglements inhibited corporate success (and recognize that these entanglements may have precipitated his "early retirement" or termination). His newly identified behaviors, reinforced through feedback and coaching, replaced less productive habits.

As the executive clarified his work relationships, he could better focus on strategic issues. Simultaneously, his changed outlook allowed increased empowerment of the junior managers. Relationships with the CEO and peers improved dramatically (and the changework generalized - the executive reported more enjoyable relationships within his "real" family).

Within six weeks the executive reported that many of the peers and junior managers who once avoided him were offering friendly co-operation. He reported significantly more energy for his work and his life generally; and other executives requested individual systemic coaching.

NOTES: Most human beings need close relationships, and react in predictable ways if their relationship needs are not met. Appropriate reactions include finding a partner and raising a family. Inappropriate reactions include depression, distractions (addictions etc), dissociating from co-workers (acting as if unconcerned or detached) and, commonly, relating to co-workers AS IF the co-workers were family members. Although all of these reactions are common, the latter probably produce the most confusion in companies and other organizations.

Many managers spend more time with their management team than with their families. A deep (unconscious) need for "belonging" (for experiencing partnership and parenthood) can motivate managers to inappropriately bond to co-workers. Difficult scenarios occur when other employees have similar needs and simultaneously create complementary emotional bonds. This results in systemic entanglements - codependent relationships that distort the thinking and limit the actions of the employees. Following a systemic diagnosis, systemic solutions may seem obvious.

Some organizations use entanglements to control people. Entanglements are also a defining feature of cults, some illegal organizations and some extreme organizations. To assist employees to leave such organizations, see Exit Coaching.

Emotional freedom results when relationships are evaluated and clarified, and appropriate relationship skills are learned, practiced and used. Systemic Solutions accelerates this.

Case History 2: Manage Families in Organizations

Case History 3: Manage Conflict in Organizations

Case History 4: Entrepreneurial Management in a Bank

Systemic Coach Training

Plagiarism is theft © Martyn Carruthers 2003-2018
, All rights reserved

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email