A start up company with a novel way to collect and analyze ocean data approached me for help. The start up's premise was supported by their seasoned advisors but the team was not functioning at the level they needed in order to get to the investment stage. Their activity dropped significantly during periods where there was no deadline in sight and the team would become caught in a demotivating spiral. As a result, they did not have a way forward to get to the pitching stage.
The reason for the drop of activity was due to a lack of understanding of each other's work and communication habits. Also, the team meetings were lacking structure which was starting to create tension in the group, which, in turn, negatively impacted the team's morale.
I designed a retreat where everyone was able to express in concrete and specific terms what they needed from each other, as well as to come to see their own and each other's unique contributions to the team as a whole. From that discussion evolved the need to prioritize their tasks, which they did following the parameters I gave them. I also helped them redesign their meetings while integrating the requests made by everyone.
Thanks to the reorganized meetings, and improved overall communication and motivation, the startup was given the go ahead by their advisors to start the pitching stage and was poised to meet their goal to raise 16 million dollars only 5 months later.
Reducing Medical Leave
A social service agency dealing with people with disabilities had a problem with a high rate of medical leave due to stress. The managers reported that a lot of the stress was coming from the workers inability to deal with families that they were obliged to serve but that never seemed to be happy with the services,
I created a series of experiential workshops that focused on strategies for the social workers to both maintain their empathic connection and keep their boundaries.
The following year the requests for medical leave dropped by 10%. The social workers in attendance reported they had more confidence and experienced less stress about possible confrontations with families.
The owner of a construction company had a number of good years and was now scaling his business. During the starting years an employee he highly valued for her consistency, talent, and sense of responsibility, performed most of the company's administrative duties, customer service, and sales work.
The owner now needed to divide the position of his employee with new hires. He tried to approach his employee and ask her which duties she would enjoy keeping, which she could let go of, and how many hours she wanted. Much to the owner's surprise, his employee was too upset to talk and could only say that she would not be able to continue working.
Hoping to keep his star employee the owner approached me for advice. I told him that while what he was offering was fair from a material perspective, the employee was probably in need of acknowledgement for her past contributions and she needed to know how much he personally valued her role. I role-played some possibilities with the owner. He tried them with his employee and when he came back he reported that he was able to have a constructive conversation with her about her new duties.
The employee went on to take over the customer service and also kept some administrative responsibilities, and the company retained a key talent for their continued growth. The owner implemented frequent recognition and acknowledgment of all of his employees.