The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Aligning differences

An automatic reaction to differences in a team often is the desire to align them somehow. That was also how Jane reacted in our coaching. She had worked hard to develop her team, but after several months she found herself wondering where all her energy had gone.

Much of it seemed to have gone to trying to align the team, and more specifically in dealing with differences in approaches, opinions, or engagement. She had seen her task in making these disappear. Without noticing it, she had tried to change how much engagement her team members displayed, the way they had been choosing when approaching the task, or how they perceived the task they had to do.

Without noticing it, she had assumed that to establish a sense of harmony and cooperation in the team, she needed to erase existing differences where it seemed possible. She saw it as a path to ease the tension individual team members had in dealing with their work. To her, it felt like removing obstacles her team members had to overcome.

However, this is a form of micromanaging.

It was disrupting the team’s ability to help one another and find together how they could implement their task as a team. They had no reason to address this together, as they could reach out to Jane and ask her to solve what seemed to be their problem. But it actually made team members seek comfort. They had no invitation to develop their ability to deal with their work or ask for the support they needed from their fellow team members.

Jane needed to develop trust in her team’s ability to work together and address her fear that differences may become unsurmountable.

It didn’t mean to entirely let go of her fear. What Jane had to learn was to sense her fear and put it into context. She had to learn, that fear offered her a choice and that she could see it.


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