Mitch was struggling. He knew that his behavior had confused his team, but he was not sure what he could have done differently. He had searched for a way to create an impact allowing to highlight a problem. It had worked. But from the reactions, he gathered that they had distanced themselves from him. They seemed confused and somewhat anxious. They felt judged.
He was now worried about the relationship with his team and searching for ways to repair it. He then explained that he was planning to meet them individually and possibly invite them for lunch.
This proved to be the turning point in our conversation as we could start to define what a relationship with his team could mean for him. The question was if he would want to establish a mainly professional relationship or if he would be willing to widen the relationship to allow for friendships to establish themselves.
We quickly figured that his interest was to keep a professional distance.
Asked how he wants to be seen by his team he quickly settled on values like reliable, honest, and respectful.
It gave him an answer. He saw for himself, that having had an impact that was experienced as confusing, he had to move on and help them see that this didn’t change their relationship. He could highlight the respect he has for them, share that he was seeing the impact he had, and help them move out of the confusion.
By nurturing the relationship he would have helped his team integrate the problem and what to do about it.
By leaving them confused he was leaving it up to them to overcome their confusion. It cost him social capital. And it cost them time to find an answer to their confusion, that is, if they had a relationship to repair or if they could simply attend to the problem he had named.