What was the brief?
‘One of our self-steering teams has run aground. Could you help us get it running smoothly again?’

What were the key features of the context?
Spirit youth and parenting services, which serves the City of Amsterdam and regions in the province of North Holland, had opted for an organisational model with self-steering teams. Its teams consist of highly educated youth care professionals from a range of cultural backgrounds. Regular staff include special education teachers and psychologists for job-specific coaching, and a distance coach for team work.

How did Innova transform the situation?

  • The Innova facilitator spent a two-hour session getting to know the members of the team. We ran two workshops of three hours and six weeks later we concluded with an in-depth workshop.
  • After the team and the facilitator had reached agreement, workshops were planned around the most urgent issues.
  • A key part of our approach was to treat the team as a system. So we didn’t focus on particular ‘troublemakers’, although it was often helpful to conduct interviews with individuals or pairs of team members.

Our workshops featured these combinations:

  • We focused in on the goal of the team and the organisation
  • We used practical dialogue models to address barriers. We practised these with the team, using process-oriented questions like ‘What is working well?’ ‘What needs improving?’ and ‘What could help to achieve this?’
  • We shared experiences and feelings, and reflected in small groups and as individuals.
  • We formulated concrete action points in order to achieve rapid change.
  • In the meantime, we kept in touch through emails and updates.

What has changed?

  • After about four sessions, people were working together cooperatively again.
  • From the start, the teams learned to regard each other and their collaboration with different eyes. This immediately produced more constructive dynamics.
  • The personal and direct form of coaching enabled people to feel reassured and safe, which in turn encouraged them to learn and experiment.
  • The team was up to speed again within several months.

‘Innova uses a wealth of experience and professionalism to tackle tricky team processes and remove barriers to collaboration. Their highly skilled approach combines clear communication with the client and transparency towards the staff teams. Innova successfully connects the issues and ‘struggles’ of individuals to the goal of the organisation and still keeps everyone on board.’

Edith KuiperProfessionalisation coach and project leader, Spirit youth and parenting services