One of the biggest challenges we see inside organisations when trying to work better together is the elephant in the room- the reluctance for staff to reveal how they feel about working with others.

We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, and it can feel a bit unsafe to say what we mean.

While quite understandable, it can be a huge drag on the ability to work well together, as our behaviour is often driven by what we feel, but can’t really talk about.

For example, if we are thinking

  • I’m not quite sure I can trust them with that information…
  • They seem to be only concerned with the money….
  • I feel they don’t value me and my team
  • They see us as incompetent….

then we will quite likely act in ways that will drive dysfunction rather than co-operation or collaboration.

And our thinking and assumptions are not visible or able to be tested.

In our experience a simple tool can help people be a little more honest about how they feel about others, and provide a platform for improvement.

Asking the different workgroups to respond to a series of questions can help surface such thinking and provide a foundation for more authentic engagement and collaboration:

  • How do we see ourselves? (our workgroup)
  • How do we see the other group?
  • How do we think the other group sees us?

Making the output visible by posting the results up can be quite powerful, as it can start to reveal some of the less obvious assumptions that are impacting how we work together.

Then discussing and exploring that together can help to tease out the relationship “elephant”, providing a platform for working better together.