SITUATION | The executive director of NAMI-Waukesha, a mental health nonprofit called MWA because the staff team did not feel unified, was not thriving and everything about managing the staff felt like a struggle. The organization was in a high-growth period, and the creation of a management team, changes in people’s roles and new staff resulted in confusion and mistrust between some coworkers. The team had an “us v them” (staff v management) mentality resulting in unproductive silos, unhappy employees and negative attitudes.
TASK | MWA’s task was to identify the root cause of the breakdown in communications and negative attitudes; recommend team building processes to resolve the issues; and provide advice on change management.
“Working with MWA to assist us with development of our leadership team and team building activities for the entire staff has had an incredibly positive impact on our organization. Managers and staff are more open with each other and address issues as they come up, directly and with transparency.”
ACTION | MWA began by conducting interviews of all staff to hear all sides of the issue. We compiled the comments and discussed the findings with everyone, protecting anonymity while at the same time ensuring a transparent process. Important steps toward making the team whole again included:
Throughout the process, Sara provided leadership coaching for middle managers and the executive director. To help managers improve their skills, coaching focused on areas including managing individuals and teams, setting and meeting goals, time management, team building, transparent decision-making and more.
RESULT | When follow-up interviews were conducted a year later, staff were significantly more positive about their jobs and many shared that they were striving to live up to the values statements created by the group, including being more tolerant of different work styles and more aware of the impact of their personal communication styles. Staff reported an increased understanding of each others’ jobs, improved morale, and better communications.
“As our organization continues to grow, the skills we learned and procedures we put into place while working with MWA are serving the organization well. The team understands and embraces moving forward together in a respectful and cohesive way that meets needs of our staff so they in turn can meet the needs of the community we serve!”
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