“Trust is defined as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions” Charles Feltman
For those of us in the coaching space trust is the building block of any relationship. To create trust we make ourselves vulnerable. For those of us in the development space, thick skin and perseverance are the building blocks of any project. To get results we put up with dysfunctions and keep the course. Put the two fields together and it’s easy to get trapped in the middle. You know what I mean, stuck with the soft stuff that no one wants to acknowledge or has any readiness to deal with, leaving you mired in parallel dimension where the only interactions you are working with are toxic. I’ll admit it, I’ve been there. I also know I’m not alone, change management assignment can be code for “we are passing the buck on some serious institutional malfunction”.
For this reason I’d like to propose and defend the graceful breakup. Think of it as taking a break to see how we do … apart.
A) At the beginning of the assignment, write down and talk through expectations like a coaching assignment. Break up your deliverables overtime ensuring each deliverable is really an outcome with it’s own exit strategy. Design it like a project where you might loose your funding at any moment.
B) Invest in your clients support system. If the development project includes coaching support there is a reason for that, don’t invest in your direct client and expect them to save the world. As they say, it takes a village.
C) Help your client and his/her stakeholders evaluate not only deliverables but also how they get to those deliverables. Create space to evaluate non-technical dysfunctions like: teamwork jealousy, sabotage, who gets to shine, who gets credit, who is afraid.
D) Keep tabs on yourself. It’s not about maintenance but recovery. Take breaks – none of that aid worker self sacrifice of no sleep and no vacations. For those tough post conflict or pre-conflict assignments work with a therapist. You are no good to the client if you can deliver activities but contribute to the “wahala” as they say. If you can, work in pairs.
E) When the moment comes to ‘let go’ use the next review cycle to exit and do so in a way that leaves the door open to return. At this point the client probably has achieved some success they can build on. Remember you designed your work around short-term outcomes not a 5 year string of dependent activities.
If you have been here and have good ways of ‘breaking up’ please share.