You could hear the infamous pin drop. The silence was complete. The Emotional Field was flat, not hot or cold, just flat. The flattest I had experienced in my 8 years of doing systems work.
We were half way into a 2.5 day retreat with a team of 22. Prior to the retreat we had asked team to complete online questions on various topics, answers that would be shared anonymously in the team during plenary sessions. My partner had insisted that we ask; “What are you tolerating in this team?” A lot, as it turned out.
During the first 24 hours together the pendulum had swung back and forth a few times; from “we really need this retreat and have so many issues to work on” to “we are ok- don’t mess with us.” Seeing edge behaviour at work never ceases to amaze me- also when I have the wits about me to notice my own edge behaviour.
After a hefty look at the team`s history the first evening, the pendulum was now somewhere near “we are ok- and don`t want to go any further.” It felt like a critical point in the process; we could back off and bow into fear and walk away, or we could armour ourselves with compassion and courage to delve deeper and do the necessary work.
The Third Entity of my partner and I decided on the latter and after having stroked their Primary we started to kiss them over the Edge. We gently pointed out that there might be the odd issue to talk about; namely what they said they were tolerating in their team. I started to read their answers out loud:
- Average is ok
- At times public disrespect for others
- Personal agendas vs. team success
- Not following agreed guidelines/deadlines
- Constant changes to agreed schedules
- We tolerate in hope that there will be changes
- We tolerate that some have been here a long time and are stuck in their ways
- We tolerate medium performance because of people`s history in the company
- We tolerate short term and lack of vision
- We tolerate cynicism and disrespectfulness
- We tolerate lack of communication even when it impacts our area of responsibility and accountability