Our Blog

Periodically at Nine Dots, we like to get our extensive knowledge of training out in the open and have decided to do this through our blog.

Here you can find all sorts of information regarding Management & Leadership training. Use the 'Latest Posts' links or use the 'Search' box to help find articles that you are looking for.

Systems Coaching: A new approach to working with teams

Have you ever found yourself facing a change that just didn’t feel right?
Were all your rational objections overcome, but you walked away still with unspoken reservations? We are intelligent, complex humans with emotional needs and insights.

Systems Coaching is a revolutionary way of thinking about groups and partnerships and a far more sustainable type of coaching as it addresses the source of the problem, where it originates. 

Systems coaching establishes:

  • A deeper connection between everyone in the team
  • Generous collaboration leading to better decisions and goals wholeheartedly embraced by the team
  • Better communication; teams really hearing each other and building on each other’s ideas rather than just waiting to speak, making counter-proposals and trying to force through their ideas
  • Teams genuinely aligned around deeply understood goals and pulling together, rather than everyone having a slightly different understanding and pulling in very slightly different directions?

Then systems coaching could be the answer you’re looking for

Systems coaching can help with:

  • conflict resolution
  • change management
  • creating the vision and strategy
  • growth
  • problem solving
  • team building
  • breaking down “silos”
  • difficult conversations

So what is Systems Coaching?

Think of a team as a spider web, any thread that is disturbed will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the web, that is the way all systems work.

Using a wide range of tools and techniques, systems coaching aims to maximize the team’s (the system’s) personal and professional potential.

Systems Coaching is a body of work based on Systems Theory, Psychology, Taoism, Quantum Physics, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Relationship Intelligence (RSI). 

The focus of this type of intervention lies on the system as a whole, specifically on the relationship between the individuals within a particular system and the effect those relationships have on the entire teams dynamic.

Systems Coaches work with those relationships using specific systemic tools to:

  • educate members of the team
  • to create awareness regarding the behavioral impact those individuals have
  • to create conscious and intentional actions
  • to foster transformative and sustainable change within the team

We are always in relationship, we belong to numerous systems at once and we are connected in different ways to individuals, groups and organizations. Every member in that team is undoubtedly influenced by and very likely to influence others. 

If we lack awareness regarding the impact we have in our relationships, we can make things very difficult for ourselves and others by creating conflict, misaligning goals and efforts and making communication difficult.

We all have emotional needs that sometimes stop us from seeing things clearly.

What’s different about Systems Coaching?

Systems coaching is different from individual performance or executive coaching. 

With one-to-one coaching, no matter how much time is spent refining plans, identifying obstacles, working out how to overcome any barriers, it’s inevitable that after the coaching session the coachee may meet with some resistance and be influenced by all the systems they belong to, so the impact will be eroded. 

Systems coaching is different from training.

Often in a training environment, not enough time is spent understanding what the team already knows.  Then any training is can be met with some reluctance “we’ve tried this before”, “this won’t work, they don’t understand our situation”, etc.  Often not enough of the team are involved in the design to ensure everyone is fully aligned.  

Traditional training teaches step by step models and how influence others to get what you want.  

Clearly the others in the team will have their own goals too.  

Systemic Coaching enables people to understand each other, what each of the team really want and from this deep understanding, co-design the best solution for everyone.  

Traditional training focuses on theory, Systems Coaching provides experiential workshops based on a bespoke package designed in line with your specific challenges to help you to fulfill your needs.

Theoretical training can sometimes be easily forgotten or difficult to apply in pressured situations while experiential work helps the team to reach their potential together and collaborate naturally and sustainably. 

Systems Coaching is like an operating system, it can be used with other models or processes layered on top, once groups consciously incorporate the team relationship into their thinking, they can achieve more throughout their work together, designing their own solutions that everyone can align around.

Systems Coaching is a new approach to working with groups, teams, partnerships and organisations.  Its purpose is to create conscious, intentional, right relationship. 

Managers on a Mission

Recently I read a book about negotiation which put forward some interesting ideas about aligning different missions across teams and what a positive impact this can have in business.

Since reading this book, we had a big discussion in our office and we decided to refocus our teams on our mission and in particular:

  • How we make a decision
  • When we look to make a decision
  • When we are uncertain of how to respond to a request

We should look back to our mission statement to find the answer.

Companies should be guided by their mission. Your mission is your ‘North Star’.

All great companies have a mission statement and at a strategic level can point back to this, but…

...did you know that all teams should have one as well? Well they should!

The mission statement drills down to the core function and purpose that each team serves within an organisation and can really help clarify difficult or confusing matters.

Some could argue that everyone in the company should have the same mission statement and that by definition everyone is working towards the same goals. However different teams contribute to that mission in different ways

it is very difficult for Jenny in Operations and Jim in finance to truly internalise that overall mission as so much of the contribution to it comes from areas and functions that they are not involved in and potentially do not fully understand.

So for people to truly internalise, understand and commit to a mission it must be personal to them or at least specific to their team.

Do not think of these statements as different missions but rather sub-mission statements….

Hopefully you can now imagine the benefit of doing this so here are our top 3 tips for writing a good and valid mission statement.

  1. Set it in their world - mission statements should be bought into by both the people writing them AND the people that we serve. We all have markets/customers/internal stakeholders that our functions serve, they are a huge part if not all of our mission and purpose, and the statements should reflect this.

  2. Personalise - this may seem contradictory to the above tip, but what I mean here is make sure that it is about your team/division/company and could not just be applied to any other team/division/company, it should be specific to you and what you stand for.

  3. Use exciting language - boring language and boring statements are not something that people enjoy reading or hearing. If your reading and hearing your mission statement is a chore, it will be incredibly difficult for people to buy into it

There are lots of other really valid tips and formats for constructing mission statements that can be found online, but we have found that these 3 to have the biggest impact when we did this ourselves.

If mission and purpose is something that you would like to actively address in your organisation then this is covered in our Addressing and Influencing Organisational Culture Workshop

Do Your Managers Have This Powerful Characteristic?

This week we look at the most powerful characteristic that every good manager should display...

Q: What do the following managers all have in common?

  • Managers that patronise skilled members of their team with obvious feedback and over-coaching
  • Managers that come across brash and unconvincing when trying to be upbeat or motivational
  • Managers that are fine with new changes and so assume everyone else will be too
  • Managers that ask of you things that they would not consider even trying to do themselves
  • Managers who attempt to answer all questions but don't have all the answers

A: They are not Self-Aware.

Every strong leader is built on a solid foundation of self-awareness

If a manager has a team of 6 people; every action that they take, every sentence that they speak will be interpreted 6 different ways…

...Over time there will be a huge spectrum of good, neutral and damaging opinions formed about the manger.

By being self-aware, the manager can start to see their more difficult relationships in a completely new way...

The manger can start to attribute their poor/damaged relationships to a lack of understanding of they are coming across...

Imagine if you could improve all the poor relationships in your company by allowing people to take a deeper look at why bad relationships occur and what role each person plays in that breakdown...

What would this mean in your company?

  • Stronger more effective teams?
  • Better cross-functional working?
  • Fewer instances of absences related to stress or burnout?
  • Lower staff turnover?
  • A better corporate culture?

Amazingly, research* suggests that actually managers tend to NOT be self aware.

In reality, very few people have the opportunity to reflect on relationships this way, but it is a skill that can be acquired…

Being honest with yourself, your team and your organisation can open doors, build trust and gain you credibility. 

To become self-aware we must get in the habit of reflection. To ask good questions and listen to feedback.

"The willingness to learn and improve yourself demonstrates self-awareness."

It is ok to not know everything and it's even better to want to learn and improve!

How would you go about getting your leaders on the same page? To start to listen to feedback, to be honest with their teams and to demonstrate a willingness to learn. 

Is this instilled in the management of the company you work in?

It can be a challenge to achieve this. But there are some great methods at your disposal, you could use:

  • Personality Profiling (like Myers Briggs, DiSC, Hogan, 360 Feedback etc)
  • Professional Discussions and coaching relationships
  • A Nine Dots Self-Awareness for More Effective Managers workshop - blending profiling tools, with group professional discussions and coaching to really highlight how individuals come across to others and where their areas for improvement sit.

We find that putting on training like this brings people together, it puts them on the same page and it becomes a lot easier to instil across teams. 

How could you increase self awareness in your workplace?

*A research project where 41,000 manager over 20 years responded to ‘The Change Style Indicator’