How vulnerability can make you a stronger: a case study
Authenticity and vulnerability are becoming characteristics not of weakness, but of strength. In the past you could (wrongly) be perceived as a strong person if you could hide behind a façade of manners and fancy clothes, nowadays in some sense the opposite. A true authentic person willing to admit his or her own vulnerabilities comes across as being self-aware, always willing to learn and confident.
A sales team in a large factory had a self-described ‘Neanderthal’ culture. Asked what that meant, they explained that it was a large group of all male professionals from 45 years and up. It was a high testosterone group of guys who befriended their team in the past.
It created a culture where people hid their mistakes, outsiders were not included, and it was difficult to build real connections. Even inside the group this was acknowledged as a problem.
- Developed a tailormade program aimed at developing the whole team, including individual coaching.
- Used the training to create a more open and honest atmosphere with clear rules on giving and receiving feedback and team-values. We did specific exercises to enhance the knowledge about each other, connect personal strengths with personal challenges and helped them to open up.
- Let the team decide how they needed to work together to make sure less mistakes were made. As well as to make sure other departments would be involved in their work and a more personal onboarding program was developed.
- Individual coaching helps to translate the new team values into personal learning goals. Most team members had 3 or 4 coaching sessions with the trainer to help them take real action on those learning goals, review the outcome of new behaviors and secure the new behavior.
In the period of 6 intense months, the training and coaching sessions were held. Stronger connections developed within the team, more interdepartmental communication and a more open feedback culture was introduced. Not all team members felt they fully reached their learning goals, but all team members did express firmly the advantages this new culture brought.
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