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Reviewed Piece of SF work: Annette Gray

Creating one team that respects one another and enjoys coming to work — Business unit culture change at professional services firm

Annette Gray from Growth Coaching International was asked to help a management team in a professional services firm in Sydney Australia during 2011 change their culture by becoming more respectful of their colleagues and a happier place to work. The management team of 12 professional high achievers made up this team. They were very capable in their own right, however the team was behaving in a “dysfunctional and competitive way” as described by its leader. The leader of this team was very keen to get this team back on track and to create a culture of unity and respect. The team facilitated their own team workshop 3 months prior using a problem focused approach but had no success. Annette, was engaged to work with the leader and the team over a 6 month period. The project included six individual coaching sessions for the leader and two workshops and four follow up meetings with the team. In just 4 months the team experienced significant change in their culture and their interactions. At the end of the six months the business unit’s Engagement Survey results had improved from 29% engagement to 44%. A year on their survey results continues to improve with the rest of the organisation keen to know what they did. The leader is now so passionate about the Solutions Focused approach she is championing culture change across the whole organisation.

Client Quotes:

“The team moved from always very defensive behaviour and picking on the negative aspects to a positive solution focus attitude which is still being used today (one year on) and has taken the team to a new level”

Candidate’s Summary:

Going through the SFCT review process has been such a positive and affirming experience for me. Stanus Cloete (reviewer 1) and Jeff Matthews (reviewer 2) were wonderful in how they reviewed my piece of work. I noticed the way they commented throughout my project document asking great SF questions about “what I noticed about myself ”,”how did I know to do that” etc. These questions helped me clarify in more detail what I knew about SF and how much more I could learn. I liked the comment they made that I included my client as an agent of change. Even though I knew this on one level they helped me to see how valuable it was just by noticing it! I also found the power of reflection in understanding what we are doing as coaches and facilitators and being honest about it really helps us grow. The most powerful aspect of the review phone call was hearing how Stanus and Jeff appreciated the work I had done, not at a superficial level but very detailed level. And weeks later I still can remember what was discussed and can be more mindful in working with new clients. This is what made it incredibly powerful to more traditional review processes. Thanks so much!

Reviewers Summary:

Annette has done a wonderful series of workshops in creating a culture change in a professional service firm in Australia. She involved the General Manager of the team right from the start through individual coaching sessions and co-designed every team session with her. She also made sure that the goals of the team members were met by building a firm and clear platform for the workshops. A great effort was made to create personal connections between team members to counteract dysfunctional working relations. Much of the success of the workshops can be contributed to the fact that Annette kept the sf process basic and simple. She was very conscious of her role in modelling a positive approach and to remain progress focused. Making good use of the tool of affirm right through the series of workshops helped her to attain this. The success of her intervention can be seen in the fact that the team’s score on the Engagement Survey has risen from 27% to 44% (average for the business is 40%) as well as the fact that 7 months after the workshop the team was still using the sf toolbox.

Second Reviewer summary:

Annette has shown in this piece of work, her ability to stay working with her client’s preferred future, in this case “becoming one team” when faced with significant ‘problem talk’ early in the intervention. As a consequence the team were able to move quickly (faster than they had anticipated, indeed one person describing it as “instant”) to a new way of working together. The follow up work was as effective in recognising and reinforcing the tangible progress made. There were many signs of an effective solution focussed based intervention.

About The Candidate:

Annette has a background in organisational change and leadership development working across many sectors in Australia. Her work in the last 10 years has been focused on coaching leaders and teams to be the best they can by using Strength based and more recently Solutions Focused Approaches. Annette is Director of Coaching at growth coaching international and facilitates the Growth Coaching Accreditation programs. She is passionate about SF and applying it to her work and life.

Annette Gray
Annette Gray
SFiO Reviewed Practitioner
InterAction Contributor
Chapter Head
SFiO Contributor

Annette is a Solution Focus coach, facilitator and speaker (based in Sydney Australia) on SF Coaching and Mentoring. She has trained over 7,000 managers and leaders to be more “coach like” and use a Solution Focused approach to how they have conversations that helps them achieve change fast. Annette has her own consulting business (Annette Gray Consulting) and has worked across many industries including: Construction, Education, Government, Banking and Finance. She is also a Mentor for Can Too ocean swim programs