June 25, 2019

Trust and the workplace coaching journey

It is difficult to establish trust with everyone in an inter-culturally complex workplace.

In our increasingly global and inter-culturally complex workplaces, it is clear that there are complex cultural elements that any coach must recognize, understand, and address!

Pull everyone in

In our last article, Workplace coaching and the Third Cultural Space, we looked at the Wheel of Life and how it describes eight areas of life. Wheel of Life theory suggests that developing only two or three areas leads to having a very clunky wheel. The same is true of the coaching journey.

Workplace coaching must not neglect different aspects that make up each of us. And a large part of us, especially as it relates to our behavior in the workplace, is cultural and related to our blend of worldviews and cultural drivers. In our increasingly global and inter-culturally complex workplaces, it is clear that there are complex cultural elements that any coach must recognize, understand, and address!

For example, in cultures that are oriented toward community-accountability, or in cultures that are more inclusive by nature or more oriented toward ascribed status, the eight sections of the Wheel of Life are typically acknowledged to be more interconnected than not.

Our Three Colors of Worldview research shows the same thing: those with Honor-Shame and Power-Fear –oriented cultures more readily recognize that these eight areas are all connected and, significantly, relevant to the workplace. It is clear that there are cultural drivers and preferences at work here.

Since such interconnectedness between different spheres of life is very important to many people in the world (more explicitly in some cultures and worldviews than others), exploring all the areas described by the Wheel of Life is key to a successful coaching journey, especially when interpreted within the ICI framework.

In fact, the coaching agreement we present to those whom we coach specifies that we have permission to dive into these eight areas of life, as appropriate, and into the cultural dimensions of each. Naturally, it is a very important piece of the coaching puzzle to make sure that you get that permission, and thereby establish a level of trust as you journey with those you coach.

An all too present danger is that common or traditional coaching methods, and the psychology they are based upon, tend to be one-dimensional when it comes to personal culture and worldview — no matter where these methods might be employed in the world.

Yet, if a coach fails to recognize, understand, and address the “three-dimensional nature” of personal culture, then it follows that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish trust with everyone in an intercultural environment. Today, workplace coaching requires Inter-Cultural Intelligence.

Set the tone for personal and team development

In the last article (linked above), we discussed the Third Cultural Space. The establishment of your third cultural space is an act of building trust. Moreover, as a workplace coach of individuals or teams, the things that you discover together when you establish a unique Third Cultural Space will form the basis for a Team Charter. Creating a Team Charter is a great step toward building deep and lasting trust between you and those you coach, and between them and their colleagues or teammates. In effect, a Team Charter formalizes a healthy Third Cultural Space, and protects it.

Formulating a Team Charter together helps create an environment in which each person and their team as a whole can thrive long-term, beyond the immediate coaching context or journey. A Team Charter is a commitment of sorts. A Team Charter recognises and sets the tone for explicit behaviors that the team together believes to be important in order to work together well, to maintain alignment, to successfully fulfil their mandate, and to develop as individuals. Showing each person that they are understood, and making room for them to participate in the process of creating the Team Charter, is a key to establishing lasting trust.

Note that actual behaviors (not a list of values on the wall) reveal a group’s true Corporate or Team Culture. If the foundation for a Third Cultural Space is properly established together, including a Team Charter, then the desired and intended Corporate or Team Culture can be established, nurtured, guided, or changed, as necessary. When the Corporate Culture is seen to reflect the harmony and goodwill of its members, then trust is further reinforced.

Check out more articles on our KnowledgeWorkx Resource  page.

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