Research

The Clariact EQ Intervention in an IT Environment

Unit for Innovation and Transformation (Ekklesia: Stellenbosch University)

Researchers: Dr Frederick Marais (advisor) and Ankia Du Plooy

Introduction

Clariact, a Cape Town based company that offers training and coaching interventions to enhance the performance of teams in IT and other environments, designed an intervention called the Clariact EQ Intervention. This intervention can be used, among others, to support and enhance the Agile methodologies used in IT companies. The intervention is underpinned by various human development theories and coaching frameworks. It uses both coaching sessions and facilitated workshops to enhance performance (www.clariact.com).

The Unit for Innovation and Transformation at Stellenbosch University was approached by the owner of Clariact, Elsa Simpson, to conduct a qualitative investigation to gain insight into the participants’ experiences of the intervention.

The data collection method consisted of structured face-to-face interviews with 18 participants. The interviews were voice-recorded and transcribed to allow for thematic content analysis (Babbie & Mouton, 2012: 492)[1]. This involved the reading of each transcription in order to determine key themes that emerged from each transcription. This was done through different levels of coding (Babbie & Mouton, 2012: 492)[2]. The first level of coding was to identify key quotes or sentences. The second level of coding was to categorise the key quotes or sentences. The themes were reviewed and grouped where this logically could be done. The interviews were conducted between July and August 2015.

The aim of this study was to determine the impact of the outcomes of the Clariact EQ Intervention on participants and their work environments, and to use these outcomes in the planning and implementation of further interventions.

Overview of research assignment

Problem owner:                  Elsa Simpson

Research question:           How did the Clariact EQ Intervention enhance and support Agile methodologies in the IT environment?

Research methodology:  Qualitative study using structured one-on-one interviews. To ascertain the perceptions of the success or not of the Clariact Interventions from participants, Elsa Simpson conducted structured interviews with a sample of 18 participants. These participants were randomly selected from the list of past participants. Consent forms were signed by the participants.

Acceptable sizes for qualitative research is between 15 and 50 (Mason, 2010)[3]. Green and Thorogood stated that “the experience of most qualitative researchers (is) that in interview studies little that is ‘new’ comes out of transcripts after you have interviewed 20 or so people”.

The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. The transcriptions were sent to the Unit for Innovation and Transformation for thematic content analysis and a report on the research findings.

Interview questions:          The following questions were asked in the interviews:

  1. If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you as a person?
  2. If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on your team functioning?
  3. If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you as someone working in an agile environment?
  4. If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you in your functional role in the team as tester/architect/developer/scrum master/leader?
  5. In hindsight, what can we do differently?
  6. What do you think is the biggest gift/value you have received from the interventions?
  7. What influence does the Clariact Intervention have on your current handling of the organisational change?
  8. Is there anything else you want to share with us about the interventions?

Key words:                          Agile environment, awareness, EQ intervention, team coaching,

team cohesion

Discussion of main findings

In the section below, the responses to each question will be analysed. Quotation marks are used to indicate direct citations from the interviewees.

Question 1: If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you as a person?

Almost all the respondents said that the intervention helped them, in one or other way, to get to know themselves better. They described it as: “The intervention gave a model to think about me as a person”, “… probably just defining who I really am…” and “Dit was nice om myself te leer ken op verskillende maniere hoe mens reageer in verskillende situasies… (It was nice to get to know myself in the various ways in which one reacts to different situations…)”.

It seemed that the intervention really helped them to gain insight into who they are. Various participants described the roles (like leader, elder or seller) that the Organic ScoreCard[4] assigned to them as very helpful in understanding themselves as well as understanding where they come from. Respondent 11 described it as: “I didn’t really realise that that’s the way I was. I never thought about it like that.

Respondent 5 mentioned that he had done a number of personality assessments before but these were never really been properly explained or unpacked before. However, the Clariact intervention took him to a deeper level, not only to understand who he is, but also what to do with it.

The intervention’s focus on their gifts (talents) and an appreciative rediscovery of themselves made an impact on the respondents. Some of the respondents mentioned that the intervention helped them to see as gifts what previously was perceived as negative traits or shortcomings. This gave them a feeling of self-worth. Respondent 1 said: “The session unlocked me – instead of holding myself back, I could actually see that as the gift it is and that became my energy point…” Respondent 1 also mentioned a shift occurring “from judging your gifts to appreciate them”. Respondent 6 said that the intervention “without a doubt changed my perspective… and it helped me start my journey on creating a new identity of who I was”.

Knowing themselves and understanding their gifts better made a positive impact on respondents. It affirmed them in the positions in which they worked, it created increased awareness for them and gave them more confidence. It also “unblocked them” and they had “a lot more” energy.

The intervention gave respondents insight and appreciation for other team members. Respondent 13 was of opinion that it “proved that people have strengths in different areas and you need to look at that and be able to recognise that…” The intervention helped respondents to gain insight into who they are and what their strengths are. In addition, it helped them to gain insight into their colleagues. This helped them to understand each other better and also to change their approach towards each other. Respondent 4 said that after the intervention he “really was able to work with people better from where they are, and get them to add value… it really helped my perspective to understand the team as well”.

On an even deeper level the intervention helped Respondent 1 to make new connections with people. Respondent 9 made a similar comment: “… the intervention and the ScoreCard were bringing me back: from a black-and-white world (IT science) into a grey world (people), mainly because of the impact that I could see afterwards myself and the interaction with other people that flowed from the intervention…

Two respondents mentioned that the intervention allowed them just to be who they are. Respondent 1 said that the intervention “… stopped me having to feel all the time like I had to perform in order to be valuable” while Respondent 12 said that prior to the intervention, “I always felt as though I’d have to earn my position”.

Quite a few respondents mentioned that the intervention helped them to deal with issues of the past. Respondent 8 described it as follows: “It started to make me analyse certain issues from the past that I was always aware of but hadn’t really focused on … that had quite an impact on me”. Respondent 11 said: “… taking me back to my youth and my family structure and trying to understand why I am like I am.

Respondent 12 made the following comment about the time-effectiveness of the intervention: “You could drive straight to the point and didn’t spend months sitting in therapy until you eventually stumbled on it. So it was really a tool to give you a map, and then through discussion and so on it facilitated us getting to the issue really quickly … it saved a lot of time, the assessment (helped you) to go straight where we actually needed to work.” Respondent 16 also commented on this: “I was surprised that out of so few questions you could get such an accurate picture.

Summary

The intervention made the biggest impact on a personal level and in particular in terms of self-awareness. Respondents gained a better understanding of who they were, where they came from and why they acted in a specific manner. The intervention’s focus on their gifts gave them more confidence and affirmed them. The intervention also created insight into and appreciation for other team members.

Question 2: If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on your team functioning?

Most respondents mentioned that the biggest impact of the intervention was in terms of their team functioning based on a better understanding of each other. Respondent 5 stated it very clearly: “The biggest team function change would definitely be understanding. And because I can understand myself a lot better now from my personality, you start understanding the personalities of those around you a lot better. So I’ve definitely become a lot more understanding to those around me and a lot more tolerant to things aren’t always black and white.” Because respondents understood each other better after the intervention, Respondent 2 was of opinion that they could also relate better with each other.

Respondent 3 mentioned that the intervention created awareness in the team that they all are different but that their differences could complement each other. She said in this regard: “It felt like I have more patience and tolerance because I have understood the differences.” Respondent 9 also mentioned this: “Die spansessies self het waarde gehad waar dit mense se verskille kon erken en hulle verskillende gifts wat hulle het en hoe ons op die ou einde as ‘n span beter kan werk omdat ons mekaar komplementeer (The team sessions themselves had value where it acknowledged people’s differences and their different gifts, and in the end we could work together better as a team because we could complement each other).” From a managerial perspective, Respondent 16 thought that the group sessions were very useful.

For most of the respondents the intervention helped the team members to build a relationship with each other. Respondent 13 said: “I think it’s all about building those relationships.” The intervention created “a bonding in the team because everybody was speaking the same language and people benefitted from it hugely”. Respondents shared that there was an awareness of each other and because of that “… we were able to share and support because we all understood the process. We were able to share our own personal experiences and actually encourage and support each other.

Respondent 7 described it as: “Ek dink dit het jou baie nader gebring aan jou team members. Jy verstaan mekaar beter en anders want jy het met mekaar gifts gedeel en daardie goed gaan jy nie met normale mense deel nie en dit maak dat ons ook in die span mekaar beter verstaan en beter kan kommunikeer. Ek dink dit vat redelik baie barriers weg, veral in ons span waar ons erg moet saamwerk, veral waar jy mekaar se strengths and weaknesses moet ken sonder om mekaar te judge en dit was nogal great…ons span se guards was baie hoog op en dit het baie van dit afgebreek (I think it brought one closer to one’s team members. You understand each other better and differently because you shared each other’s gifts and those things you do not share with ordinary people, which leads to better understanding among team members and also better communication among us.).

Respondent 12 said, “I felt more like a person, like a family member, if you like; and that was missing in the beginning”.

Respondent 15 mentioned that they were a group of individuals before but through the intervention found a connection with each other. Respondent 7 thought that being closer in the team improved the team functioning.

A few respondents mentioned the fact that the intervention affirmed the roles respondents were playing in the team and that it created confidence in the team. Respondent 6 told us: “It just made me feel more sure of what I was doing in my team, and the contribution I was making to the team. I think it just made me more confident and comfortable with my role in the team.” Also, Respondent 8 believed that the difference in the team had to do with “… the indications the ScoreCard had, and something to do with roles within a team. And it actually became a very good tool to bring to your attention the role you can play in a team; and that I do play in a team that I was completely unaware before, but once it’s pointed out, it was very clear that was what was going on.

Respondent 15 described it as: “Ek het basies geleer hoe ek inpas in die team functioning en my gawes die res van die span komplementeer en dit het my gehelp om beter met hulle te kon inskakel (Basically, I learnt how I fit into the team functioning and how my gifts complemented the rest of the team, and this helped me to engage more with them.).” Respondent 16 said that after this affirmation, it was possible to spend one’s energy in the interaction with people more accurately.

In the teams there was a feeling of much more collaboration and respectful interaction with each other. Respondent 12 described it as “a more cooperative attitude from people now”. Respondent 13 said: “There was actually quite a nice energy flow in the functioning and people respected each other.

Certain team members also learned on a personal level to engage in a different way in their teams. Respondent 1 told us that he now chooses to approach the team differently: “I think that me being calmer, and not so much trying to sell my ideas but more elicit ideas of the wider group, helped that group function better.” After the intervention, Respondent 5 said he was more aware of all the shades of grey that exist: “I think my lesson from a more team and a work perspective is things aren’t always black and white, and we need to actually bring in the emotional/people side to things a lot more. And not everything is about deadlines and structure and policy and procedure, there needs to be like a soft side that we appreciate as well… I always used to resort back to the policy and procedure because it was kind of a safe space for me to work in… So, yes, it definitely softened me up to that approach.” Respondent 11 learned to engage less confrontationally. From an IT manager’s perspective, he could see the significant impact the intervention had on some of his team members in the way they handled challenges afterwards.

Respondents in managerial roles were of the opinion that the intervention created tools that they could use in their leadership and management of teams.

Even though most of the respondents experienced the intervention positively, some of them felt that they did not get the best benefit from it because the whole structure of the company changed and they did not get to see the long-term or even medium-term effects of the change.

Summary

Regarding the team functioning the biggest impact that the intervention made was for team members to have a better understanding of each other. This closer relationships and bonding improved team functioning. Individuals were also able to engage differently with each other, that had a positive influence on the team.

The biggest impact that the intervention made was giving team members a better understanding of each other. Closer relationships and bonding improved team functioning. Individuals were also able to engage differently with each other, which had a positive influence on the team.

Question 3: If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you as someone working in an Agile environment?

Most of the respondents were of the opinion that the intervention made a significant impact in the Agile environment because for most of the respondents Agile methodologies are essentially about people and certain values. Respondent 5 described it as: “I think agile is people-based and, again, it comes down to agile is not really a process or a procedure; it’s a very vague methodology. And the only way to effectively implement that methodology is to respect the person and to respect the individual.” Respondent 10 said: “Agile is baie meer gefokus op mense en om vir mense so bewus te maak van wie jy is en wie jou spanmaats is, dink ek is baie goed (Agile has a stronger focus on people and on making people aware of who you are and who your team members are, which I think is good.)”. Respondent 16 also said: “For Agile methodologies to work you really need to understand the people in the team that you’re working with as well as possible, because it requires a lot more interaction between individuals than another process”.

Respondent 1 described agile as: “… it requires a lot more individual discipline, and it requires a lot more collaboration than other styles of work in IT. And I think working with other people the more aware you are of yourself and your interactions, where you put your energy, the better.

Respondent 2 thought that the intervention helped teams to relate to each other and to appreciate each other’s insights and gifts. Respondent 8 described it as follows: “One of the things which tend to be central to Agile, which isn’t always central to other methodologies, is the way teams work and the cohesiveness of teams. And one of the things Agile strives to do is to take the personal individual qualities, and take those into account in the way teams function. And the intervention certainly supported that and helped the team to be able to use the individual traits they had better, and to understand each other better, which is very central to agile.”

Respondents 3 and 7 emphasised the point that Agile is also to be flexible and that they are of opinion that “people become flexible though the understanding of one another”. The connection he made between Agile and the intervention is that people started working together more collaboratively and because they were able to support and understand one another, which resulted in better team work and therefore better performance, communication and understanding. In this regard, Respondent 15 learned to be much more accommodating.

For some respondents the understanding of one another was a significant asset in putting teams together, because they were able to form teams that fit each other best. Respondent 14 thought that the ScoreCard had the potential to help Agile, but that it was not fully utilised at that time. Knowing the different gifts and personalities in a team could support the whole team’s collaboration and could even have been utilised more.

An Agile environment also assumes trust. The intervention helped respondents to open up about who they were. According to Respondent 4, “building trust in the teams, which is something from the Agile environment, you really try to build from the beginning. It’s all about trust, and the team trusting each other.” Respondent 9 also agreed with this statement while Respondent 6 mentioned that the intervention brought the team “a lot closer together”. Respondent 18 said: “Agile is a collaboration which is one of the principles of the Agile methodology, and trust and being able to speak your mind without fear. And understanding where everyone comes from and their ways of thinking improves this environment.” Respondent 13 thought that when you work in Agile you need to be open as a person. However, that only happens when you have trust in your team, because “Agile is about being open about your work and transparent… And that was the biggest thing with Agile, it’s about communication”.

Summary

In an Agile environment, team members benefitted from the intervention as they learnt to understand each other better and to have respect for each other’s gifts and personalities. They were able to put together the best-fit teams. The intervention also made them aware of their own interactions with others and it improved their communication.

Question 4: If you think back about the intervention, what made the biggest impact on you in your functional role in the team as tester, architect, developer, scrum master or leader?

As mentioned before, the Clariact EQ Intervention helped respondents to know themselves and each other better. This probably also made the biggest impact on the respondents’ functional roles in their teams. Respondent 1, who is an architect, told us: “As an architect, what I do every day is I translate… So I’m a lot more coming to where people are to start the explanation from there, as opposed to broadcasting the message that I now want to send.” Knowing the members on the team helped the architect with his translation. The intervention helped the scrum master to “… identify which team members I needed to help a bit more and which ones at some stage needed to be pulled back. So it gave me a good understanding of the team and how they could work together… that helped me then to also develop them and make sure that they became more productive, or highly productive in what they’re doing.

A product owner mentioned that it helped her in her role which required working with different teams and in particular knowing the unique angles she had to take because of the unique energy that existed in the various teams. Another scrum master made the statement that it helped him to “improve on certain things with certain people”. Respondent 14, an architect, said that “it certainly helped with bonding” and with his approach to the team. One manager said: “It definitely helped in terms of from a management perspective understanding how to engage with them more effectively… just understanding people and what makes them tick is critical in terms of being a good manager.

On the other hand, Respondent 2 understood his functional role in the team better because of knowing himself better. According to Respondent 6, she was more sure of herself when she was going into the team. Hence, she said: “I was feeling less self-conscious… I think the conversations were the same, but I would be more sure of myself to ask questions or to raise issues.” Respondent 7 said that it helped her to know what she wanted and because she knew her own limitations better she also had a clearer understanding of where she would fit in best. Because of the intervention, Respondent 3, who is a project manager, shifted “from the rigid blue to the more flexible yellow”, which made her more understanding and improved a difficult relationship. The intervention also meant that she experienced more cooperation and less friction. Respondent 5 mentioned that he became a little bit more understanding, which helped him to engage with stakeholders. He said: “Whereas before I used to be quite judgemental and abrasive, I’m now kind of try and understand where they’re coming from and just let it roll off my back, and don’t take it personally. I think definitely the way I engage with my stakeholders has improved greatly.

Respondent 8, a senior developer, mentioned that “It did also help with interactions with people and that’s quite important when you’re in that senior role”. A security information specialist felt that he was able to communicate better after the intervention. Respondent 11 was able to form more personal relationships. As program manager, she was spending more time one-on-one with people and tried to listen more: “… allowing team members to talk, as opposed to always being prescriptive”. Respondent 18, who is in a leadership role, said: “I would have my idea and somebody might come up with another idea or plan B or a different way of thinking, but I never really gave them the time to talk it out. I always thought, well, mine was better so I would sometimes cut them short in terms of before they could finish what they were saying, sort of just overwhelm them with my thoughts. So one of the things I also learnt as a leader is actually to listen and to understand before saying my bit. You don’t just ignore what they’re saying, listen, understand and then try and work with that idea and my idea to come up with the idea. You know, get a consensus; don’t just say, no, this is how we’re going to do it.” Another program manager said that after the intervention he believed that there was more cooperation.

Summary

Each team member felt more empowered in his or her functional roles in the teams because they had a better understanding of themselves and of each other. The intervention helped them to communicate better. In addition, cooperation among team members increased significantly.

Question 5: In hindsight, what can we do differently?

Respondents are mostly very satisfied with the Clariact Intervention and described it as “… well-structured and well thought through. It created an opportunity to go on the journey with different touch points”. Although a few mentioned that there was nothing that they would want Clariact to do differently, some gave suggestions on how to improve.

A few respondents mentioned that the group sessions did not work as well for them as the one-on-one sessions. Respondent 1 said: “I had such a positive personal experience that for me the group sessions were less valuable.” According to Respondent 6, it is very important with which team you are doing the intervention. She suggested that people working in different teams should be able to choose which team’s intervention they want to join. Respondent 9 suggested that there should be more time between the individual sessions and the group session. According to him, people needed time to deal with the knowledge they discovered about themselves before they can use that in the team sessions. Respondent 11 also said in this regard, “… first get individuals to understand themselves so that they’re ready to want to understand the team”. She also suggests that a lot more one-on-one sessions should be pre-scheduled over the duration of the intervention, even prior to the group sessions. For team members to feel safe in a group, Respondent 14 thought that the facilitator should “… make sure that people grab enough gifts to hang onto with the rest of the process”. She also mentioned that people “need to come to terms with their gifts before you expose them in the team”. Respondent 13 made the observation that for people to have a better understanding of how management works, one should not always separate management from the “people at the bottom”.

Respondent 2 suggested that he would like to have more information (maybe a little booklet or online) about the meaning of concepts that Clariact used in the intervention. Respondent 17, a team manager, also asked for more “how to tips” and said: “Hoe identifiseer jy dan die regte persoon wat jou sal help om daardie gate toe te maak… (How then does one identify the right person to help you close those gaps…).” He also asked how does one become aware of your blind spots and how do you minimise it?

According to some of the respondents the timing was a bit off: “It was unfortunate that we did that whole thing and then we had… the change(d). They should have done the change and then had the interventions.” Respondent 8 also mentioned that the purpose of the intervention was “… to deal with the way the teams interact and the way team dynamics work. And because the teams were disbanded and teams were changed… people’s interest dropped”.

Respondent 5 believed that too much time was spent on the theoretical, metric side of the intervention. He said: “I almost felt like we could have spent a little bit more time on the practical side of it, even if it was a little bit of role playing, a little bit of practical.” He suggested a combination of providing the basics and putting participants in a practical situation (for example, role playing, a game or exercise), allowing them to take a hands-on approach to learning.

Summary

In hindsight, the group sessions did not work as well as the one-on-one sessions. Respondents suggested that more time should pass between individual sessions and group sessions. They also asked that more information be available on the concepts that Clariact used.

Question 6: What do you think is the biggest gift/value you have received from the interventions?

By far the most respondents said that the biggest gift that they had received was awareness. Respondent 1 described it as: “I’m a lot readier to think about my own responses and what I’m going through. So, I think I’m much more self-aware.” For Respondent 3 and also for others, this awareness “created a forgiveness, otherwise it is so easy to judge people…” Respondent 10 said: “Ek het gesien waar ek kort kom en oor dit jou so bewus maak, voel jy om daaraan te werk… (I saw my own shortcomings and because it makes one so ware of these shortcomings you feel you want to work on them…).” Respondent 13 agreed: “… understanding where I’m at and where I need to maybe improve on…

Respondent 4 felt that after the intervention he adopted a calmer, more focused, stabilised approach rather than his usual hit-and-run style: “I understand how I interact and how I interpreted situations where I’d just dive off and I’d go and do… whereas sometimes, actually… you need to stop and take time and ensure that what you’re doing is what is expected and what is needed. So that’s been the biggest value for me, it really is, kind of refocusing and realigning where I need to… what I need to be doing.

The gift of the intervention for Respondent 5 was that the process provided him with tools, methods and opportunities to do something about that knowledge he had gathered during the intervention. He said that the intervention showed him “being highly introverted, to going out there and managing a big team… Now that is just a personality trait, it’s not a problem.

Respondent 3 said that a gift in itself was “that it wasn’t that hard work to go out and learn new habits and behaviours and stuff… it was like something has shifted”. Respondent 8 also described a major shift that made a difference on various levels of his life.

The gift Respondent 6 received was perspective and understanding on where she spends her energy. Respondent 7 said the intervention gave him more energy.

According to Respondent 9, the EQ growth process in his life is the biggest gift he has received from the intervention. Respondent 12 named emotional maturity and a sense of place as the two gifts he had received.

Respondent 11 appreciated the opportunity to have this kind of engagement with a facilitator.

Summary

It is no surprise that most of the respondents mentioned that the biggest gift they had received from the intervention was awareness.

Question 7: What influence does the Clariact Intervention have on your current handling of the organisational change?

Respondent 1 used a metaphor to describe the influence of the Clariact Intervention on the change they were going through in the organisation at the time: “Any company going through that, it’s like a slow-motion car crash. And the intervention that you did was almost first aid before we actually impacted the windscreen.

Almost all the respondents agreed that the intervention prepared them to handle the organisational change more maturely. The change was just “another part of the puzzle”, not their whole world. They all spoke about a “huge shift” that took place inside themselves. Respondent 9 said that, in the past, he had handled change aggressively or he withdrew himself from it. However, after the intervention, neither of that happened. Respondent 7, who usually worried a lot, said: “Ek is baie rustig met hierdie transisie (I am quite at ease with this transition.)”. When Respondent 11 was confronted with this kind of organisational change in the past, she went “into panic mode”, which did not happen now. Respondent 3 was surprised that people were able to deal differently with the change: “The change wasn’t what everybody wanted but it was like we are in this now so let’s go with it and put some actions into place.  

Respondent 5 mentioned that the intervention: “toned down the emotion and sensitivity around the area”. The first round of retrenchments was very emotional and dramatic. For him, there was “definitely an emotional maturing around which I haven’t seen in a situation like this”. According to Respondent 12, they were able to handle the change as an opportunity.

Some respondents said that the intervention helped them to put themselves out there with more confidence to look for other opportunities. They now knew what their strengths were, which helped them in interview processes. Because Respondent 13 had a “better understanding” of herself, she felt much more prepared to approach the rest of the world. Respondent 6 said that she was not only “in a far stronger position to be able to go out there and look for a new job” but she was also able to communicate what her own expectations of a new job were: “I’m going in with the perspective of I’m interviewing the company to see if they are right for me.” This kind of perspective also helped them to handle rejection better and not to personalise rejection but to see that you are just not a good fit for a particular position.

Respondent 4 agreed with this: “It made me more aware of who I am personally, and what I need to do well. And that’s helping me now to try and define, and make sure that I’m meeting the expectations of my new environment.” He described that before the intervention, he “just wanted to dive in and go”, but now he was taking the time to sit back and say: “…well, what is the expectation, how do I meet that and then ensuring that we’re on the same page.” He learned a more structured approach, spending less energy with more focus. Respondent 13 made the observation that the intervention helped to give structure even though they were experiencing the chaos of change.

An IT manager commented that, from his perspective, he could see that a lot of people “went through a lot trauma and a lot of stuff but they’re at a better place, on a personal level”. He could see how people really went through deep change in their personal lives and how it positively impacted them, and how they were in a better position to handle the organisational change.

Summary

During the data-gathering interviews, almost all the respondents spoke about the significant shifts that took place in themselves after the intervention. These shifts helped them to cope better with the changes they were facing.

Question 8: Is there anything else you want to share with us about the interventions?

Most of the respondents conveyed their appreciation towards the facilitator and the process of which they were part. Respondent 1 said: “I think that you actively helped me with the listening that you did and it was sometimes the seemingly simple things.” Respondent 5 strongly recommended the one-on-one sessions because they “really deepened the whole journey”. He realised that it was not about work and personal, it was one journey that was integrated at the end of the day. Respondent 9 was of opinion that the person who facilitated the intervention was very important because that person significantly impacted the entire process.

Respondent 4 again affirmed that the intervention helped him to evolve as a person and that he was very grateful to have been part of the journey. Respondent 6 said: “This has by far been the most insightful exercise I think I’ve ever done.

Respondent 13 thought that it was “good for a company to be able to invest in things like this for their teams”.

Conclusion

The following themes emerged from the thematic content analysis of the one-on-one interviews with participants in the Clariact EQ Intervention, as applied in Agile environments:

  • Personal growth through increased self-awareness and group awareness: In terms of awareness, the intervention made a significant positive impact on all the respondents. The biggest impact on a personal level was that respondents had gained insight in terms of self-awareness (“understand myself better”) and group awareness (“understand the team better”; “appreciating the different gifts of different people”; ““without a doubt changed my perspective”). This led to increased team cohesion and team functioning (“helped to work more collaboratively”; “were able to make new connections”), better communication (“helped to go straight to the point”) and increased outputs, which are crucial in Agile environments. In essence, this helped participants to acquire emotional maturity.
  • Increased clarity on team roles, leading to increased confidence and empowerment of team members: Team members felt empowered in the functional roles, which created confidence that impacted personal lives as well as team functioning (“team roles were affirmed and that created more confidence”; “good understanding of the team and how they work together to become more productive”; “helped working with different teams and knowing the unique angle where to work from as well as knowing the unique energy of the different teams”; ). The intervention created a space in which people were able to undergo “huge shifts” in their lives. This also helped them to cope with the trauma of organisational change.
  • Increased team functioning and team outputs: Team members agreed that the intervention led to significantly enhanced team functioning (“less judgement in the team”; “took away the barriers and guards”; “a lot more tolerant towards the other team members”; “all are different, but that the differences complement each other”; “closer relationships improved the team’s functioning”; “much more collaboration and respectful interaction”; “not only black and white, also pay attention to the emotional side of people”; “the biggest team function change would definitely be understanding”; “it just made me feel more sure of what I was doing in my team, and the contribution I was making to the team”).
  • Stronger leadership and management skills: Respondents in managerial positions commented that the tools and skills they had acquired during the intervention helped them to be better managers and leaders (“gave leaders tools to enhance their leadership style and to use in managing and creating the teams”; “helped from a management perspective to understand how to engage with different individuals and different teams”).
  • Ideal fit with Agile methodologies in IT environments: The intervention supported the ability of team leaders to put together high-performing and self-sufficient teams (“better communication enhanced performance and individual discipline”; “could form teams to fit each other and complement each other to improved performance”; ““for Agile methodologies to work you really need to understand the people in the team that you’re working with, as well as possible, because it requires a lot more interaction between individuals than another process”; “and one of the things Agile strives to do is to take the personal individual qualities, and take those into account in the way teams function. And the intervention certainly supported that and helped the team to be able to use the individual traits they had better, and to understand each other better, which is very central to agile”; “build trust in the teams, which is something from the Agile environment you really try to build from the beginning”.)
  • Enhanced ability to deal with change: A significant number of participants made mention of their new approach to change and their ability to handle change better after the intervention. The intervention was particularly valuable to a number of IT people working for a company in the process of restructuring (“a company going through restructuring and retrenchments is like a slow motion car crash… and the intervention gave first aid”; “handled change more maturely and used it as a growth”; “because they went through deep change on a personal level that positively impacted them, to be in a better position to handle the organisational change”).
  • Efficiency of the intervention: The intervention used a combination of one-on-one coaching sessions (“appreciated the deep listening”; “one-on-ones deepened the whole journey”) and facilitated workshops to enhance performance. Prior to the actual intervention, participants were invited to do a number of online assessments, including the Organic ScoreCard. This was well received by the participants (“you could drive straight to the point and didn’t spend months sitting in therapy until you eventually stumbled on it. So it was really a tool to give you a map, and then through discussion and so on it facilitated us getting to the issue really quickly… it saved a lot of time, the assessment (helped you) to go straight where we actually needed to work”; “I was surprised that out of so few questions you could get such an accurate picture”). Participants also commented on the integrated approach to performance enhancement (“was not only about work, but an integrated process about life”; “helped to evolve as a person”; “positive towards the company who made the investment”; “this was by far the most insightful exercise I think I’ve ever done”).

In essence, the intervention helped participants to acquire the emotional maturity and confidence to optimise their outputs in fast-moving Agile environments.

 

[1] Babbie, E. & Mouton, J. 2012. The practice of social research. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

[2] Babbie, E. & Mouton, J. 2012. The practice of social research. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

[3] Mason, M. 2010. Sample Size and Saturation in PhD Studies Using Qualitative Interviews. Forum Qualitative Social Research (FQS), 11(3), Art. 8.

[4] The Organic ScoreCard© (OSC) is a tool developed by an IT specialist-cum-psychoanalyst to map the inherent life strategies, gifts, driving forces and growth possibilities of individuals and teams based on increased self-awareness and collective awareness.

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