Thinking Styles for New Times

October 11, 2020
Agnieszka Nadstawna

"Change your thinking: it's in your head" - you hear that and you automatically nod, “I know, I have to change the way I think.”

But how? Nobody knows. But how can we change the way we think when our experience, everything we have learned and lived through, what makes up our history, transforms into our personal logic of how we conduct ourselves?

The pandemic: first strict social isolation, then business slowdown and often collapse. Finally constant choices: where to go or not, shake hands or not, endless discussions as to whether there is a virus or not –it all escalates stress and often divides people. And it certainly doesn’t help companies. People need to look for new ways to communicate, to show and receive attention.

What do people have in their heads to behave like this? Do they think at all? - managers get frustrated looking at the results and moods of their teams.

In spring 2020, a client called me: 

“Agnieszka, is there any hope?” He looked at me with big eyes filled with what he was asking. “We are scared by the thinking of our employees. They say that they cannot sell in this situation. In addition, customers clearly take advantage, extending the terms of the complaint to the limits of common sense. Our people are not coping. Everyone is irritated. As a result, the relationships built over the years - just like a snap - fail. And the team says: it's impossible.”

Here's what happened two hours later and for several weeks.

“So, Agnieszka, will you train people or fire them, close the business or forget?”

Oh, how this question flatters me. Me the clairvoyant, me the genie, me a miracle worker! 

Two-way work: the group and the trainer
Bosses: don't be fooled by this way of thinking! The trainer is not a fairy-tale character who can generate a miracle, to the delight of the audience that will only sit and listen during the training. Today's coaching styles primarily work on a group process and so-called following the customer. This is two-way work: the group and the trainer. You have to dig deep - to the personality, mindset, and value systems of individuals and then the team.

Educational training - why not? But not yet, not in this situation, the pandemic, it is too early. Here is the most common mistake customers make: let's take a trainer to fix us – they think. A magic wand effect is expected. Training knowledge, or education, is essential if people are ready to use it. But when it is "not theirs" - i.e. when their head does not buy it, and the style of thinking does not agree with the value given by the trainer, the training will end in a traditional way: well, maybe it's cool, but with us it will not work.

I prefer working on deep emotions and "digging" - as I say - "to the bone". Plus a solid portion of fun in order to bring out exactly what is deeply rooted in making results for the company and for yourself. Fun, wisely conducted and facilitated, served at the right moment, will take the process further than a series of all-day training sessions.

How to do it?
First, thorough questioning of the team to clarify the context for which I will measure mindset and for which we are starting the process at all. A conversation about the company, but also about values, "what for" and their own “why?" - in an atmosphere of safety and openness, showing future participants empathy so that they really care about the trainer and the client. Impossible? It is possible when a trainer working in this way meets with a conscious client.

Then diagnose the values and mindset of each individual and the entire team together. I conduct individual, sometimes team sessions, and the MindSonar® mindset test, which is being applied almost all over the world by licensed consultants in many languages. The consultant's experience matters. The results make participants eyes big like two euro coins. And the real fun has not yet begun!

At this point managers get the first, albeit very solid, information about new team management opportunities. New situation and a new style of work. How to motivate, how to enforce, how to control, how to distribute tasks, how to regroup teams so that people would be eagerly returned to work and their efforts would be effective. The test is knowing about their subordinates, but also about themselves. Working in turn with management and managers at subsequent levels brings a change in perceptions of people through the prism of their individual personal thinking styles. It shows the aspects in which they can effortlessly strengthen management and, what is important, it demonstrates how exactly to do it.

Now it's time to play. Now the Lego® Serious Play® methodology together with MindSonar® deepens the reflection process even more and supports effective dialogue in the organization. It is invaluable in times of crisis - it accurately indicates what you can do and how easily  you can do it in your circumstances.  There is a real breakthrough: each participant clashes with a certain truth. Because it's not them, but their buildings which speak. Then - as a team - they formulate conclusions and create rules ready for implementation (here, in my own hybrid method, elements of the Design Thinking® method and classic creativity training appear).

But it doesn't stop there!
MindSonar® individual and team profiles are in motion. The room is filled with all the colours of MindSonar blocks and teaching aids. Emotions reach their zenith. It's usually fun. The test results don't show what people think, but how they think. This is a very exciting moment. People begin to analyze their values, which, along with a dozen or so other identified factors (shown in MindSonar's bars, tables, and personality profile diagrams), become what underlies their behaviour. They begin to understand why they say that it is impossible to sell now, what the reason is for the fact that someone has lost their assertiveness in the complaint procedure, another gets tangled in negotiations, yet another lets go of the relationship with a so-called difficult client. And who is a difficult client for this individual? What kind of client? Yes, this will also be shown: alternately individual and joint team work.

And finally: the most important thing.

“Agnieszka, how are we to change this way of thinking to make it serve us?”

Changing team mindset starts with management. It is impossible to teach people to work in a new style if they are not managed in a new style. In any case, it all starts with opening your mind to knowledge about yourself and others, and for a change that starts with working with old and new habits. This is possible thanks to a change in  thinking style which turns out to be possible thanks to the understanding by each person that is usually enough to slightly "move" the individual elements that make up this way of thinking and which are so easy to control. MindSonar points to them and describes them very precisely.

Superpowers and resilience to crisis are within us, although they do not always look as we would like them to. And yet, anyone can be a superhero - you just need to assign them the right task, and motivate them properly when it comes to teamwork. To make it possible - you should get to know individual and team ways of thinking as a basis for behaviour at work.

What next?
There is a regrouping in teams, a new assignment of tasks, reorganization. And, of course, working with habits. Then the results - and of course, happiness. Management, team and… trainer.

About the author 

Agnieszka Nadstawna

Agnieszka Nadstawna MindSonar Coach licensed trainer and business coach with an expertise in emotional intelligence. She is also a motivational key-note speaker

She draws inspiration gaining new qualifications and licenses in the field Design Thinking®, LEGO Serious Play®, Transformative Communication, NLP, hortiotherapy, art therapy, etc.

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