The Tandem Effect – A Supporting Factor for Overcoming Resistance in Role Transformations

Resistance III – Acceptance by Others

Now that we knew what we want to achieve and how to proceed, time had come to implement our first changes. As you can imagine, people weren’t cheering, as this meant that they would have to do some extra work.

Once you start a change process, feedback tends to be rather critical. People who are concerned by the changes will go through typical phases. The Kübler-Ross-Change-Curve suggests that people will initially react with shock, denial, and even frustration. This is roughly what we experience.

As we are the initiators of our role change, it is up to us to lead our colleagues through that change. We have to be strong and need backing to overcome the external resistances. One key – as in all change processes – is communication. We are telling our colleagues what we are going to change, why it is important to us, and what will happen next. Namely we tell our colleagues that we will be less present in team ceremonies. Instead we will be focussing on our work with the leadership roles, helping them to create an agile work environment and enabling them to facilitate meetings in a professional and participative way. This opens up room for others to talk about their needs and apprehensions, and of course for discussion.

As we both are telling the same story independently, we add weight to the transformation of our role. People are less attempted to assume that it is based on personal preferences. The change obtains higher credibility. Acceptance increases over time.

Also, being two coaches gives our colleagues more options to approach us. And everyone has the choice of whom they prefer to talk to, based on sympathy and stability of the personal relationship.

Most importantly, people start to make experiences working with us in our new roles. As a tandem we are able to address different needs better than being a single coach. Our different backgrounds enable us to go into professional coaching setups (Frieda has a lot of experience with this.) It also allows us to give substantial advice regarding agile topics. This increases the value we are able to give to our colleagues, once again increasing the acceptance for our new role. People start to tell each other that our new setup is a good one indeed.

Resistance IV – Disbelief

This one is closely related to the first resistance: uncertainty. It is in a way the next phase. Once you know which way to go, you need strength to keep going. Even though we are convinced to head into the right direction, things become difficult every once in a while. Our vision and our manifest describe a future state of the system we are working in. Adaptation of our role aims for that future state. In the beginning we made some progress, but it didn’t really feel like we were getting close to our goal. Defining smaller target conditions (aka milestones) on our way helps, but is not always enough to stay motivated. The tandem effect kicks in on another level.

We have a couple of things that help us keep moving:

  • Creating Unity
    Not being alone is the biggest benefit maybe. Being part of the tandem feels like being part of something bigger. We actively celebrate this, e.g. we invented a new common name for the two of us (Sveda) which is the manifestation of our shared goals, understandings and job role. Being two creates social affiliation and a solid base to rely on.
  • Sharing Doubts and Giving Appreciation
    A partner that knows what you are longing for and understands the challenges you are going through is an excellent person to talk with. In the tandem we talk about our current situations, listen to the doubts and problems we are facing, and reflect on the possibilities we have. Appreciation of the tandem partner regarding the person itself as well as his/her engagement provides energy that we can use to take the next step.
  • Telling Stories of Success
    Early on we started talking about the convictions that came with our shared vision. One central statement has always been that working as a tandem is more effective than working alone. Frieda often stated that one plus one is three rather than two. Just by saying this our belief got stronger and others started to join our thoughts. Just a couple of days ago one of our colleagues said: “It is incredible that the way Sveda [a mix of our first names Sven and Frieda] is working is so efficient. It seems like one plus one equals ten!” Even though this is an exaggeration, these things keep us going. Sharing our story opened up space for external appreciation which results in higher motivation and more energy.

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