BUILDING PRODUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS IN
COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE GROUPS AND TEAMS



Does it seem like things are going too slowly?
Are your relationships difficult?
Are your explanations misunderstood?

Would it be useful for you to understand the
most effective way to relate to other professionals and the
most effective way for them to relate to you?

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Collaborative Practice (CP) not only changes how we work with clients, it also changes how we work with each other. Within CP groups, professionals find themselves working together in:

CP pairs (Any regular pairing including 2 Collaborative lawyers or 2 coaches)
CP teams or team segments
CP working committees, executives, boards or Collaborative Centers
CP practice groups
CP training teams

We come to this community by choice and to some degree have the same goals – to include CP in our professional practices and to support the growth and development of CP. Most of us have many years of education and experience that support our work with our clients. At the same time, few of us have any education or experience that systematically supports the establishment of productive working relationships with colleagues, especially with those from other disciplines.


Developing Your Team IQ

As a licensed administrator of the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), which is a training instrument from the Organizational Development domain, I am excited to bring this experience to the CP community. My goal is to provide education and facilitation in the development of self-understanding and awareness as a team member and to increase understanding of others in our groups and on our teams. This includes how we (and they) shift and change when we experience opposition and conflict. Think of this as a type of team intelligence.

With just 20 questions that generally take less than 30 minutes to complete, the SDI process gives participants a concrete and comprehensive understanding of themselves as team members as well as their response to opposition and conflict. It is estimated that roughly 80% of conflict is unwarranted; that is related to differences in style of team members rather than differences in goals or objectives.

Using the SDI as a springboard for group facilitation for any type of Collaborative Practice group can take the guess work out of creating productive working relationships as well as create a safe environment to turn differences from points of conflict to points of contribution. This serves to substantially reduce stress, understand how problems may have arisen and best of all, to prevent conflict in the future.

Taking just 1 day to learn and integrate understanding about ourselves as team members has powerful consequences. We can:

- Increase your Team IQ
- Increase team trust and safety; Reduce defensiveness
- Prevent unnecessary conflict
- Understand our own response to conflict when it occurs
- Understand the team style and conflict experience of our colleagues
- Develop communication strategies based on this new understanding

"Working together in a team or a group can be challenging. Susan's presentation gave me the opportunity and conceptual framework to reflect on how I function in a team or group and my response to conflict in that setting. My increased awareness of both my own patterns and the possibilities for how others may be responding with a different pattern will give me more insight into the unfolding of a conflict and how I might react in new ways to shift the conflict and team/group dynamic. Susan's clarity in describing the conceptual framework and her embrace of the diversity that comes with conflict creates the atmosphere for nonjudgmental learning about self and others. I strongly recommend her training."
- Catherine Conner, Santa Rosa, CA
Lawyer 27 years, Collaborative Lawyer 13 yrs
Collaborative Practice Trainer since 200


"In doing this team development session with Susan, we truly came together and bonded as a group as a result of our awareness of what each of us brought to the party. We relied and, indeed, depended upon each other's respective individual strengths in coordinating and managing the event."
- Paul Smollar, Washington DC,
Matrimonial Lawyer 36 years; Matrimonial Mediator 15 yrs
Collaborative Lawyer 5 yrs Collaborative Practice Trainer since 2010


Beginning your ‘Collaborative Practice User’s Manual’©


Since 2008 I have been developing the idea of the CP User’s Manual. Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to give our colleagues insight into how we work, quickly and efficiently, rather than taking years of trial and error? With each step of learning and development, participants will be provided summary pages they can chose to share with colleagues to expedite productive working relationships. As each participant has learning experiences regarding their working style and preferences, this can be added to their User’s Manual. The manual could be used to develop cohesion in team meetings, executive or board retreats or to support the development of community in practice groups.


Vocational Profiles of Collaborative Practice Professionals*

The goal of this presentation is to raise awareness of the general vocational profiles of the different professions that make up our CP community. This survey provides an entertaining and informative review that creates insight into how these professions tend to respond in the work environment. Drawing from the vocational research literature that includes profiles of all major professions, this includes general information on aptitudes, aspirations, team personalities and personalities etc.
*This presentation was given at the 2005 CP Summer Harvest in Dallas, Tx.


Turning Debate into Dialogue and Discussion

The goals and aspirations of the CP community attract many different types of professionals and many different types of personalities. The CP community brings us all together with similar goals and aspirations, yet we may have very different backgrounds when it comes to group discussions and styles of interactions.

Again, the world of organizational development provides techniques for moving debate into dialogue and discussion. This easy to use process provides a structure that can harness the strength of even the strongest personalities; creating a forum for all to participate in moving CP agendas forward.


The Calling of Collaborative Practice – Why are YOU doing this?

This workshop gives each participant an opportunity to reflect on her/his experiences as a member of the Collaborative Practice Community. As professionals we readily direct our attention to learning how to better serve our clients and to the creation of practice groups, protocols, etc. It is also important to occasionally look inside and do a little ‘internal housekeeping’ in order to stay strong and focused over the long haul. (Full day or ½ day formats)

What participants have said:
“The purpose for the training is right on.” - Lawyer, 30 yrs.
“Excellent in tools and metaphors for helping us be more centered and focused in what’s important.” - Financial professional, 1 yr
“Clear insights and instruction.” - Lawyer, 22 yrs
“It was a great learning exercise in becoming ‘real’ in my law practice.” - Lawyer, 15 yrs.
What was the most useful thing I learned at the training? “I am not alone.” - Lawyer, 9 yrs.



Putting It All Together

Combined, these ideas form a powerful intervention for your practice group, executive or board, as well as for individual CP group members. The more we understand ourselves, each other and how we respond as team and group members, the more we can establish trust and safety in our practice groups. This helps us to achieve our goals more efficiently and enhance our enjoyment of each other in the process.


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