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About 30 employees of six different nursing homes took part in three sessions in a process that was arranged by a local social development company. The aim was to enhance the communication between the employees and the volunteers. The needs and situations of the employees varied a lot as they came from different nursing homes that had more or less experience in arranging volunteer work.
In the beginning, many of the participants felt need to attract more volunteers to their nursing homes. Some found the theme of better communication not so important.
During the three sessions, the participants realised how many volunteers they already had, what are the benefits of volunteer work for themselves, for the patients and for the volunteers themselves.
After that, it was much easier for them to create ideas of how to attract more new volunteers. The awareness and talk about volunteers in the nursing homes opened the participants to pay more attention to the issue. The amount of positive energy and excitement grew in the group. They made first small steps and succeeded in getting tens of new volunteers.
It was surprising to see the change that happened during the first two sessions. What you pay attention to, really grows.
I asked one colleague of the participants’ to tell her own story at the beginning of the first session. That gave a good start. Humour helped to create a good working relationship. So I need to use these even more in the future.
These sessions were a good practice to let go of the plans in order to serve the needs of the group. This is more difficult with big heterogenous groups especially with the whole group in the same discussion. So next time I ask myself: does this need that I hear represent the whole group or just a small fraction of it. Steering a dialogue in a big group needs more practice. And to talk more how to take the small steps.
I found that the miracle question worked better when the group had used quite a lot of time to first discovered their strengths. Later I heard that in BRIEF they use the miracle question in the very beginning, which is a fascinating way I need to find out more.
When asked about the positive effects of volunteers to the nursing home patients:
“The patients are calmer and there are no unnecessary alerts. Nothing like that “I’m alone and depressed, so I have to ring the bell every five minutes.” You just can’t run after every five minutes to the other side of the house. The patients are relaxed. And you learn new things about the patients. I’ve been in a situation where a patient hasn’t talked anything and suddenly she starts to sing with a volunteer. You learn new things of the patients.
“These discussions empowers the nurses, no matter what the subject is. Their posture straightens and they look happier. You see it from many people. It’s not necessarily talking nice things in a group but realizations and an experience of a group where you can share.”
I admire Lari’s courage and the trust he has in the solution focused processing as he decided to use the SF method in this educational 40 person case study. He has great skill applying SF processes even with large groups and he has the capability to move fluidly between different roles while coaching. This case once again proved that the ‘preferred future’ concept is closer and more achievable than clients feel that it is. Lari has the ability to make the clients excel without the coach being the One who tells everyone how things should be.
Lari showed in this piece of work his talent and ability to apply SF in multiple ways as a coach and facilitator. I was particular impressed how he carried process with positive energy building on resources and seeking skillfully small changes and exceptions. Lari had a warmth and smooth way of promoting positive interaction in rather big heterogenic group, and being persistent in focusing on their strengths and goals. Trusting the process, small steps made a big difference.
About The Candidate:
Lari Karreinen works as an independent consultant at Karreinen.org to help people to good participation, meaningful discussions and finding the solutions they need. For this he uses solution focused coaching and facilitation.
He’s especially interested in leadership development in situations with low hierarchy and informal leadership, such as networks and volunteer leadership. The clients are leaders and teams who believe in participatory leadership and continuous learning.
The beginning of Lari’s lifelong learning journey consists of Master of Social Sciences, qualification in adult pedagogy, and degree in solution focused coaching in Helsinki University, Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education. But this is just a beginning.