Beyond Bickering: Coaching Cafe Gains Momentum


Written by Shabana Pathan and Diego Gomez

Bickering and incivility can wreak havoc on organizations. If left unchecked, they can contribute to low morale, decreased productivity, and high staff turnover. In the Coaching Cafe session conducted this past February, Fordham IT staff had the opportunity to investigate issues that may contribute to bickering within our organization and to develop solutions to minimize them.
Coaching Cafe goals for this session were:
•    Understand that there is a real cost to Fordham IT and yourself if you allow petty differences to interfere with your work relationships.
•    Drill down to some of the root causes of bickering.
•    Develop solutions to help prevent and deal with bickering within your organizations.
Diego Gomez, Head of Cloud and Agile Systems Management, opened the session by welcoming the participants. This was followed with a video from Dr. Joseph Sclafani, Executive Consultant to Dr. Frank J. Sirianni, VP/CIO. The video gave an overview of the program and set ground rules for the flow of discussion.Diego facilitated the small group session. The group engaged in a lively 90-minute discussion of the module while enjoying light refreshments sponsored by Dr. Fleur Eshghi, AVP, Instructional Technology Academic Computing. Shabana Pathan, Assistant Director, Organizational Effectiveness, made a few closing remarks and thanked everyone for their participation. She encouraged everyone to fill out the feedback survey to improve on future sessions. As a parting gift, all attendees received a Coaching Cafe mug.After reviewing participants’ responses, it was clear that many staff appreciated going through this eye-opening session. Below is a summary of participants’ comments about bickering:

I thoroughly enjoyed the session.  Had I known it would be so great, I would have attended previous sessions.

What I found most valuable was the dialog between everyone and the sharing of experiences. It was reassuring to know that others have had like experiences.

I came away with greater awareness of the impact that choice of words and attitude have in the course of conversation/dialogue with others. I found that the Beyond Bickering session gave me more direction on how to identify and avoid bickering, how to be aware of my own words and how I approach a conversation with coworkers, and how to avoid that type of negative interaction.

This was my first session and I felt that it was conducted very efficiently. It was very inviting, there was great dialogue, and the moderators were exceptional with keeping the conversation on track. I can’t think of any improvements other than that more people should participate.

The Coaching Cafe is an outgrowth of the Fordham IT Laureate Program. Like this program, but on a smaller scale, the Coaching Cafe is a personal and professional development opportunity. It is open to all members of Fordham IT, regardless of their position or function. Participants explore work-related challenges of mutual concern and share individual experiences about how those challenges have been successfully met. A single challenge serves as the unifying theme for each Coaching Cafe event.
The sole requirement for participation is a commitment to sharing ideas and experiences connected to coping with the selected challenge. However, it is perfectly acceptable to just listen and take away some ideas to share with coworkers or implement in your own work environment.Fordham IT’s Coaching Cafe aims to highlight the diversity of perspectives and assumptions that participants bring to their work. When this goal is met, IT staff is equipped with new and creative approaches to meet work challenges. The next Coaching Cafe, FeedFORWARD: Instead of Feedback, is planned for April 21, 2016. Send an email to to sign up and be part of a great experience!

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