I am really excited by the prospect of this column and hope to make it as practical and useful as possible. I am by nature a collaborator, and would like to use this as an opportunity for us to dialogue about team development, what teams will look like in future, and of course our role in developing Future Fit teams.
I am of course inspired with all the wonderful New year, New me resolutions but this year I have decided to do things a bit differently! We all know the reason that most resolutions we make never stick is because we try to change too much too soon. This radical change often does not take into account our current realities and challenges and often we haven’t stopped to really consider the purpose or “Why” (to quote Simon Sinek) underlying the changes we would like to make. So this year I have decided to do things a little differently. Instead of radical changes I will be making small tweaks to my daily habits in an effort to make sure that they sustainable and culminate in the big changes I want to make. I am also spending time reflecting on the purpose of each change – Why do I want this? What will it mean for me? And most importantly what am I willing to sacrifice or give up to get it?
While going through this thought process on a personal level I realised that this is the same trap we fall into when we make changes in our organisations or business units. We fail to break the big changes down into small daily habits. For me this is where we should begin when wanting to effect larger, transformational, and sustainable change. I would like to call these “Agile changes”. Yes, I know! Agile is the latest buzz word and No, I am not just trying to stay on trend! I do believe that there are some simple daily habits (some of them based on agile methodology) that you can introduce to your team whether you love the Agile Methodology or not.
- Hold a daily stand up meeting with your team. Keep it short sharp and focused. Focus on asking 3 key questions:
- What did we achieve yesterday
- What are we wanting / going to achieve today
- What challenges are you facing and how can we overcome these?
Stand ups are a great way for you and the rest of the team to be kept in the loop at all times. It promotes collaboration and ensures that everyone is aware of progress to date or where challenges are being experienced. Stand ups provide an opportunity for the team to function in unity in solving these challenges and share in the success of achievements. The high level of visibility cultivated through the stand-up tradition also goes a long way in developing trust within the team and as we know trust is the cornerstone to any High performing team!
- Introduce the Pomodoro technique to your teams. We are all struggling with time management these days. There is so much competing for our time and attention making it difficult to stay focused and lowering our productivity. The Pomodoro technique is so simple and so effective. It was introduced in the 80’s by Francesco Cirillo. It originally involved setting a tomato shaped timer for 25 mins of uninterrupted work sessions, with short intervals between sessions. In my personal experience 90 min work sessions, in which I do not allow for any distractions, work best. I aim for a minimum of 2 of these 90min sessions per day and it’s amazing what I can get done when I am able to stay focused and I know I am up against the clock! It’s quiet easy to instil a Pomodoro culture – you don’t even need a tomato shaped timer! I have seen it done with just a simple sign stuck on the back of a chair saying “I am in a Pomodoro session” please leave me a message on a sticky note or send me an email and I will respond at the end of my session”. The reason this works is because the rest of the team understands the value of this distraction free time they also know it won’t last too long and are then less inclined to interrupt!
- Understand and articulate your Why! Before Simon Sinek, it was Nietzche that first said “He who has a Why to livefor can bear almost any How.” This understanding formed the basis of psychologist Victor Frankle’s logotherapy which is based on the premise that all of us are inherently driven to find meaning and purpose in our lives. As teams of People (not resources) we are inherently driven by this need too. We need to understand the why and assign personal meaning to it in order to commit ourselves to achieving it. Why not (excuse the pun) have a “why” session with your team to ensure that everyone is able to give input into defining the “Why” for the team and has the opportunity to assign personal meaning to it. Use questions like this to guide your session:
- What is our team’s reason for being?
- Why do we want to achieve this?
- What does it mean for me? And most importantly,
- What am I willing to sacrifice or give up in order to achieve this?
Understanding your why also serves as a yard stick to make all decisions against. And it is this component that becomes a daily habit. Get your teams and each individual on your team to reflect daily on whether or not their actions for that day aligned to and supported the teams Why? And if they did not what small change can they make to make sure they can better support it in future.
These are really 3 simple yet highly effective daily practices that you can use to make small effective and sustainable changes and improve the trust, collaboration and productivity of your team. Remember that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu and that progress is made by simply placing one foot in front of the other.
P.S. Now I know a lot of us have not yet found our digital voice but it would be great if you could use the comments sections below to share your own ideas, tips and tools. – Viva collaboration!