Last week I said that the best teams I know take regular time out – once a quarter for two hours is often all it takes – to talk about HOW they are working together and not just WHAT they are working on.
I also stated that doing this can revolutionise your team.
I had a few disbelieving emails about that……. Oh ye of little faith!!
The truth is, most of us are so busy just getting the work out of the door that we don’t stop to ask ourselves the question:
‘Is there a better way?’
We don’t stop to deal with the underlying niggles or frustrations that could quite easily be resolved with some good quality thinking and an honest conversation or two……
In our work with teams, we find this all the time. Individuals will tell us what is wrong in the team…..sometimes these things have been ‘wrong’ for months if not years. But they’ve never been addressed.
‘Don’t know how…..’
‘Even if we address it, things won’t change….’
‘Nothing I can do about it’
‘Will cause too many problems…’
And so on.
Now, if there are serious issues around trust or deep-rooted conflict between individuals or seriously poor performance then you probably need to get some professional support either from within your organisation or from outside professionals.
But in a team that generally has high levels of trust, performs well and is supportive of each other then eight hours a year to really focus on the HOW will, I promise you, make a big difference to your effectiveness.
And the best way to do it is as follows:
- If you’ve not done this sort of thing before, start with something ‘easy’ (the effectiveness of the team meeting is often a good place to start).
- Agree some ways of working together during these sessions (doesn’t have to be onerous – we often ask teams to maintain a ‘future focus’ for example).
- Focus on areas that you CAN influence and change and don’t waste your energy on anything else.
- No interruptions allowed – so all devices OFF! (If that makes you nervous then you have some work to do!).
- Choose no more than two key questions to work on.
- Facilitate a discussion with people working in pairs or threes depending on the size of your team to focus on said questions and then share their thinking in the wider team. That way, everybody contributes.
- Agree outputs or outcomes (everyone has a responsibility here).
- Review at the next meeting.
Next week…. Some questions to get you started.