Ask One Question, Change Your Team Forever

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Over the last few months we’ve been sharing a lot about engagement, that sweet spot where maximum contribution and maximum satisfaction overlap to create great results. We’ve talked about the three pillars of engaging, enabling, and energizing your team. In our work, we help clients peel back the layers to reveal what’s holding a team back and then provide the guidance to implement change and make it stick. But what if you wanted to do some of this on your own? Where would you get started?

A Genie in a Bottle
If you’ve only got a minute, ask yourself just one thing if you had a magic wand and could change one thing that is causing you pain in your business or team, what would it be? Most of the time, leaders already know on some intrinsic level what is not working. So rather than boil the ocean and come up with 100 things you don’t have time to address anyway, pick the one key area and face it head on. Whether it’s the problem employee who is poisoning your organization because they have extensive subject matter expertise and not much else, the lack of accountability in a culture that avoids conflict, or the clients who need to be culled from your roster because they consistently cost more than you earn, it’s time to take one thing and shake it up.

What did you say? Or, how well do we communicate, really?
Since almost 80% of task breakdowns occur due to problems with communication, teaming or relationships, you might first ask yourself how effective is communication across the team? Do we have high levels of shared understanding and direction? Are we able to work through challenging situations without personal clashes?

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan (or not)
Teams with effective planning and estimating processes provide the most consistent, high-quality delivery. So don’t be afraid to ask your team this (even though you might have been avoiding the real answer): do our plans reflect reality? Do we launch into projects and initiatives with little time for planning or do we spend months and months in meetings without getting anything done? How often do we miss deadlines and what trends do we see in that area? What are our overtime levels and is this a short-term thing or how we generally operate?

Make it Happen
Clear roles, responsibilities, and handoffs help prevent churn and fire drill situations while allowing for predictability and flexibility. They help teams meet unexpected challenges when they arise. So ask yourself, does our team have a clear understanding of who is to do what, where, and when? Are we committed to the processes and methodologies we’ve adopted? If not, where are the gaps?

For now it’s enough to start thinking about these questions and asking a few team members what they see. Next month we’ll be focusing on how to consistently measure performance and engagement across your organization and how to take action against the results.

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