How To vs What If

write 593333I attended a session of group work today. We tried to use a methodology to gain some insight into a common challenge facing us all in our work. What became painfully obvious was that something was wrong: either the methodology or the way we were doing it.

To start with, only two people from a group of six were actively participating in the task. One of them seemed to be the default decision-maker, so a lot of the decisions were made by him, even if others expressed dissent or confusion. Everyone except the person who had introduced the task seemed to have a lot of questions about the methodology. After more than an hour working together, it still felt like an interesting but ineffective exercise and the work didn’t deliver the insights we hoped it would.

CWW 029I could definitely write a whole book on – when things don’t go according to plan in business.

In truth I think things more often than not, go differently in business, to what has been planned for.

For me this is one of the things I like about business. I like having to problem solve, innovate, make do or overlook a matter that isn’t pressing, to deal with what is. I think if you don’t have these skills then business probably isn’t for you, and you’re more than likely not reading this article.

I have had some truly awful experiences in business. Dishonest staff, flooded premises, theft, bomb threat, vandalism, break ins and armed robberies. Trust me – none of them were planned!

glasses 272399 1280When I set out to read Superteams: The Secrets of Stellar Performance from Seven Legendary Teams by Khoi Tu, I confess that I thought I was wading into a pop business book with perhaps a few big ideas but very little soul or substance.

I was so wrong. 

I will be quoting this book for years to come and I don’t mind that it was written in 2013 – the ideas are timeless and guaranteed to help you achieve your goals this year.

decisionmaking meetingI recently had a surprising conversation with the directors of a large organisation about consensus.

Consensus needed to be reached with each of its 160 members for each and every decision - purchasing supplies, hiring staff, developing a new service. Everything.

Did decision-making hinder progress? Absolutely.

Was it their preferred option? Passionately so - they wouldn’t change it.

CWW 047I believe the most important aspect of having a successful health care practice is creating a space where clients feel safe and welcome, and know that they are being heard.

Whether the health practice is providing acupuncture, massage, naturopathy or personal training – we need a client base that values and trusts the expertise we have to share. Without people to treat or advise then we aren’t going to be in business for very long.

At Therapy Masters we pride ourselves on tailoring treatments that best meet the needs of our clients. That means we take the time to talk to each of their clients at the start of each booking they have with us. We ask them how are they feeling. Do they have any aches or problem areas? How has life been treating them at home and at work? How did they feel after their last treatment?

the strategy 1080528 1920Here are five simple strategies you could use in most organisations for non-crisis situations, where a team is involved in decision-making.

Usually when a decision is put to a team rather than an individual, it is either because a complex problem is at hand or because you need team buy-in to move forward.

If you need team buy-in, you will be fully aware that once the decision is introduced to your team, they will have the option to agree or disagree. You will want to handle your meeting so that it achieves the outcome you’re hoping for.

However a word of caution here: strong leaders recognise the wisdom of their team if the team decision heads in a direction opposite to their own. The best thing to do is to carefully consider the view outlined by your team.

clock 95330 1920Have you ever been in a meeting when the topic started to drift?

Tangents in meetings can be amusing or annoying at best. They can also be incredibly serious.

The usual advice for eliminating tangents goes like this: “articulate a goal, clarify the agenda and stay focused.”

Certainly without doing these things no meeting would run effectively.

nina meetingsHave you ever experienced meetings that start late, run long, go off topic, or fail to achieve anything productive?

Most professionals attend an average of 61.8 meetings per month in the course of their average work. Research suggests that over 50 percent of this meeting time is wasted and 39% of meeting participants admit to dozing off during a meeting.

In other words, most of us are accustomed to ‘death by meeting’ - boring meetings that seem unnecessary.

The answer is not always to abandon meetings altogether, like some teams have done. Meetings are where your team’s culture perpetuates itself.

If you don’t ever hold meetings, how will people establish a sense of ‘the way things are done around here’?

pedestrians streetwalkingThe future of work is about harnessing collaboration and connection so as to fire on all engines. Your people must be able to work (and play) together effectively, efficiently and energetically.

Teamwork brings incredible advantages to businesses. Effective teams work productively, through high levels of commitment and engagement. Effective teams are resilient, due to their strong relationships and good communication skills, enabling flexibility and agility in the face of difficult circumstances. Effective teams can boost innovation: groups are better than the best individuals at solving complex problems.

However perhaps you’ve had enough management experience to notice that groups of diverse individuals can be difficult to build together into an effective team – even when the situation is critical.

crane 821495 640I believe that we’re fundamentally lacking in our thinking about the workplace and how we get things done.

We talk about teamwork in the context of what leaders should do - it is seen as the leader’s responsibility to create a great team. Books about creating high performing teams are written to leaders, not to teams.

This is because we have an individualistic culture. Western cultures like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and the US tend to be oriented around the self - individuals are more important than groups.

rough 1031185Disruption is neither temporary nor minor. We might think of it as a strong wind gust that will pass but in reality digital disruption is a permanent storm.

I agree with futurist Chris Riddell, digital disruption has a naming problem. When we call it ‘disruption’, we don’t take it seriously enough.

Automation is expected to consume between 23 and 47% of developed economies’ jobs, including highly skilled jobs, within the next two decades, according to various reports.

The impact of these changes will be felt sooner rather than later.

teamwork school 834138 1920Did you know that there is a direct link between diversity and innovation, and between innovation and team success?

Recent research provides compelling evidence that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth.

Another way of looking at it is: “Diversity brings an array of life experiences and world views that consistently produce a variety of new concepts and ideas. “ - Profiles in Diversity Journal.

office 336368 1280I can’t count how many people have asked me which technologies they need for their virtual team. I understand. I do.

Their question relates to the trickiest hurdle for most people.

Here’s a worthwhile tip for new managers: technology is by far the easiest piece of the puzzle for effective remote and virtual teams. Distributed workforces don’t run on technology, they run because people are doing the work.

unfriend facebookA recent decision from the Fair Work Commission has added another action to the list of potentially bullying behaviours.

In this case, there were several incidents in which the employee felt she had been "belittled and humiliated" by her employers. She alleged she had been likened to a child running to the teacher when she had called one of her employers to ask why none of her listed properties were displayed in the business' front window (as she was employed in a real estate agency). On the same occasion, one of her employers had stood in front of the door preventing her from leaving the meeting.