How easy it is to forget the basics!
Over the last month, I’ve sent you four articles on how to change your team culture – sharing the very practical steps that you need to focus on and in what order (no theoretical meanderings that don’t work in the real world!).
As luck would have it, I’ve been working with a team recently who helped me understand one of the much more fundamental ‘blocks’ to changing or building culture.
In this particular case, the team had been brought together following a restructure and dived head-long into a massive piece of work thus ‘cobbling things together’ (their words) as they went along.
This team needed a massive PAUSE. A ‘stepping off the treadmill, let’s start at the beginning and create something that will work’ type of pause.
A ‘let’s build our firm foundation’ type of pause.
Now you know, as well as I do, that when we’re busy it feels like a luxury to pause. It can feel like navel gazing or ‘not real work’ when the deadlines and emails are pouring in.
But that belief can be fatal. (Ask anyone who has got dizzy, nauseous and disoriented from staying on the treadmill too long).
Fortunately the leader of this team is made of sterner stuff and she knew that this PAUSE had to happen – or the team would continue to fall in to the same traps day in and day out.
So what was the firm foundation this team needed to build?
The foundation of KNOWING EACH OTHER. Because they really didn’t. They didn’t know if their colleagues have kids, when their birthdays are, what their bravest or most difficult life decisions have been, who their role models are, what their career aspirations are.
So that’s where we focused our time together.
Exercises that mixed getting to know each other at a deeper level with conversations about what mattered – from ‘how we want to work together’ to ‘what’s frustrating us’ to ‘what we need to do about our meetings’ to ‘what support we need and what support we can offer’; to the ‘time-wasting things we can say ‘no’ to’.
These are the discussions that get lost in the weeds of busyness.
And yet they are fundamental to building the team and the team culture you all want.
I can’t tell you how much this stuff matters and makes a huge positive difference.
And yet it is so fundamental to building the culture you want that I almost forgot to mention it.