A big part of the success of any virtual workshop is about what happens before anyone even enters the room. A Wild Thinking facilitator will take responsibility for ensuring that when people turn up they are clear on why they are there, they understand the purpose of the session and they have all the information they need. They will make sure that the materials in the room are right for the group. This all takes time, focus and experience.
2. The Right Agenda and Process
A Wild Thinking facilitator is there to make it easier for a group to have a great session. Designing an agenda that engages people is key to this but the facilitator will also bring a wealth of experience in how to structure sessions to make sure that everything flows and that outcomes are achieved.
Many organisations have good internal facilitators but will they really be able to be truly independent of the workshop topic or the people involved? The beauty of a Wild Thinking facilitator is that they are there purely in support of the group, with no axe to grind and no bias.
Rooky Facilitator trap #1 is a very easy one to fall in to – thinking that active conversation from a small number of participants means good levels of participation from the group. Often, the opposite is true. A few voices hog all of the airtime, leaving others feeling uncomfortable and disengaged. An experienced Wild Thinking facilitator will manage these dynamics and make sure to create an environment where everyone has a chance to contribute
Nothing leaves a sour taste in the mouth after a busy virtual workshop like a lack of clarity on what was agreed and what should happen next. A Wild Thinking facilitator will always have an eye fixed on the follow up – recording decisions and structuring follow up actions so that the group is clear and accountable on who is going to do what and why. They will then capture everything in a clear write up that is circulated promptly after the session.
“HOW DO I BUILD TEAM TRUST?” asked co-CEO Luke Harris, the founders’ son of the family-owned Harris Farm Markets retail chain that has thrived from it’s first fruit store in 1971. The enterprise, now has 25 sites in the Sydney, Australia region and 1,400 employees. Harris Farm Markets had attracted a loyal clientele but was hampered by a siloed, distrustful, and competitive internal environment. Recognising that teamwork was their most untapped competitive advantage, the company turned to The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™, the comprehensive team development program from Wiley.
“One of the four pillars of our strategic plan is to create a team of enthusiastic experts who our customers love. We were good at that,” says Harris, “but we could never get our area managers working together.” Five area managers were each responsible for five stores…and cared only about their five stores. Meetings were tense, teams were secretive, and areas operated as separate businesses. “We had a silo mentality to the extreme,” relates one area manager. “One of my fellow area managers happily stated, ‘I only look after my group of stores and that is it.’”
Harris recalls one incident that typified the issue. Area managers would occasionally be asked to visit another manager’s store and provide feedback. The most experienced area manager on staff paid a site inspection to the least experienced manager’s store. On hearing his feedback, she became extremely defensive. “She thought he was having a go,” Harris recalls. The visiting manager’s reaction was equally negative. “If she’s not going to listen to me, this is a waste of time,” he declared, and walked out.
“Even at the CEO level,” admits Harris, “we acted as a tag team, not a rowing crew.” The company was adept at getting things done short term; executing for the long term was very difficult. In order for the company to achieve its full potential, the organisation’s culture had to change.
Harris embarked on The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™ learning experience that helps team members and leaders understand how their unique group dynamic can build a more effective team and achieve sustainable results. Using the Everything DiSC™ personality assessment to establish a neutral language and encourage productive conversations, the facilitated sessions of The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™ enable teams to see where they stand on the five pillars of The Five Behaviours model: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results.
The Harris Farm Markets Area Management team took The Five Behaviours assessment, rating themselves in each of the five behavioural traits. The results confirmed Harris’s observations: The team’s commitment to the organisation was high and they were moderately able to engage in constructive conflict and focus on achieving results. But low scores in trust and accountability raised a red flag: Team members were reluctant to admit weaknesses and mistakes and to be vulnerable and honest with one another. They were focused on their own areas rather than on the organisation as a whole.
The area managers we’re brought together for a two-day offsite. The Five Behaviours program is not like your typical training session. Facilitators cannot simply work to a time schedule and tick off agenda items. In order to move forward, the team needs to demonstrate vulnerability-based trust, everyone needs to participate in positive conflict, participants need to show they are committed, colleagues need to hold their peers accountable, and lastly, the team needs to show they can put the collective results ahead of their own individual results.
Not surprisingly, the first session, was awkward and difficult. “We had set aside two days for the workshop and spent a whole day on vulnerability. But no one wanted to let their guard down. The discomfort in the room was palpable,” Harris remembers. At the end of the first day, the group threw in the towel. Unless they could be vulnerable and trusting, the team was unlikely to successfully tackle conflict, commitment, or results. They cancelled the second session and rescheduled in the hope that the holidays and New Year break might enable them to start fresh.
In January 2015, the group reconvened. The wait was worth it: After five tough hours, a breakthrough struck. “A senior manager dropped his guard,” relates Harris, “and that’s when it all came out. The manager had very significant issues around his vulnerability and once he opened up, the conversation just flowed.” As often happens in The Five Behaviours sessions, the revelation did not need to be very dramatic. “All he did was admit to something he was really bad at and apologise to someone across the table,” says Harris. “That brought the walls down between the team and we roared through. You could feel the transformation.”
The group moved along to the rest of The Five Behaviours modules, learning to engage in the unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable to a clear plan of action, all toward the goal of achieving collective results. By the end of the program the team agreed (via some healthy conflict) on three action items. Weekly meetings now begin with these three action items, keeping them front of mind and ensuring the team remains more effective.
The pre-program assessment, we noted earlier, had shown the Harris Farm Markets team to be weak in four out of the five behaviours. Four months after the program, the follow-up progress report painted a very different portrait. The team had significantly improved in all five behaviours, scoring high in four out of the five behaviours. Most gratifyingly, in the area of their biggest challenge, trust, the area managers leaped from low to high.
The progress in the day-to-day dynamics among the team members has been transformed. Feedback from a colleague is welcomed, not dreaded. “Before, if another manager walked into your shop, you’d be horrified,” Harris says. “Now, they ring each other up asking, ‘Please come and have a look at this and tell me what you think.’”
Harris Farm Markets received a wake-up call that highlighted the conscious effort required to maintain successful team unity. December 2015 was the only month in the fiscal year when they did not hit budget. It was also the period when they noticed vulnerability falling off and tension creeping back into the managers’ meetings. “Was it just because we weren’t hitting budget that we became dysfunctional—or maybe we weren’t acting so wonderfully toward each other because we were aware that we weren’t hitting budget. That could have been the elephant in the room that struck all our vulnerabilities. I’ve been reflecting about that,” said Harris.
A second workshop was arranged, and soon camaraderie, contributions, and humour revived at meetings. “If a team loses vulnerability, it starts to lose its cohesiveness,” Harris points out. “It takes work.” Harris Farm Markets area managers appreciate the ongoing nature of The Five Behaviours framework. “We are constantly building a better team,” says Helen, an area manager. “We have more to work on and we are doing this together. We can only become more awesome.”
Helen’s fellow area manager, Peter, senses new respect for the area management team in the company. “After completing the course, it was clear that the team was totally engaged in becoming more united. We are currently working on some very big projects. I can safely say that if we hadn’t completed The Five Behaviours course, we would not achieve what we set out to achieve. It was one of the most beneficial courses I’ve completed in recent years.”
While the bottom line is always on Luke Harris’ mind, an equally gratifying benefit stands out for him. Harris Farm Markets is, simply, “a lot more fun.” And that’s the best result any employer or employee could hope for.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. “The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team” is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The pressure to innovate in business is stronger than ever. Short product lifecycles, customer expectations and the onward race of technology all mean that Peter Drucker’s dictum “innovate or die” has never been more salient.
Obviously, not every company has creativity hard wired in to the DNA of their culture in the way that an organisation like Google definitely has. As a business leader, if you see the need to boost creativity and innovation, how do you go about it?
The thought of culture change can seem scary and challenging. How do you go about fundamentally altering the way that people think and behave? There are numerous complex models and approaches out there to help you to change your culture, but the good news is that there is a lot you can do at a simple level to start to drive the creativity that you need from your people.
One of the best definitions of corporate culture is simply “the way things are done around here.” With that in mind, the easy to grasp opportunity is to just start doing things a little differently – focusing on some of the key things that affect how people behave – what they hear from their leaders, how they are rewarded and how they work with others. By making sure that your leadership messages consistently set the tone, that you move away from a blame culture to one that encourages trial and error and that you actively encourage creative collaboration, you can start to achieve great things.
Here are 3 simple things that you can do to start to create an environment where innovation can flourish:
If innovation really matters to your business, then leaders need to be clear and consistent with how they promote that message. People should know that thinking creatively and looking for new opportunities is not just for the marketing people or somebody further up the pay scale, but that there is an expectation that everyone has a role to play. This is Twitter’s mission statement:
“To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
Would that get you out of bed in the morning?
The essence of innovation is experimentation. When employees are not afraid of the repercussions of failure, they will be prepared to experiment with new ways to approach challenging problems. They need to know that they will get the support of their managers when things go wrong, every bit as much as they will get recognition and appreciation when they go right.
As creativity expert Ken Robinson says, “If you are not prepared to be wrong, then you will never come up with anything original.”
3. Recognise that innovation is a team game
Successful innovation is rarely an individual pursuit. How well you reach out to other functions, business units and stakeholders, in order to leverage all of the expertise that is out there, will be central to your success. In a complex industry, collaboration is key to achieving breakthrough thinking and implementing effective solutions.
A great example of this in action is Proctor and Gamble’s “Connect & Develop” strategy. It has helped them to develop hundreds of highly innovative new products over the last few years. They actively approach other leading companies, inventors and stakeholders to share ideas and insights, in the knowledge that this collaboration creates the sparks that can produce brilliant new ideas. The key to building an innovation culture is all about cultivating a mindset that allows people to learn to see the world in new ways.
Wild Thinking spent a great day yesterday at the Decom Offshore Conference, and the word of the day was definitely collaboration. The message was clear – operators and supply chain need to look beyond money and “what’s in it for me?” and think instead about how they can build proper win / win relationships based on “what’s in it for us?”.
The prize is potentially huge. With the Oil and Gas Authority looking to the industry to deliver 35% savings on current levels, opportunities to collaborate, learn and share are seen as key planks in unlocking the viability of a thriving decommissioning sector. We heard about BS1100, which brings solid business process to the job of collaboration and that is clearly a very important thing. What stood out though, was that underpinning all of these technical and structural considerations, there is a very simple human consideration – trust.
Trust is won (and lost) through behaviours. Interestingly, one speaker was very candid about the whole behaviours piece. He was asked to comment on how to approach building and measuring the human dimension to collaboration and he said that that this was still very much work in progress, with a number of spreadsheets in development!
This got us thinking about what Wild Thinking could do to accelerate the trust building process – a process that holds the key to the collaborative behaviours that will help build momentum in what is this morning reported as being a $100 billion industry over the next 25 years.
So here it is, the 5 step guide to building trust in business:
Collaboration is the way forward but if we really want to make it work for us, then it is time to go beyond process and platitudes and start to model the behaviours that really build trust. When we do that, the prize becomes a lot easier to reach.
Empowerment is at the core of many of the great corporate success stories, but where does it come from? What are the conditions that allow it to flourish and importantly what is the role of leaders in making it happen?
In a recent article in The Guardian, Karen Lynas of the NHS Leadership Academy argues passionately that the NHS should be spending less on Management Consultants and more on staff development training.
She believes that development training would help to empower their staff to solve their own problems and in doing so would allow NHS leaders to tap in to the diverse talents they already have and create a real sense of engagement and ownership.
It is important to recognise that empowerment takes conscious effort. There is no point in just saying “OK team, you are empowered – go to it!” Unless the core leadership skills are there and expectations are clear, then this approach could seriously backfire.
Wild Thinking helps organisations to create truly empowered working environments, where less of the “thinking” needs to be outsourced to consultants and staff are able to seize the initiative and sort things out for themselves.
Our empowerment based leadership programme STRETCH helps leaders to make empowerment happen by:
No-one knows your business better than your staff, so why not give them the support that they need to take responsibility for themselves? One thing is sure – they will thank you for it!
We’ve made a short film available on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WZ_bAB4obw) that talks you though the basics. So why not call us on 01540 661 502 to discuss how STRETCH could make a difference in your organisation.
In the UK, it seems that we are obsessed with hard work. The phrase “hard working families” is used in politics like a mantra to conjure up images of virtue and responsibility, while the standard business small talk question seems to be “are you busy?”. As a nation we certainly don’t work the longest hours in Europe (that honour goes to the Greeks!) but we are mid way up the pack and in some business sectors, long working weeks are the norm. Lessons from Scandinavia might suggest that our hard working ways might actually be hurting our productivity rather than boosting it.
A decade ago, Toyota’s Swedish service centre experimented with a 6-hour working day and they discovered that productivity and profitability actually went up. Since then, various organisations have been doing extensive trials of shorter working hours, with a view to making a 30-hour week the national norm. What they have discovered is that if you have clear ground rules in place about cutting out activities that are non-productive, then shorter days can be more effective as you are fresher and more focused on what you are there to do. You are working smarter – not harder.
Hard work is of course hard to measure, but one metric that is well used is simply time spent in the office. You know the idea: “Bob is a hard worker, he is here before everyone else and usually the last to leave!” The question, however, is time at work always synonymous with productive work?
Imagine for a second your working week, and try to map out all of the things that effectively waste your time. I am guessing, but they might include:
Imagine then that you replaced this with time at home or out of the office. Fill in the gaps for your self – you could be with your family, playing sport, walking in the woods – whatever.
The Swedish experience suggests that taking time away from work to enjoy these things will actually increase your effectiveness when you are there. If it that easy, then why aren’t we all doing it? Simple – most of us are desperate to keep up the appearance of hard work for fear of being branded as slackers.
So what is the answer? Maybe it is time to care less about what people think and care more about the quality of the work that we actually do. The Swedish research shows that by getting work life balance right you can be healthier, happier and achieve more. What’s not to like?
We work with leaders to help them focus on what is important in their roles and to form the habits that will drive success. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.
Depending on your priorities, the current slump in the oil price could be good news! Fuel at a little over £1.00 a litre, for example, feels pretty good.
If you are actually working in the industry, however, the positives are scarcer than hen’s teeth. The one exception is the idea of businesses being “fit at $50 (or even $40)”. This is the idea that if organisations can get their act together to be viable in a downturn, then when things pick up they will be laughing. The good news for us at Wild Thinking is that clients who want to be “fit at $50” really do need to work smarter and that’s where we can help!