Documize: 1 Tip for creating and leading a safe environment for your team

Documize: 1 Tip for creating and leading a safe environment for your team

Documize.

Last week, I was leading an EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System®) session and this word came out of my mouth. I did not know I did it. Within a minute, one of the leaders I was working with said “Scott, what is documize? You just said it.” As I paused, another leader spoke up and said he heard it too.

Have you ever said something stupid, or uttered words that in hindsight did not accurately represent what you really meant?

That’s exactly where I was. One of the desired outcomes of my work with teams is to help them become healthy and smart together, which requires a high degree of trust. Since I teach it, I challenge myself to model the things that are the big contributors to trust and safety.

So, I held back the urge to say “I did not say that . . ” or “Yeah, but . . . . ” and just smiled and thanked them for making me aware of that. I then made up a fictitious definition that conjoined ‘document’ and ‘systemize’, and asked the team for the intellectual property rights. Then we moved on to a productive day of learning and planning.

In a world where people are increasingly attacked for what they say, and less emphasis is put on conversations around “What did you mean?” or “Just clarify and apologize and move on….” – safety is a gift. This leadership team provided it for me, and I accepted it.

How safe is the environment in your leadership team? Creating it takes some diligence, but the open debate and unmeasured/unedited comments that people share could be the difference between a successful year and a cash or quality emergency that takes months to fix.

Documize – It is my constant reminder that I get to work in special, safe places. Are you creating such spaces with your actions?

Listen . . . Lead. Repeat often!

I know I said I would do that, but . . TrustBUSTER™ #9 – Four common causes and solutions

TrustBUSTER™ #9 – Does not consistently follow through on commitments

It was a team of eight people and we had just gone through a DiSC assessment and were discussing the results.  One of the individuals was particularly stressed out, and as we were talking through strengths and weaknesses she had an epiphany.  She said “I am overwhelmed with my work and exhausted.  I have too much to do because I cannot say no, and as a result I am missing deadlines.”

It is not normal behavior to not complete tasks on time.  We are not all task focused people first, but under normal circumstances we should all be capable of hitting deadlines.  So what gets in the way?  Here are the four most common causes of TrustBUSTER™ #9:

  1. Ignorance – In his Situational Leadership Model, Ken Blanchard called the initial development stage the enthusiastic beginners.  Remember when you would say yes to things, even though you had no idea how to complete the task?   Also, remember that ignorance is only a temporary condition. (hopefully)  Solution:  Recognize ignorance and either shorten the performance leash (check in frequently) or offer to partner/coach through the task the first time. 
  2. Trying to please – There are many different situations that contribute to this problem.  Fear from seeing people lose their jobs that results in feeling that yes is the only answer.  A high performing team of highly driven individuals and you want to do your share.  A leader that puts in 70 hours a week, and there is an expectation (real or imaginary) to keep up.  Solution:  Focus on having conversations  that define expectations and reveal how people are feeling about tasks.  In addition, self-awareness and understanding how teammates are wired so the situations above can be addressed openly.
  3. Big eyes / little stomach – We have all been there.  The buffet looked great and a little bit of everything is the decision.  The certain outcome is feeling sick and dissatisfied.  Some enjoy the challenge of too much or feel they are at their best when overwhelmed.  Even the best take on too much sometimes.  Solution:  Make it a habit to have frequent discussions about priorities to make sure expectations are clear.  Individuals have to learn to recognize limits and how an overloaded task list can negatively impact the overall team.
  4. Not enough time – There are people in every group that have time boundaries.  Whether it is someone working part-time, a single parent, or maybe someone who has learned through a heart attack that they need to keep their stress levels down.  Solution: Talk about it.  Not everyone wants to live a life of too much to do at work.   If it does not fit the culture (ex.  a startup company) then get that on the table and make the decision that is best for the individual AND the organization. 

How can a leader proactively address this TrustBUSTER™?  First of all, leaders need to be fanatics about making it safe to question priorities.  Secondly, making accountability a norm within the team is critical.  Mistakes will happen, but missed deadlines have to be discussed openly and the problems/barriers have to be named and addressed.  Always have the questions in hand “What will it take to get things back on track?” or “What has to change or fixed?”

Building a Strong Team – no ropes needed, just a BBQ

I read a great story today about a team that developed largely through the actions of the team members.   It is about the Michigan State University offensive line and what they did to build a more cohesive and higher performing team.   It resonated with me because it was done largely through two things that we can all afford:  attitude and time.  Highlights for me:

  • Leadership (the coach) set the goal to develop a more dominant running game.  (result was +30 yds/game in 2010 vs 2009)
  • Their time together off the field was spent around a barbeque – eating.  (ie.  no ropes course or expensive consultants were needed)
  • The quarterback provided leadership (via encouragement) by buying t-shirts for the linemen to help show their unity and pride. (ie. no $$ compensation was needed to motivate this group)
  • No significant individual honors were received by any of the offensive lineman.
  • The opponents recognize their teamwork, and the players use the word PRIDE to describe how they feel about what they have accomplished.  What great key measures.

It is not certain that their team will win their bowl game, but it is certain that this group of young men have shown us they understand how to build an effective team.   Here is the link  – http://www.tidesports.com/article/20101228/NEWS/101229701/1011?p=2&tc=pg