Do the issues faced by teams mirror those of management? Alastair Olby of Kaizen Training believes it is often the case.
Something that crops up time and time again when facilitating senior teams is how the challenges their teams face are in fact a mirror image of what's going on at a senior level. The biggest difficulty people in senior positions seem to face is knowing where to look: they tend to be focussing solely on the challenges of the teams under them without realising their part in what they see.
If your teams are facing particular challenges, perhaps the most powerful question you can ask is “How might this be a reflection of me/us?” Exploring answers to this question helps people recognise aspects of themselves, which they were relatively unaware of, often providing stunningly simple insights and answers. “How come we weren't able to see that ourselves?” is a question I frequently get asked. The most common reason being that the team is so focussed on achieving tasks and so caught up in the detail that they can't see the big picture and the patterns which emerge within it.
Confront the facts
In Good to Great, Jim Collins identifies the importance of confronting the brutal facts as a milestone in the journey to greatness. However what we so often see is organisations going round and round in circles, facing the same challenges time and time again despite using increasingly creative approaches. Why is this happening? Well, often it's down to them not having confronted the brutal facts. But this is not something they have consciously missed. It is simply because the brutal facts were invisible to them!
So here are some simple actions you can take to raise the visibility of what really matters:
• Ask how challenges faced by your teams may be a reflection of you/the senior team.
• Imagine you are an outsider visiting your organisation for the first time. What sort of patterns would you see emerge in what goes on?
• If your teams are a reflection of you, what do you need to do differently? Decide on some simple actions that, once put into action, will result in the reflection you want to see.
* Kaizen Training offer a series of free tips and advice, visit their website for more information www.kaizen-training.com.