Thinking of the bigger picture, of the success of the organization, this has the potential of being the most important and the most dangerous attribute in this series of Managing Your Team.
Perhaps it’s human nature, maybe it’s all to do with power and influence – there can be a tendency to accept, without question, statements made by those in a position of power or those we regard as experts in their field.
Within your organization, you’ll know ‘the rules’. You’ll know what can be said, what can be questioned and who can be questioned. I’ve been there and have to say that I didn’t always get it right.
I can only hope that your organization believes in the real practical value of empowering individuals to develop and add value in an open and structured environment.
Even if it’s not, the purpose of this article is to…
Ask you, as team leader, to create and maintain the team environment within which openness is encouraged, and all team members feel enabled and safe to question statements made and conclusions reached. Allow them to take a risk
Why is this important?
From the day we discovered the world was round to landing on the moon, from the quill to the laptop – where would be today if nobody questioned, if nobody challenged, if nobody felt enabled to take a risk?
I am not suggesting we create a free for all. The emphasis still needs to be on adhering to the agreed ground rules and following a structured, systematic approach. Having said that, as leaders of our team, we can lead by example – we can get into the habit of presenting facts and supporting data not opinions. We can remind the team how successful we / they have been by following a behaviour of fact driven, data supported problem solving/decision making.
Give real examples to support argument, especially if you have examples of disastrous outcomes when decisions were based solely on opinion. This behaviour sets clear expectations in the minds of our team members.
Everyone benefits, you, the team, the organization, the customer.
Why should this behaviour be encouraged?
How do we manage this behaviour?
Boring as it may be to some, when the team is in the forming stage, set it as a ground rule that whenever the team leader, a team member, or a guest speaker gives a presentation or simply provides information, all statements are based on fact which is supported by data and not merely someone’s educated opinion or hearsay.
Of course there will be times when this is not possible but that’s the whole point of encouraging an open approach and a risk-free team environment – bottom line – if there is a lack of data, the statements or decisions can be challenged constructively and through that challenge, the team reaches consensus before moving on.
“Constructively” means we are challenging the statement in oder to get a positive outcome and not attacking the individual personally, for example…
“If we accept what you have said as feasible, what data can you provide to test it?”
“Tell us how you can prove that those last statements are true”
“That idea sounds really good. Given there is not a lot of supporting data, what can we do to help justify running with it?”
“What data do we need to provide that verifies the conclusions are based on fact and not opinion?”
Note that a lot more information will be forthcoming when we ask open, searching questions, for example…
What’s the difference between “can you provide data?” and “what data can you provide?”
Managing Your Team (Part 10) will look at Why Assumptions Are Dangerous
Andrew has over 20 years experience providing personal and business coaching specialising in strategic planning, continuous improvement,personal development and lifelong learning.
Providing a focused problem solving approach through our personal and business coaching (especially to small businesses). Our primary theme and overriding goal is to provide you with the right choices that fit your needs, solve your problems.
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