For a while now I’ve worked with developing my direct team into being more…
More focused, more passionate, delivering more and being more commercially and customer focused. And to a large degree we’ve succeeded. I’m really proud of them and what we’ve achieved so far. But to really succeed and make a step change in our performance we need to take everyone in the business with us. That’s not an overnight task.
We’ve recently set up a couple of teams, to make a start:
1. A team of managers – to focus on how teams interact together, how we work together better and to ensure that we are consistent in how we performance manage our people and get the most from them and the most for them.
2. A team of passionate, bright, brand champions – to focus on some ‘key’ projects that can make a difference and improve not only our customer experience, but the way we work, hopefully making our people’s working lives a bit easier.
We (myself and my direct reports) recently had a feedback session from the second team who had been tasked to come back with a prioritised list of key areas that we needed to improve. The presentation was relatively short, about 20 minutes, but had a huge impact on me. It was very professionally delivered, had been well thought through and did not pull any punches to us as a management team. The reaction was mixed to say the least. I had anticipated some of the feedback and had coached myself to keep quiet, to only ask questions of clarification, rather than defend, and tried to focus on the future potential rather than pick holes in the feedback. This feedback was gold dust and not necessarily criticism….even though it felt that way to some of us.
It’s easy to dismiss feedback with responses such as:-
- We’ve heard all this before
- You don’t understand the reality
- That’s the way it’s always been
- Well you don’t actually mean that, it’s actually like this
…I’m sure you could add to the list!
By listening to feedback freely, pushing your background conversations out of your mind, you can start to unlock a future potential. You also motivate the people giving you feedback to be more open in the future, and if you act on the feedback, you’ll motivate them even more to change.
Listening to feedback:
For people to be willing to invest time and effort in any change, they need to feel that the leadership understands not only the situation, but them as people. You need to develop relationships. This is possible only by sitting down with people and having conversations in which you listen a lot more than you talk.
Listen to what they do
Listen to what they think is going well
Listen to their dreams and hopes
Listen to their frustrations
Listening to what is bothering them about changes in your organisation
Listen to what they they don’t want to change and why
Listen to what they are thinking
Listen to their feelings
Finally, to listen genuinely to your team, you need to use your ears (to hear them), your mind (to understand them), your heart (to feel them) and most importantly, your hands (to act on them). Remember that your employees will not feel like they were heard by their bosses unless their bosses act upon their concerns.