Ebenezer Scrooge learned his lessons the hard way. It required a harrowing night of visits from three ghosts to set him on a better path. Mr. Scrooge took his ghostly apparitions’ messages to heart, and bought the big fat goose for the family of his poor, bedraggled employee Bob Cratchit. He also thought more about how he could catapult his newfound enthusiasm for helping others from the joyful festivities of late December into the cold, yet ever-hopeful newness of January. He promised to make Cratchit’s life at work more purpose-driven and well-defined, and committed to starting the New Year providing better clarity for his team. You should do the same by asking yourself these questions:
If I have learned one thing by working with people in organizations, it’s that there’s much more telling than asking going on. As a business coach, my clients will expect me to ask, at some point in their session, “So what’s the question?”
Technological advancements, competition, globalization, pressure for increased productivity and chasing dollars all contribute to heavy workloads and little free time. So when asked for help, leaders tend to give a quick answer and tell employees what to do. It’s just faster and easier.
Providing a quick answer is the right response when in the midst of a crisis that requires immediate action. But giving a quick answer doesn’t work best when trying to build the capabilities of staff. Employees and leaders get into a pattern of asking and telling. And while that can be frustrating for both, breaking away from that pattern is harder than one would think.
Meetings are the organizational fulcrum where individuals work together cooperatively as a team. At their best, good meetings get people’s brains fired up. At their worst, meetings provoke a fight-or-flight instinct in the poor souls gathered at the table — they shut people’s brains down.
Meetings often follow an outdated arc of written agendas emailed days ahead, the reading and voting on minutes never to be seen again and robotic sharing of mind-numbing progress reports. Agenda items repeat ad nauseum as teams repeatedly fail to deal with real issues.
A team of researchers in Google’s People Operations (their HR) launched Project Aristotle, a research project designed to answer the question “What makes a Google team effective?” They learned that the five key dynamics that distinguish successful Google teams from others are:
Hiring is a confounding game. Some people have a great knack for it and an intuitive sense about people — but even they can get it wrong. The world-renowned Disney Institute hires “attitude versus aptitude,” and you would be wise to do the same.
Recently, I worked with a company who filled a position with great match for the technical skills needed for the role. But this new employee’s on-the-job performance created communication nightmares that led other long-term employees to quit. Within a year, the team was sinking...