Awhile back I griped about what I hated about irrelevant team building efforts. So today I wanted to offer up a quick trick I’ve used in the past to provide fast and effective team building to your people with just a few minutes of effort on your part. You don’t have to pay a consultant, and you don’t have to cause your staff to hate you.
I discovered this technique shortly after joining a bank as portfolio manager, and I was overwhelmed with work. I needed to be efficient, but I also wanted to ensure both my clients and my teams were happy (they weren’t).
As I was getting out and speaking casually with my clients, I found out that reports my unit was supposed to deliver each morning were frequently late. Further, the client had to phone my staff each day the reports were missing, to confirm they hadn’t actually been sent (and weren’t lost in limbo somewhere). When I asked around, I found out that overnight batch sometimes ran late, and when it did, another job scheduled to pick the reports up from an area on the server and deliver them abended because the reports hadn’t been created yet.
From my perspective, I had two questions: 1) what are we doing to fix this; and 2) in the meantime, why aren’t we notifying the client as a courtesy (since we’re in a position to know) before they have to call us?Morale was pretty weak in the early days. Walking into the office was, quite frankly, like walking into a morgue. No talking, no laughing, everyone was sticking to themselves. So I pulled four people from different parts of the team, and asked them collectively my two questions. They told me they weren’t looking into the problem (although they were aware of it), and that “it was up to the client to call about the delivery failure,” at which point my staff would find the completed reports and send them over.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized I didn’t have time to get into the details of this problem. But I needed it solved! So I applied the technique outlined in the table below and it worked like a charm.
While daily reports were a very small part of what my division was responsible for, I firmly believe it’s the small things that earn the biggest gratitude. I took the above approach with many more problems I’d ferret out in the years since, and the results were always fabulous.
I still remember the day it happened.
One day, I opened the door to the office, stepped in, and instead of the usual silence, I heard giggling. My people were at a table, working out problems, and enjoying themselves. Of course, they saw me and immediately got all serious. But once I was at my desk, I heard more giggling from out front and quietly smiled to myself. I was pleased.
Every organization, even high-performing ones, have team issues, a lack of follow-up, reactivity and clients they sometimes take for granted. As a leader, you don’t have time to get into every detail, so set your people up to take care of that for you. Create the right culture, and you create a happy proactivity machine that brings you solutions to rubber stamp, and rave reviews from your clients and stakeholders. Try this out–it doesn’t have to take long.
|Effortless Team Building for the Lazy Leader|
|1.||Meet with your clients and stakeholders casually. Dig for problems, especially the little irritating ones.||Lunch some day|
|2.||Assemble some of your team (not enough that will impact other work substantially), and ask them for a complete solution–they should involve the client.||20 minutes|
|3.||Inform your clients or stakeholders about what’s happening.||5 minutes|
|4.||Don’t get involved in the solution. Let them come up with the details on their own.||0 minutes|
|5.||Set a deadline.||1 minute|
|6.||Ask for a presentation when the solution is complete; probe for holes.||15 minutes|
|7.||Inform your clients or stakeholders what’s happening, and insist your team members present to them.||5 minutes|
|8.||Show up for the presentation, and offer support if your people run into trouble.||15 minutes|
|Total Time:||61 minutes
and a lunch
Here are the benefits you get:
1) Your client sees your team as proactive and solutions-oriented. Both your team and your client will be more likely to collaborate with one another in the future.
2) Your people, having worked through a solution together, are now more prone to collaborate with one another and kick ideas around–without you.
3) With your people empowered to develop solutions, you get less irate phone calls, and less questions you have to deal with.
4) You get to watch pretty presentations. And when your people need your approval on future solutions, they’ll have worked through the details together before they come to you.
So. Think you can find 61 minutes somewhere?
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