There is strength in flexibility
Rick, a machine shop supervisor for a dental equipment manufacturer, told Session 7 of the Leadership Development LAB (LDL):
“This past Friday, I decided to hold a brainstorming session with the members of my business unit. The subject was ‘How can we eliminate our back log of hours and stay caught up with our work?’ After a slow start, a few ideas surfaced and then some excellent suggestions were brought up; I was still feeling it wasn’t going all that well. After we had a reasonable inventory of about 12 ideas, I asked everyone to vote for their top two choices. The top two vote choices were: 1.) Hire more people, and 2.) Meet time standards. The second idea started to get me excited.
“I decided to change directions at this point and have the group brainstorm the subject: ‘In what ways can we start meeting and exceeding our time standards?’ After some logical and legitimate excuses for delays were mentioned, the meeting began to take off.
“Excellent suggestions and discussions seemed to spontaneously occur. Many observations were brought up and discussed by members of the group. If I had lectured the group about these same observations, the ideas would have gone unheard. In fact, there is a good chance that I would have encountered a lot of defensiveness. When brought up by the group and discussed among themselves, the observations, suggestions and discussions hit home, there was ownership and responsibility. I received more compliments from my group members on the quality of our meeting than I ever have before. In fact, I can’t remember ever being complimented on a team meeting before. I was told this was, ‘...one of our best meetings ever.’
“The lesson I learned from this experience
is that it is okay, in fact it is essential, that I be flexible and willing to improvise to achieve successful meetings that improve moral and gets action.
“The action I call you to is have a brainstorming session with your team. Attack the number one existing problem your team is struggling with, and after you’ve made your list, chunk it down, pick the number one idea on your list and brainstorm again on the smaller pieces. You will find objective answers to your major problems.
“The real benefit you will gain is engagement. Your team will engage in, accept responsibility for and bring you excellent suggestions for solving your problem. Your team will enjoy a meaningful discussion that will move you forward in practical ways on key issues that need resolution.”
Rick has given us an excellent example of a great way to implement Leadership Principle #8 - Validate Their Ideas. It is amazing how we are all willing to accept accountability and responsibility when we acknowledge our room for improvement!
Where are you and your team behind? Get your team together and have your own brainstorming session. Write your questions in this manner, “In what ways can we .... " If you persist, you will be surprised at the open, productive communication that results.
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