Last week, my good friend and business colleague, Gary Winter (see the post script to Harvard Business School article, “The Great Training Robbery”, which concerns the famous turn-round at Asda during the 1990s in which Gary was deeply immersed), told me about a programme he listened to on BBC Radio 4. In this, a prominent CEO spoke about doubting the necessity for their employees to remain working from home (WFH). The CEO felt they should be “keen and willing” to return to the workplace and their fears and concerns about Covid-19 were both mis-guided and misplaced (so singing from the same song sheet as President Trump uttering, “Do not be afraid,” upon his return to the White House from hospital). To us, it sounds as though this CEO does not trust their employees’ commitment.
By getting to know people’s passion you will understand the value of what they bring to the team.
I was attending a town hall (meeting) and one of the topics being covered was safety. In shipping, safety plays a major role in our work. Usually, these talks are pretty straight forward, more about following processes. The speaker threw a question at us that got me thinking. He asked us, “who should get the recognition, the firefighter who puts out the fire or the safety inspector who prevents it?”. Later that night, I continued to reflect on this question over a glass of wine and realized that both sides had strong points. The firefighter needs to perform under severe stress which is needed in high performing teams, but the security inspector’s dependability saves a lot of time and resources. In conclusion, both roles are needed when you assemble a team, but I was not yet satisfied with this reflection and continued to think about it for a week as I felt that I was missing something.
Then it hit me one night. What if I spent time talking to the firefighter and the safety inspector in order to understand more about why they do what they do and what motivates them to do it every day? By getting to know their passion I will understand the true value that they add to the team.
How does the leader help their team see positive opportunities and embrace organisational change? Here is a simple model to help team members better understand their emotions, evaluate options, achieve emotional balance and make choices on the way forward.
I was sleeping last night when I suddenly woke up at 2 am and started thinking about the first team meeting that I planned to do next morning with my newly appointed unit of operational execution. I was debating with myself of the best way of making them embrace change and achieve emotional balance. How could they achieve improvement and take ownership as leaders of the change we, as a team, wanted for our professional career and life enjoyment. How could I explain to them that is good to have problems because this would become our driver that will make us feel so uncomfortable that we would be 100% convinced of the need of change for us?