Coach’s Challenge for February 20, 2005

Good Day Team,

This week’s challenge is about strengthening intragroup connections. I’m using ‘intragroup’ as a word to describe ‘within the team’. It’s a good time to think about what you’re doing to strengthen the connections between people when you’ve recently added new people, re-organized people into new positions, and/or made changes to the way you do business.

How can you ensure that you’re being attentive enough to everyone on the team during periods of change? This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Communication is the greatest way to make sure everyone’s on the same page. The rule of thumb here is to give people information and do it over and over again. Don’t assume that everyone knows who the newly hired or newly promoted team member is, make sure everyone knows who they are and what role they play. Don’t assume that everyone already knows about a change in your organization, or that just because you told the managers, they’ll tell everyone else. Inevitably, someone gets left out of the loop and feels excluded. Having the attitude, “They don’t need to know yet. We’ll tell them when the time comes, it will just upset them now”, also doesn’t work. There’s nothing worse than finding out about a change within your company long after the fact. Keep everyone informed and particularly during times of change, send out the same consistent messages again and again.

Try taking advantage of the change and use the time to think about new ways to do things now that the organization is changing. First, establish by word and example that this might be a good time to step back and take stock, a time to question the “usual” and a time to come up with new and creative solutions. Sometimes the transition between letting go of the old and embracing the new is a great time to re-look at the way things get done. Second, provide opportunities for others to do the same. Give your team members time and suggestions to help them see things in a new way. Third, encourage experiment and look for opportunities to brainstorm new answers to old problems. Bring people together in different ways and in different places. One group I’m working with just set up a Friday night get together so that the new members of the team can relate to each other in an environment other than work. This will encourage a greater connection and give them a new way of seeing each other.

Finally, restrain the natural impulse in times of ambiguity and disorganization to push prematurely for certainty and closure. Be careful that your efforts to build solidarity and sense of belonging don’t unintentionally squeeze out people’s natural responses to change. Timing is an important factor in any change, and you’ll find that your people will more readily embrace what’s new, if you give them time to let go of the old and transition naturally towards new beginnings.

Your challenge this week is to come up with one thing you can do this week to strengthen the connection between you and your peers. Start with your immediate team and if that works, try extending that connection out to others.

Have a great week!

Kathleen

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