10 conversation you need with your team: Part 1
Teams are funny things: they enable us to create synergies where we produce far more than the sum of our parts, but they can often be the source of conflict, bureaucracy and pointless discussions. As the vast majority of today’s work is carried out in teams, it’s worthwhile making sure that the conversations you are having with your team are valuable, efficient and effective.
Here are the top 10 conversations I suggest my clients have with their teams at least on an annual basis. The conversations do not need to be long (an hour is great) and they must end with an action list and a way of keeping each other accountable to your commitments. When you do this, you will be setting yourself and your teams up for success.
Read on for the first five of my top 10 conversation topics.
Conversation 1: why are we here, and where are we most valuable?
High-performance teams have a clear, unified purpose and values. They know what they need to achieve as a team, and what they need to do individually to get there. A successful team will set aside the time to make sure their vision and goals are clear, and that they candidly discuss individual roles to get there. A really successful team promotes individual growth and development and commits to a set of ground rules that form the basis of a high-performance culture.
Conversation 2: what keeps us motivated, and how can we keep each other accountable?
The modern working world has seen a reduction in repetitive work and an increase in creative and higher-order work as well as problem-solving. For the modern worker, this is a good thing, as most workers will find more motivation in challenging tasks. As a leader though, you need to have the conversation with your team about how to maintain their motivation and autonomy in the process. Nothing is disempowering quite like having your autonomy to problem-solve removed. The best high-performing teams allow team members to have autonomy over how they achieve the end-goal.
Conversation 3: What are our passions, and how does our work help us achieve them?
Planning is great—when done effectively it maps out a path to an end-goal providing clarity and a reference along the way. High-performing teams go a step further though and ensure that the plans connect to the individual. Leaders of high-performing teams know that their team members will have higher engagement and motivation if they can see a personal benefit in the goal. So make sure you take the time to get to know your team members’ inspirations and motivations and how the team and organisational goal links with them. A short conversation can be enough to drive really powerful outcomes
Conversation 4: Who are we?
People are as fascinating as they are diverse. Engineers, accountants, marketers, sociologists, musicians—all have very different skills and tend to operate in very different ways. The people you work with on a daily basis could be similar, or very different to you; and there are important implications for each. To really give you and your team the best chance of success, you need to understand the people you work with—both those internal and external to your team and organisation. How do they think? How do they communicate? What are their preferences? There numerous profiling instruments out there than can help you learn about your team and give you a common language and understanding to work with. I cannot stress enough how helpful these instruments can be when used correctly. There are some important factors to consider when choosing the instrument you want to use though, so do your research first, and speak to an expert.
Conversation 5: What’s the best way for us to communicate?
Communication is key to getting things done, and often there is ample room for improvement in our communication styles and mediums. While conversation #4 touched on this by looking at communication preferences, this conversation can focus more on the communication systems used in your team. When you talk about the communication systems, think about systems as both the technology and the behaviours—what do different people prefer, what type of system is appropriate for what type of message, and how the whole process can be simplified, clarified and sped-up.
Keep tuned for my next post which will include the second half of my top 10 conversations. In the meantime, get in touch.