• Why Basics Matter

    Why Basics Matter

    Posted 14/12/2011 By in MANAGEMENT With | No Comments

    I’ve been delivering workshops, training, group and individual coaching services for some time now and I’ve seen a few things.  Not everything, but a few things.  And over that time working with individuals, teams, managers and organisations I’m seeing some patterns.  Ya gotta crawl before you can walk people, and definitely walk before you can run.

    I’ve got a couple of examples.

    1).  Team-Building.  A newish team (<6 months) of mature professionals.  I was asked to help facilitate improved relationships, clarify their team purpose and develop an action plan to help embed this.  When exploring an exercise in translating values into behaviours I was challenged rather strongly that “these behavioural indicators are pointless.  We’re covered by a code of conduct and this is all common sense…”  I can understand why one might think that.  The person making that comment is technically right.  And yet teams still fall into dysfunction, unhealthy conflict emerges and goals are missed.  Why?  Because common sense is not that common is my joke answer.  The real answer is that we all interpret things differently.  For instance, ‘Professionalism’ as a value will mean different things to different people and different things to the same people at different times.  So to have a team discuss what “professional” means to them specifically  is useful.  To do it proactively and in the absence of any dysfunction is just plain good management in my opinion.  It is easier and takes far less time to set expectations in advance rather than waiting till the wheels fall off and calling me in to fix it.  That’s far more difficult, expensive and requires more energy on everyones part.  And to be frank, is less likely to produce a great result.   So your choice.  Spend 30 minutes going over basic ‘common sense’ things in advance or risk your team falling into dysfunction and having it cost you productivity, engagement, moral, credibility, money, time and the list goes on.  And as for the code of conduct in question.  Who really reads them anyway and last time I looked they didn’t say things like “You must say good morning to your co-workers”, or “Don’t roll your eyes when team members contribute their ideas” or “Don’t use your speaker phone in a pod work environment”.  All of which are real examples of teams in significant dysfunction I’ve worked with over the years.

    2).  Master the basics.  A 2 day Management training program focused on ‘below the line’ management techniques including relationship building.  We introduce several models including Ladder of Inference, Above and Below the Line, Perceptual Positioning.  Many experienced psychologists, coaches, HR practitioners and some Managers would argue these are basic models.  The problem is that it’s not the understanding of these models that’s the challenge.  It’s the application of them.  Consistently.  And when under pressure.  And when you’re stressed, frustrated, over-worked etc.  Once you can do that, feel free to explore more complex management models.  Until then, there’s plenty more mileage to be gained from these simple tools.  I play with them, write about them and teach them all the time and I still get caught out running up my ladder and making incorrect decisions based on limited data and incorrect assumptions and beliefs, or by not considering the second or third persons perspective.  Disturbingly, those participants who were least ‘impressed’ by the models were the very same ones that were sent by their manager to work on just those things.

    Mastering the basics does not make you basic.  It makes you a master and provides a solid foundation on which to build.  Should you need to.  My guess is you probably won’t.

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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