Monday, July 15, 2013

Is being transparent with your team, putting your foot in your mouth?

Tired? Need a break? Take 4 days off in August and get 10 days off in a row... thanks to a long weekend and Independence Day

In all probability, majority of people taking off is high, considering the long weekend. A friend and colleague of mine had the same thoughts when she called for her team meeting. The meeting went uneventfully until she came to the last agenda - Leaves

She had thought of this long and hard; an easy way, was to ignore that there were long leaves that can be availed since her team members had not approached her for leave, so she could plan assuming business as-usual - why unnecessarily give them ideas?; on the other hand, it was inevitable that many may want to avail leave at the last minute where either she would have to disapprove their leaves or have slippage in her plan

Being the good Manager she was, she decided to throw the ball in the teams court

"How many of you have plans to take off in August? We need to plan our work accordingly" she 
bravely asked

The moment she uttered 'off' the energy levels changed. There was excitement in the air and everyone was talking animatedly. She did expect this; she also expected all her team to apply for leave

"I know everyone is going to apply for leave. It would be a joke when I go to Management and say my entire team is on leave!", she thought. The only comfort she had was that her teams key deliveries would be over much before August but it still would be an embarrassment which she had to face for her teams sake!

"I need leave for the 4 days" said one of her team members

"I too need off" said another

"Hmmm.... I am not sure whether I need... I don't have any plans... no I don't need it" said the third, overwhelmed by the options

She sighed in relief, at least it is not going to be the entire team!

"I don't need leave now, I have something planned later this year" said the fourth member

She went around the table and to her surprise only 3 of her team members wanted leave! She wouldn't need to talk to Management, it would be business as-usual in August

She discussed this incident with me. How often do we end up assuming group behavior especially assuming the negative? Most of the time!

Every time I discuss a change in the way of working, I almost always hear people taking a negative stand - What if this happens? What if that happens?

We debate on 'n+1' number of negative alternatives and try to address the exceptions in the process rather than addressing the common flow. This stems from the fact of mistrust and when there is mistrust in the environment, you would be proved right!

In the above case, she braved against the common fear and won the trust of her team - everyone was contended that they were given a choice. Transparency and consensus does help in building strong teams

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