Many great things can happen when a group of people work together for a cause. However, putting the same group of people together will also create a room full of different opinions. How do you leverage this diversity of thought? How do you acknowledge opinions while creating a cohesive, positive team?
A friend of mine recently attended a talk given by Peter Block, author of Community: The Structure of Belonging. After sharing with me what she learned from his talk, a few things struck me as important:
Identify Root Problem
What is the actual problem that’s inhibiting your organization from moving forward? Many employees often present the symptoms of the root problem, such as “Julius doesn’t listen to me” or “Marie asks too many questions”. Yet a strong manager will ask probing questions that get to the root cause of the problem. By listening and inviting honest dialogue, you will learn that the real problems may be unclear roles or goals, leading to Julius’ listening behavior and Marie’s questioning behaviors. Once the root problem is identified, you can focuses your energies on solutions that will fix the actual problem, rather than the symptom.
Block mentioned identifying the “gifts” or talents others have, making your organization a strengths based one. Recognizing gifts gives ownership to specific individuals, creates accountability and speeds the process of change. Of course you can’t just assume you’ve given someone ownership of a specific task or solution. Ask engaging questions to elicit responses that allow them to see exactly how they can contribute to each project. Block calls this the “invitation”.
No one person should completely dominate the decision making process. Facilitation is important in order to reach consensus. To reach consensus and ownership, team members must feel as though they have a say and a choice. Create open discussions where numerous solutions are voiced and voted upon. If trust is an issue in your organization, conduct an anonymous survey or a simple employee “suggestion/feedback” tool.
Have you found the root problem by asking probing questions? How did you do it? Leave me a comment below.