What do you tell your team to do on a Friday afternoon?

Have you ever been a member of a truly high performing team? Have you experienced how rewarding and motivating it is?

Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to be a member of some very effective teams – unfortunately I’ve been on some stinkers too!

Here is one of the latter: –

A few years back I was promoted to be the marketing operations manager of a large marine paint business. The role reported to the Marketing Director – a highly driven, ambitious and intelligent man. His team comprised some 25 or so bright graduates.

Individual brilliance and intellect can sometimes accompany a lack of emotional intelligence and I’m sad to say, that this was the case with this particular director of marketing.

When I joined the department (note I didn’t say team!), I was struck by how little excitement and motivation there was – It wasn’t long before the reasons started to become clear.

Every Friday afternoon, each member of the team would be required to stop working and write a detailed report of what they had done that week and what they planned to do the following week.

The director would then take all 25 reports home and over the weekend re-plan every schedule!

The result? – The director’s behaviour spoke volumes to the team that he did not TRUST them to plan their own work – his regime took away the sense that they were able to contribute in a meaningful way so they just resigned themselves to keeping their heads down and doing what they were told.

What a waste!

I believe strongly that the foundation of teamwork is trust. Vulnerable trust, where a culture of high challenge with high support exists, is absolutely essential for any team to successfully engage in productive conflict and debate. Conflict that enables the robust debate of all opinion and ideas and ensures that all members can weigh in before they buy in.

So what will you tell your team to do on a Friday afternoon? How about getting together to engage in productive conflict around one or two of your biggest challenges. You’ll be surprised at the outcome!

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