Co-Creating Great Workdays
Together Everyone Achieves More. We've heard this many times, however, have you stopped to think about what this means to you or how to make it happen with your team and even your family? How many of you like to be "told" what to do? Not many of us. Granted there's a time and a place to "tell" people things. For example, when there are new policies, or maybe when people are first beginning a new job or activity and they don't have the information they need to successfully complete their job. Yet, in many instances instead of "telling" people what to do, what if we worked together to create the culture and atmosphere at our workplaces, with our friends, and families where everyone could thrive and be the very best version of themselves? Let's create safe and more satisfying work and family days.
Co-creating a safe and satisfying environment sounds easy - sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. I've heard it said that some people are so lucky - I find the harder people work the luckier they become. In working with, and on a variety of teams for more years than I can count, I've discovered 6 ways in which to create the culture we want. The beauty of this is: it's Your Team: Your Choice: Your Culture. Together let's explore how to create the workday your team wants.
We talk about it, but what are some of the ways in which we collaborate with one another?
When working side by side and making decisions based on what's best for all involved, it's important to remember our purpose. What is the reason our team is here? Individuals have a purpose - teams have a purpose too. When we are all working toward the same purpose or goal, it's easier to be on the same page. What is it that your team, as a team, can do and deliver that no one else can? It's not about us, it's about our purpose and our client(s). Involve as many people as possible in the plan, decision, and implementation. Ensure each person is on board with the decision and involved with the outcome.
When I served the Iowa Jaycees as a Regional Director, our Board discussed our goals, how we would accomplish them in order to best serve our communities and grow as a region. We didn't always agree, however we continued to meet, talk, and determine what was best for the entire team - not just one person. Many times, we are told if we are meeting about a problem, it's good to come to the meeting with a solution. Yet, what if there is a problem and you really are not certain what to do? Do we not talk about it? Adam Grant shared during a keynote address that it's okay to not always have solutions when you meet. Come with an open mind to brainstorm and collaborate on solutions together. His book and keynote caused me to "Think Again."
2. RelationshipsOne of the best ways to create a great culture is to work alongside one another. I've learned it's best not to ask anyone to do anything you wouldn't do yourself. Not that you are always the one doing it, yet people know they can count on you for anything. I had the privilege of witnessing leadership at its best at the first Iowa State "Camp." Iowa State University held a fun, free event the weekend prior to classes starting to welcome our students to campus. ISU President Wintersteen attended and "hung out" with the students, which you may be thinking, what's the big deal? The big deal - she stayed with the volunteers to help throw away trash, clean tables, and stack tables and chairs. She didn't have to stay. She chose to stay. She leads by example and works along side of her team. She is the epitome of what a leader is and does to create a better workday for everyone. In fact, one of the president’s team members shared that that is just one of the many reasons she loves working for her.
When building relationships consider some of the following ideas:
- Host activities to get to know people
- Host a monthly birthday celebration
- Host potlucks - some of the best ideas and work get done over lunch and casual conversations
- Spend time with each other - sometimes people will remark they don't have time - I venture to say we don't have time to not make the time to foster relationships
- It's hard to be angry at someone with whom you have a relationship
- Check-in with each other at each meeting - ask participants about their favorite food, what they're looking forward to or celebrating, what season describes their mood, etc.
- Celebrate successes and wins - maybe even failures - what did we learn from them?
3. Empower and Elevate Everyone
Allow people to make as many decisions as possible, on their own and with others. Encourage people to share the problems they see that need to be addressed, and let them help discover the solution. There really is a leader in every seat.
Ask questions with an open mind, open heart, and positive attitude - Ask the right questions. They aren't always easy, yet they're important. Become comfortable asking tough questions with kindness and compassion, so we can achieve the results we want. Work to avoid the "Why" questions, only because it's so easy to put people on the defensive. When people hear the word "why," so many times they think they are being "questioned" when in reality, most of the time people are asking for a deeper understanding or more information. I love the "what" questions - they help everyone to gain the information needed while not putting people on the defensive.
A few questions you may want to ask yourself and your peers when creating the culture you want, are:
- What do you want to Stop doing and Start doing to create the culture your team wants and for it to thrive?
- What "space" do you want to create for your workday?
- What’s your team's purpose?
- What do you want your culture to look like?
- How do you want it to feel like?
- What are all of us, and what am I, willing to do to create a culture of trust, etc.?
- Am I listening to the other person and hearing what they are saying?
For example, during one of my years serving on the ICF Iowa Board of Directors, our Membership Task Force conducted a survey of our members in order to discover what was important to them, and how we could better serve them. We asked questions. We listen to their suggestions and developed and kept some of the following activities they shared were important to them: virtual programs for our educational meetings, new member orientation, in-person networking events, a slide show promoting what coaching has to offer and projects with non-profits.
5. Together, Establish Trust and Talk With One Another
Tell someone how awesome they are or what an amazing job they did. This is where telling is great. Listening is important too, but that's for a different blog. I'm confident leaders hear what needs to be changed, etc., etc. It's also important to share what is going well with leaders. If you see something, say something - that also means say something complimentary. Instead of always telling people what a great job someone else did - share with the person what an awesome job they did. Create Team norms together. Share with each other what you need, what you want and what you're willing and able to do.
For example, you might begin a conversation with a peer with “Thanks so much for that wonderful job you did on the xyz project,” or “I noticed that you put extra effort into the abc proposal this week,” or “It was so helpful of you to take care of that task last week while I was swamped.” Maybe you start a conversation with your leader with “I noticed that you took care of that thing we’d asked for your help with – thank you, that’s made a real difference." You get the idea.
Create Team Norms together. Not familiar with those? Check out our blog that shares some tips for creating a healthy team, or our class Harnessing the Power of Your Team to learn more. Share with each other what you need, what you want and what you're willing and able to do. This shared expectation-setting is a great way to get on the same page about who is available to help whenever you need it down the road!
6. Enjoy the workday and culture you and your team have created
Evaluate - Dr. Phil is always asking "so how's it working for you?" He encourages us to keep doing it if it's working and if it's not - change it. Talk things over with peers. Change what needs to be changed and celebrate the wins. Enjoy working with one another, and appreciate what each brings to the day. Have fun throughout the day even when working hard. Host birthday celebrations, potlucks, or maybe Zoom lunch together if you're working hybrid or remote.
Collaborate by building Relationships that last. Empower each other. Ask questions as you Together build Trust in one another, while Enjoying the culture you've created on purpose. Remember - Create the workday you and your team want. Every day is an opportunity to make it a great day.
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It Does." - William James