The Management Blog
Tips & advice to help you improve your performance
Do you feel unmotivated and bored in your team meetings when the need to brainstorm comes up?
This is a pretty common attitude held by leaders worldwide; they feel like their employees simply cannot or do not want to contribute creative new ideas, thereby leaving all of the brainstorming on their shoulders.
When trying to get a message across to your team, there is no better way of doing so than to tell them a story.
Storytelling captures your audience’s attention and emotions, leaving them feeling motivated.
Many managers tell me that the level of trust that exists in the team could be better. They often quote some of the main behaviours that reduce trust within a team, which include:
* Sending mixed messages of inconsistency
* Being more concerned about their own wellbeing than that of others
* Avoiding taking responsibility for actions
* Jumping to conclusions without checking facts first
* Hiding or withholding information that would be of benefit to others
Here’s an exercise to help you begin the dialogue about the level of trust within your team.
Put the following words on a blank sheet of paper, well spaced out:
Prepare one sheet for each team member.
Ask each person to select three words that best describes your team and circle them.
Ask them to anonymously give the paper to you.
Count up the words that have been circled.
Post the results.
Lead a team meeting on the words receiving the most votes, and those receiving fewer or no votes.
If there are negative words on the list, discuss the word they would rather use to replace the negative one.
Discuss changes needed to aspire to the desired state within the team.
If you carry out this exercise purposefully and honestly, you build the relationship in the team and get them to identify how trust can be generated. Merely having the discussion can often help alleviate a lot of the problems associated with lack of trust. And if the team themselves work toward curbing the negatives that reduce trust, you form greater ties with them and will see the rewards of trust in the results you obtain.
As a manager, we are often asked to think ‘outside the box’ to find answers to questions that stump us. The question I often ask is ‘how do I think outside the box?’
Well, I came across an interesting study recently by Hudson (1967), who studied thinking in schools and concluded that there were two different forms of thinking or ability at play. He called one form “convergent” thinking, in which the person is good at bringing material from a variety of areas, in such a way as to produce the “correct” answer. This is helpful if you are trying to get just one answer to a problem, and you are plainly just interested in facts.
The other he termed “divergent” thinking. Here is where the thinking out of the box idea can be loosely developed, because the person’s skill is in broadly creative expansion of ideas prompted by an outside stimulus.
In order to get at this kind of thinking, Hudson devised open-ended tests, such as the “Uses of Objects” test:
Here are five everyday objects. Think of as many different uses as you can for each:
* A barrel
* A paper clip
* A tin of shoe polish
* A brick
* A blanket
There’s no time limit to this, but allow around 15 minutes
Your list will test your divergent style of thinking, sometimes linked to brainstorming, and will allow you to generate many ideas. In business, you can highlight a particular problem and then identify many possible options (divergent thinking). You can then assess the quality of them and hone in on the best ones (convergent thinking). It will allow you to think differently, expand your options and gain answers that maybe you hadn’t thought of before.
(My thanks to JS Atherton (2010) and his article ‘Learning and Teaching; Convergent and Divergent Learning’ for further information on this topic)