FROM DIVISION TO SYNERGY

Emma Vallin, Leadership Consultant & Coach

One of my favorite assignments last year was a Team Effectiveness Project for a consumer goods company.

THE CHALLENGE
The head of the Consumer Insights team approached me since his team struggled with collaboration. The team was divided between seasoned members and newcomers, leading to low engagement scores and a reluctance from other departments to collaborate.

OUR APPROACH
When interviewing team members, it became clear that they didn’t have common goals, nor did they play by the same rules. We used Team Pro, a structured and well researched method for team development. With an online assessment and a series of workshops we worked on strengthening:

1.      Transitional Processes: The interactions that occur before and after work processes where the team plans and evaluates. (To use a sports analogy: before and after the game)
2.      Action Processes: The interactions in the team where they perform their work duties to achieve their goals. (During the game)
3.      Interpersonal Processes: Activities addressing the team’s emotional climate. (Around the game)

During exercises and simulations, my co-facilitator and I observed the team and gave them feedback on their behaviors. The team then developed an action plan for what they wanted to improve and how.

THE RESULTS
–         8-percentage-point increase in employee engagement score.
–         27% uptick in internal net promoter score.
–         The team was recognized as a good place to work, with more internal applications for vacancies.

A key reason for the results was the team leader’s willingness to invest in team development over time. This year we are doing another Team Pro check-in with the team 😊.

Interested in how your team can work better together? Let’s talk

Is there room for candor in your team?

Photo: Janine Laag
Emma Vallin, leadership consultant, coach

Open Conversations

First up in my series of blog posts on psychological safety is the dimension of open conversations and dialogue.

Defined as:

‘the degree to which difficult and sensitive topics can be discussed openly’ –

open conversations help your team take advantage of opportunities. It gives you invaluable insights into each other and can help you move past challenges. Quality dialogue is necessary for the team to learn and stay engaged.

In contrast, if the quality of the conversation is low it can stop you from speaking up about risks or challenges. As an organization you might lose out on business-critical information and miss opportunities. One of the symptoms can be that your meetings are very short or often rescheduled.

“The quality of your conversations will determine the quality of your outcomes” – Amy C. Edmondson

Here are some tips for encouraging open conversations:
    • Share your learnings or take-aways from conversations
    • Ask twice as many questions as you tell. Replace “I think” statements with “what if” statements to invite voice and limit self-promotion
    • Make yourself available and listen with curiosity & empathy
    • What meetings do you reschedule regularly? What is causing that change and what is the impact on the team?

Next up: Attitude Towards Risk & Failure
Photo: Janine Laag

Building Psychologically Safe Teams

Have you ever been on a team where:

    • you spoke openly about difficult topics
    • you viewed mistakes as a chance to learn
    • colleagues went the extra mile for each other, and
    • you capitalized on everyone’s differences?

Then you’ve probably experiences the potency of psychological safety.

Defined by Amy C. Edmondson as “a belief that the context is safe for interpersonal risk-taking – that speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes will be welcomed and valued”, Psychological safety is a critical ingredient for groups to be engaged, to learn and to succeed.

Why psych. safety matters more than ever

Today the work many of us do is highly cognitive. It requires us to solve complex problems and find creative solutions to new challenges. Collaboration and the ability to get the best out of a diverse group is one of the biggest leadership challenges we face. In this uncertain and fast paced world, everyone’s voice could be business critical. Leaders who fail to create a climate where that voice can be raised freely, without fear of the consequences, risk missing out on opportunities and disengage the organization’s best people.

Employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report. That’s equal to 11% of global GDP.

On this flipside companies that report high psychological safety experience:

    •  76% more engagement
    • 50% more productivity
    • 74% less stress
    • 57% workers more likely to collaborate

 “No one comes up with a good idea when being chased by a tiger”

How to build Psychological Safety in a team

Psychological Safety is gained over time through intentional actions. It is something that is built in drops but lost in buckets.

I work with vastly different teams who want to improve their collaboration – from leadership teams to startups and global HR teams. In my experience, teams can significantly improve their level of psychological safety in just a few months by making it a priority.

I’m certified in the Fearless Organization tool – a method for measuring and developing psychological safety, based on over 30 years of research.

The work I do with teams usually follows these 4 steps:

1.   1-1 meeting with the team leader

2.   Team completes the online Fearless Organization Scan

3.   Debrief workshop when we look at specific areas for improvement and develop an action plan. The team then works intentionally with the identified behaviors.

4.   A follow up online scan after 2-4 months followed by a new workshop to discuss and learn. Regular measurement, support and dialog.

“Start with the common goal. Then make psychological safety a common project.” Amy C. Edmondson

In the coming weeks I’ll post about the 4 dimensions of psychological safety, highlighted in the Fearless Organization book by Amy Edmondson, and tools to improve them:

    1.  Open Conversation
    2. Attitude Towards Risk & Failure
    3. Willingness to Help
    4. Inclusion & Diversity

I hope you’ll join me in discussing ways we can build open, engaged and effective teams.

First up next week is: Open Conversations