Commit to Organizational Stability to Build an Agile Team [#OrganizationalStability #AgileTeam]

Commit to Organizational Stability to Build an Agile Team [#OrganizationalStability #AgileTeam]

1. Sharpen Focus
2. Break Down Barriers
3. Optimize Failure
4. Build Optimism
5. Reassure People
6. Harmonize Resources
7. Plan for Recovery

1. Sharpen Focus
The top priority right now, of course, is to help people focus on what matters most: health and safety. After that, as a next priority, determine what tasks and functions will be critical in keeping the business running.

Be disciplined in identifying your top priorities and then communicating them to your teams, almost to the point of over-communicating. Because many of your team members around the globe are working from home, the potential for new distractions and miscommunication are more. So make clear what your priorities are, again and again, and do everything you can to help teams focus on them.

Put the “nice to have” initiatives or system-wide transformations on hold while the company is in survival mode, and reevaluate your priorities.

2. Break Down Barriers
Be on the lookout for barriers to performance, which can undermine stability and shake confidence.

To help facilitate meetings and connections among team members, offer multiple means of videoconferencing, choosing a couple of alternative applications for backup in case the primary app fails.

Stay closely attuned to team members as new work tools and processes are put in place. This will help you quickly identify destabilizing forces, nip them in the bud, and come up with creative solutions. Anticipate barriers, plan workarounds, and, whenever necessary, deploy those workarounds rapidly to prevent further disruption.

3. Optimize Failure
Create psychological safety among team members by welcoming their ideas and trying out their suggestions. Also do so by using failure as a teachable moment for all, by avoiding blame and instead harvesting lessons about what worked and what did not. Dedicated time in weekly retrospective meetings for these teachable moments can help get the word out.

Infuse stability by conducting fast-cycle after-action reviews with individual team members and entire teams. These need to be safe conversations that surface what team members are learning and best practices as they work toward new ways of interacting as well as experiments that were not effective. Documenting these lessons will also help in the post-pandemic world with new models for organizing and coordinating work.

4. Build Optimism

Leaders are “dealers in hope.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

In the midst of a crisis, project confidence, strength, and positivism. Those are stabilizing qualities—as is optimism. Know that every problem presents an opportunity. If you call attention to these opportunities and empower teams to capitalize on them, you can create a stabilizing sense of optimism.

None of this means denying reality or sugarcoating bad news, both of which breed cynicism and distrust. Straightforwardly acknowledge setbacks and disappointments, and then focus—optimistically but pragmatically—on what can be done to move forward.

5. Reassure People
Crises and dramatic change create anxiety. So do everything you can to put people’s minds at ease by affirming their roles, value, and future. Though, balancing realism and optimism is crucial. Do not over-promise. If you do, you’ll erode trust, a cornerstone of stability.

As much as possible, focus on sharing concrete, positive information—about the financial health of the organization, about specific strategies to survive the economic downturn, about plans that protect employees and their job security. These messages have strong stabilizing effects, because they remove doubt and dispel fear. Likewise, explaining the rationale for cuts in a straightforward and transparent way helps people to understand and better accept their necessity. Tough news delivered right is more stabilizing than misleading or nonexistent communication, which often leave people assuming the worst.

In addition, it is more important than ever during disruptive change that you take extra time to check on your people. It can be as simple as making a phone call (“I had a couple minutes and wanted to see how you are doing”) and then listening carefully for worries and concerns. A good rule of thumb: It’s best to “check in” before you “check on.” That is, first ask how the person you have called is doing, and how their families are doing. Let them know you care. Only then ask how their work is going and how you can help them cope.

You do not have to solve every practical or emotional problem to be helpful. Just listening in an empathetic way can make a difference. You can provide a stabilizing influence by giving your time, offering emotional support, and expressing appreciation.

6. Harmonize Resources
“Doing more with less” is a morale killer in the best of times, and even more so when a crisis is sucking up people’s time, energy, and attention. Exhausted, distracted people with too few resources only add more instability to an already taxing situation. So focus your efforts on balancing the work-demands/available-resources equation.

A common reaction to economic pressure, of course, belt-tightening: Companies decide to reduce spending, halt hiring, suspend raises and promotions, and even lay off people. Before taking such drastic measures, though, pause and think through how these actions will land with your team members and business partners. Will they stabilize or destabilize things? It may well be necessary to trim costs, but think through the impact on your already stressed team members who need to remain strong and healthy, and work hard to find creative alternatives that can reduce demands and increase resources.

If you decide you have to take a destabilizing action, such as laying off people, consider very carefully how you will communicate the message. What is needed to protect the business, and how can you do it in a way that minimizes a destabilizing impact on people.

7. Plan for Recovery
To provide stability as you work toward the new normal, whatever that may look like, develop a recovery plan. It does not have to be perfect. Just do what you can to let your teams know what the first few steps of your recovery might look like. Even a rough recovery plan will give your teams something to focus on—and it will make your job feel less daunting when at last you turn the corner. Demonstrating progress against that plan, even as it evolves, can have a psychologically important stabilizing effect.

Develop contingency plans, too. For example, to maintain continuity should people get sick during this crisis, identify backups for key roles and cross-training team members to take on other roles. Such plans boost confidence that teams can absorb jolts. Even if these scenarios do not play out exactly, the act of planning for emergencies creates stability, by providing teams with a blueprint for how to adapt. This builds confidence in their ability to handle the unexpected and will help them work more calmly and return to operations more quickly.

Adapted from:
To Build an Agile Team, Commit to Organizational Stability:
Harvard Business Review

Like this? Leave your thoughts below...

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posted in:


Don`t copy text!