Building Transformational Teams

Over the past two weeks we have looked at the seven personal transformers. Refer to Transform You for a summation of each one of these blogs. And a company that owes its success to its focus on unleashing personal transformation at Oils Aint Oils

One of the common pieces of feedback I received during the week was “how can this work in my organization where there isn’t an emphasis on learning and capability development.” So over the next few weeks we are going to delve into how companies can build transformational teams.

It appears that most of us are not excited by our work. In one survey, 84% of employees said they felt ‘trapped’ in their jobs. In another, only 22% said they had anything like a clear career path in their current job. Two questions come up more than any others: “How can I get my people to transform themselves?” and “How can I get my boss to let me transform my self?” It is ironic and even sad: both employees and their managers want to experience the growth that can come with transformation, but it is not happening. No wonder true engagement is so rare.

Change, not stasis, is the natural mode of human life. Change promotes growth; stasis results in decline. Whether they are the manager of a small team or the head honcho overseeing thousands of people across several business units, proactive managers get this. They cultivate environments that keep the work experience fresh. They encourage and facilitate personal transformations. They recognize that the best reward they can give their people – the thing that motivates and engages beyond money or praise – is learning. It is what makes each of us more productive. It is what turns our organisations into talent magnets.

Managers are the people best placed to shape these learning curves and help employees recognize when it is time to leap to a new curve

And yet all too often, that kind of clarity of purpose, on the job development, and career-shaping coaching get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of putting out fires, running to meetings, and answering emails. It’s not uncommon to hear a manager complain that they have no one who can pick up the slack when they’re on vacation but in almost the same breath say they’re just too busy to teach employees what to do or dismiss hands-on coaching as hand-holding or babysitting.

This isn’t the kind of manager most people set out to be. It’s just that the long term, important task of coaching and developing people gets lost in the chaos of day-to-day to-do lists. And then, when the employee leaves and the manager has an empty role to fill, we are so harried, we hire someone who knows how to do the job today – rather than hire someone who might grow in the role over the course of many tomorrows.

As managers we have the same dilemma that industry incumbents face: we become great at maximizing efficiency while taking our eye off the ball of personal and professional growth. And that’s how we end up with so many people feeling bored or stuck in their jobs with no clear career path. The result is stagnation, for both the employees and the organization.

An employee, like a start up, requires a certain amount of up-front investment. A good manager, like a good investor, knows how to exercise patience. Having done your due diligence before bringing someone onboard, you’ll have a certain amount of confidence that they’ll grow into the role. When they do, you’ll be rewarded with the returns: an employee who is highly productive. If you take this approach with your whole ‘portfolio’ of employees, the result will be an A-team: people who are at different stages on their individual learning curves who achieve the ‘sweet spot’ of highly engaged growth at different times

It is not enough to do our work with the latest gadgets and hot-off-the-press technology. Bright shiny objects lose their sheen quickly. The work itself needs to change: problems to solve, needs to address, brain-stimulating challenges roll around again – and on a regular basis.

We can only rummage through the same rocks for so long and still find diamonds. Eventually it’s time to swing our pick into the solid wall of the unknown and begin the work of discovery anew.

Over the next few weeks we are going to delve into how we move our teams from inexperienced to mastery and back to inexperienced again. The genesis of transformational teams.

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