Mircochanges That Clear Obstacles and Make Space for Teams to Contribute

Today’s edition of Making Work Work Better is a continuation of our last . Today we share the balance of the Eight Great that #Activate.

Before we dive in, a quick refresh on # Activation : It’s the state in which teams are fully empowered to contribute meaningfully to results. Our work with #activation isn’t about putting out fires. It’s about helping leaders light them.

And our secret sauce? Why, it’s identifying and implementing #microchanges: the tiniest increments of meaningful change – as identified by your teams – that clear obstacles and make space for teams to contribute.

They key to #microchange is that there are no “right” ones – only the ones your teams have identified as meaningful. But – we’ve started seeing some trends and wanted to share them with you – show you what these #microchanges look like in “real life.”

So we asked our clients to tell us about their favorites – the ones that have yielded maximum impact with minimal effort. And we’re sharing our – their – top eight with you (four in our last edition and four below).

#Microchange #5: “Underbake"

Question: If a colleague asks for your feedback on an idea that – when presented – feels pretty darn fully formed… is that colleague really asking for your feedback?

Um, no.

If you’ve had this experienced, do know you’re not alone.

Many of our clients have spun a similar tale. They strive to implement ideas born of collaboration, diverse perspective, and consideration of all possibilities.

In practice, however, ideas gets born and “baked.” The idea becomes the baby of the baker. It gets shaped and molded, and often only then does the baker begin seeking feedback, input, or additional perspective.

Importantly, the baker is not a villain. Malice is never intended. But organizations must establish the imperative that ideas need discussion before they get baked. This practice both enhances the quality of the idea AND engages the talent at the table.

The #microchange cited here is simply – share early, bake later. When you’re looking for feedback, don’t show up with polished slides. Instead, bring some note cards and questions ( real questions) and post its and markers – get messy. Wear an apron!

The result? Better, more inclusive, #activated ideas collaboratively built and owned.

#Microchange #6: Rewire Recognition

This one’s simple, and yet so often overlooked.

Our clients wonder why – when they invite innovation, debate, decision-making, etc. – they have so much trouble bringing these behaviors to life.

Turns out the most common culprit? Recognition.

We may invite behaviors, but we recognize outcomes. And as we at Lead Above Noise love to say, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

So the #microchange we recommend here? Start recognizing actual behaviors, agnostic of the outcome.

Someone asks a brave question? Shares a harebrained idea? As long as the effort was thoughtful (no – we don’t want to reward carelessness) give them credit – publicly.

The more teams see that these behaviors are rewarded, the more they will exhibit the behaviors. And while you may not see a gem of an outcome every time, you’ll see your teams truly start to activate.

#Microchange #7: Start a debate club

This is one our clients have started to have some fun with.

Quick truth: odds are, you’re organization isn’t suffering from a lack of talent or great ideas, but rather the absence of a mechanism by which to harness and capture said talent and ideas.

One way to change this? Create a forum for idea-sharing and open discussion.

Sounds like a meeting. But it’s not. A meeting (by our definition anyway) has these characteristics: (1) an agenda, (2) a specific desired outcome, and (3) an intentional list of attendees (as in – you need an invitation).

The forum we’re recommending here, however, is an opportunity for discussion and debate – and anyone from any practice area can join. There are countless ways to structure and organize such a forum – each client has done it differently.

But the gist is that someone – anyone – can bring a problem or question to the table or podium, and then let discussion ensue. Ideas and debate will flow, questions will be posed, and the only objective is that the bringer of the idea has had their thinking pushed.

How can that be bad?

Related: Microchanges You Can Make to Have a Huge Impact in Activating Your Team

#Microchange #8: Embrace the power of NO

There’s s this unfortunate thing happening in many organizations: somehow people come to believe that being a hero, a team-player, the guy or gal who will always figure it out and get it done – is the path to success.

Even more unfortunate is that often this prophecy is fulfilled. Leaders do often favor that team-playing doer.

But at what cost? Is the organization really benefitting when its talent simply says yes to everything?

The question is rhetorical. You’re off the hook.

When our clients come to this realization, and in turn can identify pockets where this is happening, then the #microchange recommended here is: (a) a clear re-articulation of a team’s core priorities, and (b) the provision of permission to say “no” to things not aligned.

This one may take some time and practice – but even getting the ball rolling generates relief quickly.

That’s the type of hero we should all strive to be.

And there you have it. Our top 8.

We’ve seen and supported many more, and we’re happy to talk to you anytime about how you and your team might benefit from our # Activation program.