Is your IT department leaving the proverbial "toilet seat" up?
Every single person on this planet strives to be better and every single person on this planet would like to improve something in their lives.
Some would like to perform better at work, to be a lovelier parent, to get on with their partner more, to play an instrument with greater confidence or maybe improve their sporting prowess. No matter what our identified areas of improvement, there is one single thing that could help us achieve that improvement the most, yet most of us are too afraid to undertake it.
Imagine sitting down with your partner, giving him or her a pad and a pencil and asking him or her to write down all the things that you could do better. Ask them to write down all the things that you do that irritate or annoy them. Basically, all the things that you need to change or do differently in order to improve your relationship. (Just to even it out and to follow correct HR protocol, ask them to list all the things that you do well or please them.) If the first list is significantly longer than the latter, then this could be a rough exercise for you!
Sound like a familiar scenario? No? Of course it doesn’t. How many of us would be brave (or foolish) enough to ask for feedback in that manner. Expose our vulnerabilities and inciting feedback in that way is very hard to do and very hard to receive. But what if we did? What if we were brave enough? What would we learn? Wouldn’t you want to know all the things you could do to improve yourself? Just think how powerful that could be – a list of things you could do to give you an improvement in a certain area.
Out of the long list that would no doubt be produced, there would be some quick wins. Things that you could do or change without much effort, yet could have a profound effect on your partner and your relationship. Closing the toilet seat, putting our clothes away, turning lights off are all small things in themselves, but put together can make a massive positive difference.
Yet, unfortunately, very few of us would ever go through the exercise of asking for feedback in the manner above, so we would continue to bumble along in our “toilet seat up” and “lights left on” world.
"Each child is an adventure into a better life - an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new."
Hubert H. Humphrey
Now fast forward the analogy to the corporate world. How many of us proverbially “leave the toilet seat up” at work. How many of us “kick our shoes off at the door”. Clearly, I don’t mean literally, but metaphorically speaking, there may be tiny little things that you and your team are doing (or not doing) that are slowly chipping away at your relationship with the rest of your business.
If the analogy above holds true, how can you build truly meaningful relationships and partnerships if you are completely unaware of your short comings.
I have just finished an assignment on a client site, where their IT department was “not meeting the demands of the business”. The senior executives had lost faith in IT and they were apparently beyond help.
However, after a series of conversations with people all across the business, it became apparent that perception totally outshone reality. It was effectively a “marriage on the rocks” because no mechanism was in place for sharing constructive feedback.
However, by acting as the marriage counsellor, Bright Frog were able to ask the difficult questions, seek the feedback that was never sought and probe things that had never been probed!
The result was much like the list that your wife/husband would write for you. A list of things that you could do that would dramatically improve the quality of your relationship.
The output for the client was a series of quick wins, planned project work and longer term organisational changes that needed to be made in order to provide a service that fitted the expectations of the business.
So, is this a hard thing to do? No, not really. It is a brave thing to do however, but for the brave, the spoils will follow.
Clearly, using someone that has the skills to facilitate such an exercise would be a sensible move and would result in a greater output. However, if you are the manager of a team, a department or even an entire company, why not chose a few other colleagues to provide some feedback on your team and you may be surprised by what you find and how rich those conversations could be.
But remember, if someone is willing to share feedback with you, you must be willing to receive it and more importantly, willing to act upon it.
Enjoy closing those “toilet seats”!