Nothing exceptional, would you say. And you’re right. Except the fact that…
A few weeks ago, I sent a short message to my team : what do you want to discuss? What kind of funny activities would you enjoy? Based on 2 out my 5 management principles (“don’t motivate, trust & don’t work, have fun”), it sounds logic to me ask them what they wanted. I received some interesting proposal for fun actions… but also restrictive ones, telling me that the team wasn’t mature enough for some kind of team activities. Regarding the content of the agenda, the answers were “a bit” disappointing.
Indeed, the answer to the question “what do you want to discuss” was… nothing.
Doh. Wow. Nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G… I was speechless.
There were 2 suggestions however. Yes! 2 suggestions. Ok… Let’s see.
- Organize a physical mailbox so we can write suggestions on paper and put them anonymously in the mailbox.
- It’s annoying to observe colleagues surfing on the net the whole day long while some others are obviously overloaded.
I wans’t speechless. I was knock-out.
Geee. I’m repeating for more than one year now that trust, transparency and respect are the foundations of my leadership style. I had to face that I was quite wrong in my way of making these values live in our team.
So… what to do? It took me evenings, nights, days and weekends to think about the problem. Yesterday evening, I hadn’t any slide ready. My ideas were totally confused. What to do? What to do? And suddenly I made my mind. I’ll be honest to my team and tell them the truth. I’d tell them that I was sad, confused and idealess. My colleagues are adults. They can hear what I have to tell them.
And that’s what I did. 11 am. The meeting started.
I sat on the table, alone in front of 35 team mates. I told them how sad I felt that they couldn’t notice how much I appreciate transparency and trust. I told them that I would NEVER be angry about anybody criticizing my way if leading as long as it was done with respect. But I would be angry to not be told what was wrong. I told them that I’m a big girl. I can hear what they have to tell me. I told them I’d love transparency in our communication.
I also told them that I’m aware that we can’t be 100% efficient the whole day long, the whole week long, the whole month long, the whole year long. People who pretend otherwise are liars. Everybody needs breaks and resting time. It’s normal to chat, to surf on the net, to play a game, … But I can’t accept that someone who’s playing the whole day long is not telling her/his boss that he/she finds her job boring or that he/she has nothing to do. I can’t accept that the workless colleague is not proposing help to his/her colleagues. So I asked these people to spontaneously manifest his/her unhappiness and come to discuss it with me. Together we can find a solution, within or outside the team. But we need to find a solution.
And I told them that my goal wasn’t to manage, but to love them. As I love my friends. As I love my family. I don’t change my brain, I keep my heart once I pass the office entrance each morning. I don’t become another “me”. I am who I am. And I try to do my best. My goals are to make them happy, to make them proud of being a part of our team.
So I asked them to write on a post-it what was the biggest achievement since during this first quarter. And I collected these post-its, asking the writer to share it with the team. Two colleagues had nothing to mention. Nothing to be proud of. I felt terribly sad for them but I didn’t show. The others were really enthusiastic about sharing personal successes, progresses, … It was good to hear. Positive thinking is key.
Then I asked them to write their most important objective of the year. Same process. Some objectives were really personal like succeeding in promotion exams, … but most of them were linked to team objectives. And it helped me to emphasize on objectives that are really strategic to our team.
I concluded by telling them the truth. My objective is ti help them to succeed in their objectives. I am not a boss. I am a facilitator. A guide. A support. I am there for them and for the organization. Not for me.
Last exercise. I asked them to write one and only one name on a post-it that I collected without reading them. I put them on a white board, clustering the given names. The question was : “who is the colleague who deserve the more our recognition for what he/she did this first quarter”. A few names were mentioned… and the winner got a gift voucher of 100€. A small gift for a big commitment and a team recognition.
And this afternoon, I got reactions. Very nice emails, telling me how (re-)motivated and happy my colleagues are. And you know what? They made me happy.
Don’t manage. Love.
Don’t work. Have fun.
Don’t complain. Innovate.
Don’t think. Think “sustainable”
Don’t motivate. Trust.
Spread happiness around you!