It’s annual planning season for many companies, and I’ve been leading many two-day retreats with leaders and their management teams.
One exercise that I enjoy leading involves having each person identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and then sharing them with the group and asking if they’ve gotten it right or if they’re missing something – if they have any blind spots.
The responses to this exercise are endlessly interesting. In organizations where leaders aren’t interested in hearing a lot of honest feedback, it doesn’t take very long. There are a few safe, softball generalities lobbed (you’re amazing, but maybe could work on communication) but no one gets too specific and no feathers are ruffled. And there are no huge take-aways either.
But in groups with high trust, there are some hard things said. Things that sting. Sometimes the room gets quiet. Sometimes ears turn red. And without exception, they remark afterwards that it was extremely helpful to hear what close colleagues are thinking about how each participant actually shows up at work, good and bad.
My tip today is to develop insultants around you. People who care enough about you and the organization to tell the truth as they see it. You do this by encouraging people to express their true opinions, and to thank them when they do it.
The greatest sign of trust on a team is when each person can own their areas of strength and weakness. Don’t fall into the ditch of forcing artificial harmony on your team. Mine for conflict. Draw people out and make it safe for them to tell you the whole truth.
Have a great week!
I work with amazing, motivated people who run businesses that are in fast growth. If that’s you and you’re looking for ways to increase and sustain growth, drop me a note.