It takes some bravery to reach out for help, whether for yourself or your team. It can be scary to open yourself up, both to share how you feel about what’s happening in your office, and to hear what others have to say about it. So usually by the time organizations reach out to us to do a team assessment, there are a few things that are really not working.
And inevitably, whenever we start doing interviews as part of a team assessment, there is at least one person that says ‘Everything seems fine to me!’
What am I missing?
So how is that? How can the problem be so clear to some and invisible to others? One word: blindspots. There are things around us that we cannot see unless we take special care to look for them. And at work, your blindspots can be caused by distance from the problem, or (uh oh) being the cause of the problem.
This can be especially true for leaders. If you are in charge, you may not be spending as much time in the trenches, and it can be hard to know what’s going on if you do not have open communication with your staff. But understanding how your system is working, and where it might need some adjusting, is key to a high performing team.
Get another set of eyes
The truth is, it is almost impossible for us to discover these blindspots on our own. We need other people to look at us, hopefully without judgment, and show us what we cannot see for ourselves.
Just like I need my swim coach to watch me swim and tell me what I can do to improve. Even if I can feel that something is not right, it is very hard to discover what’s wrong when you are face down in the water and just trying to remember how to breathe correctly. But a coach can watch you and see what tweaks are needed to improve your speed and form.
Shining the light on your team
When I interviewed the CEO of a recent client, she said that although she had no idea what the issue was, she trusted her staff when they said they needed help. I had a huge amount of respect for that! It takes courage to hear new truths about your organization. After the interviews, I gave a summary of my findings, and then brought the whole team together into a safe environment to discuss what was learned and how to move forward.
This leader showed up with an open mind, and by the end of the day said she was so grateful for the process to help her see things that had been hidden before. Some of the blindspots were about her own behavior, but she also learned things about how policies were affecting the way staff interacted, and in some cases really hurting their ability to communicate.
And while it can be scary to see new things, with that new awareness comes the ability to create new action. Good news – there are likely a few easy fixes in there, along with some issues that might take more time and effort to address. But if you don’t ever check your blindspots, eventually you’re going to crash.
Checking your mirror
Ready to look for blindspots? Regular feedback and 360 evaluations can be a great way to find them. And keeping channels of communication open will help issues come into the light. Coaching is also a great way for individuals to identify new awareness. Think you might be ready for a team assessment? We’d love to talk to you.
It’s better when you can see what’s around you and act thoughtfully.
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