Your team or a few people struggle with a part of the work process. Maybe you’ve added a new software that is a little bit different. Or your IT guys keep getting calls that something simply doesn’t work or keeps breaking. Or maybe some employees don’t really accept constructive criticism. Whatever the case, if such or similar problems aren’t addressed, they can turn into company-wide nightmares.
So what to do? How to handle such a situation in a way that is productive and not intimidating for the team? First you need to identify the problem. You don’t need a team of specialists to analyze the situation. Simply take a walk around the office, explore and see what causes the problem. Talk with people or get someone from the lower management to talk to them if you think they might feel intimidated by your position and say everything is fine.
Sometimes you will easily identify the problem. Other times it may take a while. Don’t rush, but don’t put if off either. Then comes the way to approach the issue. Lets say that there a continuous problems with some new software. Should you simply keep the IT guys going and fixing it or should you drop big money and change it? Maybe it would be to simply gather the team and train them by a professional how exactly to use the software and give them a few tips and tricks? This last option might just be the most effective way in the long run.
For one it means you will save money on changing the software and making all the needed infrastructure changes that usually come with it. Actually, you will need to train the team on the new software anyway, so only do that if you have found a really good new software that will give you vast improvements.
Second, training the team will mean less stress on the IT department which will be able to focus on different tasks. It will also help employees do more instead of sitting around waiting for help. Believe it or not, when employees see the IT guys roaming around most of them instantly think “Oh, well, problems, AGAIN” which lowers morale. If the IT guys are associated with fixing your computer and nothing else, you will be creating a culture of a cheapness and people will think to themselves why you don’t simply invest in something that doesn’t break all the time.
A well trained team will have higher morale and confidence. Everybody will feel comfortable win their work and will focus on results instead of fighting with the thing and hoping it doesn’t freeze up on them again. The IT guys will be seen as bringers of new goods instead of the elves that do some magic and the software starts working again.
Training can also help foster a more curious and team-first environment. It will bring the team closer as they will be able to help each other out. Marcia Reynolds, who is a PsyD and the President Elect of the Association for Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) says you have to help employees want to learn and grow. She gives five simple tips on how to achieve that and set the stage for further training.
First, create a safe space. This means you have to make people sure they can share their opinion, they have to know you want to hear them, you respect their opinions and ideas. Welcome any idea and reward it in some way. Don’t reward only the people who have had their ideas turn into something. Reward everyone who have ideas, even if they don’t get approved. This will motivate people to keep thinking and trying new ideas until eventually they make it.
Such an environment will help with the second and third tips: be curious and be patient. Change takes time sometimes. It is not very easy for everyone to start using new stuff, even admit they need training or simply to learn during the courses.
Fourth, don’t focus on the problems. Sure, say what doesn’t work and explain why, but don’t dwell into details and don’t make people feel bad about it. Instead say, “hey, these are the problems, but look at all this cool stuff we can do to be able to achieve our goals more easily”.
Finally, be committed. Set short-term goals to keep the ball moving and have the people feel that things are progressing. Help them out if you see somebody is lagging behind and offer support instead of a looming feeling of impending doom. When people feel cherished and respected in their work, they will love to come to work and will feel motivated.