Syrus was not smiling when I returned for my third visit. Far from it. His brow was furrowed and and there was agitation written in his eyes. We exchanged the good morning niceties and then, unable to hold it back any longer, Syrus launched into a tirade. Phrases periodically fell into place as his words rushed toward me like an avalanche crushing my senses.
“People are so ungrateful!” “I knew this wouldn’t work.” “Complaints – always complaints!” “Why did I even listen to you?”
When he finally paused to catch his breath, I signaled T with my hands. “Can I ask a question?” He shrugged and nodded. “Did your managers bring you the lists their teams generated?”
“They did,” he pushed a stack of papers toward me.
“Good, so they did the assignment.”
“Complaining all the way,” he countered.
“Of course. It’s an approval-oriented culture. Everyone gets along on the surface… but when you open the dialogue, a whole bunch of suppressed stuff comes pouring out.”
“I think this is where I always get frustrated. It’s where my follow-up and follow-through goes reeling off the track!”
“It’s actually pretty simple, Syrus. Can we move forward?”
“I’m going on a leap of faith,” Syrus nodded and reached into his drawer. Notebook and pen in hand, “Ready!”
Ask your managers and team leaders to go back to their teams with the list of things they feel need to be improved. Ask them to engage their team members in dividing the list into two parts. They can do this on a flip chart. Syrus was writing furiously again.
Part 1 should be titled: NO CONTROL OVER (at this time).
Part 2 should be titled: CAN DO!
“Finally ask them to ask their team to prioritize the CAN DO list in order of easy to accomplish to hard to accomplish. Then ask the team to pick a ‘WINABLE’ to start on,” I paused as he scribbled away. “A winable is something that the team can easily win at. This will motivate to keep on going.”
“Time frame one week,” Syrus completed his notes. “I can do this, Trin.”
“I want to see the flip charts next time I come.” I stood and moved toward his door. “I’ll set a date with your secretary, Syrus.”
“Trinidad,” he looked up from his desk as I turned. “Thank you.” The look in his eyes said it all.
I nodded. “You’re welcome, Syrus.”