After some reflection, some general thinking, and lots of questioning (something the current pandemic has really forced me to do more often), I've realised how fortunate we, as a team, backed by our ways of work, have been.
Our new, global reality has allowed us to thrive with our remote work styles, high transparency, very direct nature and believing in a network of talent.
New Ways of Work have become the epicentre of many discussions, and we've found ourselves to be part of some really exciting debates and future-thinking scenarios.
Recently I'm hearing a lot of clients say, “Angé, you guys work in a self-managed way, right?” My answer? "Yes, absolutely!"
The conversation that follows is (typically):
So, you're self-managed internally and with your clients?
No bosses, no final calls and very little instruction internally?
But, most of the work you do is high in complexity, surely there isn't only one correct answer? That's a risk, right?
Proceeded by the big-hitter question:
"So, tell me, in a scenario where you and a team member disagree about which approach to take with a client, what do you do? How do you deal with that?"
Here, the story begins .....
1. There's nothing more important than the 'WHY'.
We, as a team, believe in New Ways of Work wholeheartedly, and this means that everything we "preach, teach and implement" with our clients, we test ourselves and with our own teams first.
I can therefore, say that by working in a purpose-led way we eliminate any difficult conversations. Always. Even when there is potential for confrontation. Whenever there is a hiccup or, heaven forbid, a deadlock, we go back to asking ourselves - 'WHY'.
2. Respect your STRUCTURE.
The magic in creating a ways of work structure comes to play during the tough times as much as during the great times. You get to challenge each other and have robust discussions within the boundaries you’ve created, within your team or within the project you’re working on.
If there is a disagreement - use the structure you’ve put in place to systematically work through the difficult stuff. Leave your personal feelings at the door, and allow the structure you've designed together (as a team) to steer the positive outcome.
What is our purpose within this time/space/project?
What goals have we set out to achieve?
Is what we're suggesting going to assist in achieving those goals, or is there a better way of doing things?
3. Back the LEAD LINK.
I'd assume that within your structure you've allocated a Lead Link (team lead/captain or anything else you’d like to label the person who is most accountable) - then, in the true sense of Holacracy, give them the space to drive your team forward.
If they’re the lead, they should be aligned with the purpose, they should know what goals need to be achieved, even though their approach may be different to yours. So, let them lead and trust their process to get you to the end point.
How we achieve our goals is absolutely never a tarred road, and if you trust your teammates, you should trust the structure you’ve created, and you should trust that the goals you’re driving towards are aligning to the long-term purpose. Then, lean on the boundaries you’ve created together, and let the person most equipped and most accountable to make the decisions to get you there.
I really like the analogy of a barista and coffee orders (mostly because I really miss being able to just pop into a wonderful coffee shop and experience the buzz of energy that we miss via our zoom meetings - but, back to the story) ... when you, as a customer, order a coffee at Seattle or Bootleggers, the end result is a coffee in your hand. Right? That’s what you want.
The workflow that happens between the barista, the lovely lady taking your order and you paying for your order is not what you ordered - the approach to making your coffee isn’t the thing you care about - not really anyway.
You’ve ordered a high-quality, strong Americano, and that’s what you’re going to receive at Bootleggers and Seattle. The process/approach to making that cup of coffee is what we refer to as the workflow.
If you’re in a team and the barista is the lead link, let her/him decide how that coffee is delivered to the customer, trust her/him to make the best decision.
On the same note, trust the process and allow the team lead to get the coffee produced, don’t keep asking questions and being a pain, let her/him get through the process and then do a retrospective afterwards to see:
What didn’t work?
How you may better the customer experience the next time?
4. Remember, remember.
New Ways of Work are complex, there are no absolute handbooks. Every client, team and person will be interpreting and experiencing the transformational journey differently, so the best you can do is practice what you preach and rely on the boundaries you’ve set upfront (way before there is a coffee machine and a barista).
Then, get the coffee order out, and do a retrospective afterwards. for yourselves, as a team, or within a team, and trust your teammate to get you to the best result for your client. If you’re truly a team, you trust first, set the boundaries and go for it.
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