Back to basics for better teamwork

I was delighted to help a major brand restructure its communications team of twelve hard-working, clever people. I learned a lot about the company, its systems and tools for processes, meetings, records, tracking projects and evaluating every ticking thing.

Yet the company’s huge investment of time and resources was not supporting the overwhelmed team most responsible for fostering and exemplifying communication, information sharing and engaging others. Each individual told me they felt unseen, lacking for creative opportunities, rewarded for success with more work, and disconnected within the business.

Observation, discussion and benchmarking revealed the holes that were ultimately sinking the ship. For example, everyone’s cubicle was plant- and photo-free by rule but nobody knew why. Everyone had in-trays and colleagues walking by just dropped work briefs on the top, often without speaking. Every brief was required in writing, creating reams of paperwork and circumventing phone or personal chats. Three teams on the floor shared a tearoom but not breaks, so few people knew others by name.

The company was thriving and clearly succeeding, and maybe not one of these internal matters actually mattered to the work itself, but definitely to the work culture.

My tip:
We made some very basic tweaks besides revising roles and tasks. We swapped technology for talking and tried to make it face to face more often. We introduced shared morning tea, encouraged desk drop-ins and discouraged email trails. We decorated. We donated to charity. We deleted 4 unused apps for organising each other. We added personal development goals to the department’s action plan each month, putting the people focus back in place and not just in the mission statement. We redesigned anything we could that made us feel flat to more uplifting tasks, goals and team efforts. Basically, we gave people the chance to change things for the better. Eight months on the team’s powering and it’s a pleasure to visit, chat and water the plants.

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