Will you learn from the bright spots this week?

The dramatic changes you may be experiencing in your industry, marketplace, and in your organization are felt by most of the leaders I train and coach.  For instance, it used to be that your boyfriend or husband could change your oil or give your car a tune up.  (Yes, some wives and girlfriends could do those things too!)  If you have a car built recently, though, the average mechanic needs to know how to read a computer diagnostic more than he/she does an oil stick.  Every industry is experiencing change.  The question is, are you following the bright spots in your organization through the change initiatives or are you focused on what is not working?

Switch- Chip and Dan HeathIn Chip and Dan Heath’s popular book for today’s leaders about managing change called Switch, they researched the advantages of following the bright spots – those people and processes that are successfully executing change and how to use those observations to improve and accelerate change in your organization.

Let’s say you want your team members to do any of the following:

Hold fewer unproductive meetings

Stop functioning in the dreaded drama triangle

Start listening to others more

Here’s some questions to ask about finding the exception and the what they call the miracle:

  1. When does the problem you’re fighting not happen?
  2. Who is functioning most effectively in regard to that challenge or avoiding it all together?
  3. What will be the first sign that things have changed?

Here’s the recipe the authors recommend for finding the bright spots:

  1. Gather data on the issue.
  2. Study the data to find the bright spots (the unusually positive performers)
  3. Make sure you understand the “normal way” things are done.
  4. Next, study the bright spots to see what they’re doing differently.
  5. Make sure non of those practices are “exceptional” in some way.
  6.  Find a way to reproduce the practices of the bright spots among other people.

EXERCISE with your team this week

Identify a specific change that your department or organization is implementing.

Ask each team member to submit

  1. What is going right in regard to the change?
  2. What do they see as their biggest challenge in implementing the change you want to see?
  3. What is their reward if the change occurs?
  4. Is there a trigger point for the unwanted behavior occurring?

For instance, do meetings start with, “How is everyone doing?”  Which, of course, leads to all the issues each member is facing at the time.  Hint:  starting with a round of “What’s going right today?” can create a shift in mindset for your group and the meeting.

Collect the information and use it as data to discuss at your upcoming team development session.  At that team session, begin with a  “round” (this is simply a quick check-in from each team member with a time limit of about 30 seconds) asking “What is going right?”

After the opening round discuss the data you collected in regard to each question.

Consider this.  If a team member sees no benefit to them (question 3 in your questionnaire) the chances of them faithfully and permanently executing the change you want to see is minimal.  From the book The Power of Habit we learn that a habit (which is what you want every change to become) is comprised of 3 components.  Cue  (the trigger point which could be the end of mealtime for a smoker, or the alarm clock for those of us addicted to coffee), Routine (make the coffee), Reward (caffeine kicks in).

Keep in mind that different people are motivated by different things.  What motivates you may not motivate your team members.   You may be motivated by a bigger paycheck whereas one of your team members may be moved to change by more time off to ski the Alps or just be anywhere BUT work.

If the methods you are currently using are not working to move the needle of change, continuing to do the same thing over and over again will only result in frustration and acid reflux.   When something isn’t working, take the time to PAUSE,  BREATHE,  and SEEK information not confirmation.

You can and will succeed through the change you want to see.  You are smart enough, determined enough, and care enough.  You are enough.  Go forth and conquer this week, my friend!

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