I was talking to someone the other day who conducts leadership training. Once a year, she goes out with a team to work on a training event at a large multi-national corporation.
She was saying that it is always a struggle to get the company to budget a little time to get the training team members engaged and aligned before starting. Everyone is so task based they want to jump right in. Even though she has worked with many of these people a year earlier, she still wants some time to re-engage, slowly rebuild trust, etc.
The expression she used is you have to “go slow to go fast.” If a team on a project is not connected, or does not trust each other or understand how their teammates work, the project is much less likely to be successful long term.
I was thinking about this. People mock the “teambuilding” exercises (like falling backwards into the arms of other team members), but there was a reason they were created (even if they have become a little contrived). If you think of a sports team in training camp, they re-bond each year. It applies to all team interactions.
We have spent a lot of effort making sure the connections are developed at Rising. Our Friday “toasts” are an informal place to gather and connect. We have only a few break rooms and entrances. We want people casually bumping into each other. When we do the coffee with the CEO (Beans with Beans), it is as much about the people in these sessions getting to know each other and other departments as it is about them getting to know me (and me getting to know them). There are hundreds of other examples of how we encourage these critical connections.
Why is this important? Every company needs the connections where people across departments work with each other fearlessly (go to each other directly and freely) without having to go to their boss or go to the other person’s boss to get things done. This type of bureaucracy indicates a breakdown in the process or culture somewhere. Speed slows down. Redundancy is added to the company. Details are lost in multi-party communication. People need to feel safe being open, even if something is wrong in their unit they want to fix. Without trust, people hide flaws, destroying the team, the product and the culture, which hurts everyone. The teams where people can openly communicate and openly look at and solve problems are the superstar companies.
So – move slow to move fast. Get to know your co-workers. Really know them. Their strengths and preferences, and even areas of weakness. It is fun and makes your team stronger in the long run.