Impulse 22. Digital Leadership – 6 Tipps to Create an Atmosphere of Openness and Trust

In today’s world of work, you will face many changes and other challenges. How can you equip yourself and your team to act effectively in these digital times, with their shifting contexts and unexpected challenges?

The competence under discussion in this blog today is communicating openly, asking the right questions, and opening yourself up to feedback.

To this end, here are six tips to help you develop these skills in your team.

Tip 1: Everybody with Everybody

Hold a 60-minute feedback team meeting once every quarter. Let each employee – including yourself of course – prepare three questions in advance:

  1. What is going well at the moment?
  2. What is not going so well at the moment?
  3. How good is our feedback culture, on a scale of one to 10 (10 = best)? Every team member to everyone, including the boss.

Then gather and sort index cards showing the common themes and evaluate which of these are the most important. Give each employee three sticky dots with which each person chooses the most important topics.

Select a maximum of one or two topics that you will work on over the next three months. Then set the next appointment in three months’ time, complete with date, time and location.

In the meantime, I recommend discussing in a team meeting – every four weeks or only once before the follow-up appointment after six weeks – what progress you have made on these one or two topics. This is how you can keep the focus on these critical themes.

After three months, hold the follow-up meeting, consider your progress, and ask the three questions again:

What is going well at the moment? What’s not going so well? How good is our feedback culture on a scale of 1 to 10?

This allows you to regularly work on important topics and thus significantly improve the communication and feedback culture in the team.

Tip 2: Excellent Cooperation

Set up a system whereby once a year everyone asks each individual colleague – including you the boss – “What can I do to improve our cooperation?”

With seven employees, everyone would ask a colleague roughly every two months to find out what they can do.

To ensure that this feedback process is not forgotten, I recommend hanging an A3 sheet at a central location in your team area, displaying a grid upon which everyone then enters the date and the results of their conversations.

This allows you to keep track of matters and ensure regular implementation.

Tip 3: Be Open to Learn from Your Team

Once a month in the team meeting bring the following up as the last point on the agenda:

“As a manager, what have I done well this month?” and “What haven’t I done so well this month?”

This allows you to regularly receive advice on what your employees want to see more from you because it works well, and what your employees want you to do differently.

In the following month at the latest, respond by thanking them and offering concrete answers as to what you have actually changed. You should also outline those things that you deliberately did not change, for example because the desired change did not fit with the current priorities.

Through this regular feedback, your employees will come to see that, “Hey, our boss is reaching out to us, listening to us, and implementing our feedback.” And so, month by month, you’ll start getting more valuable cues from your employees in the form of feedback.

Tip 4: Lessons Learned – Every Time

After each project, conduct a review, a lessons learned meeting.

If you work with scrum, then such reviews are already commonplace with you. However, I keep hearing from clients that these review meetings are only conducted with reluctance or even fall completely by the wayside. Nevertheless, this learning from a review is crucial to your future success.

In this meeting, ask the questions:

“What was good?”

“What didn’t go so well?”

“What are we learning for the next project?”

“What specifically do we change immediately?”

One of my clients even does a daily feedback for a daily shipment.

There are two rules for this:

  1. The youngest employee begins.
  2. Everyone says both something positive and something critical.

Tip 5: More Feedback – More Learning – More Performance

Get feedback from external actors or other departments in a structured manner.

Consider who could give you meaningful feedback, and then think about how to ask these departments or individual colleagues about your performance.

In this way, you can maintain a high level of customer focus and regularly improve the quality of your work.

Tip 6: Hot Hot Hot

Introduce the concept of the “hot seat”.

By the way, this tip comes from a participant at one of my seminars.

Once a week on Friday at 1 pm, a member of staff sits in the hot seat and receives feedback from his colleagues about what he has done well in the weeks since he was last in the hot seat, and what issues he hasn’t managed so well since he last sat there.

This is certainly a very intense way to give each other feedback. If your culture lends itself to this because you’ve already been giving each other feedback in another way, then this will be a good method to work with.

So, there you have it. Different tips, different ways you can strengthen your team’s competence to communicate openly, trust yourselves, and also say critical things.

This will lay the groundwork for you to deal with the changes and challenges of today, as you will be used to questioning your own actions and finding better solutions.

I wish you every success in this!

Your Markus Jotzo

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