Lead the day!

There is a growing trend towards building fulfilment in our professional and personal lives by saying grace at the end of the day and every day.

Brene Brown has often spoken about the positive physiological and psychological impact that showing appreciation provides. Appreciation is experienced in many forms. It could be a simple smile at the beautiful day or saying thank you to someone. Appreciation doesn't have to be mammoth nor even public for us to enjoy its benefits. It is best though, when what you give thanks to is personal and meaningful so that a greater connection to your self purpose is developed.

I've written before about how showing grace as a leader in the workplace can impact a productive culture. Today I'd like to share a unique and enjoyable example of leadership from an Operations Manager who needed to boost the engagement of the the team. 

The challenge that Catherine was faced with was that stand-ups we're becoming perfunctory. The team were detailing tasks out like it was a competition to show who had done the most the day before. While managers do admire the enthusiasm individuals share, there is a tipping point when stand-ups move from being outcome driven to being administrative overheads. 

To shift the energy and to help the team understand that stand-ups are not a 'reporting' session Catherine decided to start the day with a ‘shoutout’ from everyone in the team. Shoutout is a simple thank-you and acknowledgement of another team members contributions. On the surface you may be thinking that sounds like a nice fun idea to experience. Initially I observed only an energy shift in the teams behaviour. Over time the benefits accumulated to be more than a nice act of saying thanks. The team starting the day with shoutouts contributed to shifting everyones productivity. The shoutout ritual engages the team in a sense of appreciation when the day starts, setting them up with an intentional mindset to continue the good momentum throughout the day.

Additionally there was a bonus cultural behaviour that was created - everyone started to share the load for giving feedback and recognition.

Acknowledgement and feedback are traditionally expected as the soul responsibility of the management role. Smartly, Catherine now shares the responsibility out to the team by the method of ‘shoutouts’ at the start of the daily huddle. Over a week - or sometimes two - everyone receives some sort of recognition, feedback and thank-you. A phenomenal frequency compared to the old quarterly reviews (or annual if your company is still stuck in last century). 

An unexpected bonus of initiating the new ritual was the revealing of work that often flew under the radar. Knowledge distribution started to happen more quickly, transparently and their was a genuine pull not to silo off. Again - a traditional task of a manager to be and to keep everyone informed - is distributed out among the team reducing the administrative overhead. When there isn't something to shoutout, individuals now feel comfortable to say 'I don't have any shoutouts today, however I agree with what Tommy said to Mary '. The opportunity to voice solidarity even when you may not have anything unique to say reinforces the worthiness of other team members. 

From a cost / benefit point of view you've got ten members who do three simple tasks every morning and each under one minute;

  1. Shoutout...
  2. My focus today is...
  3. My blockers/ need support are...

For the time outlay you've created; 

  1. an information broadcast process
  2. a feedback and recognition process
  3. a risk escalation process
  4. cultural productivity
  5. and deep commitment within the team to each other.

That's smart. Don't wait till the end of the day to show appreciation, don't wait till the quarterly reviews or even annual reviews. Every piece of acknowledgement and good feedback is a currency of momentum towards team productivity. That's leading a great team to success, that’s managing smartly.

My shoutout today is to Catherine for this small but ingenuous and cost effective operational shift. More and more managers are understanding how grace can be a hidden tool in the leadership repertoire. What's your style or what would you like to try out with your team?