Failure can be a great teacher. I prefer to call them “Do-Overs.” A good review of initiatives always asks three questions:
1. What did we do? …
2. How did we do it?… and
3. How ready were individuals to accept the initiative?
If you want to try “do-over”, improve your chances of success by considering #s 2 and 3. Especially #3: readiness. The readiness factor can be many things but it always includes – Trust. Do they trust you? Do they trust leadership? Do they trust each other? … Do you trust them? You may get the answers on your own or you may need help from a third party – an independent observer.
Insiders are often just a little frustrated when third party facilitators (like us) - organization outsiders - make progress doing things insiders have tried. Why does it work for us… working alongside of leadership… rather than leaders standing alone? Usually the reason lies in questions #2 and 3. A good facilitator establishes neutral space. Places where conversations happen more than position speaking. Employees feel more comfortable asking questions and offering ideas. Leaders feel more comfortable speaking openly. Everyone appears more “real”. Honest.
Good facilitators manage this differently because they know what to do, and how to approach it because they first checked the readiness- the trust levels – of individuals or groups before designing an approach.
Consider this for your next change initiative or group performance intervention:
- Check readiness first – think about using a third party “outsider” to help you assess potential barriers which you could face in the upcoming change.
- Have your initiative leaders participate in facilitation education – When initiative leaders are trained in group process skills, success increases – significantly. Do the facilitation education separate from any specific intervention process (SAP implementation, Six Sigma, Lean…). Think of it this way – there is the process – then there is the skill. Facilitation is the skill. If you are launching or re-launching (remember “do-over”) consider requesting a custom design that fits with any barriers you may have uncovered.
- Have external “outside” facilitators available to use for special times or situations where some neutrality is needed to help groups to move more quickly beyond relationship barriers.
- Make trust building as a goal of all work initiatives. Design approaches that establish personal safety, healthy debate, and sharing of recognition for contribution as well as ultimate success.
- When you review initiatives do a check on trust… “Was there anything that happened during the intervention where may have lost something?” “Was there anything that happened that helped us to gain trust with anyone?”, “After this event, when it comes to trust, are we better, worse, or no change?”
Remember: Asking for help is not a sin. Not asking for help is.