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Immediacy vs. Consistency

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Stephanie leads a 10-person team covering marketing initiatives for a large insurance company.

John, Ben, Sharon, Rashid, Taylor, & Young all work in a central city office. They’ve been with the company for more than five years each, and they feel committed to the team’s success.

While they have some diversity — Rashid is from the Emirates and Young is Korean — the team has found unity in their common passion for design and communication. They regularly attend events together at work and on the weekends.

Sinja, Vlad, Cheng Kai, and Simon live overseas. Sinja is in Belarus, Vlad is in Russia, Cheng-Kai lives in southern China, while Simon works from home in Liverpool.

Once a year, for the past three years, Stephanie has organised a team-building retreat in Hawaii. The goal is for everyone to connect, share experiences, and communicate about the future.

Stephanie is starting to realise there is very little team building happening in Hawaii. Sure, everyone enjoys the trip. Her post-event survey always results in a “Yes, let’s do this next year” from the whole team. No-one is refusing to work with anyone else on a project.

So why is Stephanie concerned?

Communication, specifically affirmative communication, is non-existent in the team.

Stephanie first noticed it about six months ago. The team uses Slack to manage their geographically diverse workflow. Scrolling through a team thread about a new marketing project for a home renovation magazine, Stephanie found nothing but ‘request for information’ posts and the corresponding replies.

There were no notes of thanks in the chat thread.

No words of encouragement about a job done well.

There was not even a hint of proactive team development. No one mentioned how a team member’s success could be translated into greater team or personal success.

If Stephanie didn’t know better, she’d suspect she was reading the minutes of a court stenographer.

Information? Reply.
Information? Reply.
Information? Reply.

No team.

Frustrated, yet a little unsurprised, Stephanie determined to make a change. But how?

Wasn’t the team building in Hawaii every year the perfect chance for people to connect?

Wouldn’t their team time together help everyone remember the hard work they all do, even on the other side of the world?

Taking a mental break from her team-building dilemma, Stephanie headed to the gym for a run.

While running, Stephanie began to reflect on her health journey since her University days. She’d lost weight, stayed healthy, and even managed to finish her first-ever marathon.

Stephanie remembered when she first thought about a marathon — an insurmountable goal at the time. She felt like her current team building was the same thing — an impossible long shot.

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Thinking back to all that work — the running, the training, the dietary changes — Stephanie realised she never ran the marathon without building up to it. She didn’t run the marathon on the day she first decided to run it, she trained her stamina and strength over time.

The consistent changes she made, a lot of little influences practiced on a daily basis, built up to her achieving the final goal — crossing that marathon finishing line.

“EUREKA!” thought Stephanie. The light-bulb came on in her mind.

Consistency was the key!!

Every year Stephanie took her team to Hawaii to immediately build the team.

The time at the beach was not immediate, but the overall idea of trying to make a once-a-year activity cater to the needs of the team certainly felt immediate.

“Immediately: Talk to each other!”

“Immediately: Share ideas!”

“Immediately: Spend time discussing yourselves and how you work!”

“Immediately: Notice each other’s strengths and project future growth for the company!”

The Hawaii trip was like trying to run a marathon without training.

Immediate vs. Consistent

Consistency brings transformational change.

In any area of business, leadership, organisational development, and even at-home-life, consistency is key to success.

When challenged, decades later, to dig deeper into how the company had actually realized high returns after its founding period had passed, leadership discovered that the business’s biggest moneymakers were consistently the result of incremental, close-to-the-customer applications.

- McKinsey & Co.

The consistent practice of little changes makes all the difference.

Don’t mistake immediate urgency for the importance of consistent application.

Stepping down off the treadmill, Stephanie started to reflect on her team-building practices.

Except for the Hawaii trip — the urgent need — no other practices came to mind which helped her team connect or communicate together.

“What could consistency look like for our team?” Stephanie began to wonder. Especially with a geographically diverse, and culturally mixed team. More trips to Hawaii were out of the question, (or weren’t working as initially expected) so there had to be other options.

Trying to capitalise on how her team already connected ,  Stephanie started to look at integrating consistent team-focused communication into daily or weekly practices.

The team didn’t lack communication, they just lacked communication to help them grow.

Stephanie began to focus on improving appreciative communication; feedback, referrals, and project completion celebrations.

Stephanie to began to evaluate team performance and communication practices based on the team’s peer-reviewed feedback. Just like her marathon preparation, Stephanie could now measure and assess areas of consistent success and areas needing a little more growth.

She watched her team grow from a group of people working together, to an implicationally thinking self-propelled team.

How did they get there? By integrating consistent internal affirmation and encouragement into their business routine.

Where do you need to integrate consistent practices today?
What urgency might be positively impacted with a shift to consistent application?


SOURCES:

De Smit, A. & Gagnon, C. (2018). Organizing for the age of urgency. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/organizing-for-the-age-of-urgency