I’m not sure what programs you watch on TV but I have taken a real interest in the new Three Day Nanny series on Channel 4. I was always a big fan of the Super Nanny program with Jo Frost until she moved to the US for bigger fame and fortunes.
If you’ve not had a chance to see the program, basically, the Nanny travels around the county to spend time with dysfunctional families and provides them with new methods to address their issues. The typical cry for help from the parents is, “our kids are really naughty, can you come along and fix them please?”
Just think about that situation for a moment from each of the three perspectives:
a) Parent’s perspective: We have naughty children that are causing us so much stress they are driving the family apart.
b) Child’s perspective: Mummy and Daddy are always cross and shout at me all the time. It makes me feel sad and sometimes really angry.
c) Nanny’s perspective: We have a group of people here who need my help. I don’t think they can see what the root cause of the issues really are.
All three of the above perspectives are correct. Does this remind you of your colleagues at work that act like children? Could a similar scenario at work be:
a) Manager’s perspective: The staff here just don’t care about the business and never do as I tell them to do. This often leads to conflict and occasional raised voices.
b) Employee’s perspective: The managers here talk down to us and treat us like kids. I’m not being spoken to like that at my age.
c) Outside Coach / Consultant’s perspective: We have a group of people here that need my help. I don’t think they can see what the root cause of the issues really are.
You’ve probably guessed now why I love the TV series so much. The Nanny is faced with the similar issues I deal with on an almost weekly basis. Teams that are not communicating effectively and do not understand each other’s perspective.
Here’s the best bit. The Nanny takes a similar course of action every episode. A standard approach to problem solving that each of us could replicate with our teams in our own work environment.
For those of you that are in senior positions in a manufacturing business and have responsibility for teams that are currently dysfunctional, you’re in for a treat. Here is the process that will help your team to communicate more effectively, understand each other better and boost morale.
1. Observe: What is happening? – Go to the coal face together and observe your Manager from a safe distance. Don’t get involved or provide any input at this stage. Just remain neutral, curious and non-judgemental. Look for positive/negative language, behaviours, tone of voice and any facial expressions that you feel may be important.
2. Reflect: What does it mean? - Take your Manager to a safe place to have a discussion, where you will not be disturbed with any day-to-day distractions. Reflect together on the observations you have made and feedback anything you noticed about their behaviour, body language and tone of voice. Usually it’s not what is said. It’s the manner in which people communicate that leads to conflict. Remember to stick to the facts and don’t get drawn into the detail. You’re the observer. Ask your Manager for their feedback on the observations you made and how they compare to their own perspective on the events. Can they see how their approach has led to or fuelled the situation? Are they taking responsibility for their own actions and behaviour?
3. Plan: What do we want to change? - Discuss with your Manager the specifics that needs to change. There may be more than one, so best breaking these down into bit sized chunks. Just deal with each change one at a time. Agree what the specific change will be replaced with. Agree what they expect to happen when they are behaving in this new way.
4. Act: What are we doing? - Go back to the coal face and let the Manager test the changes. Remind them that we’re only taking small steps. Don’t try too hard. Just one steps at a time. Probably best you’re not stood right next to them while this is happening. Keep a safe distance. Smile and show encouragement where you can see the Manager is having a breakthrough. Don’t expect perfection. This is going to be difficult.
Repeat the cycle with your Management team and remember to keep showing encouragement and praising the positive steps they are making. This is a continuous cycle as per the diagram above and is not expected to be performed as a one off event. If you want to see your Managers continuously improve that is.
Continuing this cycle will progressively improve your working relationships, communication and team morale. Happy employees are productive employees.
Want to learn from a pro? Start watching the Three Day Nanny on Channel 4 or get the back catalogue of Super Nanny. It’s awesome.
Prefer someone with a manufacturing background with a track record of improving performance? Maybe one of our Manufacturers Alliance groups would work for you?
Learn from other members that are on the journey with you. Learn from our speakers that have been there before. Learn from our Chair People that want to support you and see you succeed.
This blog was wrote by Gary Sheader, Founder and Chairman of The Manufacturers Alliance.