Friday 13 November 2015

When to Colour Inside the Lines

I’ve often written about giving your team the freedom to explore alternate methods of performing a task, or working through a process. We typically call this thinking outside the box or colouring outside the lines. Here’s the flip side to that, when you need to think inside the box or colour within the lines.

We develop process for a reason, typically to manage quality control and efficiency by providing a means of achieving consistency. When developing a process we explore ways of achieving efficiency in completing set tasks in order to achieve set goals, you invested time and effort exploring alternate methods. I’m constantly looking at ways to improve a process and welcome suggestions and feedback on how the process is working out or could be improved. That being said, you may come across an individual who will second guess every aspect of a process, whether it be through pure enthusiasm, or arrogance, you need to be able to manage this person as they can quickly become a disruption to you and your team.

Clearly explaining why things are done a certain way can quite often clarify any misunderstandings.

Harness enthusiasm
Harness the individual’s enthusiasm by directing their attention to a more productive role. Firstly sit down with the team, not just the individual (you don’t want to single anyone out), and explain the process and why things are done a certain way, if the consensus is that the process is broken or could be improved the individual probably is onto something. If not, and this individual still thinks things can be done in a better way, involve this person in the development of other processes, you may have just found your next QC champion.
If this person is just being disruptive then you may have the wrong team member on your project, it may be best to redirect this individual to a more productive role on another project where they feel they have more control over the project, failing that, it’s time to involve your HR department. It may just be a case of the person feeling underutilized and redirecting their efforts may be a solution.

Don’t misinterpret dissension with enthusiasm.

Colour within the lines
By encouraging your team to colour within the lines you providing them with a set of constraints (not a bad thing) or boundaries that allow them to be creative in a focused direction. Giving your team members a clear set of goals allows them to focus on a task and, when accomplished, gives them a sense of achievement. This can only be done when they have a clear direction or a roadmap to achieving their goal or tasks, this gives them clear boundaries and the confidence that they can then explore these boundaries.

We all do well when given a task and the tools to achieve a set goal, don’t disregard questions about your process, but don’t let it become a disruption to your team.

Direct you team to colour within the lines and encourage them to be creative.

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