You may be thinking that since you are the leader you should be the one directing everything and coming up with all the ideas, but once you start including your team in idea generating you’ll start to see some interesting transformations in your team.
Your employees are going to appreciate being asked their opinion on how to do the work. For one thing, they are the ones on the front line, so they not only know what is working and what isn’t, but they might already have ideas on how to do things better. Giving them an opportunity to voice their ideas, and possibly act on some of them, will be a huge confidence booster for some of these individuals.
Before you begin brainstorming with your team you will want to make some decisions on how to make this work for your team. You’ll want to think carefully about how you’re going to facilitate your brainstorming sessions.
Pick a Structure for Your Brainstorming Session
One brainstorming structure I have found interesting is the fish structure. In this type of discussion, you start with one main problem, which is the main fish bone. The point of this exercise is to list all of the main reasons why this particular problem keeps happening. After you have your main reasons listed, you then go back and ask why each of these smaller issues continue to take place, until you narrow down your list into smaller problems that are easier to work with. Each reason for the main problem is shown on the chart as a branch off the main fish bone. This tactic can be particularly useful if you have a large issue you need to resolve, and you also have a large enough team a tackle all the smaller issues.
One tactic that I tend to use a lot with my own team, especially when already have a general idea of what needs to be worked on is to have a discussion that includes two sides to an issue or process. First, ask what are we doing well. Let the team get through this part first, make sure to take notes, because you won’t want to accidentally fix something that wasn’t broken. Once your team has gone through all the positive points it’s now time to ask the opposite question, what do we need to change. As always, you’ll want to be a neutral listener during this conversation. Allow your team to express their frustrations, and take in the information. This is not the time that you’ll want to put your own spin on things, or answer to their frustrations, otherwise you could send the message that you don’t really want to hear what they have to say. You’ll be able to process their suggestions after the brainstorming session is complete.
Another possible way to structure your brainstorming session is to use mind mapping. You might remember this from grade school. You start with a central problem in the middle of a circle, and you branch out with smaller circles that can either be you team’s ideas of solutions, or smaller, related problems that once fixed will help solve the bigger problem.
Who Will Facilitate the Brainstorming Session?
Organize Your Thoughts
Now that you know what you want to do, and how you want to go about it, it’s time to decide if you can delegate someone else to monitor progress and direct the work. Depending on the size of your team you may already have an assigned team leader or two in your group, and they might be the natural choice to be in charge. However, you’ll want to think about your team and if there is anyone that could use some practice being in charge. This will give them an opportunity to have a stretch goal, and will give your team some flexibility in for future projects as well.
We’ll talk more in the next post about working with individuals on their goals, for now it might be a good idea to think about some of those upcoming projects you have that will be good to start having team discussions about so you can all move forward with the work that needs to be done.