Last month, I attended the 2014 leadership forum hosted by David Howorth, Managing Director of Mitie Client Services. Across four afternoons, managers and supervisors from across the UK convened to discuss all aspects of Client Services; our strengths, our areas for improvement and what the future holds for #TeamExceptional.
Our business has grown significantly in the last year and it was clear that there’d been a change of approach to this year’s leadership meetings. The focus of the forum was still about delivering key business messages but it was more of an open opportunity for our entire management team to participate in shaping the plans and objectives for the business and really get behind delivering them.
With this in mind, how often do you listen to your team? Do they play an active role in helping to shape your mutual goals?
Forums are an excellent way to engage teams by giving them the opportunity to share their priorities and concerns in order to affect positive change for the team or company. However, for these forums to truly work, they must be a catalyst for action. It’s important that the discussions held during the forum are used to create concrete objectives that become part of the larger plan—regardless of the size of your team or business.
Therefore, here are three key points to ensure that you get the most from your forums:
Provide a clear framework for conversation. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you facilitate and guide the discussion—this could start with a briefing on the current state of affairs for your business or team. Then, by making sure you ask clear and specific questions of participants, you will generally yield clear and specific answers.
Receive suggestions gratefully and take time to consider them. It goes without saying that not every suggestion can be put into practice. However, there’s nothing more damaging to the flow of a good discussion than to have someone flatly dismiss another’s contributions. If you truly want to provoke creative responses from your team, it’s essential to give everyone a chance to be heard, and encourage others to respond.
Take swift and demonstrative action. Following the forum, make sure to publicise and confirm the outcomes with participants, so that they can see how their contributions helped to shape decisions and objectives. This should be done as soon as you can afterwards to ensure you prolong the impact the forum may have had and demonstrate to participants how the event was a useful and worthwhile exercise for everyone involved. When people see that their input has been put to use, it encourages them to continue to do so in the future—and this is the very foundation of a healthy communications strategy for any organisation.
If you don’t already have channels to let your team contribute to the future of your business, what are you waiting for?
Ana Canabarro is senior operations manager at Mitie Client Services – follow Ana on Twitter
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