Thursday, September 27, 2018
Inward Or Outward Focused - What signals are we giving.
Imagine a large dining table. Ten people are seated at that table, chatting it up. It is clear they know each other and they are at least friends. The table is certainly large enough to seat many more but there are only 10 chairs and every seat is taken. Now someone approaches that table. They are familiar to the people at the table but it is clear they are not in that inner circle. A few at the table remain silent, and a few toss some friendly smiles and a head nod. No one rises from the table, but one person does turn and greet this person. They say "Hey, it's good to see you." "How have you been?" The one standing says, "Ok, but don't want to interrupt, I just wanted to say high, I can see you're busy." The person seated says, "yeah, we were just about to have dinner, but it was so good to see you." "Let's get together sometime." The person standing leaves, and dinner resumes for all the people seated at the table. This is my simplified version of an inward-focused team. Now let's rewind this tape and give you a different scenario. Ten people are seated at that table, chatting it up. Someone approaches that table, a few smiles and head nods are tossed their way but three people stand up. A hug a handshake is exchanged, a hand on the back to the person standing and an introduction starts to take place. Now everyone is standing. Greetings take place and the new arrival says. "Well I can see you are busy, I just wanted to say hi." This time almost in concert, people start sliding closer together to make room for an extra chair. One of the of the ten says, "please, have a seat", then instructs the rest of the team to make some room. Someone grabs a chair and pulls it up to the table for them. They all sit back down. Now 11 strong. The other ten begins to serve the newest member at the table. Someone grabs a plate and says, what would you like? Someone else calls the server over and says we are going to need another place setting and some extra glassware. Once the new person is served, the dinner resumes.
I am sharing this analogy because this is partly how I tell stories. The point of this story is not about the 10 at the table, nor is it about the 11th that joined. It's about 12th. What do you think will happen in that situation the next time 11 are seated and a twelfth person approaches the table. The culture and expectation have already been set. The 11th person automatically stands, grabs a chair and begins to make room at the table.
This is how contagious culture happens. It is observing, modeling, and inclusion. Then rinse and repeat. In today's culture, it is far too easy to miss these moments. Not being aware of opportunities to stand and make room at the table is a sign that a team, organization, church, company or ministry has become, myopic.
In an example of social cohesion, you have a group of people who interact so well together. They like each other, are friends and care for one another so much they prefer to spend their social time together.
A group with high task cohesion shares a commitment to a goal that can only be successfully achieved if a group is motivated to coordinate efforts to reach that goal.
Some feel task cohesion may be more valuable than social in raising the performance of a group. A high social group can lose the ability to challenge the status quo. Correct decision making can be hindered because of groupthink. In addition, the mission can be sacrificed for the sake of preserving social cohesion.
So what if the mission of a task cohesive team was to help create social cohesion? Then there must always be a focus on communication, both inward and outfacing, vision casting, feedback sessions, temperature checks and debate, and inclusion. Everything must be looked at through the lenses of a newcomer. A team addition can often be the bad apple or the missing link? The type of cohesion you seek as a priority can be the difference in which of those you attract.
I believe this is why we are always recruiting our own kind. But this is not always healthy. What is our own kind? What if you inserted someone into an inner circle that maybe the rest of the team did not have high social cohesion with but the team was responsive enough to not feel threatened by a dissenting opinion. What if all communication from your organization said we are pulling out a chair for you. What if everyone served the newest one. Think of the mission that could be accomplished by a task cohesive team, whose mission was to create social cohesion.
Basically, if you are a company, what can you do to feel like a corner store. If you are a team, what can your veterans do to help the serve the rookies, and vice versa. If you are a large church what can you do to avoid feeling too big, and if you are a small church trying to grow what can you do to not feel too small.
I know as a leader of creatives, and former leader of business people. We often share the same mission. I want to leave a place changed for the better because I passed through.