Hear. Speak. See. Really.

hear nothing 1812799 640Anouk was at a loss, "What do I do with this team? They can't seem to offer me or each other any critical or corrective feedback. They don't really listen to each other at all, because they're always trying to figure out how to look good and avoid being to blame for problems. And they sure can't see all the ways they could work smarter, more efficiently, together." She heaved a sigh as big as the world. "They're like those three monkeys that hear, speak, and see no evil. Sometimes, I just want to shout at them:  Hear! Speak! See! REALLY!"

 

Plato said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." Yet many of us seem to lack the intestinal fortitude for the exam. Do some team members never ask for feedback on their performances, while also adroitly side-steping responsibility for any perceived stumble or fall in the team's process? A school principal I used to work with always answered my calls with, "I wasn't there. I didn't do it. It wasn't me." Funny. Not funny.

Are there team members who keep things from the powers that be, hoping they'll never find out how bad "it" is? Think Enron. Do others close their eyes to every idea that is not from the safe, tried-and-true past? Think about the members of the Buggy Whip Manufacturers Association of America.... Right. They didn't see the future, either.

Do you want to create a turn-around and a new direction for a team of Hear No, Speak No, and See No?

Three of the 7 Facets of Team Success shine together to shift a team like this, from holding back to leaping ahead! They need to polish their Trust, Independence, and Faith. That last one sounds odd for a workplace, so let's start there. Faith will allow the team to SEE.

Freeing up the ability to believe in "six impossible things before breakfast," like the White Queen in Alice's Wonderland, unlocks innovation. That is the essence of the Facet of Faith: belief in what appears impossible. This capacity lets us reach for the unimagined, and Faith first appears around the age of three. If it was not properly cut and buffed back then, this little gem can be refined now. Team building activities that reclass creativity and imagination as normative and universal reprogram old neural pathways. New mental and emotional structures lead to breakthroughs of freedom and innovation in thinking.

The boundaries of Independence--originally programmed for our second year of life--will pair nicely with an unlocked capacity for Faith, allowing associates to both SPEAK and HEAR. Group learning experiences for this purpose focus on strengthening mental boundaries, to disrupt the conflation of opinion with fact...something we were supposed to have mastered as toddlers, but mostly did not. When team members can start hearing others' feedback as opinions to be considered, rather than character condemnations, the risks of speaking up AND the risks associated with listening both recede. The assumed unity of opinion across individuals--what I call the "I'm sure we all agree..." syndrome--is cured by the comprehension of mental boundaries, and understanding how the mind actually works to create unique realities for each of us.

Now we have unlocked the frozen muscles of creative thought, reduced the risk of speaking and owning one's truth, and expanded the ability to hear others' truths...as data. These three changes, alone, would be enough for dramatic shifts in performance from the former Hear No, Speak No, See No team. Now let's add a third Facet of Team Success: Trust.

As the first of the Facets, Trust comes up shining in the first year of our lives, or stays buried under a slag heap that piles up higher and higher, year by year. Every coach knows: trusting that others are there for us is an essentail foundation in any team. Does my team have my back? Do I have theirs? In the workplace, trust should be about whether our processes meet our associates' needs. Will my need to have my time respected be met by my team? What about my need for respectful communication? Do I even know what needs I am expecting my team to meet? Do I, in fact, know what my needs are at work?  

This See-Hear-Speak-No team desperately needs to know when and how they can expect their fellow team members to meet their work-related needs for affirmation, growth, fun, creativity.... Clarifying the structure of the team members' trust for each other creates the secure foundation on which Independence and Faith can continue to flourish. In this case, the three Facets together support the pinnacle of performance for the team. From that new high place, they will hear, speak, and see the future. Really.

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Dr. L. Carol Scott.

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