If I were to ask you how happy your team members are, what would your response be?
“No-one has come to me with a problem, so they must be happy.”
I remember during the years of my practice ownership when a team member would come to me with their trouble with a colleague. I was often surprised because, given the behaviour my team exhibited, everyone seemed happy.
I learned quickly that if I wanted to know something for sure, I could not assume; I had to ask.
The next lesson for me was to find out the best way to ask. When I asked team members directly, “Are you happy working here?”, I would get an automatic response of “Yes, everything is fine”.
When put on the spot, team members have not had the chance to consider what their reply could be. Team members may also temper their responses if they are unsure about how safe it is to express how they really feel.
If it is your ideal to build a team culture that encourages frank discussion, and I strongly recommend that you have such an ideal, two questions that I found were useful to ask my team were:
“What do you want to see more of at the practice?”
“What do you want to see less of at the practice?”
These questions are not as confronting as “Are you happy working here?”.
The first question of “What do you want to see more of at the practice?” also seems to warm the team members up and gets them in the headspace of contributing helpful information.
Asking for feedback from your team is important and can be done in numerous ways. The two questions above could be asked:
– during incidental conversation
– as an agenda item at your next Staff Meeting
– emailed to team members as a project to improve your team communication and systems.
Ensuring you are fostering a happy and productive working environment can be made easier when you remain curious. Curious about how team members are feeling and curious about what can be done to improve. It is through constant and never-ending improvement that great teams are built.
If you want to see a practical example of this principle in action, just observe how Richmond Football Club has done precisely this in the AFL since 2016. It is an inspiring example for you, if you are interested in football or sport.