Is the phrase: “we simply don’t have enough time or resources to make the changes needed,” something you’re hearing all-too often?
I do quite a lot of coaching with the team at Q2Q – and with a handful of external clients – and one of the key areas I tend to look at first is how each party talk about themselves, in order to tap into their inner narrative.
This approach is equally as applicable when coaching a team or business. If you were to sit back and listen for a day, what are the typical words or phrases that are used around the office or in meetings? Often, when a business is going through a period of growth or change, common themes are:
• We’re too busy to get around to it!
• There isn’t enough time for projects, the day job takes up all our time!
• We see there is an issue, but it’s not our responsibility to change it!
• If only we had more time/resources/finances, we could improve efficiencies.
The truth is, if you’re brave enough to really dig deep and ask the difficult questions, you may also uncover things such as:
• We have great ideas, but the management aren’t really interested in what we have to say
• I am trying to change the culture, but the team aren’t interested
• There’s no point in sharing my ideas, no one listens
If left alone, these underlying beliefs and feelings will seep into the culture of the workplace and end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. The narrative will become the truth, and when new recruits join the team – no matter how positive or proactive they are – it will eventually become the norm for them too.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. You can change a person’s, team or company attitude by asking them to focus on something they believe they cannot do – and explain the reason why. For example: “I can’t stick to an exercise regime because I am too busy!” is a person’s inner narrative and – because of the language they use – the statement will manifest itself as a perceived fact.
However, if you switch the word ‘can’t’ to ‘don’t’, the phrase takes on an entirely different connotation. The power of saying: “I don’t lose weight because I am too busy!” implies there is an opportunity for change.
At a service-led business such as Q2Q – and in amongst the chaotic world of IT – we invest a lot of time and energy in prevention, but the nature of our workload is often to fix whatever problems arise during a client’s working day.
As a result, planning can be difficult, as can finding the necessary time to work ‘on’ the business as opposed to ‘in’ it – particularly for a typically hands-on MD. Truthfully, one of the first team development sessions I held at our HQ uncovered a lot of frustration around this, and a clear belief that there was simply nothing that could be done to improve the day to day madness.
It was then I introduced the Q2Q family to my favourite phrase: “What would great look like?” Ask yourself this question whenever you’re planning a new project, or even when you’re in a quick-fire problem-solving situation. Once you know the answer, you can set about making it a reality.
We’re trying to strip any negative thoughts or language from the Q2Q IT office, and if any do creep in, I actively encourage the team to challenge each other. For example, if someone opens their conversation with: “I’m too busy to….” One of the team will prompt a discussion around what one small step will make a difference in the short-term, until a more permanent fix can be found?
The focus at Q2Q is very much around making the most of every second of the day – as there really isn’t any down time. As such, we’ve introduced scheduled thinking time and other activities, to enable us to pause for long enough to ensure we are always developing as a business.
Of course, no targets would be complete without a KPI! So, we regularly rate ourselves in terms of how proactive our narrative is, and the last score was up at 85% – a significant improvement on the 30% estimate which was in place when I first started coaching them!
It’s vitally important for an SME to be absolutely clear on what the company narrative is – and whether it’s affecting business growth. If it is, take the time to recap what the underlying message is, and how you can shift the focus to be one of positivity and drive.
Remember, often a subtle shift in language can make a huge difference – why not give it a try?
If you want to understand what your IT company should be providing in terms of a holistic approach – and are interested in working with a service provider that is equally focused on your success as well as its own – the kettle is always on at Q2Q HQ, so get in touch with us here.