Is there a gorilla hiding in your corner?
My co-manager and I decided to send an anonymous survey to our staff to see how we were doing as managers. Ouch. What a slap in the face? Our staff was polarized. Half appeared to think we were fantastic managers, in-tune with staff needs and making sound decisions for the department. The other half might as well said we were satan in the flesh: unfair and unapproachable, steering the staff to some unknown goal, in some unknown direction.
What we learned is we had a giant gorilla sitting in our office and we hadn’t even had a clue it was there. How uneffective we would be as leaders if our people didn’t have faith and trust in our ability to lead them to the future. Needless to say, we did some work.
That work included:
- being more approachable
- working to build relationships with all the staff
- evaluating our hiring methods
- improving our goal setting and sharing
Want to find out if you have a gorilla in the corner you need to address?
Use this team building activity to help.
- Email your staff the template to complete. [Download not found] Make sure you let them know it will be anonymous, and the goal will be to identify problems and work through them together. Everyone will try not to take things personally, and you’ll all be making a commitment to grow as a team.
- Ask them to type one problem or situation they see that is going unresolved. Maybe it’s an impending project approaching or a situation that was left unresolved.
- Have the team bring their “gorillas” to a meeting, they will put them into a box when they arrive to the meeting.
- Share with the staff that you will sort the “gorillas” into three categories.
- Fix it: Things the team has direct control over and can solve independently.
- Finesse it: Things the team has influence over and may be able to assist in a solution or suggest a solution.
- Forget it: These are problems the team doesn’t have control or influence over and need to move past and let go.
- As a team, do some collective letting go of the things that fall into that category. Discuss ways to see those in a more positive light or accept them for what they are.
- Move on to the “finesse it” and “fix it” categories and vote on one from each area to address as a team.
- Write out an action plan that includes why the problem or situation is occurring, what the team will do about it, who is responsible for each part of the solution, and when they need to be completed
- Follow up and celebrate successes as your deadlines progress.
Gorillas can come and go out of a corner. They also can leave a big mess when they leave or move. Good thing we’re all used to cleaning up poop and don’t mind tackling big stinky jobs. Roll up your sleeves and get out your rakes and squeegees! Move the gorillas back to where they belong.