Quite often we get stuck in a frame of mind or a place, where it can be difficult to see a situation from a different point of view. When you work in a place for an amount of time, it can be harder to see things from someone outside of your team. It can be of great benefit to mix things up, get in the trenches with the troops, roll up the sleeves and get dirty.
In my previous role, I was tasked with sourcing home care for vulnerable adults, mostly older adults, some with dementia. Although we could read the needs of the people on a computer screen, it doesn’t give you a clear understanding of what it can be like, or understanding. Thankfully I was given the chance to attend a training course that gave you a first-hand experience, the Virtual Dementia Tour It was very much an eye-opener, and by taking the time to learn this perspective, it aided me when speaking with families and discussing complex cases with home care providers, and to understand how difficult it can be.
In other businesses, there isn’t usually this virtual experience to partake in, but learning from experience can be gained in other ways. I have known senior managers to spend a day with different teams across their organisations, not only learning how different teams operate, but seeing first-hand the issues that teams can face, reinforcing feedback staff have given in previous surveys. Some even asked for some quick training, so they could do their jobs for the day.
One time I was in a supermarket which was absolutely heaving with customers waiting in line at the checkouts. Normally, the managers would be seen keeping an eye out to see what can be done and how to allocate staff. On this occasion, the manager walked over to an empty checkout and started calling customers over. I could tell from how the staff and customers reacted that this was greatly appreciated. In that moment, he stopped being ‘just’ a manager and showed his staff that they were all one team, supporting each other. He understood their job as well as being able to perform his own. I can imagine when they bring issues to him about the job, he has a greater understanding of what they mean. Even something that seems obvious, can be missed unless you experience it yourself. A problem the staff may put up with, could be observed by this manager and a solution discovered.
Not only does getting down to this level help senior management to get more familiar with issues and teams, but helps staff to see a human side to their leadership and to feel a connection in communication that can be lost in email or newsletters. This can lead to better engagement and improve morale/performance.
Do you have experience of a time when you actively sought out another perspective?
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