One of the things I love most about working is having the opportunity to sit down next to someone else and work side by side with them on something. I literally go out of my way to work with people this way if at all possible. I learn so much, and it’s an opportunity for me to hopefully impart something worthwhile to the person I’m working with. Sure, there are always things that you simply need to just focus on and get done on your own. But when you need to interact with someone else on your team, why not work side by side with them whenever possible?
Working this way is a powerful tool you can use to help create a culture of innovation within your organization/team. Here’s how:
1) Preface your interaction/work session with something like this:
“My goal every time I work side by side with someone like this, is not just to accomplish the task at hand. I have two other things that I explicitly want to accomplish. I want to learn something from you – I want YOU to teach ME something. At the same time, I hope to share some bit of knowledge, or teach you something as well. So please, try and teach me something, I will try my best to do the same.”
It’s important to set expectations this way, especially if you are working with someone that reports to you. Some people will feel like you are micromanaging, so just be clear about your intentions and goals.
2) Recap – When your work session is over, tell your co-worker what you’ve learned and ask them what they learned. THEN, ask them if what you learned is what they were trying to teach you and vice-versa.
3) Encourage everyone on your team to do the same when working with one another.
4) Periodically talk about the things that you’ve learned over the course of a given week or month, and ask the rest of your team members to do the same. It’s probably good to vary the frequency of these discussions.
This accomplishes a number of great things:
1) It shows that you respect your team members, and that you don’t think you know it all.
2) It shows that you are not just task oriented, but that you have an interest in your team members’ development.
3) Knowledge sharing happens, respect for one another increases, and stronger relationships develop throughout your team.
4) Your team members learn, grow, and become more engaged.
All making your job as a manager/team leader that much easier, and helping to create a culture of innovation within your team.