- What is a team assimilation (1:06)
- How do you prepare and lead team assimilation (2:02)
- Examples of results that can be gained from team assimilations (6:03)
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Luis: Welcome to Building Teams with TEAMES & CO. I'm Luis Wilson, and in today's episode, I'm sitting down with Tracy Eames to discuss team assimilation. Hey, Tracy.
Tracy: Hey Luis, how are you doing today?
Luis: Great, thanks. So for today's episode, I know we want to tell folks why team assimilations are so important, and some of the spots that they can really add value. Then, we want to move into how you can go about executing a team assimilation. So let's start off with, when do we use this, and why do we use them?
Tracy: Sure. So team assimilation actually is a little bit of a spinoff from what a lot of listeners might be used to, which is new leader assimilation, or team leader assimilation. Typically, these sorts of processes are run when a new leader takes over a team and they're getting to know their team and they want to build communication, so they want to build a feedback loop. They want to do that in a way that builds trust and creates a safe space for their team. And what I've found is that this is actually a really great model for a lot of different points in terms of building communication with your team. So if your organization's going through a lot of change, or there's a specific kind of initiative that you want feedback on, again, it's just a really great tool to gather feedback from your team. Also, to be able to share your feedback and answer all of their questions in a really moderated and facilitated way.
Luis: Great. Thank you. Now, let's move into how one would go about executing a team assimilation?
Tracy: Of course. So a team assimilation is definitely led by the leader in terms of planning. So as the team leader, you want to take the responsibility to say, "I think this would be a useful tool for my team." Also as a team member, you might want to suggest it to your team leader, but you really want to make sure as the team leader, you're leading the process and making sure that it's really effective for all of your team members. And so what you'll do is you'll engage with a facilitator. So there's obviously company policies around different approaches, so your company might prefer that you use somebody internal, like an HR team member, which is great, the HR business partner to be your facilitator. Other organizations who are maybe smaller, might engage somebody like a TEAMES & CO or an external facilitator to lead the process.
Tracy: And again, it really just depends on the organization, but you're going to want to engage a facilitator for the session. And that facilitator basically helps guide the discussion when you, as the leader, are not in the room. So as a leader, you're going to say to your team... You're going to map out a bunch of different questions and you're going to leave the room. And so you might say, "What do you mean by mapping out a lot of different questions?" So in the scenario that you're a new leader and you're leading a new team, then what you're going to want to do is you're going to want to focus a lot of your questions around what your team expects of a new leader.
Tracy: So this might be questions like, "What do you like about old management style? Which management styles do you not thrive under? Are there things I can do as your leader to help support you? Is there a communication cadence that you'd be interested in, in terms of supporting your work, but not being so overwhelming that you feel like you're always in a meeting?" So you'll ask a bunch of those questions and your team will answer them in the room with the facilitator and you won't be there. The reason you're not there is because you really want to foster dialogue. Again, as a new leader, you might just not have had the time to build the trust with the team. That's not a bad thing. It's just a fact. It's a new set of people. Everybody doesn't know each other. They're still getting to kind of meet each other, so it's a safe way for them to ask questions and share feedback without worrying potentially they're going to ask something or somethings would be misperceived.
Tracy: All of that feedback then is kind of de-identified. And when the leader comes back into the room, the facilitator shares that information de-identified to the leader. So they might say, "Tracy, you asked the team which kinds of management styles they really thrive under. And here was the feedback. A few people like this kind of style, some other folks like this, but everybody agreed that they really love open communication. They love having regular team meetings. That feels really good to them." Great. They also might come up with a list of questions for me, like what is your leadership style? How often do you like to meet with your team members? Are there any things that we should know about you? What's your experience? And then I would answer those questions as the leader. But again, because it's de-identified, it's a great session for everybody to be able to share their feedback, ask their questions, and feel like it's in a really productive environment.
Tracy: The other thing that I always kind of let folks know is there might be stuff that comes up that you need to follow up on. The team might say, "Is it possible for us to do this thing?" And you might not have an answer right in the moment. That's okay. What I always sort of preface all team of assimilations are, is there's going to be a lot of feedback and there's going to be a lot of opportunities for us to do a lot of things. We're going to take that feedback as a team and we're going to prioritize it. We might not be able to do everything, but we're going to do our best to get as much of that accomplished as we can.
Luis: Got it. Well, thank you so much, Tracy, for sharing the steps on how to really execute a team of assimilation. And I know that we've been doing some here at TEAMES & CO with clients and the change that's happening for them is really having to move digitally. Their teams are now working remotely. So could you tell us a little bit about those recent team assimilations. And some of the results that you had?
Tracy: Sure. Yeah. I think these are perfect examples of how you can kind of use a new leader assimilation quote, unquote, to be a team assimilation. All of the organizations where teams started to shift to be virtual, that was a really big change. There's similarly a lot of organizations that folks are still working in person, but the dynamics of their organization, the dynamics of their industry have completely changed. And these are big changes that a lot of organizations want feedback on and they want to gather input from their team members. So that way it's not just a top down decision, but it's really an organizational decision, and the leadership understands, what would help our team members through this transition time? Or, we all recognize that these changes are going to be consistently kind of coming up.
Tracy: What's our kind of new process and how will we continually to adjust if there are future changes that come our way? So again, one of the great examples I think that you used is kind of the, how do we help support teams that have gone from working within an office to being virtual? And that first portion that we talked about that usually is reserved for, what's your leadership style? And asking the leader a lot of questions about them. That's where we ask the team members a lot of questions around the change, or kind of the new dynamics. So with these, we've asked questions along the lines of, what's really scary for you about working virtually? Are there things that you're concerned about? Are there specific processes that you think might need to change?
Tracy: Are there dynamics with customer communication that you're concerned about? Really, again, diving into not only what they're concerned about, but also the things that as frontline leaders, they're going to know inside and out. You, as the team leader, might not be aware of this one, certain process that happens with customers because you're not involved with it day to day, but they're going to know that. So it uncovers these really great learnings that you say, "Oh wow, we didn't plan for that. We need to plan for that together." I think that's where a lot of these teams of assimilations have been really successful is giving those teams the opportunity to plan together and help them understand what they might need, and give them a solid venue going forward to continue to share the feedback. I think that's one of the positive things we've heard is, once you go through this, it's really clear to your teams that you care about their feedback.
Tracy: And so they're more willing to share their feedback because they're like, "Oh, leadership dedicated three hours to this meeting. They did things. They took action on the feedback we gave them, and so of course I want to share more feedback because this is a positive experience for me." And I think, especially as we're changing so quickly in a lot of our organizations and industries, this becomes a really good kind of starting point to build that dialogue and just keep adjusting through the change. So now, when something comes up, these teams have a framework for how they're going to start that dialogue and they feel a little bit more comfortable sharing their feedback.
Luis: Thank you for sharing the results that we've had there, and really that it's a lasting effect that it has on the team members and their organizations, so thank you. And if you want to continue the conversation and learn more about team assimilations, please visit teamesandco.com or reach out to us in social media. Thank you so much for your time, Tracy.