- Defining Stakeholders for your team to help them identify who they will be working with and the cadence of communications needed. Highlighted here are tools such as RACI (1:26)
- How and why to define a team process checklist to understand what resources and tools your team will need to be successful as they navigate change (7:57)
- Building a strong communication cadence for both your internal teams and external stakeholders (12:43)
Interesting Links & Resources:
- More information on RACI and other related models
- Visit our Blog to learn how to successfully lead virtual teams.
Leading virtual teams? Listen to our Season 2 podcast with Susanna L Harris to learn how she and the PhD Balance team navigate working virtually.
Listen to Episode 7
Luis: Welcome to Building Teams with TEAMES & CO. I'm Luis Wilson and I'm sitting down with Tracy today for episode number seven. How are you, Tracy?
Tracy: I'm doing well, Luis. How are you?
Luis: I'm doing great, thanks. For today's episode, we're going to have a little bit of a continuation on last week's where we talked about the three lenses and pillars to look at change with, which were your team, how it's impacting your customer and how it's impacting your strategy, and today we're diving in a little bit deeper into teams. When we receive some questions about it, it can sometimes be a little bit tangled. We sometimes belong to multiple teams. It can be cross-functional teams, we have those above us and those below us. So we want to untangle a little bit about that and be very intentional about giving three specific steps that leaders can take when they're going through change to work across their cross-functional teams and empower them.
And then we're going to talk about how we can go through the process of defining stakeholders, also the team process checklist, and then defining communication cadence. So, let's dive right in. So Tracy, could you talk to us about that first one, defining stakeholders?
Tracy: So when we think about stakeholders, what we want to do is we want to map out a stakeholder map, and stakeholder maps can take lots of different formats, and depending on the project and the deliverables and the change that you're going through, there might be different tasks and there's different kind of buckets that you're going to be thinking about when you're thinking about your stakeholder map. When we think about leading virtual teams, there's a couple of components. There's the actual shift in terms of what do the teams need to be successful as we make this move into virtual work? There's also the kind of tasks along the way to make that happen. There's going to be different tools that your team needs. There's going to be different dates that you need to be hitting.
So it's a little bit of a blended model, so when we're talking about the stakeholder map, we just want to make sure we're taking a step back before we jump in, in saying, "Who needs to be involved in these conversations? At what level do they need to be involved? And what are the action items that certain people are going to lead as we move through the change?" This can change over time, so you're going to want to kind of keep coming back through it, but that's the goal in terms of the first step, is really outlining who's involved.
Luis: Right. I know here at TEAMES & CO we like to use an acronym called RACI to discuss this idea. Could you walk us through that please?
Tracy: Of course. The RACI model is a really well known model and lots of companies have different variations of it, so we'll kind of talk through that a little bit as we go, but RACI stands for four things, responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. And so when we think about this, we're thinking about who's responsible. This might be a team member who's actually doing the task or work. It could also be multiple people, and then there might be sub-tasks involved. So when you think about the change of moving your team virtually, there's going to be a lot of people responsible for that, right? Everybody has to be responsible for their own kind of shift into the virtual space and then there's also going to be tasks that go along with that in terms of maybe who's responsible for identifying communication tools or who's responsible for identifying IT needs when they're offsite, et cetera, et cetera.
When you move to accountable, you move to the person who's going to be signing off on this. So this is what you really want to think about, is probably your executive sponsor or the team leader that ... this could be you in terms of who's making sure at the final decision point that all of the work is completed and, again, with any change, these things happen over time, but you're going to have key deliverables and you're going to have dates that you're going to want to meet and you're going to have decision points. And so you want to know who's responsible for making those decisions as we move forward because those are going to be key meetings that you're going to want to build into your meeting cadence.
So that's responsible and accountable, and then we'll move into the C and the I, which are consulted and informed, or as we're kind of calling them, consult and inform. So these two groups are ... the consult group is, who are the various stakeholders that you want to be including in the meetings to understand the insights and perspectives about how this change is going to affect your team. So obviously your team would be involved in this consult group, but also cross-functional teams that you work with. So Luis mentioned there's a lot of different teams that are going to be involved, there's a lot of different stakeholders, so a lot of your stakeholders will be in the consult groups because these will be people who will help you identify, "Okay, do we need more training? And if we do, what does that look like?"
Are there customer communications? If I'm managing a customer support team and we're all moving virtually, are there other teams we have to work with to say, "Here's a new process we're using or here's a new approach we're taking to it." So that consult group is probably your largest group and it's really around making sure that you're engaging all those stakeholders in that process. Inform is still a very important group but they just might not be in the meetings with you. So inform might be people who need to know about the changes but they're not necessarily a member of your team.
So inform might be ... you might work with a tangential team and not on a daily basis. It might be a team that you just want to let know of your process. So for example right now as teams are deciding ... or companies are making decisions around virtual work versus in office work, there might be organizations who are giving teams the option of, you could work virtually or if you come back to the office, there's a protocol for working within the office. In those situations, you're going to want to inform facilities of your decision and so that might be kind of a good way to think about it in terms of ... it's a group that might not be in every single one of your meetings but it's really important for them to know the outcomes, and so you want to make sure you're keeping them up to date with the process as you're going forward, so that way you're aligned and everybody's on the same page about the approach.
Luis: Thank you for walking through that model for us, and the acronym that we use here at TEAMES & CO. Have you seen other organizations use the same model, Tracy?
Tracy: Yeah, I think a lot of organizations use variations off of these models and we do too. These are not set in stone, and every organization is going to have a different need or maybe different stakeholder groups. And so we can share a link to kind of an overview of all the different models and, again, that doesn't even capture all of them, but if folks want to see how different organizations have tailored this model to themselves, there's variations of RACI that ... RACI-VS which also includes who needs to maybe have a verification step and who needs to be involved in the sign off step. There's RACI with an S included, which maybe you'd be outlining support teams. So, again, a lot of organizations take a different approach to this.
There's no end to kind of how you can personalize this to your team, but it just gives you ... We wanted to share one tool that we've used in terms of how do you start to identify stakeholders? Because it helps you as you're mapping your stakeholders to be thinking in terms of the project and what's going to be happening along the way and hopefully help you capture as many stakeholders into your stakeholder map as possible.
Luis: So having that tool will also be flexible to your specific situation. That's step one of our process. For step two we're going to talk about the team process checklist, continuing the example of a team making a shift to virtual. Could you walk us through those steps?
Tracy: Having a team checklist is really important because now that you have your stakeholder map and you know who all should be in the conversations, now the team checklist will give you a framework for what those conversations should be and how you're going to make that shift. So, again, today we're using the example of moving to virtual in terms of no longer working in an office but working virtually. This can also be a checklist that you make if you're making other shifts in your work, so we recognize that a lot of organizations and a lot of teams are making a lot of different kinds of changes right now. Some might be working in person under new protocols. Some might be working in new locations. Some might be working virtually.
So today we're talking about virtually just to give a concrete example but know you can kind of adjust this framework and this checklist to meet your needs of your organization. So, when we think about a change of virtual, there's a few changes that have been happening within 2020 that kind of are overlapping, and so not only is your location changing, there potentially at the same time could be roles changing and reporting structures changing. As we've seen through 2020, kind of teams are shifting their strategy. With that, there comes some role responsibility changes, and so you want to be thinking about what's that full scope of the change as you're going through this checklist to make sure you're kind of hitting all of the important parts for your team.
Kind of taking a step back and just thinking about location, we divide this checklist into three areas, which is, do you have the resources you need? Do we have a set new process that we're going to need to be successful? And do we have the tools specifically for those circumstances and those processes? So when we think about resources, we want to make sure that we're working with our teams to make a plan. Obviously our home office is maybe not set up as detail oriented as our work offices. We're usually not designing our home in terms of having specific office space or specific details, so you want to be meeting with your teams to understand, are there particular challenges that you're thinking you may encounter? Now that we've been working virtually for a while, team members have this four or five months of learning under their belt and they can say, "Hey, for the last four or five months, I've been doing X and that seems to be working well, but I also think I might need some help solving for Y."
So kind of as you're having those resource conversations, it helps you understand maybe the other challenges that your team is navigating while they're not working from the office. In terms of that, we also want to be thinking about the processes that they're going through. Some of these might need to change, so as we're having those consult meetings, we want to be talking to our stakeholders around, "Do you envision anything changing? Is there a work process? Is there a way we communicate with our customers that's going to need to change?" One of these big processes tends to be meetings. So do we have the right meeting cadence? And we'll kind of jump into more of that in the next section, but do we kind of have that right meeting cadence and meeting process to make sure that we're all staying connected?
And then third, as we often talk about, feedback is so important and so we want to make sure we have some sort of review and feedback process in place. Maybe we had weekly meetings with each other. We had all those informal chats in the hallways, but how am I as a leader going to be giving my team feedback and how are they also going to be giving me feedback about what could be going better, what I can help with? We want to constantly be reviewing and we want to plan for that review process ahead of time.
So when you kind of have those things mapped out in terms of resources and processes, there might be specific tools that you need to be successful with in that. So obviously we've all kind of moved a lot to video calls and different collaboration tools whether they be document sharing or white boarding digitally. You want to then kind of ... Now that you know what you're going to be ... here are the processes that you need to lay out, what tools will help us achieve those in the short term and in the longer term? And again, this is a continuous conversation, so you're probably coming back to this conversation often of, "Okay, we tried tool X. Maybe it didn't work, and we're trying tool Y." And you're finding that right mix as you go along.
Luis: Thank you. So, just a quick recap, our sample checklist for step number two of the team process checklist, that is going through a shift of moving to virtual is, "Hey, your location's changing, number one. So do we have the new resources at the new location? The new processes needed? That's been affected by the new location. And then the tools. And then do we have the roles in reporting responsibilities outlined?" Thank you. Now for our third and last step for defining the communication cadence, could you talk about what the big distinction is between what we want to do internally and then what we want to do externally?
Tracy: Yeah. Communication is going to be your most important kind of piece of this whole thing, especially as we potentially are not working in the same location anymore, and potentially as processes are changing. You're going to want to think about your communications in two ways, internal communications to your team and external communications to your customers. So we'll kind of jump into the external communications of customers in a separate podcast but, again, just kind of keeping that in mind, because as you change processes with your teams, that might affect your customer experience and you're going to want to make sure that you're telling your customer if there's going to be any changes, that way they know what to expect as well.
When we talked about communication last week, we talked about it being timely, being transparent, being truthful. So you want to be transparent with your customers as well and really let them know, is anything going to be changing? If something's changing, you want to make sure that you have a plan for that, so that that way they know what's coming as well. So internally what we want to think about with our teams is, because the shift we're talking about is moving our teams to be working virtually, communication is really imperative. There's going to be a lot of things about our communication dynamics that change. Again, many of us are used to, or kind of ... in the early spring we're used to seeing each other in hallways and for ad hoc meetings. We've now gotten used to the fact of we're working virtually and there's different communication methods that we use in that, and we want to make sure we're continuously having the conversation with our team around, is this working?
So as you go through your communication cadence, you want to make sure that you have the right meetings. So, there might be weekly meetings with your team on your calendar now. Is that working for your team? Maybe there's another big shift coming up and you need to move to even daily meetings with your team, or bi-weekly. If you want to move to more frequently, maybe you make them a little bit shorter because team members maybe don't need to have five hours of meetings with you every week but we do kind of need to have a greater frequency.
You might have different schedules now that we're working virtually, and so you might want to talk to your team about, does the time we meet still work? Also within this, you want to make sure you're having individual check-ins. Again, we've all kind of been in this shift for the last few months. This might be becoming more of a permanent shift, so we want to make sure, do we have a weekly check-in with our team member? Is that a daily check-in? Is it biweekly? Making sure that we understand from our team members, are they hearing from us enough? Are they getting the information that they need to be successful? Do they feel like they have enough one-on-one time with us? And also for both of these kinds of meetings, you want to make sure that your team member feels comfortable with the medium. Is a video chat better? Is a phone call better? How are you using different forms of communication for different topics?
Now that we're all virtual, we just want to make sure with folks that we're using the best and most ideal communication. So you as a team might agree, "Hey, we talk about these certain kinds of questions or this process is via email, where if there's something urgent it's via a phone call and our check-ins on one-on-one are via video." Whatever that might look like for your team, it's important to kind of get team agreement to what that is.
Luis: Thank you, Tracy. Really appreciate you sharing the three step guide on how leaders can approach the various stages of change and start making the shift to virtual as our example we talked about in some. One, define the stakeholders. Two, having the clear team process checklist review. And then three, having that defined communication cadence both for internal and external. Thanks so much for your time this week.
Tracy: Thank you, Luis. I really appreciate it.