When teams shadow each other they spend a day in a professional environment far different from theirs. They look, see and speak outside of their comfort levels. And if they listen, and ask very good questions, team members learn a whole lot.
Hey, why limit team shadowing to a one-day occurrence? Think about the difference this exercise makes. Liberate the workplace out of status quo mindset. Free employees from their functional silos. Encourage innovation.
Team shadowing is a great collaboration hack. Discover more ways to promote cross functional collaboration. Look for more hacks here.
In my playbook, the outcome of team shadowing is: “Gee, I didn’t know you folks did that!” The more team shadowing outcomes you achieve, the more “Aha!” moments your organization creates.
“Aha!” moments lead to innovation. “Aha!” moments are the pathway out of the status quo.
Team shadowing identifies go-to resources in your organization.
Everyone has Masters in their organizations. These folks know Everything about Everything. They open doors for other professionals to gain access to critical meetings and the conversations impacting customer success and customer retention. These Masters usually intimidate a lot of folks because they know so much. However, when it boils down to it, they are people, too. Reach out to them.
Furthermore, team shadowing breaks down professional and title-based barriers in your organization. Gaining access to individuals who may be many pay grades above yours is daunting, especially for new hires. Shadowing provides a rich fabric for dialogue, questions and innovation. Often, the folks higher up the food chain lose connectivity to the troops, who are more connected to what’s happening today and tomorrow. Everyone benefits.
Also, the team shadowing concept is a hands-on educational experience. Sure you can bring in trainers and teach at everyone sitting in a classroom setting. However, learning sticks so much better when the student is fully immersed in the environment in which decision making is achieved. The tempo and cadence of how specific types of professionals make decisions is enlightening. Not everyone makes decisions the same way. Identify the critical differences.
What could team shadowing look like in your organization?
Many professionals enter the workplace each day and become immediately immersed in “busyness.” There are endless rounds of daily fire fighting, answering emails, and going about “regular” professional routines.
How about shaking up those patterns? Otherwise, employees get stuck in routines and patterns of behavior which may, unintentionally, create an atmosphere of exclusivity and tunnel vision.
Alternatively, when an organization creates a team shadowing program, employees begin to look forward to their next shadow assignment. Teammates anticipate debriefing and sharing insights about what they learned from working with folks in other departments.
Good things happen when employees cross pollinate their brains. Their knowledge about how your organization conducts business is expanded. Additional knowledge creates new resources for gathering data to make decisions. Ultimately, the types of decisions made are more thoughtful, data-driven and insightful.
Sometimes the best professional development programs are right under everyone’s noses. Team shadowing is a sustainable program. Business, operations and IT outcomes from hybridizing employee mindset are immediately felt and measured in the input-throughput-output which result.
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Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention in the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring, developing and implementing teams of collaborative technical, engineering, sales and business professionals. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, catalyzing teams to create enduring business outcomes.
Image author: Ion Chiosea. Image source: Fotolia.