Unfortunately, someone’s qualities aren’t always on display. Only professionals with great leadership mind bother to find out what their team members’ qualities are. How? Through meaningful conversations. In fact through it, they also connect people, and together they create a collaborative environment where the team's qualities can be put to their best use.
In August 2017, the management of PT. Kairos Utama Indonesia, an IT outsourcing company and a Microsoft Gold Partner in Indonesia, for the second time selected 11 of their valued team members to be coached for three months (21 August to 21 Nov 2017) by Fourteena of Arc Australia.
These chosen 11 were all hard-working professionals; their ultimate goals were entirely on results: meeting deadlines, revenues, KPIs, or improving customer satisfaction, etc. Were they successful? They were. But they can't be forever pursuing results as individual contributors when they have others under their responsibilities. If they keep doing so, at some point they will be exhausted.
Indeed, at the beginning of the coaching stage, some of them felt lost, less motivated, and incapable; some didn’t know anymore what to do to get their own and their team performance better. Others thought good was enough. Day in day out, they carried out their routines for a purpose that they themselves cannot spell out.
This article features their journey to change: from individual contributors into leaders and effective team leaders or managers.
Building relationship is critical to achieve sustained team performance.
ANDREW leads finance and HR teams. He’d been frustrated by the way his colleagues responded to his requests for any information needed to complete his work. It takes two to tango! For he only relied on emails and rarely engaged in conversations with others, let alone facilitate meaningful discussions, even though they were only a few desks away. What was in his mind? He thought he’d done his best by sending reminders. Result? His reminders mostly ignored and to him work became a boring routine.
The coaching opened his eyes: it takes more than emails to get the work done; it takes an open heart to take the first step and initiate a friendly “hello”.
“I realise that relationship must be built not through emails but good, face-to-face communication,” concluded Andrew. That’s it! By end of the coaching period Andrew found that a real conversation did make his work more enjoyable.
NATALIA, as a senior HR staff, her responsibilities include recruiting, organizing a corporate learning, and looking after the welfare of all staff at Kairos.
However, often, Natalia, boxed people in; she didn’t develop the cultures of inclusiveness, of openness and of team work: she was only comfortable to talk or work with those whom she thought she could get along with. For this, she was seen as someone who had no empathy, unfriendly and inefficient.
The coaching inspired Natalia to be a better person. She became a friendly person: she took effort to greet others and initiate an open and honest conversations; she even embraced differences. Soon she realised that each person offered something special, thus her/his need and "story" was worth listening; and through the conversations she found solutions to people's issues. Natalia has developed not only communication skills (including listening), but she also learned how to understand people.
Broaden knowledge through pro-activeness
As a finance analyst, NANI is tasked to prepare financial-related reports and generate invoices. She had no idea how to present her reports beyond showing her Excel spreadsheet. To her, figures were merely data to be placed on the correct side of a balance sheet and giving presentations increased her anxiety. She never realised it took more than Excel spreadsheet to interpret the numbers into business language understood by audience without a finance background. The coaching inspired her to be pro-active and creative in finding qualitative support information either through talking with other team members or reviewing the commercial agreements herself.
Six weeks into the coaching period, Nani’s new style of reporting and presentation impressed her management. Her knowledge broaden: she knew how to link data with business performance -- this made her report meaningful and presentation compelling. Toward the end of the coaching, Nani was not only able to coach her junior colleague but also appointed by her management to overseeing the finance department of one of Kairos’ subsidiary companies.
From individual contributor into effective leaders and managers
DIAN, sales manager with three sales members, was skilful in forging relationship with customers; but sadly, she didn’t employ the same effort with her own team. Achieving the revenue target was her only focus. Even when it meant she closed the sales herself – “to speed up the deal” she said – rather than giving her team the chance to try their best. Team building activities such as sales review meetings or account management development were hardly conducted. Though she constantly delivered the sales target, however if this situation continued, soon, Dian, who positioned herself as the backbone of the sales team, will be worn out, and the sales activities at Kairos become stagnant.
The coaching helped Dian see clearly that all along she acted as a “lone ranger” and an individual contributor. The impacts were negative. As they suppressed the growth of her team and blocked her own path into leadership and management roles.
One good news is – just before the coaching ended, Dian was able to move away from her old mindset and determined to restore her sales team.
KRISNA leads four (4) divisions: infrastructure, internal IT, Data center operations, Operation support – with more than fifty (50) team members both full-time and contract-based staff. Krisna had been too focused on his own work. Hardly he spent time with his team. His four divisions operated in silos. Occasionally his team member approached him for help, but only for solving technical problems.
Krisna felt there was “something missing”. He didn’t know it was more than “something”. It was a huge gap that disconnected him from his team members. The coaching helped him see what he needed first and foremost: building relationship with his team, tapping into their potentials, and molding them into a winning team. Like Dian, Krisna realized that it was mandatory for him to change his mindset – from a competent contributor into management and leadership roles.
Krisna, who since the beginning of the coaching has started exercising his leadership combined with management skills at the end of the coaching session said: “I am now ready to expand my team and lead them with confident.” That’s the spirit, Krisna!
TOMO is responsible for managing 11 support team based at the customer site. Daily, Tomo and his team were very occupied in the attempt of fixing errors. They worked independently. Some of his less-experienced team members often struggled alone – frustrated, they became less motivated; usually with heavy heart they agreed to take on more tasks. As team leader, Tomo only prioritized his own work; he didn’t cultivate a collaborative and learning culture.
Through coaching, Tomo found his new self, leaving behind his old way of working and stepping into management and leadership roles: earnestly he gave special attention to the needs of his team members – both technical and personal, including developed their technical skills. The result was remarkable.
Before the coaching period was ended, Tomo gained trust, respect, and fellowship; this resulting in astounding team-work spirit: his team members became enthusiastic at work to the extent of willing to stay late when duty calls. They worked more efficiently and were always cheerful. Even the customer saw the changes and they too were happy. Good work, Tomo!
ICHWAN has four (4) team members reporting to him. His role is both managing support and delivering project(s). He was dis-organised in the support area – this was understood as it had no established process. He was not in the habit of holding a team meeting. His team worked alone while he himself was always on-the-move and had no time to manage or oversee his team’s activities; or develop his team technical skills.
Before the coaching, Ichwan hardly had a meaningful communication with his team members let alone building a team spirit. Team performance review was not existed. He had no idea how his team delivering their support services. No performance monitoring. No means of giving them appreciation or sense of pride.
The coaching opened a new way of managing and leading his team. Determined to be a good role model, Ichwan instilled discipline in himself and become organised: he scheduled a weekly meeting and created a tool that help him track his team activities. And as a newly born leader he also spent time with his team to develop their skills through team building and knowledge sharing. Just before the coaching was ended not only his team's spirit renewed but their technical skills were also improved. They enthusiastically support each other -- when Ichwan was not around, they were able to back him up. And now, they are more than ready to improve their performance as well.
"The coaching made me see the big problem is not big enough, because we can solve it as a team," said Ichwan.
ARIE, a system analyst with a team of nine developers and one technical writer, undertook a complex project with 12-month delivery period. His challenges were keeping the project on track and his team committed. He did his best, but inevitably in the middle of the project execution three of his developers left and this disrupted the project progress.
At the beginning of the coaching program, Arie was losing his confidence. What’s more one of his newly joined team members thought the project was too complex and wanted to quit shortly after his assignment.
The coaching helped Arie understand what was lacking. Guided by Fourteena, he was able to form a close relationship and develop a collaborative spirit with his team. In a short while he gained trust and friendship. Apart from getting back his confidence, he also discovered new skills in leadership, team management, and persuasion. Even the new member who was about to quit decided to stay and wanted to be part of his team again in the next project. Best of all, he kept the project on track!
AGNI, a project manager with 14 team members comprising system analysts and programmers. His team undertook multiple projects concurrently. Like Arie, his main difficulties were keeping his projects on track and his team interested. About 30% of his projects always delayed. Despite good planning and control he employed, in the midst of project delivery certain members of his team always distracted – they became less motivated, lack of disciplines, moreover tired with the routines they no longer took deadlines seriously.
Though he regularly scheduled a team meeting, but it was strictly to review the project progress or solving technical issues. He held no meaningful dialogues, took no notice of any emotional concerns. The coaching opened Agni’s eyes that building strong relationship and giving each of his team member a sincere attention were the only ways to overcome his chronic issues.
Infusing the sense of belonging to an "invisible" team
NIA, a team leader for Operation Support Vendor, IT (OSV-IT), manages about 42 support service staff; employed on a contract basis and stationed at a client’s 25 branches throughout Indonesia. Team performance had been good. However, being located off-site and previously managed by a former support vendor (took over by Kairos in 2014), this team didn’t have a sense of belonging.
To Kairos management, the OSV-IT team were invisible and vice versa. The management only “heard” their performance through Nia’s monthly report. Overtime, this could affect their team spirit and impact their service quality to the client. Therefore, integrating the OSV-IT team into Kairos’ family was critical, as this will give Kairos management a visibility into her team performance and an opportunity to provide leadership and directions, and most importantly recognize their good work.
For some time, Nia had no confidence and ideas what to do to bring them closer. With Fourteena’s guidance and encouragement, Nia’s confidence developed and ideas emerged. During the coaching period Nia successfully facilitated two site visits by the Kairos senior management and organised six members of her team to sign their contract renewals at Kairos’ head-quarters. A sense of belonging was no longer an issue.
Technical skills alone are not enough ... it takes a good sense of humanity also
ARIF, a newly promoted system analyst, worked with six developers and undertook three projects concurrently. Unfortunately, one of his projects had been long overdue. This was due to lack of project control and the departure of his main contributors in the midst of project execution.
Though he knows well how to create a solution and allocate tasks but he didn’t set strict timelines and milestones. With his customer, he didn’t know how to say “no”: he kept taking additional features without adjusting timelines (man-days) or applying additional charges.
Relationship with his team members was very task-oriented, he never paid attention on his team’s feelings. His team worked quietly as they were told -- no interactions among them.
Through the coaching sessions with Fourteena, Arif began to see, being a team leader didn’t mean that he must “know it all” and "command and control". Instead he should create a culture of openness where he welcome inputs and ideas from everyone in his team. He started to have a regular meeting and facilitate a lively conversations in which everyone participated.
As a result, his team members felt understood and valued; they were more committed to the project and worked not only efficiently but happily. Finding the spirit of leadership in himself, Arif’s confidence improved; he even no longer hesitant to say “no” to his customer.
At the end of the coaching, Arif shared: “I know that despite all of technical skills required to complete a project, there’s also a soft skill – a good sense of humanity – that help me complete the work with good result”. That’ wonderful, Arif. You got it!
Nothing is too difficult
Well, nothing is too difficult for those who are willing to excel. It takes only a willing heart, an open mind, and determination to put into action what they've learned. In three months these 11 professionals discovered new capabilities. They no longer focusing only on the goals but most importantly, also on people to achieve those goals together! Yes, together!
Once again, many congratulations to them all ...
Read the previous Kairos team's journey: a-transformation-moment-all-they-need-is-just-a-little-light.html
PT. Kairos Utama Indonesia is an IT outsourcing company, a Microsoft Gold Partner in Indonesia, specialising in software and application development, IT consulting services and 24/7 support services. Kairos founded in 2005, employed more than 200 employees; most of them are from strong IT and software programming backgrounds. Visit its website on www.kairos-it.com