Executive Summary: A Focus on Team and the Human Experience

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CHANGE SEEMS TO BE THE NEW NORM: It is likely that you are experiencing a great deal of change at work; a reorganization, a new boss or leadership, rapid hiring or lay-offs, or an expanded team that may include remote partners. Every team has its own “culture”. Disruption to that culture throws off the equilibrium requiring we invest time reshaping the trust of the team. This human centered endeavor was the topic of Kirsten Gallaghers WCL presentation.

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The Model


The Weisbord model provides us with a valuable framework for understanding what people need in order to feel grounded in the workplace. This model can be applied to an entire organization or a single change initiative. You can even apply it to your team. The six elements of the model are: purpose, structure, rewards, mechanisms, tools, and relationships. 


PURPOSE. Everyone must be clear on purpose, both that of the organization as a whole, as well as the team’s purpose and how they support the strategies and objectives of the organization. Knowing why, how and to what end we are working progresses our individual purpose. Purpose is closely tied with satisfaction.

STRUCTURE is the scaffolding of the organization. Weisbord refers to structure as “the way in which the organization is organized; this may be by function – where specialists work together – or by product, program, or project – where multi-skilled teams work together.” The structure cannot be ambiguous or tenuous if trust is the objective. Each role needs to be clearly defined.

REWARD goes far beyond money. Individuals are motivated by flexibility, responsibility, mobility, career development, peer recognition, and much more. Money must be partnered with these other rewards for employees to feel satisfied, especially during times of stress. What rewards are critical to your happiness?

TOOLS are the levers Weisbord suggests we use to increase satisfaction. Tools can take the shape of training, town halls, onboarding programs, change or growth programs. Even regular one-on-ones make individuals feel more connected to their company, boss and team. What tools motivate you? It is fair to ask for what you need.

LEADERSHIP. How is the organizations leadership team moving the business forward? Try to understand the orientation of your leadership. A leader with a sales and marketing background may be focused on revenue while someone from operations will have a different perspective. What path have your leaders taken that will provide insight to their focus?

RELATIONSHIPS are a critical part of an employee’s connectedness. This includes employee to employee, manager to employee, leadership to employees as well as mentors, bonds with customers and cross-organizational relationships. What can you do to foster relationships in your organization?

MECHANISMS refer to the policies and procedures of the organization and evaluate if they help or hinder the accomplishment of organizational objectives.



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What can you do?


Our relationships benefit from sharing. Try creating a “how-to operation manual” for working with each member of your team. You might include a page for each team member answering some or all of the following:

1. What are your communication styles (are they thoughtful, collaborative, quick, or do they think out loud).

2. What are your preferred motivators (recognition, shout out, quiet thanks, cookies)?

3. What is your learning style? Do you prefer reading, talking it through, hands on or are you a listener?

4. How do you like to engage? Do you like tons of detail or a top line summary, raw data or graph summaries, presentations or conversations?

5. What is your favored method of communications: email, text, Slack, etc?

6. What are your preferred working hours?

7. When are you most ready to make decisions?

8. How do you like to get news. From TV, radio, websites. Do you like to seek it out or have it pushed?


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“The ‘preferred future’ - an image of aspiration - [is] a powerful guidance mechanism… When people plan present actions by working backward from what is really desired, they develop energy, enthusiasm, optimism and high commitment.”
— Marvin Weisbord