Team Works: The Perils of not knowing what you didn’t know

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Written By Maureen

As a cloud-based business, our distributed team only gets together twice a year. Cue the Gold Coast and our annual strategic planning conference! Peeps flew in from Perth, Sydney and Auckland and our facilitator joined us from Northern NSW.

For such a small team you might think we really know each other and what each of us does. And as experts in communication, I’d forgive you for thinking we’re good at… you know… talking. That’s what I thought! But I was wrong.

I learned so much about my co-workers this year. Marina (our ops manager) has a wicked sense of humour. She is a keen observer of all our human foibles. Susan (our digital solutions manager) knows her software better than the help desk. Susan knows exactly who does what – and who doesn’t.

But there were three things we didn’t know. Three things that surprised me.

Thing 1

Three months ago, our social media and digital assets team set up an RSS feed. The feed was supposed to deliver the latest research in fundraising techniques. But it never got to those it was made for!

The recipients thought the team hadn’t had a chance to develop it.

The development team thought the recipients didn’t notice all their hard work.

Our wires weren’t just crossed – they were disconnected.

Thing 2

Our CEO wanted to sort products using our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. She (and I) didn’t know that the button labelled ‘sort’ did exactly what she wanted.

Susan knew that it sorted products. What she didn’t know was that we wanted to, or that we didn’t know that the ‘sort’ button ‘sorted’ things.

Let’s just say… Problem sorted.

Tip: visit here to find out how to choose the right CRM for you.

Thing 3

Once upon a time we had a staff meeting about the features of our CRM. A team member had to step out on a call and missed a small – but vital – feature. They didn’t know you could edit a small detail of the job without editing the whole record.

Who knows how much time they lost editing jobs the hard way?

When things add up

None of these three things were earth shattering. Each one is tiny, but added together may have wasted thousands of hours a year across the team. Now that we know Things 1, 2, and 3 we can reduce staff frustration and improve productivity.

What have you assumed is happening that isn’t? What dumb questions should you be asking?

What are the ‘Things’ in your business that you don’t know?

If you need some help, here are a few resources:

46 tips to help improve your business

77 business improvements in 77 days.

Oh, and we came up with a five-year plan for world domination – so watch this space.