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Sep 08, 2021
Fostering an environment in which diverse team members can display their true potential
Building a highly productive team that gives its members greater job satisfaction
Manager of F-IoT Dept., Monozukuri DX promotion Div.Dan Yakabe
He joined DENSO after he was involved in system planning and development in an electrical manufacturer and in a bank.He is now the project leader responsible for the system development, introduction and maintenance, and is also in charge of management of his department.He released the in-house Factory-IoT platform with his team and is now expanding it to inside and outside Japan, leading a wide variety of members such as process designers of new graduates, software engineers who were adopted there in mid-career recruitment or were transferred from other divisions in DENSO, and other many partners.
F-IoT Dept., Monozukuri DX promotion Div.Yuta Kuroda
He was in charge of the production engineering in a manufacturing division when he joined DENSO as a new graduate, and experienced jobs in hardware fields.After that he was transferred to the current division which is involved in software fields which have something to do with manufacturing divisions, and is in charge of operations and maintenances of the developed systems.He introduces SRE to his systems, because he focuses on the reliable systems which continue evolving and being used by users even after developed.And he values harmony in his team, and influences other members proactively to activate his team.
DENSO’s F-IoT Dept. is in charge of developing and deploying systems (platforms) that connect DENSO’s 130 global plants via Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The department employs people with diverse specialties, roles, and backgrounds, combines their talents to tackle large-scale development projects, and achieve good results. Yakabe and Kuroda, who work on activating teams in the department, will talk about how they have been building them.
Contents of this article
Vision for the ideal team
In order to realize the strongest possible team, it’s important to ensure that everyone feels free to say what they really think and discuss matters frankly with other members. However, it can sometimes be tricky to convey one’s ideas openly to others, which is why opinions must be expressed in ways that are respectful to other members, based on relationships of trust among everyone.
By openly accepting everyone’s opinions and ideas, it is possible to develop flexible and strong systems that are suited to the unpredictable times in which we live, and continue evolving.
In order to achieve it, you should not be aggressive but considerate of others when you talk to them. And you should accept others when you listen to them, even if you would not like to listen to home truths, because they talk to you for your own sake. If you can do it, then you will form an ideal team.
My team has a lot of unique members with such strong personalities that other sections jokingly refer to us as “the zoo.” We are so serious about our work and show our true feelings that we often conflict or hurt each other’s feelings. It means when our discussions get really heated, we sometimes go too far and say inappropriate things.
As such incidents ruin the overall team atmosphere and make someone’s motivation lower, I’ll immediately say “Let’s get the discussion constructive,” and talk to other members focusing the issue we would like to discuss.
And whenever I change the topic of discussion, I make an announcement it clearly in order to get ourselves to focus on a single and shared topic.
In meetings and so forth, I sometimes have to steer things in a productive direction. Even if it makes me unpopular, I throw myself completely into facing the members every day in order to harmonize my team.
My goal is to enable everyone on the team to have a heart-to-heart talk, develop good systems, and always feel that their work is rewarding.
Encouraging mutual respect and true feelings
When individualistic persons work together, conflicts are bound to occur. I try to foster mutual respect and trust by providing opportunities for everyone to get to know each other.
In the case of my team, I encourage them to often chat among themselves.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has made on-line meetings commonplace, I try to consciously increase the opportunities to chat and communicate with each other to get to know each other more.
For example, in a 60-minute online meetings in a week, I consciously devote the first 15 minutes to chat. Moreover, in a small team of each project, I make small talks online for about 15 minutes even when I have no important issues to talk about.
We talk about a wide variety of topics such as our families and our jobs.
“Recently I’m struggling with increasing jobs like this.” ”This is useless task, isn’t it?”
It’s there in such small talks that I can hear them grumbling frankly or that I can know my members’ characteristics.
Before the pandemic, we saw each other in person at work, but we didn’t have a strong sense of purpose to know each other’s characteristics. But I realized that I knew other members less than I thought I did by getting to know their thoughts and characteristics in small talks with them.
I truly felt that it is necessary to have frank communication among us consciously.
In addition, we talk with each other about our own hobbies, and write down short messages of thanks and members’ birthdays on the “thanks board” shared by all of us. It is not just to facilitate communication among us, but also prevent team members from feeling isolated in the team.
Considering individual motivation to bolster team productivity
In order to make the team better, it is necessary to understand what jobs are rewarding for the each members and to keep their motivations in addition to good atmosphere and a relationship of trust in the team.
It is because the productivity of humans depends on their motivation very much.
In addition to benefits such as pay, it will maintain and improve ones’ motivation to satisfy their desire for recognition, such as that they are needed in their organization or recognized as members necessary there.
Everyone wants to satisfy their desire for recognition. However, while some people may want many people to trust and rely on them, others are less ambitious and simply desire a little recognition for their contribution.
Moreover, they want to satisfy their desire for recognition for a variety of things, such as themselves, their jobs and how novel their jobs are.
I respond to their needs in various ways, such as mentioning their names during meetings or telling them clearly that I am convinced of what they’re doing. I devise a way to satisfy their desire for recognition adjusting to their personalities.
But I avoid responding only to anyone with strong desire for recognition in front of other members, because this may come across as favoritism. Excessive praise and recognition should be avoided.
Sometimes I find some members one-up other members so that they stand up or get superior to others with too strong desire for recognition, and thus they cannot get along with others. Of course I ask them to stop doing such things because they demotivates others.
But such members often have strong personalities and overwhelming power as individuals. Therefore, I may assign them tasks they can work on independently and do well rather than forcing them to get accustomed to working with others.
Of course it does not mean that I connive them to do whatever they want to do, but that I make them promise to follow the minimum rules.
And if they just keep a promise, they can expedite their jobs as a team such as that they can take over their jobs to the next process smoothly, take others’ opinions into consideration, and change their roles to others if necessary.
In addition to observing member’s behavior and words to identify what motivates them, I also talk with them one-on-one and have them fill in information sheets. This helps me understand each person’s life experiences and motivations.
Some people will tell me directly what motivates them, while others just won’t do so because they have complexes of something or are simply reticent. Although this may be a challenge, I never force them to say anything, as it could lead to conflict.
By responding to each member’s desire for recognition and focusing on what motivates them while communicating effectively, and assigning work with flexibility and discretion, it’s possible to motivate each member. If someone still feels dissatisfied, I will approach them directly and talk with them intensively, and remind them that they are really necessary members of the F-IoT Dept.
Everyone is different, so sometimes it doesn’t go well.But we will enjoy overcoming such a chaotic situation.
The reason I employ so many different approaches is because there is no single way of communication that works with every member well. Everyone is truly different. I am reminded of their strong individuality every day at work.
Both of us try not to miss thoughts and feelings of this diverse group of members. There are countless exchanges every day on the communication tool we use to contact one another. Both of us catch them all and respond to them as quickly as possible.
This can be difficult when everyone give their opinions so openly and strongly, but actually, it wouldn’t be natural for me if the whole team always functioned smoothly without problems.
To produce good results as a team, we focus not only on the systems we develop, but also on bringing out the potential of each member and ensuring that we are enthusiastic and enjoy our work.
By facing each member individually, we aim to boost their motivation and improve team productivity. It may be difficult, but we enjoy trying various approaches in chaotic situations and find our jobs rewarding.
It is necessary to bolter team performance and to make heart-to-heart talks with each other in order to build good systems.
It is necessary to increase motivation of each member in order to bolster team performance.
Yakabe struggles with and enjoys the process of facing their unique members and making his team better, and finally brings the team together and gets results. Meanwhile, Kuroda fosters a general sense of calm and belonging so that everyone can feel comfortable sharing ideas.
Listening to their talks reminds me of the importance of facing each team member as a unique individual, and it also provides me with a positive outlook for teamwork in general.
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