New year traditions beckon us to reflect and recalibrate. They offer a mindful interlude amidst our busy lives, allowing us to check in on ourselves and set motivating intentions for the new year. For many of us, this is a time to concentrate on building new habits and routines, to support the goals we have set ourselves as we begin our next cycle around the sun.
In Team Management Systems (TMS) terms, we call these habits and routines “Maintaining.” In general, Maintaining is about reviewing and upholding standards and structures to support the stability, consistency, and effectiveness of a system over time. At a personal level, this can include things like doing household chores, engaging with regular exercise, or managing our finances. In a work context, we can think about Maintaining activities in both people and process terms, as both are critical to ensure an an organisation is running optimally. Some examples of how we might perform the Maintaining function at work include:
Conducting performance reviews and feedback systems
Organising team building activities
Facilitating training and development
Charting career planning
Establishing recognition and reward systems
Upholding Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Administering quality control systems
Overseeing budgeting and financial management
Managing documentation and record keeping
Enforcing risk management protocols
Interestingly, our TMS global norms database reveals a surprising statistic. Looking at the average responses derived from our data set of over 650,000 people, a mere 2% of individuals identify 'Maintaining' as their preferred major role. Work, by definition, demands effort to achieve a goal – so, in a way, it's no shock that our TMP Norm Data shows preferences in a work context skew towards 'Developing', 'Organising', and 'Producing' Types of Work. Yet, this imbalance prompts us to consider – do we undervalue the custodians of our standards at work? Does our bias towards action risk side-lining the indispensable, albeit quieter, contribution of the 'Maintaining' function at work?
We know from the TMS research the significance of addressing each of the eight essential functions, known as the 'Types of Work,' to cultivate high-performing teams. These functions encompass a comprehensive range of activities crucial to the success of teams and projects. They include tasks from ideation to execution, and from quality control to continuous improvement, ensuring every critical aspect of team operation is covered. By effectively addressing each Type of Work, teams can ensure a balanced approach, leading to enhanced performance and successful project outcomes. We also know that ignoring any one facet can create gaps, weaken team cohesion, and destabilise outcomes.
In well-run or larger organisations, the under-represented 'Maintaining' function can be systematised through initiatives such as health and safety policies, automation, industry certifications, or performance metrics. However, it is important to remember that while these frameworks and processes can support a healthy Maintaining function, being intentional about the integration of Maintaining perspectives is key to building long-term stability.
An undeniable characteristic of human nature is the propensity to innovate, build and grow, but custodianship is equally important when taking a long-term view of any robust system. At TMS, we know how important the Maintaining function is – but how do we ensure every voice is heard, every role is valued? The process starts with awareness of self and others; it amplifies when an environment of psychological safety is present, inviting people to be transparent and vulnerable; and it reaps untold rewards when diversity of thought is welcomed into strategic planning and decision-making processes.
Is your organisation ready to start its journey towards building capability around balanced perspectives? Here are three of our top tips to invite diversity of thought into your work processes:
Seek diverse perspectives: Involve a variety of viewpoints to foster a rich decision-making process.
Empower all voices in decision-making: Create a platform where every opinion is considered, giving each team member a stake in the outcome.
Recognise the value of every role: Celebrate the unique contributions of each role, understanding that each is a valid and valuable contribution to organisational success.