Why disruptive team members are a miner’s best asset

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Why be just a "functional" team, when embracing disruption can make you a world-changing one instead?

We live in an age of disruption. Industries as diverse as the media, retail, finance and tourism now all operate in a way that is remarkably different to 20 or 30 years ago.

On the face of it, the reason for these incredible changes is obvious: technology. But while the technology may have enabled revolutionary developments, actually, it’s people who are responsible.

At some point of every disruption story told in the last few decades, someone thought differently.

Thinking differently is what gave us Amazon, Facebook, 3D printing, drones and Uber. In our own industry, mining recruitment, it gave us LinkedIn and Seek.

So, if disruptive thinking leads to innovation, couldn’t your team use a little disruption?

RELATED: Where is the skills gap in your mining team?

Who is the disruptor on your team?

Is there someone on your team who always asks ‘why?’ If so, they could be just the disruptor you need to unlock innovation.

Most of us can recognise a functional team. They:

  • Communicate and interact effectively with one another and no-one has a hidden agenda
  • Are outcomes-focused and share a common and relatable goal
  • Support one another and hold each other to account
  • Are well-resourced, with a balance of skills
  • All contribute to the desired outcomes and work to their unique strengths
  • Are all reliable and fair
  • Have a good leader
  • Are organised
  • Enjoy what they do
  • Are positive and engaged.

But a functional team may not be an innovative one and that could eventually leave you playing catch-up, when disruption from external factors takes hold.

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You need people in a team who are willing to challenge the status quo and focus on improvement. If you don’t have a few people in the team who are willing to take risks, try something new, or question a process, then you risk complacency setting in — and nothing kills innovation quicker.

RELATED: 6 reasons never to hire a team member’s mate

It’s time to encourage disruption

To encourage disruption and innovation, you don’t necessarily need to change out team members. You can seek to create a culture within your team that is adaptive, creative, agile and progressive.

Here’s how to achieve it:

  • Ensure all employees are aware of the reason behind the need for disruption, whether it’s a focus on improvement, generating better ideas, or simply keeping a project on track
  • Look to newer employees for input. Ask them what they found unusual or left them questioning why something was done that way when they first started. Newer employees provide a fresh set of eyes, but aren’t always open to questioning in their first few weeks/months
  • Ensure employees are not criticised personally and are supported through any change
  • Lay ground rules for communication. It’s important people continue to be respectful of one another’s ideas and opinions
  • Hold brainstorming sessions that are short and focus on one or two tasks or processes
  • Encourage open and interactive communication and sharing of ideas, and lead by example
  • Consistently ask questions and engage with your team. Ensure you are an interactive, engaged, and available leader.
  • If you are in a team where new ideas have been few and far between, consider incentives and rewards.

When encouraging innovation and disruption it is inevitable mistakes will be made. It’s possible production may even slip as a result.  But actively engaging with your team at all levels to create a culture that is open to change and open to disruption is absolutely worthwhile.

Why be just a “functional” team, when you can be a world-changing one instead?

Mining People International has more than 24 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies with their HR services. Find out more about our HR consulting services here or get in touch today.

Gail Rogers
Senior Consultant - Candidate Services & HR Consulting
Mining People International

gail.rogers@miningpeople.com.au

Gail worked in operational and technical mine site roles for 15 years and has been with MPi since 2002 in mining recruitment and executive search and eventually mining career guidance and human resources advisory positions. Gail’s 15 years directly in the mining industry, across residential, FIFO and CBD based roles, has given her a unique perspective into the industry.