Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

(MUSIC? It's an acronym to make leading change easier.)

Do you have team members with inefficient work habits?

Maybe they are not handling their workload and workflow as well as they need to. You know that unless they start doing things differently, they will continue to be overwhelmed and behind in their work.

So you know the problem. How do you encourage them to change?

If you try to get your team members to change all their behaviours, all at once, they will end up feeling incompetent and this will decrease their motivation to change their habits.

If you help them take small steps successfully, they will feel competent. The more they feel competent, the more motivated they will be to continue changing their habits.

You can do that by helping them develop ongoing micro-projects for themselves.

First, explore with each team member specific changes they could take to improve the way they handle their workflow and workload.

Then ask them to choose just one idea to start with and turn that idea into a micro-project using the MUSIC tool.


Make sure that there is a clear way for them to acknowledge progress and achievement of the micro-project. Identify specific ways for them to know when or how much of the micro-project has been completed.


Make sure that completing the micro-project will make a difference—that what they do will be appreciated by or add value for someone in some way.


Make sure the micro-project addresses one small improvement. Break tasks down into small, doable actions and make each action a separate micro-project. We are aiming for many improvements, not grand plans.


Make sure they can put their micro-project into action straight away and quickly achieve it. We are aiming for points on the board early to create momentum.


Make sure that the team members select micro-projects that they are prepared to commit to—that they will take responsibility for putting them into action and make themselves accountable for the results.

Once each team member has a micro-project in place make sure you support them and acknowledge success as they make progress.

Continue to help team members create new micro-projects as each one is achieved. As you keep using MUSIC to create momentum and progress, you will begin to see your team getting into a rhythm with their workload and workflow.

I recently had the privilege of working with about 150 employees of a government department. They had a tough job. It involved contacting people to give them bad news. They then needed to work with those people to handle a problem that cut to the core of the lifestyle and businesses of those affected.

My job was to help the workers find ways to make their interactions with the people affected as positive as possible. Despite the unpleasant circumstances.

The workers were all competent and experienced people. Many of them had first-hand knowledge of the lifestyle and businesses of the people they were dealing with. Some had even been directly affected themselves by the problem being addressed.

We all worked together to put ourselves into the shoes of the people being affected. We asked the question: ‘How would I want to be dealt with if I was in that situation?’

Three insights came out of our discussions. Insights that are useful for all of us when we are dealing with others in challenging times and situations  (like leading a team through Covid 19.).
  • Let me know what is going on 
    If times are tough I need you to be honest with me—tell me the truth. Be transparent and provide me with factual, accurate information. Give me clarity by communicating well and often.
  • Treat me well  
    Respect me, show me empathy and demonstrate a recognition of what I am experiencing. Be supportive, helpful and be patient. And most importantly, listen. Let me be heard.
  • Let me be part of the solution  
    Work with me. Let me know what options and choices I have. What autonomy can I exercise, what can I control. What plan, process or timeline can I work with? What actions can I take?

Those insights might seem obvious when we see them in a list. Their value lies in action - putting them into practice consistently when times are tough.