team building posts
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April 02nd, 2012
Every leader needs to help his or her direct reports develop leadership skills of their own. This involves unlearning their training to govern every meeting detail and conversation. By recognizing when to turn over the floor, leaders can show up to the meeting and be led confidently by their direct reports. In turn, direct reports will be more engaged in the process and accountable to the team. But how do we get there?
I recently shadowed a meeting with a manager named Stefan. As an intelligent, strategic thinker Stefan is highly regarded by his team. During the meeting I realized that Stefan was doing most of the talking. Team member responses amounted to very brief or even one word answers. His solution was to fill the void by problem-solving out loud. This only further shut down the direct reports, who resorted to head-nodding.
Stefan’s weekly meetings have great structure. Each direct report is associated with project ownership and results. To fully develop their accountability, leadership and engagement skills, I suggested that there were only a few more things Stefan needed to do.
Laying out a new agenda format at the next meeting would allow Stefan to articulate key areas in the form of a beginning, middle and end. Members should come prepared with project roadblocks, progress updates and recent successes.
- The Beginning: Open each meeting with a brief “check-in”, giving equal focus to each member, encouraging self-awareness and the significance of their input.
- The Middle: Call on each member to report on projects, having been made aware of Stefan’s expectations.
- The End: Request that each team member prepare a final statement (take a look at my recent post on the importance of final statements).
Once Stefan’s team gets the hang of this not only will they become more confident, they will reach a new level of accountability, leadership and engagement in weekly meetings.
Learn more about our online Diagnostic. It targets the key productivity killer that may be holding your team back from getting results. Simple visit RPDweb Diagnostic.
May 12th, 2011
Teambuilding starts with clarifying your team’s purpose, not with getting your teammates to like each other. After all, the task itself – not the people performing the task – is the reason for creating your team.
What happens when your newly formed team is confronted with a challenge?
Consider these five make-it-or-break-it, crucial conversations as your first order of business;
Conversation 1: Get Clear on the Collective Task
The first conversation is about clarifying why the team was formed (gathering the facts, individual competencies, experiences) and how I/we can work together to accomplish something larger than any one member could accomplish on his/her own.
Conversation 2: Align Interests and Motivations
Making sure your teammates share the same level of motivation is far more important to successful teamwork than matching appropriate skills. As some of your teammates will improvise skill-wise, they’re likely to perform to the level of your least invested member, motivation-wise.
This second conversation explores individual interests in contributing to the collective task.
Conversation 3: Establish Behavioural Ground Rules
There are six stages of group development;
- Why Are We Here?
- Conflict/Power Struggle
- Choice: Resignation or Possibilities
These stages suggest that norms are developed in the second stage (point 2). Your team can accelerate the development of these norms by making and enforcing agreements about appropriate and inappropriate behaviours.
Disagreements and differences will arise in the third stage (point 3). Getting people back on track is central to moving into Possibilities (point 4), otherwise resignation (point 4) clouds everything.
This third conversation creates agreements and how you’re going to treat each other and ‘call’ one another on broken agreements and other behavioural issues.
Conversation 4: Set Goals and Anticipate Conflicts, Breakthroughs, and Synergy.
Unless you’ve experienced it several times, it’s impossible to anticipate and appreciate how your work on a team can lead to real breakthroughs. Clear, interpersonal communications are absolutely essential to this process.
This fourth conversation focuses on setting bold goals and anticipating conflicts, breakthroughs, and synergy as your team works to achieve them. Listening for understanding is key.
Conversation 5: Honour Individuals – Your Differences, Opinions, & Input
Differences in perspective have impacts on your discussions, particularly when they’re aimed at a collective task in an environment of trust and risk.
Trust in self. Risk in others. It’s a choice.
This fifth conversation is a process of discovering what each member brings to the task and agreeing to honour and incorporate differences in approach and perspective.
Now go solve a problem and let us know how it all went down!
March 01st, 2011
According to Wikipedia, Emotional Intelligence is “a self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.”
It’s safe to say, then, that heightened emotional intelligence skills boost effective communication, enrich team collaboration and increase the ability to get results.
The other day, I was on a call with a new work colleague and realized that, despite our light banter, the conversation was bumping along instead of flowing smoothly. With each response that left my mouth, I felt as if my colleague was judging my competence. Problem solving was a distant and fading notion.
Technical issues in our webinar studio gave me the break I needed to get our conversation back on track. I told my colleague I needed to deal with this situation and would call her back in 10-minutes.
It turns out it was the break we both needed. When I called her back, she revealed that she had a great deal invested in the problem we were trying to solve and had been experiencing a lot of anxiety.
Her self-awareness and courage to manage her anxiety by simply stating them to me provided the clarity I needed to appreciate her anxiety and investment in a solution. Immediately, the direction of our conversation switched from ineffective to effective. Our conversation flowed smoothly, we collaborated to make a final decision and our end result was met.
Do you have an example of how a conversation gone wrong was re-directed with a pinch of emotional intelligence?
February 22nd, 2011
In my recent blog-post, Team Building Activities, I quoted Duane C. Tway, Jr. with his definition of trust as being “the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something.”
Wikipedia defines trust as “reliance on another person or entity.”
Tway refers to trust as comprising of three components;
1. The capacity for trusting,
2. The perception of competence, and
3. The perception of intentions.
Let’s break this down…
1. The capacity for trusting evolves from an individual’s life experiences, knowledge and judgement. This then promotes or erodes their ability and willingness to risk trusting others.
2. The perception of competence originates from an individual’s perception of their ability, and that of their co-workers, to adequately perform the task at hand.
3. The perception of intentions is an individual’s view-point that actions, words, behaviours or decisions are motivated by mutually-serving the team rather than self-serving.
Keeping these components of trust in mind, where is your team successful and where are they falling short?
February 13th, 2011
Team building activities create trust.
Trust generates effective communication, employee retention, employee motivation and, at the end of the day, team results.
Team results motivate people to voluntarily invest in their work.
When trust exists in an organization or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve.
Trust is “the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something.” – Duane C. Tway, Jr.
I recently met with one of my clients in their office boardroom. When the meeting was finished, we opened the door into the open office area and were both delighted to see a bowl of fresh blueberries, some chocolate pastries, an assortment of dark and milk chocolate pieces and a bottle of sparkling wine.
Without hesitation, my client exclaimed, “Oh tea-time, you must stay!”
Thursday afternoons was “tea-time”, which is a ritual this company created to build trust within their organization. Each week, a different employee hosts.
I was amazed to see everyone in the office drop what they were doing and gather around the table of delicacies. For the next 20-minutes, tension melted away as co-workers shared their stories and wins for the day. A true, unguarded interaction for all.
What does your organization do to build more effective communication, employee retention, employee motivation and team results? Whether it’s tea-time on Thursdays or pizza lunch on Fridays, count me in!
September 30th, 2010
Are scheduled meetings being canceled? Projects drifting away from completion? Team-building and strategic planning sessions put on hold?
If so, your organization could be suffering from task saturation.
The current business climate lends itself to leaders trying to get higher productivity out of leaner teams. This leads towards exhaustion for individuals who multi-task while striving for excellence. Task saturation is brought about by not having the time, tools, or resources to reach the finish line of any task.
Jim Murphy of Afterburner, Inc—an organization comprised of current and former fighter pilots—knows all about the dangers of task saturation:
“Task saturation has been a part of a fighter pilot’s life from day one. Pilots fly in the air at 750 miles per hour, manning 350 instruments while continually scanning the dash to keep the jet flying. By also listening to the radio calls coming in over their headset, watching the fuel state, keeping an eye on the weather, watching the engine and managing the fuel, pilots are able to make course adjustments should the enemy pop up.”
Pilots do not succumb to task saturation, because they are trained to recognize and deal with it. And you can too.
What does task saturation look like in your organization?
The will to Quit
“I’ve had it! It’s too much! I give up!” There’s just too much to do, too much going on despite superhuman efforts. These people shuffle around the office, start leaving early, and don’t pull their own weight within their team.
Pick a Compartment
Compartmentalizers are risky people. They act busy, but do little. They become obsessively linear, first-things-first, one project at a time–all while phones are ringing, customers are waiting, and pressures are rising. This is dangerous for the team because this person looks busy. No one knows a problem is building or that a weak link has entered the chain, until the chain breaks.
Which Channel are you focusing on?
Channelized attention is when you focus intensely on just one thing and ignore the rest. Channelizers are easy to spot, as they dismiss you with a flip of the wrist. They constantly defend their behaviour with “Can’t you see I’m busy?!” Channelizers are almost as damaging to a team as compartmentalizers, as they can get so absorbed in one thing, that all other project balls are dropped.
Pilots are able to identify when they are at risk of creating an error, because they’re aware of the personal coping mechanisms that lead to destructive behaviours. Then they can call in resources to get back on track.
Train your team like fighter pilots
- Hold a meeting to teach people about the dangers of task saturation. Describe the behavioural triggers of shutting down, compartmentalizing, and channelizing.
- Implement procedures to keep task saturation at bay: checklists, crosschecks, and accountability project partners. Use simple, understandable tools.
As task saturation decreases, execution errors also decrease—and performance increases! In these days of asking people to do more with less, task saturation doesn’t have to be a major threat to many business teams.
Are you or a member of your team experiencing task saturation? How have you dealt with it? I’d love to hear your comments.