Archive for November, 2009

Lack of COMMITMENT ? The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Like trust, conflict is important not in and of itself but because it enables a team to overcome the lack of commitment.?

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When team members are unwilling to weigh in and share their opinions, there is a high likelihood that they?re not going to commit to whatever decision is made.? Teams that commit to decisions and standards do so because they know how to embrace two separate but related concepts:? Buy-in and Clarity.

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Buy-in is the achievement of honest emotional support for a decision.? Too often, consensus is not real.? It?s false consensus, where instead of discussing the conflict, team members just nod their agreement and move on.? Waiting for everyone on a team to agree intellectually on a decision is a good recipe for mediocrity, delay, and frustration.

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Commitment is about a group of intelligent, driven individuals buying in to a decision precisely when they don?t naturally agree.? In other words, it?s the ability to defy a lack of consensus.

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When a group of people know that their colleagues have no reservations about disagreeing with one another, and that every available opinion and perspective has been unapologetically aired, they will have the confidence to embrace a decision and abandon whatever their initial opinion might have been.

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Good leaders drive commitment among the team by first extracting every possible idea, opinion, and perspective.? The, comfortable that nothing has been left off the table, they have the courage and wisdom to step up and make a decision, one that is sure to run counter to at least one of the team members, and usually more.

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The fact is, however, that most people don?t really need to have their ideas adopted in order to buy to a decision.? They just want to have their ideas heard, understood, considered, and explained within the context of the ultimate decision.

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Clarity requires that teams avoid assumptions and ambiguity, and that they end discussions with a clear understanding about what they?ve decided upon.?

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When it comes to commitment, the most critical issues that team members must align themselves around include rules of engagement regarding timeliness at meetings, responsiveness in communication, and general interpersonal behavior.? They must also commit to other principles such as purpose, values, mission, strategy, and goals.

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At any given time, all the members of a team must also know what the team?s top priority is, and how they each contribute to addressing it.

Fear of CONFLICT – The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive, ideological conflict

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Trust is a requirement for overcoming the second dysfunction of a team, the fear of conflict.?

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Only team members who trust one another are going to feel comfortable engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate around issues and decisions.? Otherwise, they are likely to hold back their opinions.

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That?s not to say that some teams that lack trust don?t argue.? It?s just that their arguments are often destructive.? Team members aren?t usually listening to each other?s ideas and then reconsidering their point of view; they?re figuring out how to manipulate the conversation to get what they want.? Or, they don?t even argue with their colleagues face-to-face; instead, they vent about them in the hallway after a meeting is over.

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When we speak of mastering conflict, we are talking about productive, ideological conflict:? passionate, unfiltered debate around issues of importance to the team.? Even among the best teams, conflict is always at least a little uncomfortable.

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No matter how clear everyone is that a conflict is focused on issues, not personalities, it is inevitable that they will feel under some degree of personal attack.? It?s unrealistic for someone to say, ?I?m sorry, but I don?t agree with your approach to the project,? and not expect the other person to feel some degree of personal rejection.

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But if team members are not making one another uncomfortable at times, if they never push one another outside of their emotional comfort zones during discussions, it is extremely likely that they?re not making the best decisions for the organization.

The Absence of TRUST – The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The first and most important dysfunction of a team must learn to overcome is the absence of trust.? Trust is all about vulnerability.? Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears.

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Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple and practical idea that people who aren?t afraid to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone?s time and energy, and, more important, makes the accomplishment of results an unlikely scenario.

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Team members need to be comfortable being exposed to one another, so that they will be unafraid to honestly say things like ?I was wrong,?? ?I made a mistake,? ?I need help,?? ?I?m not sure,? ?you?re better than I am at that,? and ?I?m sorry.?

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Unless they can bring themselves to readily speak these words when the situation calls for it, they will waste time and energy thinking about what they should say, and wondering about the true intentions of their peers.

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For a team to establish real trust, team members, beginning with the leader, must be willing to take risks without a guarantee of success.? They will have to be vulnerable without knowing whether that vulnerability will be respected and reciprocated.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Overview

Monday, November 16th, 2009

For any team to consistently accomplish the results that it sets out to achieve, it must overcome Five Dysfunctions:

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#1:? Absence of TRUST ? The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.

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#2:? Fear of CONFLICT ? The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive, ideological conflict.

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#3:? Lack of COMMITMENT ? The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.

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#4:? Avoidance of ACCOUNTABILITY ? The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable for their behaviors and performance.

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#5:? Inattention to RESULTS ? The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.

Why Teams?*

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Building an effective, cohesive team is extremely hard.? But it?s also simple.

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In this day and age of informational overload and constant daily change, teamwork remains the one sustainable competitive advantage that has been largely untapped.? One reason is that it?s hard to measure ? it impacts the outcome of an organization in such comprehensive and invasive ways that it?s virtually impossible to isolate it as a single variable.

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Teamwork is also extremely hard to achieve.? It can?t be bought, and it can?t be attained by hiring an intellectual giant from the world?s best business school.? It requires levels of courage and discipline ? and emotional energy ? that even the most driven teams don?t always possess.

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But as difficult as teamwork is to measure and achieve, its power cannot be denied.? When people come together and set aside their individual needs for the good of the whole, they can accomplish what might have looked impossible on paper.? By eliminating the politics and confusion that plague most organizations, they get more done in less time and with less cost.?

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And, when it comes to helping people find fulfillment in their work, there is nothing more important than teamwork.? It gives people a sense of connection and belonging, which ultimately makes them better parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors.

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And so building better teams at work can and usually does ? have an impact that goes far beyond the walls of your office or cubicle.

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*Patrick Lencioni

The Table Group

Why Teamwork?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

For the past 2-1/2 years, I have been conducting a two-day Team Skills Training for the ?leading manufacturer of a drone that is used by the U.S. military around the world in multiple locations.

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The material for the training consists of a combination of Patrick Lencioni?s, ?Five Dysfunctions of a Team? and The PEOPLE Process personality type materials.?

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Over the next several weeks, I will be writing about the Team skills Training and the Five Dysfunctions?..

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Absence of TRUST

Fear of CONFLICT

Lack of COMMITMENT

Avoidance of ACCOUNTABILITY

Inattention to RESULTS

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?..that we turn into the Five Positive Functions of a Team?.

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Building TRUST

Mastering CONFLICT

Achieving COMMITMENT

Embracing ACCOUNTABILITY

Focusing On RESULTS

SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY ORGANIZATION

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Andrew Gibbons of the UK published ?50 Signs of an Unhealthy Organization? in January 2007.? I think they are very accurate and felt that my clients may be interested in taking note of some of them.

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Any organization will have its own specific indicators of ill-health.? Future organizational success, in Mr. Gibbons? view, will depend as much on the efforts made to put right what is going wrong, as ?just? focusing upon building on the positive factors.

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Signs of an unhealthy organization:

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Influential senior managers are in their last jobs, with no desire or incentive to rock the boat.? As a result, change and those that crave it are viewed as threats and blocked or worse.

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Confidence in the leadership diminishes and may even be challenged.

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Managers are reluctant to develop their people for fear of creating rivals.

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Employees get little or no feedback on their performance.

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Needlessly bureaucratic and obstructive administrative systems get in the way of the real business of the organization.

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Internal, inter-functional conflicts are not confronted, and these escalate.

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Rumors abound.

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New starters are left to ?sink or swim?.? Induction is seen as an event and not a process.

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Individuals feel they are not rewarded in relation to their personal contribution and effort.

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There is no sense of urgency where this should be seen.

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New ideas and innovations are suppressed by a management that feels it must be the source of all that is creative and praiseworthy.

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Key decisions are taken without consultation or perceived consideration of those most affected ? no thought is given to the fact that people will support what they helped to create.

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Too long passes between deciding to do something and the implementation of decisions.

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Rules and procedures are openly broken with impunity.

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The purpose of the organization is unclear ? or senior managers have very different thoughts on what this is.? This confusion is passed down with adverse operational effects.

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Too many people play the ?that?s not my job? game ? doing the bare minimum and displaying a lack of concern for their colleagues.

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Roles and responsibilities are unclear and/or overlap.

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Even relatively minor decisions are made at higher levels than are sensible.? Employees at all levels are not empowered to make their own decisions without reference upwards.

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Praise is rare, particularly from senior managers, who if ever seen, are felt to be remote and uncaring.

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People in one part of the organization have no idea what other parts do ? nor do they care enough to find out.

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Meetings proliferate, often without purpose or structure, with too little happening as a result to cause those who take part to feel they were a good use of time.

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There is little or no enthusiasm for learning and development, especially amongst senior management who lead by poor example, and know it all, thank you very much.

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Curious About What Makes Your Coworkers Tick? – Their Psychological Type might be the answer.

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Based on the personality theory of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and made practical by Myers & Briggs, type training is used by organizations around the globe and has become an essential tool for assessing personality differences and using those differences to improve individual and team performance.

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The PEOPLE Process simplifies the understanding of personality type making it easy to understand and apply.? The Wheel demonstrates four behavioral dimensions – ??how ENERGY is focused, how INFORMATION is gathered, how DECISIONS are made and how ACTION is taken.? Within each of these dimensions are opposing ?preferences? for which everyone has a natural, inborn strength.?

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Southwest Airlines management reports that training their employees in using psychological type creates an atmosphere of understanding resulting in improved communication and increased productivity ? allowing Southwest to remain a phenomenon in a beleaguered industry.

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Marriott International believes the key to successful leadership and communication is awareness of self and others and trains all managers in the understanding and application of personality type.? Marriott scored the highest in a J.D. Power & Associates? Guest Satisfaction Study.

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As a tool for increasing staff satisfaction and employee retention, stimulating team communication and productivity, and assessing management and leadership effectiveness, The PEOPLE Process is easy to understand and immediately useful in your work environment.