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Posts Tagged ‘team building’

on teams


So much of team building chatter is based on the premise that we are all capable of being excellent, that same mentality of the Blair years that we can all have anything that we want, that there are no losers and similar excuses that blights genuine progress. The reality is that there are always losers because there are so few genuine winners and, in any case, true excellence is something that comes at the expense of much else. If you want that you can forget most of the work:life balance claptrap that is bandied around.

For anyone leading a team the issue is how to get the best balance from what you have and you will rarely have any choice in picking your team, at least at first, so you will be doing what you can with the hand that you are dealt. There is every chance that you will have a star or rough diamond in the mix and a number of people who are very competent as well as what will seem to be a dud or two.

The first step is to get to know them and try to understand what makes them tick. Weaknesses are important, but put them at the back of the queue for now and concentrate of strengths. You may want to work on people’s weak areas in time, but for now use the team to cover each other’s weak area. If someone is not good on the ‘phone don’t let them answer it. It is important to the team to feel that you believe in them so if you get them doing the things that they are best at they will be happier and start to trust you. As that trust builds they will be more receptive to your efforts to develop them and these should always be around polishing their skills before working on their weaker areas.

If you can get that right you will find that at least some of your team will start to ask about working on their weaknesses. This only comes when people begin to feel confident and you will not get that by harping on about their weaknesses; you need to be subtle and building the confidence that they, and you, need. It is about building an atmosphere of mutual trust.

Another benefit from this approach is that when things go wrong people will be more open about what they did which helps to understand what you need to do to prevent recurrence. Eliminating errors becomes a lot easier when your team truly believe that they are working in a no-blame culture so always look for what went wrong rather than who did it.

As you come to understand your team better you will also understand what motivates them. Not everyone wants to be a star and there is no reason why they should. For many people to just do a job that fulfils them and enables them to survive in modest comfort is all they want and people like that are the bedrock of any team. They turn up, do their stuff and go home day in, day out. What will demotivate people like that quickly is a poor working environment so, as leader, you want to make sure that the physical infrastructure works well and that your team have the things that they need. It can become a huge problem when the stapler can rarely be found and, when it can, it is out of staples or the photocopier is always out of paper. These are simple things to fix, but are the grains of sand that can grind people down. Fix them and people will be happier and happier people are more motivated and productive.

A few thought to play with. As always, feel free to disagree.

on the SISI principle


In good teams there is a focus on individual goals; if everyone delivers their part to the best of their abilities then the team will succeed. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a very good basis for success, but in executing such a way of working it can go wrong.

Where it goes wrong is that you have a group of individuals and not a team and there will be none of the synergy that real teams enjoy. The foundation for good, and possibly great, teams is to ensure than everyone understands what the organisations goal is and focuses their attention on their part of that, but also working for each other as the day goes by.

You want people who have each other’s backs, who will think of the common good and not just of their own targets. It is about helping the team succeed and not individual glory. It isn’t about baling out lame ducks; that is your job as the leader, but it does include putting things right when there is a problem.

The SISI principle is built around the old adage; Everybody was sure that somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but although it was everybody’s job everybody thought that somebody else would do it. In the end nobody did what anybody could have and somebody should have done.

SISI stands for See It Sort It. If it needs doing then do it. If you can’t do it find someone who can, but get it sorted now, don’t leave it for someone else. If a colleague is in trouble help them. If you are struggling seek help. If you see a problem then sort it. It can be the most trivial of things; leaving the photocopier without paper, not putting a new toilet roll onto the holder or not tidying up. All of these things are the grit in the gearbox that wears people down, but if you can get them to just fix these things as they go you get that synergy.

It comes from team spirit, but it also builds team spirit. Once you get a group working as a team you will find that they can absorb pressure like a sponge. They are all confident that someone has their back and develop a belief in themselves as a team that can do anything.

SISI, it easy. It cost nothing and pays back in volumes. Why not try it?

on a question of trust


I have been reading a lot of political commentaries lately, not as a form of self-flagellation, but out of interest. A common thread has emerged from this that brings to mind parallels from my business experience down the years and I will call it The Curse of the New Broom. Read more…

on why good teams can  emerge around bad leaders


There is a lot written and taught about good leadership being behind the development of good teams and I have contributed my fair share. But is a good leader essential to the creation of a good team? Read more…

on sharing your thinking with your team


If you have followed the last couple of Musings you will see that I advocate effective communication between the leader and the team. The idea of sharing your thinking with your subordinates is alien to many, but it is beneficial in a number of ways. Read more…

on the JFDI principle


Back in the early 1970s I was on a management training programme with a company that operated throughout the UK and was doing the rounds of every department in the business to learn the ropes before, hopefully, getting onto the management ladder with a promotion to a line job. One of the people I worked for during that period was a big influence on me, firstly positive, but then negative and the thing that tipped the balance was the JFDI principle. Read more…

on demotivating people


We all have obsessions and those of us who lead teams may have a few for we are driven people. We like to refer to these foibles as being focussed, having a clear vision or something of that kind, but behind whatever management speak we wrap it up in we are still obsessed.

Read more…

on accentuating the positive


A call asking for some free advice is a fact of life in my line of work and rarely does a week go by without one. Whether the caller gets the advice they are seeking depends on how well I know them and last week’s call was from someone I have known for a while so I was at least prepared to listen. Read more…

on cutting cost being easy; you just have to spend a little


 

One of the things that leaders need to do is to make space for their followers so that they can do their jobs. Keeping the flies away as one of my early mentors used to put it, although his choice of words was a little more colourful. Read more…

but in the end nobody did it


We all know the lines about everybody knowing that somebody would do it, but in the end nobody did it; it’s a little off pat, but rings nicely true and it sums up one of the basic issues of leadership that is often overlooked (see foot of blog for the full story). Read more…