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Entries from June 2016

Stuck in a Rut?

24th June 2016

Stuck Teams

Are you and your team stuck in a rut?

As a team leader you may be blind to the fact that you a sliding down a slippery path that can adversely affect your results.

Because you are in amongst ‘the soup’ – the daily activities and energy of your team and work – you may not easily spot some of the clues that your team is ‘stuck’ in some way.

Here are some tips on what to look out for, hopefully they will help you spot the ‘rot’ and take action before it’s too late.

Lack of Energy

You may notice a lack of enthusiasm or lethargy in the team or in certain individuals; or hear phrases like:

‘There’s nothing anyone can do… ‘

‘What a waste of time…’

‘Is it really worth it’

Energy is contagious. If you allow this to continue it will very soon be the overriding energy and mood of the team and not the most productive energy to deliver results!!

Cynicism

Cynicism and mistrust may be harder to spot. It could be you that isn’t trusted and therefore not so visible.

Look at how team meetings are working. Is the agenda more important than the outcome? Is it all show and tell for the boss? Are there unconstructive and one-sided discussions without candour – nobody wants to talk about what is really going on?

Another tell tale sign could be an apathy in the way challenges or obstacles are viewed in that they are owned by one individual rather than a team approach:

‘I knew this teamwork stuff was a load of @*@*’

Blame

You can pick this up by the comments people make either in meetings or in corridor chats. It can come across as a lack of personal responsibility… it’s always someone else’s fault or, down to someone else to take action. Phrases or behaviour you may hear or see are:

‘We have no clue as to what this is about…’

Meetings in which interpersonal attacks are made behind people’s backs and to outsiders – ‘x has never pulled his own weight and never will’

A sense of helplessness and lots of finger pointing at top management and/or the rest of the organisation – ‘if this effort is so important why don’t they give us more resources.’

‘We can’t make this happen on our own and no-one else is interested’

Possible solutions to becoming unstuck

It’s never too late to do something about a ‘stuck team’, although the longer you leave it the more challenging it may be to reverse the trend.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Revisit the basics. Is each team member clear about the purpose, vision, goals and ground rules for the team?
  • If there is a lot to be achieved over a long time frame go for small wins – one step at a time. Help everyone recognise how far they have come rather than how much is left to do!
  • Inject new information relevant to the work they are doing e.g. feedback from other teams on the work they are doing, benchmarks to show how much progress has been made or, to inspire a new level of thinking and action share case studies and best practices.
  • Change the leadership or team membership. Sometimes you have to change the people in the team to create the energy you need to move forward.
  • Invest time and energy yourself and hire a facilitator/coach who can help with different approaches. This way you can be part of the team and solution. It can be hard as a leader to facilitate the team and be part of it.

What ideas do you have?

Have you ever been in a stuck/underperforming team?

What worked for you?

I’d love to hear about your ideas and experiences, simply leave a comment below.

“Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.”

Vincent Lombardi

 

 

The 5 C’s for team coherence

9th June 2016

Team coherence

 

Gone are the days when a team would be situated in one office, in close proximity to each other where it would be easy to communicate with each other in the moment and often over hear what was going on.

Today teams are not only spread across different buildings but different countries and time zones. So developing a team that is fully aligned takes more thought and effort.

The truth is no one teaches us how to build and develop a team. We’re magically supposed to know what to do the moment we are appointed into a managerial role!

The chances are you have managed and led teams before and probably never had any real support, guidance or expertise to help you optimise their talents. You’ve more than likely made it up as you’ve gone along and, if you’re lucky, had some real success and learned from your mistakes.

As a simple way to assess where you may need to do some fine-tuning I’ve put together the following framework The 5 C’s for team coherence:

Clarity

Are your team clear about why they are here and where they are heading? Do you have a vision that everyone understands?

A true vision is far reaching and goes beyond what one individual could accomplish. It acts like a magnet, attracting, challenging and uniting people and rallying resources.

You can then set goals that take you toward that vision.

  • To what degree can your team articulate your vision?
  • Are they motivated by it?
  • Are they clear about the team’s purpose?
  • What can you do to make it more meaningful to them?

Commitment

People follow committed leaders, so this starts with you. True commitment inspires and attracts people, it shows them that you have a passion and will do whatever it takes to ‘get the job done’.

Are you committed to your vision and your team?

  • How are your team measuring up? How are individual members demonstrating their commitment?
  • Is your team achieving it’s goals?
  • Where might commitment be lacking?
  • Is time being spent on the right things?

There will always be obstacles and problems to overcome and a strong commitment will carry you through with relative ease.

Creativity

Creativity can come in many forms. It’s not always about creating something new and innovative. It can be as simple as finding a novel way to overcome an obstacle, looking at a problem from different angles, or continuously looking at how to improve the way things get done.

  • How creative is your team?
  • Do you allow team members to share their opinions and views?
  • Do you apply brainstorming techniques to develop solutions rather than stick with your tried and tested approach?
  • Do you play to individual strengths?

Often the person with the best idea may be outside of the functional area as they are not limited by current processes and procedures. Do you think outside of the team?

Connection

The ability to work with people and develop relationships is as critical to leadership as it is to teamwork. Do you as a leader understand how the individuals in the team feel and think? How well do the team members know and understand each other?

Every individual is unique. Each person has his or her own motivations, strengths and idiosyncrasies. Do members of the team take time to get to know each other, and do you encourage this?

How are you connecting to those teams around you that you rely on for support or you provide support to?

No team is an island, so no matter how aligned you are within the team these skills need to be used outside of the team too.

Communication

There is never enough communication! Rest assured people always want more, so recognise this as the perennial challenge.

There is no golden bullet either, so my encouragement to you is to continuously take stock of how communication is working:

  • Is there something you need to stop doing?
  • Are meetings as effective as they could be?
  • What is the quality of listening like?
  • How good are you and your team at giving feedback? Is it timely?
  • How are emails being used? Do they go to the appropriate people or is there a reply all culture?

Seek feedback and if it’s relevant act on it.

This simple framework is something you could use with your team to assess how you are all doing; individually and collectively. Done regularly you can continue to improve and address issues as they arise, and hopefully be role models for other teams.

Good luck and remember to have fun too!

“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.”

Joe Paterno

 

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