Navigate change successfully as a team

posted in: All, Change, Goals, Team Development | 1

Navigate change successfullyJust when things seem to be rolling along smoothly for you and your organization – BAM!  Something changes.  Regardless of your industry or the size of your organization, you can be assured that you and your team will face changes in the months and years ahead.  We do not live in a static world and never have.  Those that survive and thrive are those who can adapt to changes in their environment and circumstances and turn those changes into advantages.

How does your team respond to change?  What do top-performing teams do?  Times of change often illuminate team characteristics that lead to success or failure.  Several factors that influence the way a team functions, especially when dealing with changing circumstances, include:

  • the level of trust team members have for one another
  • how well team members communicate with each other
  • whether or not each team member is personally aligned with and supportive of the organization’s mission.

Here’s an example that you may have encountered:

A key employee is called away suddenly to deal with a family emergency.  How does the team respond to this change?  Do they offer support for the employee during what may be a personally challenging time?  How do they make decisions in order to fill the gap during the employee’s absence?  Are the decisions based on a desire to achieve organizational goals, or is the focus more on individual achievement?  Some team members may be tempted to “protect” their own resources in this type of situation.  And while this may result in apparent success at an individual level in the short-term, the long-term and organizational outcomes can be incredibly limiting.

Think about any team sport, and those teams that have achieved the highest levels of success.  Everyone contributes, right?  Along with performing at a high level individually, team member’s support each other, raise each other’s spirits, offer encouragement when times get tough, give feedback for improvement, and help each other stay focused on the goal.

Navigating change successfully begins long before a change actually takes place. As a leader, how can you foster the kind of environment that will allow your team to consistently succeed under changing conditions?  Here are five ways:

  1. Include as many voices as possible in looking for solutions.
  2. Clearly focus on the overarching purpose of the team and how to best achieve it.
  3. Communicate with transparency.
  4. Recognize and show that you value the achievements of the group as a whole.
  5. Foster a collaborative rather than competitive environment on a daily basis.

What would you add to this list?

Change management made easy

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Change, Goals, Motivation | 0

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Change management made easyThis book by Chip and Dan Heath is filled with sensible gems and practical advice for making changes that stick.  When I pulled it off my shelf just now I found dozens of passages marked in one way or another for easy revisiting.  The methods for change suggested by the Heaths are easy to apply - and in fact, you may find (as I did) that many of their successful strategies are already going on around you.  If that's the case, the book will help you understand why they work, and prepare you to use those strategies more purposefully in the future.

Using the metaphor of a rider and elephant, the Heaths share three main concepts for effecting change:

- directing the rider;

- motivating the elephant;

- shaping the path.

Check it out and see how you can improve the processes for change - for yourself and those around you.

 

To purchase

 

Expertise anyone?

Outliers: The Story of Success –

Building expertise

How do we build expertise in something? Why do some people become experts in their field and others never do?

Another favorite of mine from Malcolm Gladwell, here he looks at people who've become experts in a variety of fields - ice hockey, music, computer programming, and more. Gladwell found commonalities in those achieving high levels of success, regardless of field. A certain amount of innate talent is necessary, yes. But having that, the real key to success lies in practice - intentional, focused practice for an enormous amount of time. 10,000 hours is a number that comes up again and again in studies.

Think about out something you're really good at. How do you take your skills to the next level? 

 

 

To purchase

Capitalize on team strengths –

Every piece is important

One tiny lizard in the vastness of nature – and yet an integral part. Being part of a team is like this. Every member of the team is important, each with unique skills and abilities.  How can we best capitalize on team strengths?

Think about team that you’ve been a part of. Was there a role you considered less important than others? Imagine for a moment that no one showed up to fulfill that role one day. Would the team be able to function as effectively? On one team you may have a person that has outlandish ideas, one who asks dozens of questions, one who creates a safe environment, one who takes care of all the logistics, one who energizes the group, and one who moves them to action – all work together to make the group highly effective at achieving its goals.

One of the keys to developing a high-achieving team is to learn the strengths of each team member and then find ways to maximize use of those strengths. Doing so benefits both the team as a whole and the individual members, as they have opportunities to further develop their strengths through team efforts.

This goes a long way toward increasing engagement as well. How do you feel when you are working in your areas of strength? Productive? Capable? Confident? Energetic? Focused? Successful? A higher level of engagement means more satisfying work for you and typically a higher level of effort toward achieving team goals. A win for everyone.

Imagine what it’s like to work with a team where everyone has that level of engagement. What kind of highly-effective team experiences have you had?

 

Developing Strong Virtual Teams

How do you develop a sense of team when members are spread out geographically?  For many groups the opportunities to get  together in the same physical location are rare. But do you have to

Developing virtual teamsaccept having a disconnected team, just because everyone doesn’t come to work in the same location every day?  People often tell me how difficult it is to build relationships in that kind of situation.  I’ve experienced it myself, and I agree – it can be difficult.  But fortunately it’s not impossible.  I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be part of a strong virtual team, where no goal seemed out of reach. What made the difference?  Just like any relationship, intentional effort needs to be made to create and maintain bonds among team members.

If your virtual team is not performing as well as you’d like or you think that the interpersonal bonds between members could be stronger, consider these questions:  Do you find that when your group does get together for a meeting, much of the time is spent on activities like reviewing reports and scheduling future meetings?  Are these things that really need to be done in a face-to-face setting?  Would a conference call work for some things like these instead?  Are all team members valued for the unique qualities and strengths they bring to the team?

Here are four ways you can build a stronger team.  These apply regardless of your work setting, and are especially applicable in a virtual environment:

1. Make the most of the times you are physically together in the same location to foster trusting relationships among team members.

2.  Incorporate focused and purposeful team development activities into your event to accelerate the group-formation process.

3.  Carefully consider the content of your face-to-face meetings.  What can team members do independently ahead of time? Are there reports that can be read, scheduling that can be planned, or questions that can be shared with the group ahead of time?  If so, then the face-to-face meeting time can be devoted to those areas that address more sensitive topics, or require more in-depth discussion or brainstorming.

4. Create an inclusive environment.  Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and be heard.  Allowing everyone to be involved not only helps the team achieve its goals by leveraging each person’s strengths, it also demonstrates that each member is a valued part of the team.

What would you add to this list?  What has worked for you?

Making a big impact

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Goals, Learning | 0

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference –

Making a big impact with small changesHow is it that small changes can lead to widespread, even epidemic-like changes?  What causes something to reach the tipping point, where critical mass creates its own momentum?  Malcolm Gladwell made some surprising discoveries when researching these questions.  He shares insights on what makes certain people more influential than others, what makes some communications more successful and memorable than others, and the importance of situational context on shaping our beliefs and actions.

The small things we do can be powerful and have a meaningful impact on ourselves, our families, and our communities.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming to make a change, and we may feel like we need to take giant, dramatic steps to reach our goals.  But think about every journey you've ever been on.  They all start with a single step in the right direction.

 

To purchase

Why it’s good to stumble now and then

I stumbled while running the other day.  Fell, actually.  Pretty much flat-out.  I’m happy to report that I did get up, and, after taking a quick inventory of scrapes and what would soon be bruises, kept on going.  Just like we do in life, right?  Later, I analyzed what had happened.  Why did I fall?  Because I had my eyes on something I Achieve goals runningwas trying to reach up ahead and neglected to also pay attention to the (uneven) ground right in front of me.

This is very much like working to achieve goals in work, school, and life.  While we need to keep our eyes on the end-goal, the ultimate prize, we also need to attend to those things right in front of us.  If we don’t, we might find ourselves stumbling so often that we never reach the goal.  On the flip side, there is a risk in focusing too much on the minutia where it’s easy to get side-tracked or otherwise entangled in obstacles.

If we stumble now and then, is that such a bad thing?  What if we never challenge ourselves enough to risk failing? If we stumble on our way to the goal, might it mean that we are growing and stretching our capabilities?  Too much caution could bog us down, keeping us from moving forward at all.  So balance is important, moving forward, but with purpose and focus on many levels.

And what if attention to detail just isn’t your strength?  Or goal-setting is a challenge?  These may be good opportunities for collaboration, perhaps developing a team of people that have many and varied strengths to offer.  A team of this sort also offers support of another kind, as members hold each other up while all are learning and building new skills.

What strategies have you used in the past to balance between the end goal and the specific steps to get there?  What new ideas do you think you could try tomorrow?