The Right Team

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All right, you can admit it.

You kind of wish we’d tell you who were rooting for… but only if it’s for the right team!

All jokes aside … there is something amazing during this time of year. Regardless if you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you can instantly find common ground with people who you otherwise would have nothing in common with.

You’ve got the jersey on. So do they. Something clicks. And, people feel like they belong.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your ‘linebackers’ felt that same sense of belonging?

They can! Start small… maybe a team lunch in honor of the Super bowl this weekend. You’d be surprised what that common ground for your team will do!

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Let’s Collaborate Together!

Last week we considered the stages of teams (forming, norming, and storming). Did you peg where your team falls?

Whether you are working at creating norms or are in the middle of a storm, collaboration (one of the conflict management techniques) is a great way to bring the team together.

Dr. Terry Hildebrandt, Professional Certified Coach and co- author of Leading Business Change for Dummies, is back this week with 7 helpful tips on how to successfully collaborate as a team!

Here is what Terry suggests:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PM“Collaboration holds the promise of a win-win outcome, which is more creative and robust than solutions we might be able to come up with on our own.  While we often talk about the virtues of collaboration, actually doing it is often more challenging than we think.

Below are seven steps to collaboration along with key tools and techniques that leaders can use to facilitate a group through collaboration.

  • Raise the Conflict Issue– Be willing to surface and name the issue. Once you do, we can move to the next step.
  • Get Curious– Holding an attitude of curiosity enables us to move away from defending our own position to exploring other’s perspectives with an open mind.
  • Identify Underlying Concerns– We may think that we understand the root of the issue – but often times we are incorrect or have partial understanding. On Terry’s blog, he has some best practices on how to do this, which will help you move to greater awareness.
  • Develop a Shared Purpose Statement– This is the essence of collaboration – we move from having my concerns and your concerns to our concerns. Create common goals to rally around. This sets the stage for creative brainstorming.
  • Generate Solutions– All parties work together to brainstorm solutions that can meet all the needs, address the concerns, and reach the goals defined in the Shared Purpose. And, be sure to use brainstorming rules to avoid premature judgment of ideas.
  • Rank the Options and Agree on the Best Solution that Works for Everyone– Using the brainstormed list of solutions, rate each idea based on how well it meets the Shared Purpose criteria. Decide on a decision making process as a group. This could be consensus with qualification or a formal process such as Kepner-Tregoe Decision Analysis.
  • Devise a Plan for Implementation and Evaluation– The hard work of collaboration can really pay off at this step, since you have strong alignment and support for the plan of action. Take advantage of the momentum from the collaborative exercise to quickly develop an implementation plan to see the fruit of your labor!”

How can you use collaboration this week to either bring team unity or to help resolve a conflict?

Forming, Norming, and Storming

10:00AM: Your team meeting is scheduled to start.

You look down at your watch. It feels like the second hand is moving so quickly – precious seconds you could be using to respond to emails and finish that presentation seem to sprint away.

10:05AM: Everyone else on your team is with you in the conference room except for one person.

You know, that one person on your team who is ALWAYS late to meetings. You don’t like to put people in a box, but seriously – they are always late. And you can tell the team is just as annoyed about the situation as you are.

10:10AM: The late (and flustered) team member sprints into the conference room, ruffles through their papers to get the clean sheet out and pen ready for the meeting that was scheduled to start 10 minutes ago.

ARGH! How do you handle situations like this? Or even deeper rooted aspects of conflict?

We asked Coach Helen Cooper, with over 20 years of experience in coaching leaders of large companies and start ups, about conflict management in teams.

Here is what she had to say:

Helen Cooper- BlogTeams go through a normal formation cycle of forming, norming and storming. To minimize the ‘storming’ (the conflict), ‘norming’ is VERY important.

Engage as a team to really talk through and agree on team values. As a leader, you must be willing to facilitate and work with (collaborate!) the team… not dictate.

This creates a safe way for the team to talk through the specific behaviors required for success and to not put individual team members on the defensive.

An example of a team value might be, ‘we will listen to each other and not talk about each other.’ The value of listening to each other could help the team to talk through this behavior and ask ‘why’. Then, that individual has a chance to explain why.

Another value could be that when issues surface the team can’t successfully resolve among themselves (the example of being late), the team can expect the team leader to intervene and resolve these behavioral issues on behalf of the team.

So, after the conflict has resolved what do you look at next?

The ‘now what’ implies that the team continues to mature. If assignments change or the team scales, the cycle of team development of norming, forming, storming will repeat.

Teams must continually work on their team evolution when environments change. Time is required to discuss not just ‘what’ the team must deliver but also ‘how’ they are going to continue working together.

Take a look at your team this week. Is your team currently forming, norming, or storming?

Also, think about if your team has established “norms” for team behavior. If not, look at scheduling a meeting to talk through some of these things.

It may help you to navigate the storm that will eventually come!

Leading People First

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has really taken off in the past few weeks raising awareness about ALS but also giving people a feeling of unity for a common purpose.

When we lead from knowing where we are going and what we are doing it brings unity (and also encourages peoples to do some pretty crazy things… like pouring ice water on their heads!)

But, sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by all the tasks that need to be accomplished that we lose sight of the people we are leading.

With deadlines looming, new goals being added, and the lingering feeling that your boss is going to want to have that conversation with you- it’s no wonder your team can get overlooked.

So, what is something we can do to manage the things to allow you time to look at the bigger picture?

Entrepreneur has 10 helpful suggestions for managing your time in ways that work. What’s one place to start?

Try starting every morning by taking some time (15-30 minutes) to plan out your day. Identify a couple of items that have to get done, incorporate time for interruptions, and schedule in a little time to plan for your team and their development. We recommend even blocking that time on your calendar, so it doesn’t get lost or taken up by other things.

Having a better handle on what to expect for your day will give you the ability to manage each task.

From there, it is easier to balance the tasks that need to get done and spending time with the people you are leading.

But, What Will I Do?

You have your (long) list of tasks that needs to get done this week. Yet, in reality, you know you can’t do it all (and, well, sleep at some point too). Then again- if you delegate what is left for you to do?

Last week we heard from Jennifer Jones that one of the reasons we don’t delegate is because we wonder what our job will become if we “give away” all the tasks we are doing.

Here’s her advice on how to work past “what you will do”.

Jennifer Jones “The technique is to determine what you will “do” instead.

Explore the role of leader and manager.

See that, in addition to “doing,” there are many important things for leaders to engage in (vision, strategy, inspiration, motivation, training a successor, etc.).

It’s also important to have the perspective that it’s the leader’s job to develop the skills of their people through delegating with guidance.

Thanks, Jennifer!

As a manager, your job is so much more than simply checking off tasks on a to do list.

So, here’s this week’s challenge:

1. Choose one task you can delegate… and do it!

2. Then, in your newly found time, start thinking about what the purpose of your team is.