That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve been sitting and listening to your team and you think, “I just want something more… something outside the box – something creative!”

This week we have Coach Keiko Akiba to share with us her thoughts.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 9.57.16 PMWhen you’re sitting in the middle seat and watching how your team is working, you may ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help my team become more creative?’

And – what does it really mean to be ‘creative’?

You may think that creativity is a special talent that only some people have and others don’t have. But the next time you pass a park, you’ll see children making ‘play’ from seemingly nothing. It’s amazing how children create new games by making up their own rules without any equipment in the playground. They are free to explore and enjoy imagination and creativity!

Creativity is a gift that we all have naturally. However, as we grow older and learn what we ‘should and shouldn’t’ (or ‘the rules’), we unconsciously bury the creative mind deep inside of us.

So – what this means is that your workplace is full of hidden creativity!

What if we could unbury it just like peeling off the outer layer of an onion?

And how can you, as a Manager, help?

Start with these 3 “Let Go’s” that you can start doing now to spur your team toward creativity!

  1. Let Go of your judgement

Often, managers tend to have judgements or assumptions toward their team members and may underestimate their capability. However, these judgements may not be reality and it could make the team feel defensive and demotivated. So, try to let go of your judgement and fully trust the team, letting them know that you are here to support them.

  1. Let Go of the reins that you keep holding

Imagine a horse running freely across the field without any control by someone. What does the horse look like? When you keep holding the reins too tight, it often limits the actions and new perspective. People might feel pressure and less freedom by being too controlled. This is not where creativity is developed. Let go of the reins and let them explore and enjoy new possibilities!

  1. Let Go of your stereotyped behavior

It goes without saying that following the tradition and rules is important, and you may feel safe to stay inside where you are. But aren’t you curious to see what’s available and what will happen if your team gets off the existing path and does something different from stereotypical behavior? They will naturally use their creative mind and find something inspiring along the way!

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

We know it all too well. You gave the new project to Joe to run because you needed his expertise to really knock this one out of the park!

You don’t just want Joe to “work” on the project, you want him to invest in the project and do what you’ve seen him do so well.

But, HOW do you actually get Joe to do that on this project?

This week, we’ve got Coach Bill Koch with us to share some of his best insights.

So, without further adieu…

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 10.48.00 PM“I often work with clients on the fast track. They have been ‘rock star’ individual contributors with deep expertise, domain knowledge, and amazing abilities to get things done. That track record for great performance gets rewarded with promotion into positions of management and leadership where one is expected to motivate and inspire a team. And this is right where some of the best and brightest people feel stuck – often for the first time on their fast-paced career trajectory.

In coaching conversations, I often receive questions and quotations such as:

  • ‘I know how to perform, but not how to lead.’
  • ‘I feel more comfortable doing than leading.’
  • ‘Management would be fine if it weren’t for all the people problems.’
  • ‘This is hard…I’m not sure I want this.’

Beyond such anecdotal indicators, I have analyzed data from a large body of client 360° evaluations with feedback data collected from Bosses, Peers, and Direct Reports. Among 50+ business competencies that are measured through this 360 instrument, these are among the most frequently rated as Opportunities for Development:

  • Getting Work Done Through Others
  • Motivating Others
  • Managerial Courage
  • Developing Direct Reports
  • Directing Others
  • Building Effective Teams

See the theme here? It’s about leading others. How to manage Direct Reports is one of the toughest challenges because it’s often new to us. Think of leadership skills as an underdeveloped muscle. We need training and exercise – maybe a personal trainer too.

Even more challenging – how do we get a Direct Report to “step it up” and go the extra mile? Should we use a carrot or a stick? Do we demand and command, or can we inspire and attract people to provide peak performance? The answer is “yes” – depending on the situation. It’s art and science. And new leaders need to practice becoming nimble and able to use multiple methods depending on the business need.

What does great leadership look like in your organization? When were you inspired to do your best work? Think of those experiences as you consider what you ask of your team. How can you inspire and motivate your Direct Reports to do the extraordinary?

There are times when leaders must make critical decisions in the face of looming deadlines, limited resources, and organizational demands. These events call for swift action. Think “military threat” kind of situations. The leader takes charge. But this behavior must be reserved for critical situations. “Command and Control” is not for daily use.

Great leadership is about developing people, building a team, and fostering a caring connection that transcends the workplace and the work at hand. It means making a personal investment in others. And it pays dividends in the form of commitment to the company from people who feel a part of the organization. It’s because the leader makes them feel welcome, valued, and appreciated.

What can you do to ‘step it up’ if you expect more from your Direct Reports?

  • Frequent 1:1 developmental conversations
  • Taking a personal interest in your Direct Reports
  • Making sure the work you assign is meaningful
  • Setting clear goals and objectives with your Direct Reports
  • Welcoming feedback on your leadership performance
  • Fostering a supportive team environment that’s friendly – maybe even fun!
  • Recognizing great contributions in front of other members of the team
  • Rewarding good work at the time it is performed

Leaders who invest more effort in these areas will find that their team is in step and capable of doing great work. Your Direct Reports want some autonomy to do things in their own style. The leader is responsible for setting the expectations and objectives so that individuals can flourish in a way that contributes to objectives you establish for the team.

Ask yourself if you’re creating an environment that makes people want to go the extra mile to perform at their best for your organization.

Communicating for Results

Communicating for Results

Have you ever talked to someone and thought you all walked away clear on what needed to happen … and then it didn’t happen?

We can all probably think of a time like this.

As you are working to hit your yearly goals, we have Coach Steve Schmitt with us sharing some tips on how to communicate more clearly with your team!

Thanks, Steve!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 1.05.58 PM.png“The key to achieving performance personally and professionally is repetition.

I think the best quote to illustrate what we all know to be true but sometimes don’t full acknowledge is by George Bernard Shaw that says, “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has happened.”

Just because we said something does not mean that they heard, understood, or agreed specifically. What’s the solution? I have three tips for you:

1) Communicate your messages many times through different methods. This can be through different mediums, in different venues, or with different words. This is where Leaders really get a chance to make a difference.

When you communicate your messages about your goals and results, be sure to be very specific, succinct, and simple.

2) Make sure to lead with what’s in it for them (why should they care or want to listen?). It’s extremely common to lead our conversations with what we want and the fact is – people take action when they know how they will benefit from it!

A helpful lens to use when we communicate our goals and desired results is that we are actually marketing. The essence of marketing is getting people to take the action we desire, and good marketing communicates the benefits to the buyer. Another way of looking at this is we’re getting buy-in. Let’s motivate our Team to produce the best results they are capable of by getting them to want to.

3) Our biggest and best communication medium is our actions, Your Team is listening to your actions (many times more so than your words), so let’s act in congruence with our marketing messages (oops, I mean business communications). To modify a saying from Ghandi, “be the action you wish to see in the organization”. Your actions are your words, your appearance, your expressions, your mannerisms, your behaviors, and oh yeah, your actions.

Let’s think of it this way, three simple words caused shampoo sales to skyrocket – “wash, rinse, repeat”. Do you think maybe we can cause performance to skyrocket if we “communicate, act and repeat”?”

This week, try out some of Steve’s tips and let us know what worked for you!

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Coincidence Either

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Coincidence Either

So, did you get to try out some of the accountability tips from last week?

We’ve got Kristin back this week to share the 4 more tips on our delegation checklist – where you assign tasks to your team members and hold them accountable to quality standards and deadlines!

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.52.01 PMTake it away, Kristin!

After you’ve had the chance to communicate the purpose of the project/task,  state the mission and core values the task supports, and explain the results you expect there are a couple additional tips you can try!

  • Identify checkpoints

Assign a date for an interim checkpoint or two and enter it into your calendar.   Depending on the person you are delegating to, the checkpoints you identify could be several one-on-one meetings to discuss progress to-date, a formal progress report, or a simple email from the team member describing progress. You might ask for a checkpoint report that covers three topics:

  • Successes and progress
  • Challenges or roadblocks
  • Help needed, if any

Some managers like to state a “no surprises” policy at this point. “No surprises” means that the team member is expected to communicate issues in meeting a deadline well BEFORE the deadline. I always tell my team members, “Bad news early is good news,” meaning, if I know that you can’t meet a deadline well in advance, we can do something about it. Don’t tell me on or after the deadline about problems – then it’s too late to save it.

  • Set a deadline and consequences for not meeting it

Clearly state the deadline for this task and why it is important. “Susie, we are not putting our best foot forward with the lousy copier we have, and it’s not sending the right message to our employees when we expect them to work with unreliable equipment. It’s vitally important that you have a new copier installed by April 15. I’m counting on you to do that, ok?”

The good news is that this process can expand or contract depending on the trustworthiness of the team member. If you are delegating to someone you already trust, you quickly hit on these steps. However, if you are delegating to a new person or a poor performer, you will want to follow this process to the letter. 

Let us know which tips you tried and like best!

And, if you want to learn more about accountability processes, check out Kristin Robertson’s book, Your Company Culture Ecosystem: Growing a Vibrant Business.

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Accident

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 2.02.21 PM

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “holding your team accountable”.

Probably that phrase causes a number of different thoughts to flood through your mind.

For the next two weeks, we have another one of our great Coaches, Kristin Robertson, sharing about accountability.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.52.01 PMTake it away, Kristin!

As a manager, you want your team to perform at peak levels of productivity, excellence, and creativity. And you naturally assume that each member of your team is equally excited about and responsible toward the team’s goals. So you assign people different tasks to do, expecting the best possible outcome.

Then a deadline arrives, and the assigned team member doesn’t produce what you expected – or worse, doesn’t produce anything at all, missing the deadline completely. You naturally blame the team member for being lazy, incompetent, or worse.

Stop. Often, it’s not the employee’s fault for missing the deadline. It could be yours.

Typically, the problem lies in how you assigned the project or task. Did you describe the desired outcome? Did you lay out the steps needed to get there? Did you assign a deadline?

Help is here in the form of a delegation checklist. Let’s start with a few tips now, and then check in on a few more next week!

This is something you can use to assign tasks to your team members and hold them accountable to quality standards and deadlines:

  • Communicate the purpose of the project/task

Describe to your team member the overall purpose or objective of the project. For example, if you’d like Susie to purchase a new copier for the office, you’d say, “Susie, the purpose of this project is to replace the old copier and ensure that the team can make clean, readable, and inexpensive copies on a reliable machine.”

  • State the mission and core values the task supports

Explain how this task supports your goals & objectives and upholds the core values of the organization. It might sound like this, “This will 1) help save time and money, supporting our core value of company growth, and 2) reduce stress on our workers, supporting our core value of taking care of our employees.”

  • Explain the results you expect

Clearly describe the results you expect. What are your criteria for successful completion of this project? How will you measure the results and what metrics do you expect to achieve? In our copier purchase example, you might say, “Susie, I need better-looking copies, a reliable and easy-to-use machine, and the cost over 5 years should be less than what we pay now.”

In this step, be sure to use follow-up questions to ensure understanding. You might ask, “Susie, how would you state the problem we’re trying to solve and the success criteria for this project?”

So, try these out and let us know what works for you!

Innovating Through Failure

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.51.49 AM

So, did you have a chance to think about your philosophy or failure?

If not, check out our post from last week to get you started!

Let’s jump back in!

To innovate, you must learn to fail well

How are innovators treated on your team?

How is failure treated on your team?

If your thinking is big enough, no failure should be total. You always learn something from it – whether it’s how to not do something, or maybe it’s extracting one piece of the project that did work, that was ingenious, and that can be salvaged for the next idea.

Don’t stigmatize the team that failed. The next innovators will be watching to see how the first team was treated.

Don’t get us wrong, failure is not the objective. Failure should not be celebrated – innovation and daring should be though; and often, the two come hand-in-hand.

Think about how you encourage or discourage innovation within your team.

Are you celebrating daring-ness on your team? Or are you the runner or the steam engine?

Do you stop and think about how your actions impact those around you and how you can improve?

Or do you blaze ahead – blindly and without thought or care for who and what is tossed in your wake?

This week, make a conscious decision to create something – to risk innovation. Because even if you fail, you will do so while daring greatly.

And — you just might succeed!

To fail is not really to fail – you’re merely collecting data points.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

 

First Block Quote from:  How Google Works. Schmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg. Grand Central Publishing, New York, New York. 2014.

Reinventing Failure

Reinventing Failure

In 1919, a young twenty-year-old was fired from one of his first animation jobs at the local newspaper. As rumor has it, his employer cited his “uncanny lack of imagination and creativity” as the cause for his termination. This wasn’t the last of his failures – a few years later he started his own animation company that he eventually drove to bankruptcy.

Out of these failed attempts to create something meaningful (and many more that we’re not listing), grew an idea and a dream. This same man later founded one of the greatest innovations in entertainment and hospitality that the world has ever known.

The Walt Disney Company.

Disney has been sharing Walt’s ideas, his creativity, and his passion with the hearts of people all over the world for the last 90 years.

How we fail is important.

What is your philosophy of failure? How do you innovate?

In our experience, most people do one of two things:

  1. The first person runs as fast as they can from every opportunity that could implode to escape from the feared collateral damage of failure. Their self-worth and value as a person and employee is so intricately intertwined in the success of what they do, that they are terrified to fail – so they never innovate. They never challenge.They never grow.
  2. The second type of person charges forward in most every situation. Like an out-of-control train, they never looking back and never realizing the impact of their actions, the people and things they harm, or asking questions about why this or that failed. They skip the step where they ask themselves “how and why did this happen?” or “what can I do differently next time?”

There is, however, a third type of person. A person who innovates – who has a strong philosophy of failure, and who daringly defies the status quo -all the while, learning, asking questions, being sensitive to their failures, but not letting the failures define their success. 

In 2009, Google launched Wave, a technological marvel that seamlessly integrated emails, messaging, social networking, and online collaboration for it’s users.

It was genius.

It was also a complete and total disaster.

By 2010, Google announced that it would be sunsetting the program, and discontinuing all future development.

By 2011, it was, for all intents and purpose, dead. The program never hit the mainstream, it never collected a critical mass of users, and it fizzled out almost as quickly as it was developed. The media lambasted the project, calling Wave an “overhyped bust and a tremendous failure.” And they were right – Wave was a flop.

However, the 60 person team at Google that worked on the project was praised internally. Each of them was highly sought-after for other high-profile, internal projects.

No one lost their jobs.

None of them achieved the creation of something that was successful, but each of them did push the boundaries of innovation. They created something new and different. They dared to think outside of the norm, and made something really special and unique.

Curious about what comes next? Us too!

This week take some time to think about your philosophy of failure and next week we’ll keep talking about how to reinvent your failure.