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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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How to Analyze Your Team’s Expectations and Outcomes

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In general, the purpose behind analyzing whether team expectations are being met is to promote, enhance or improve something within the team itself to help overcome or prevent specific problems, weaknesses or hindrances.

When analyzing expectations, it becomes important to focus on three types of project-related outcomes: team knowledge, team processes, and the deliverable. Team knowledge includes understanding team terminology, concepts, and relationships among team actions and results.

Team processes are the steps utilized to create a desired deliverable or end product and include: professional attitudes, self-awareness to know when project steps are executed, and self-control during transitions between project-related steps. The deliverable or end product is what is created as a result of team project activity—such as a plan, method, system, document, or process to meet specified needs.

When it comes to predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations, there are specific skills that should be applied, which tend to cut across all team-related roles. There are four basic questions individual members need to ask themselves before determining if team expectations are being met:

  1. Am I learning what I need to know?
  2. Am I applying what I have learned?
  3. Am I a good role model and expert?
  4. Am I able to teach others to know and apply important team functions, best practices and group dynamic applications?

There are a multitude of reasons why teams may wish to evaluate their performance, including:

  1. Identify accomplishments.
  2. Evaluate if leadership is shared and effective.
  3. Identify team strengths.
  4. Identify points of team weakness.
  5. Analyze team strengths and weaknesses
  6. Identify group dissatisfaction.
  7. Identify low morale.
  8. Identify confusion of team purpose.
  9. Identify drop in participation.
  10. Avoid team stagnation and demise.

Predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations and their combined effectiveness can be accomplished through a number of assessment and evaluation resources, including:

  • A complete index or listing of definitions that detail outcomes, which multiple audiences can refer to such as organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors
  • The drafting of performance criteria for examining team-related outcomes
  • The application of performance review tools for providing timely feedback and for planning developmental actions intended to improve team performance
  • Providing oral presentations and reports to organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors

There are very specific success factors that a team must analyze to determine if it is able to obtain, or is obtaining the results it wants:

The Team’s Ability to Organize

Analyze the team to see if it is:

  • Establishing a system to communicate standards of excellence
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities
  • Aligning people and resources to present information where all audiences can understand key points and issues

The Team’s Ability to Prioritize

Make sure the team is:

  • Researching information
  • Focusing on issues that are most critical to the success of the project
  • Taking into account the feasibility and the relationship to the goal, blocking time to evaluate
  • Categorizing issues and reprioritizing if necessary
  • Identifying the steps to be taken
  • Identifying the necessary issues to be addressed and placing them into an appropriate order

The Team’s Ability to Analyze

Ensure the team is diagnosing and clarifying issues/data by:

  • Gathering the most relevant information
  • Recognizing broader implications of issues/data
  • Drawing logical inferences
  • Examining interrelationships between all alternatives
  • Making decisions that have the greatest positive impact on team outcomes and its deliverable

The Team’s Ability to Manage Time

Check if the team is using time effectively for tasks that are to be completed, including:

  • Establishing priorities
  • Preparing project timelines
  • Monitoring and managing resources
  • Allocating time for the team to work
  • Reviewing updates
  • Thinking about its next action steps

The Team’s Ability to Question

Is the team effectively using questions, which consists of:

  • Formulating open-ended questions that increase awareness of situations
  • Requesting clear, concise information that achieves desired results
  • Providing opportunities to analyze data that results in finding root causes
  • Creating a nonjudgmental, open and creative environment

The Team’s Ability to Facilitate

Make sure the team works collaboratively to help define its overall goals and specific objectives by:

  • Utilizing effective group dynamic skills (questioning, clarifying, paraphrasing, summarizing, consensus)
  • Applying problem solving skills (assess needs, set expectations)
  • Identifying skills and a timeline
  • Analyzing data to help team members create plans that assist them to accomplish and meet desired results and time frames

The Team’s Ability to Present

Check if team members prepare clear, concise, well-organized deliveries of information by utilizing effective oral communication skills such as:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Varying voice volume, pitch and pace
  • Displaying high levels of energy and enthusiasm
  • Applying effective eye contact and body language
  • Engaging the team audience
  • Emphasizing key points

The Team’s Ability to Verbally Communicate

Analyze by incorporating the above skills, to see if the team is able to clearly and accurately explain and articulate its:

  • Mission/vision
  • Ideas
  • Procedures
  • Policies

The Team’s Ability to Make Sound Decisions

Is the team:

  • Using the scientific method to recognize and define a problem
  • Facilitating effective ways to access and collect relevant information
  • Reviewing and evaluating alternative solutions or actions
  • Selecting the best choices and following through with the implementation of decisions

The Team’s Ability to Problem Solve

Ensure the team is creating effective and appropriate solutions by:

  • Employing analysis skills to synthesize and apply relevant information/data
  • Breaking down and clarifying the problem
  • Defining the desired outcome(s)
  • Investigating options and alternatives
  • Selecting the solution that will have the greatest positive impact in the present and for the future

The Team’s Ability to Generate a More Functional Environment

Check if the team is:

  • Selecting and developing members based on individual and group skills
  • Identifying and leveraging personality types to complement their strengths
  • Managing conflict
  • Creating team roles and expectations resulting in group capacity to facilitate win-win situations within the team setting

The Team’s Ability to Implement and Measure

Is the team executing and overseeing its action plan through:

  • The preparation and alignment of expectations and resources
  • The assessing of results against outcomes
  • Removing barriers
  • Identifying strategies for continuous progress
  • Communicating results to stakeholders

The Team’s Ability to Manage Conflict

Ensure that team members use effective techniques and practices to respond to conflict through:

  • Skill and sensitivity that results in presenting one’s position in adverse circumstances
  • Seeking to understand those with whom one disagrees to win acceptance
  • Shaping opinions
  • Earning respect
  • Identifying areas of common concern

The Team’s Ability to Research

Check if the team is:

  • Effectively accessing information from various sources
  • Analyzing and testing effective solutions that result in better performances, which are based on scientific study, case studies and best practices
  • Developing a network of experts both inside as well as outside of the organization
  • Reviewing necessary and applicable journals, books and trends
  • Utilizing experiential data and best practices
  • Conducting external and internal informational scans

The Team’s Ability to Strategically Plan

Make sure the team is developing strategies to achieve higher levels of performance and project outcomes by:

  • Prioritizing critical goals
  • Identifying and prioritizing success factors
  • Translating broad strategies into clear objectives
  • Allocating resources
  • Anticipating risks
  • Identifying constraints
  • Understanding issues that impact team performance

The Team’s Ability to Make Continuous Improvements

Check if the team is continually making improvements in processes and areas of performance by:

  • Scanning the team environment continually to determine what can be done better
  • Creating a team environment where risk taking is accepted and rewarded
  • Establishing a process where information and lessons learned can be shared
  • Tracking the progress of key steps and milestones within the project and innovative ideas that can be readily shared

The Team’s Ability to Provide Positive, Constructive Feedback

Ensure the team is providing and using positive and constructive feedback to:

  • Instill a sense of confidence in others
  • Model behaviors for replication
  • Help others attain higher levels of performance
  • Set up action plans for improvement
  • Aid in initiating a team environment of trust and accomplishment

The Team’s Ability to Collaborate

Is the team seeking the involvement of others by including them in:

  • All decision making processes
  • Establishing and building the team’s shared vision and goals
  • Identifying ways to foster good give-and-take relationships, discouraging “us vs. them” thinking
  • Building a team environment where the contributions of all members are valued

The Team’s Ability to Plan

Ensure the team is developing plans and processes by:

  • Translating strategy into specific goals and objectives to support the team’s vision
  • Identifying team capacities
  • Establishing clear, realistic timelines
  • Identifying specific action steps and accountabilities
  • Identifying, testing and confirming assumptions in the team’s strategic plans

The Team’s Ability to Manage the Project

Make sure the team is effectively monitoring its ongoing progress by:

  • Tracking progress through clearly set goals and timelines
  • Developing specific objectives, milestones, and outcome guidelines
  • Identifying resources and budget
  • Establishing specific responsibilities for collecting and/or tracking
  • Presenting critical variables related to the project
  • Effectively communicating evaluation standards, timelines, expectations, and individual follow-up procedures
  • Scheduling meetings for follow-up and review

The Team’s Ability to Delegate

Check if the team trusts others to take responsibility that is meaningful, important and interesting by:

  • Providing necessary individuals with sufficient authority and resources to accomplish assignments
  • Treating team and work failures as learning opportunities
  • Personally evaluating themselves on the willingness and ability to delegate
  • Identifying barriers that may likely hinder the ability to successfully complete the delegated task or project
  • Creating comfort levels for others

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Self-Directing Teams Place Responsibility Where Work is Performed

Eleven Factors That Affect the Team Environment

What Is Involved in the ‘Teaming Process’

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Self-Directing Teams Place Responsibility Where Work is Performed

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The knowledge revolution has rendered many conventional management methods obsolete. Unprecedented and rapid advancements in information technology, telecommunications and artificial intelligence are transforming both the content and context of work.

Those on the leading edge of these changes have created virtual organizations that have obliterated what has been considered the raw materials of the traditional bureaucracy—the office and files. These traditional elements have been replaced by intranets, electronic databases and groupware as well as web and teleconferencing.

Organizations are increasingly devoting their resources to apprehend, think, learn and innovate—the building blocks of knowledge-based work.

The changes organizations are experiencing are causing them to employ more individuals who use and apply their thinking skills rather than simply follow directions.

Under conditions of uncertainty, bureaucratic organizations do not possess the requisite learning and information processing capacity to cope with the accelerating rate of both technological and social change.

It is important for leaders to understand that they are working within a dynamic and changing environment. As such, their individual actions are not conducted in a void, but in this environment. Likewise, teams are structured and developed in the same atmosphere, where they must relate and work together to accomplish organizational goals.

Many organizations have experimented with the use of teams in the development of various management fads, such as re-engineering and TQM, with mixed or poor results. As teams are structured, leaders must explore the self-directing team structure as one that is capable of producing more desirable and satisfactory results.

The key feature of self-directing teams is the underlying structure that places the responsibility for control and coordination where the work is actually performed. These teams are also held responsible for managing their work process and are held accountable for the results.

Once considered a radical shift in management thinking, many organizations have discovered that self-directed teams are dynamic in nature, and the dynamism of these teams closely lines up with the changes in the business. This shift gives organizations the ability to create continuous self-renewing learning functions that are manifested in the following team structural features:

  • Employees have the knowledge, information and skills to make all of the decisions that concern them.
  • The authority and responsibility for control and coordination are located as closely as possible to the individuals actually involved in the work process and those who deal with customers.
  • Authority is not based upon hierarchical position or status, but upon competence and expertise.
  • Management and leadership are shared functions widely distributed across levels and departments.
  • Access to information and feedback is both transparent and instantaneous.
  • All organizational support systems are congruent and synergistic with the requirements of a self-directed work structure.
  • The overall role of management is redesigned to focus on the creation of value for key organizational stakeholders including shareholders, customers and employees.

It should be obvious that self-directing teams are structured to more efficiently organize work. They display the properties of complex adaptive systems. The elements of such a system are capable of a high degree of cooperative behavior, where the group is capable of producing more complex results than any single individual could.

Additionally, self-directing teams have a superior competitive advantage because they create a redundancy by extending the skills and functions of individual members and by relocating the responsibility for the control and coordination of work to the specific level that work is performed at. Self-directing teams absorb the function of management since they have the direct responsibility for achieving and measuring results.

Overall, the structure of self-directed teams provides organizations with the flexibility to quickly adapt to meet the challenges facing them, all the while possessing a strong sense of confidence in their success.

Related:

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Excerpt: Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series(Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Planning as a Means to Generate, Oversee and Measure Results

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Most corporations require leaders to produce an annual plan to project possible future results. Many leaders tend to undertake this assignment with little or no enthusiasm even though it is necessary to forge new paths to generating positive, successful outcomes. Once completed, most annual plans sit on the shelf until the next planning cycle. Many times the rationale is that people are too involved and overwhelmed with daily activities to follow their plan.

Effective leaders tend to view planning as a means to generate, oversee and measure results. Planning gives leaders time to consider how they can improve their own as well as overall workplace performance. It allows leaders to reflect on ways to stretch their employees’ abilities in order to make them a more viable resource for generating and enhancing long-term results. In order to get the best results possible from their leadership efforts, leaders need to prepare for them.

Leaders must recognize that preparing for results does have its challenges, and be aware of them before beginning their next planning cycle.

During planning and budgetary reviews, leaders sometimes develop unreliable projected numbers and assumptions. It is all too easy to develop projections without specific facts to back them up, yet obtaining positive end results relies on sound forecasting.

Many leaders fail to invest the needed effort to review past performance, and this deficiency tends to affect their end outcomes. Some also fall short in taking the necessary time to effectively base future projections and assumptions upon what their organizational units have actually achieved in the past, which distorts expectations.

Obtaining results implies that plans and budgets not be developed in a void. Effective leaders realize that they must build on past successes and determine why and how past failures occurred. They know that to increase results it is essential to plan for strengthening weak and non-performing areas.

Leaders can only accomplish this by thoroughly reviewing past performance in all areas in order to link plans to where the organizational unit currently stands. Performance reviews allow leaders to accurately project their organizational unit’s performance forward in incremental steps. This is the only realistic method of achieving and sustaining growth.

As leaders begin the planning process to increase performance and results, they need to address five specific areas that tend to create the greatest challenges:

Faulty Assumptions

Every plan that is designed to increase results needs to be based upon a series of assumptions. Consisting of future and anticipated variables that impact the actual performance of the plan, assumptions include economic conditions, sales and production forecasts, as well as anticipated major orders.

If assumptions are inaccurate, plans will be worthless and future results will not be realized. For example, if a plan is based upon 10% growth when in reality the economy is causing a 10% decline, everything in the plan is based upon an inaccurate assumption.

When developing their plans, leaders must focus on carefully creating, listing and detailing accurate and realistic assumptions. As conditions change during the year, reviewing assumptions becomes a necessary procedure in order to adjust them to actual conditions. This enables leaders to quickly alter and adapt their plans throughout the year, ensuring the likelihood of obtaining the results they want.

Inaccurate Information

To get results, the development and use of accurate information within the planning process is essential. Accurate information is one of the most important aspects of planning and the most significant step in the plan’s implementation process. Leaders must take the opportunity to examine every aspect of their organizational unit’s past performance. This includes reviewing past plans and budgets against actual performance.

Results-oriented leaders understand what worked in the past and why. They identify areas for improvement, revision, modification or an increased workforce. They then focus on underlying causes that tend to influence or precipitate inadequate employee performance. Leaders who make it a point to conduct exhaustive performance reviews are able to produce accurate information and data, which helps to generate higher levels of results over shorter periods of time.

Once leaders produce a comprehensive review, it becomes much easier to update and maintain their information with a higher degree of accuracy. Leaders use the planning process to audit their information and insure its reliability and accuracy.

Pitfalls to Effective Plan Development

The first major planning pitfall that definitely affects positive end results lies in leaders choosing to create new strategies by simply duplicating previous annual plans with one or two selective changes. Most often changes include simply altering numbers to reflect current conditions. The completed plan is then submitted to senior management. These plans have little value in terms of results-oriented direction or particular action steps to follow.

A second major pitfall is found in writing plans from a “backward perspective.” This is where plans are made according to where leaders want to go, rather than on where they should be going. Strategies are developed without regard to the specific facts, data, timelines and information needed to ensure they are accurate and realistic.

All pertinent information and related data supporting various desired outcomes must be included when generating plans, with all other information that tends to conflict with the desired outcomes omitted.

Both pitfalls are attempts to short-circuit the planning process or avoid it, and greatly reduce the chances of obtaining the results leaders need to generate. When this happens, leaders fail to meet their responsibilities to themselves, employees, associates, senior management and stockholders.

Impossible Plan Timetables, Allotments and Factors

How plans are scheduled can have a major impact on whether or not results are obtained. Many leaders often assume they can achieve more than is realistically possible to attain. They tend to insert and carry over expectations of impossible timelines and deadlines for employees to follow and meet.

Performance plans should stretch each organizational unit and members’ capabilities. Time allotments to move processes and actions along toward achieving goals and objectives must be realistic. Additional time must be factored in for unanticipated events that will inevitably occur during the year.

It is essential for leaders not to under-plan, where employees are not pushed to perform. Equally as important they should not over-plan, where employees are constantly placed under stress to meet deadlines. To get better results, leaders must consider the need to balance their plan’s time requirements, workload criteria and expectations.

Failing to View Performance Plans as Positive Management Tools

Often leaders will produce required plans and forget about them until the next ones are due. It is a serious mistake to view planning as an impediment to their work and daily responsibilities.

Results-oriented leaders appreciate how and why performance plans are powerful management tools. Plans guide and direct their actions throughout the year toward the accomplishment of their goals and objectives, which always move them to securing higher levels of workplace results.

Results-oriented leaders focus on taking their plans and breaking them down into smaller monthly plans, which can be easily monitored and altered. Leaders also make certain to generate smaller step-by-step plans for every individual employee. This process tends to link both time and individual performance toward the accomplishment of common goals and objectives.

Planning is a continuous, ongoing process. Performance plans need to be continually revisited, modified and adapted to reflect actual conditions. Situations change and performance plans should allow leaders to readily anticipate and adapt to fluctuations, speedups and slowdowns, as well as unforeseen occurrences.

Related:

Looking into the Crystal Ball

The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

The Mastery of Details is an Integral Part of Leadership

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Excerpt: Becoming a Leader of Your Own Making (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

A Systematic Approach is Required to Structure Your Teams

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Leaders should be cognizant of the fact that teams do not evolve automatically, and that the only things that do in the organizational environment are disorder, friction and poor performance. Effective team design and structure require thinking, analysis and a systematic approach to their development.

Organizational and team structures are not mechanical, but organic, as both organizations and the teams that work within them are comprised of people, not machines.

Additionally, designs and structures are unique to the organization, matched to meet its particular needs and objectives. Leaders should note that some of the worst team development mistakes were made when a mechanical model of an ideal team structure was imposed upon a living and organic business.

It is important for leaders to understand that strategy determines the structure of a team. The basic questions, “What is our business?” “What should it be?” and “What will it be?” define the purpose of any team and organizational structure.

The answers to these questions identify the key tasks and activities for which specific teams are formed. It is this effective structure that makes these activities get off the ground, function and produce results. Therefore team structure needs to be primarily concerned with these key activities; all other purposes are secondary.

Team structure demands self-discipline from every member. All individuals must take responsibility for the work of the entire team and its performance. It is the combined efforts of organizational teams that allow them to accomplish all of the key goals and activities.

Teams need to be designed and structured to integrate three distinct forms of work:

Operating Task – responsible for producing the results and output of the team.

Innovative Task – enables the team to approach its assignment with a view toward the possibilities the team can attain.

Management Task – directs the work of the team, creates and monitors its vision and sets its course.

All of these distinct forms of work are integrated into the team’s structure and approach. The specific blend of these tasks is determined by the responsibility, assignment and makeup of the team.

The structure and approach of the team is created to satisfy specific organizational needs, including:

Clarity

Clarity should not be confused with simplicity. Teams can be working on complex problems and issues that require complex solutions. They are not expected to simplify these solutions for the sake of the organization, but they should clarify them so they are understood and implemented.

Economy

Teams must employ an economy of effort to maintain control over the group and to minimize friction between team members. Excessive time devoted to the resolution of internal problems wastes the team’s resources and is uneconomical.

Direction

The direction of the team must be geared toward results rather than the team process. This means that teams should be concerned with the reasons why they were created rather than with the techniques they need to employ. The focus should be placed on output over form.

Understanding

Teams need to be structured so that team members clearly understand their specific roles, tasks and assignments and how each contributes to the accomplishment of individual team goals.

Decision Making

Decision making must be structured to focus on the right issues; it must be action- and results-oriented.

Stability

Teams must be structured for stability rather than rigidity. This allows them to survive turmoil and to adapt to the changing circumstances and environment that they are operating within.

Perpetuation and Self-Renewal

The team structure should be conducive to producing new leaders for the organization, and further be instrumental in helping these new leaders continually grow and develop their skills. It is this self-renewal of leadership that allows teams and organizations to develop and incorporate new ideas. Only with self-renewal can businesses maintain their competitive edge.

Related:

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Excerpt: Developing a Team Approach (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

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Effective teams worry about obtaining positive results. This is why they typically succeed in the projects they are assigned, and in implementing the positive solutions they generate.

Teams are unlike work groups. They are an assembly of people who are committed to balanced participation, equal contribution and regular deliberation. The ideas and abilities of individual team members need to be used for the overall good of the project or its purpose. Such a collaborative dynamic does not occur automatically. It takes a great deal of energy and purposeful activity and is easily destroyed by the lack of focus, agendas and motivation of participating team members.

Successful teams consciously focus on how to generate better results. To get them, a team needs to be able to organize its talent, assigned roles, tasks and processes so members remain interested and absorbed in what the team is charted to do and accomplish.

When a team does not worry about generating positive results, it will never function as effectively as it can. One reason is because members will resort to performing roles and taking stances that tend to suit and advance their own purposes and desires, but act against the best interests of the team.

These actions are quite destructive. They can easily undermine team success in terms of efficiently and effectively addressing and accomplishing the task it was assigned. These destructive forces must be guarded against if a team is to be a highly productive and functional decision making entity.

When a team fails to be results oriented, it tends to allow five major destructive forces to take root. This is the result of looking the other way and allowing members who have a tendency for continually “turning off,” “labeling,” “playing devil’s advocate,” “controlling” and “yes-butting” to take over team processes and group dynamic standards and structure.

To obtain better team results and sustain a high focus on generating them, with the least amount of disruptive interference, the team alone must become responsible for:

  • Minimizing actions that result in negative attitudes toward addressing and advancing the team project
  • Maximizing actions that make team participants enjoy the process of collaborative problem solving and experimentation
  • Modeling and reinforcing effective performance techniques that have a problem-centered focus
  • Getting team members excited about the project’s associated opportunities and challenges
  • Making the team as a whole eager to function effectively and cooperatively while moving it continually forward
  • Reducing frustrations to prevent members from becoming unmotivated and giving up
  • Overcoming and preventing these major destructive forces is absolutely necessary.

Turning off Others and Project Excitement

There are seven specific actions that work to turn others off as well as decrease levels of personal and team enthusiasm toward an assigned project:

  1. Personal interruptions when someone is trying to explain something
  2. Taking discussions off track
  3. Ignoring what a speaker is saying
  4. Ignoring and/or downplaying others and their responses
  5. Using nonverbal negative communication tactics
  6. Being singularly focused and totally closed-minded
  7. Using derisive humor

Any of these actions indicate that a team member simply doesn’t want to take responsibility to help the team perform and function well, or take an active interest in what it is trying to accomplish and tend to generate a lot of conflict within a team.

This is because individuals who attempt to shut down the sharing of explanations, insights and opinions will impede team progress and problem solving efforts, which makes it difficult and frustrating for others who want to move forward.

It is easy to predict that the majority of team members will likely tend to isolate offending individuals rather than openly and conscientiously deal with their inappropriate actions in an attempt to alter or change their behavior. As a result the team loses a valuable member simply because it failed to adhere to and reinforce the standards of communication it had set for itself.

Labeling

When a team fails to maintain a results-oriented focus, it often allows labeling to go unchecked. When someone inside a team places a label on another member’s behavior or attempts to describe another’s attitudes or motives, this individual becomes a detrimental force to reckon with.

Major breakdowns in team process and progress are often due to intentional or unintentional labeling practices. Labeling occurs when team members: talk forcibly to someone, intentionally confront another person in an intimidating manner, suggest that another person has a particular attitude or unworthy motive, or react sharply by challenging what another person is saying or implying.

Whatever tactic is used, predictably speaking, a team can be certain that the person being attacked will immediately resort to a defensive position, and conflict and resentment will follow. This tends to disrupt and halt any discussion or conversation. In teams this is extremely detrimental and unproductive.

Not only do labels affect the whole team in a social way, but also seriously affect the individuals being labeled from a psychological standpoint. Members who are labeled negatively by their team counterparts or peers tend to: be more depressed, have a lower self-esteem, portray defensive characteristics, and dominate others as a personal protective measure.

Self-concept may play a large role in the everyday happenings of labeling behaviors. When a team member assigns a label to another team member, it may actually reflect how this particular person perceives and views him or herself.

Research further suggests that a person’s flexible self-concept influences the process by which people form impressions of others. In other words, self-concept impacts the labels one tends to apply to others.

No matter what, labeling practices are fairly predictable. Silence and non-participation will become more apparent within the team, and resentment toward others will cloud and hinder open communication.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Playing the role of devil’s advocate is typically exhibited through the use of the word “no,” which oftentimes is referred to as “nay-saying.” Predictably, this type of occurrence generates not only conflict and chaos, but also frustration and stress within the team setting.

A devil’s advocate makes certain that whatever is ineffective or bad in regard to another’s idea, opinion or suggestion is openly and emphatically expressed. They emphasize so powerfully what is wrong with something, that what is right tends to get buried or ignored before it is even explored.

It is important to counter this type of team-subverting behavior, which can be done individually by interjecting something like:

  • “I heard what you had to say but I would also like to hear another’s point of view on this.”
  • “I am really not interested so much in why (name) takes this position as I am in (name’s) reasoning behind it, and this is what I wish to know more about.”
  • “I totally agree that there may be reasons why this won’t work, but I am intrigued by the possibility that it may work. Let’s address why and how it could possibly work effectively.”

Controlling

Without maintaining a focus on how to get the best results possible, it becomes easy to predict that a team will allow one or more of its members to control its: progress, issues, structure, methods of problem solving, and overall situations. This becomes a major reason why a team ends up functioning far less effectively and obtaining lower-level results.

It is important to understand what control looks like so the team can proactively watch for and effectively handle these types of situations. Individuals who always attempt to take control tend to have personalities that are fear or pride driven, even though they may have no idea that these two factors continually influence them.

The team needs to take a step back and ask, “Why does this person feel the need to dictate or to control this issue or situation?” Most controlling individuals tend to fear that if they do not control the situation, they will lose control of their surroundings and influence.

Often control is related to one’s feelings of self-importance or pride as an individual feels the need to be in control to feel special or be the center of attention. Unfortunately, “pride” in a team setting often manifests itself as an unwillingness to back down or to surrender power or authority. Ultimately it is to accept that someone else might be right and that the other might be wrong.

The team and its members must realize that control is the opposite of trust. If a member feels the need to constantly be in control of what the team focuses on, how something is done or what it does, this individual is demonstrating that he or she does not trust the team to make appropriate or effective decisions on its own.

Predictably, this lack of trust is detrimental, especially within a team setting, since trust is a vital part of the team relationship process, which enables each person within it to feel important and trustworthy.

Many controlling personalities don’t ever think about what they are doing. Most don’t realize that they are controlling individuals until they are told. Control can be broken. It is not a permanent condition that cannot be changed. Most people who are controlling in their actions and behaviors want to change, they just don’t know how.

Several action steps members can take to help overcome control issues within the team environment include:

  • The first step requires the team to acknowledge that an individual is projecting a dominating or controlling personality.
  • The second step requires openly addressing it. For those with pride-based control, this is a difficult exercise, but a very important one that is crucial to change.
  • The third step requires the offending individual to accept needed, constructive criticism, which can be part of the set standards for the team.
  • This step will demonstrate a true desire on the person’s part to be a better team player. It also will begin to reestablish elements of personal as well as team trust.
  • The fourth step requires changing the team’s reaction to control-based situations. These circumstances will occasionally happen, but as a team it is important how its members react, address and respond to them.
  • The fifth step requires creating a more solid, positive team atmosphere, which includes keeping positive words flowing, never talking in a derogatory way about others, either in front of or away from them.

“Yes-Buts”

One of the most common occurrences within a team discussion is demonstrating the “yes-but” syndrome. This is typically done in response to someone’s ideas, suggestions or way to approach something.

Predicting the effects created by this is fairly reliable: unclear, ambiguous messages are sent and interpreted. Responses appear to say one thing but actually convey another leading to team communication breakdowns and miscommunication.

This is one of the hardest practices to detect within a team setting because it is often used so subtly and skillfully. Yes-buts:

  • Imply, “I heard what you said but you are wrong.”
  • Tend to be a personal discounting of what another person says or believes.
  • Tell the speaker, “As a listener I think you may have a good or useful idea or suggestion, but it isn’t worth much in this situation.”

The “yes-but” technique is often used to soften the blow of disagreement. This approach tends to occur most when members on the team attempt to personally sell an idea to others or want to take control of a situation.

Either way, “yes-butting” should be put to rest quickly. Allowing team members to apply this technique will predictably hinder progress while forcing likely effective solutions out of the problem solving picture.

Related:

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Performance Driven Leaders Must Establish Clear Employee Expectations

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Fred Smith - Founder and CEO of FEDEX

Fred Smith – Founder and CEO of FEDEX

Performance driven leaders must establish clear employee expectations if they expect to achieve positive results and outcomes that are totally aligned with their vision, mission, and goals.

Fred Smith (FedEx) stated, “When people walk in the door, they want to know: What do you expect out of me? What’s in this deal for me? What do I have to do to get ahead? Where do I go in this organization to get justice if I’m not treated appropriately? They want to know how they’re doing.

They want some feedback. And they want to know that what they are doing is important. If you take the basic principles of leadership and answer those questions over and over again, you can be successful dealing with people. The thing that I think is missing in most in business is people who really understand how to deal with rank-and-file employees.”

Admiral Hyman Rickover (U.S. Navy), “who developed a reputation as a talented troubleshooter and effective problem-solver, ensured education and training were priorities and achieved impressive results.

Working days, nights, and weekends and expecting his staff to do the same, he refused to compromise when it came to standards and quality. He expected sacrifice from those who worked for him—and from their families.” “

Agrees Donald Kendall [Pepsi-Cola]: – ‘There’s only one standard. Once you’re stuck on the flypaper, you’re stuck. If you don’t set a high standard you can’t expect your people to act right.’ ”

The great leaders were and continue to be demanding taskmasters. As illustrated by Rickover and Kendall, they established expectations that also applied to themselves as well as to others.

Jeff Bezos (Amazon) is known for creating an entrepreneurial culture laced with fun, but one that does not undermine his expectations. “Bezos expects total dedication from people at Amazon, too, where the hours can be grueling.

Says Acting Customer Service Director Jane Slade: ‘This is everyone’s wife, mother, father, baby, whatever.’ He routinely ratchets up goals for managers and often plunges into minute details himself. Slade, for instance, recalls bringing a long list of her job goals to Bezos early on. He handed her his own list, saying: ‘You tell me what’s more important.’ ”

“Never one to rest on his laurels, [David] Packard [Hewlett-Packard] demanded the same from his employees. ‘You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done,’ he told his employees when he stepped down. ‘You ought to keep going and try to find something better to do.’ ”

Related:

“Leaders Should Set a Clear and Decisive Tone at the Top”

How Well Do You Set the Tone?

When Motivating Employees, Expectations Are Everything

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

‘Performance’ is More Than the ‘Bottom Line’

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Charles M. Schwab (1862-1939) was the president of both the Carnegie Steel Corporation and Bethlehem Steel. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Charles M. Schwab (1862-1939) was the president of both the Carnegie Steel Corporation and Bethlehem Steel. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel) observed; “Put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket,” when he answered the question of how he became so successful, he obviously gave a simple response to a complex question. However, his answer simply places a focus on the entirety of his plans and goals, from one who mastered the art of execution and used it to his competitive advantage.

When individuals are elected to run a corporation, most often the only major thing that is taken into account, is whether or not they have the talent to get things done and to deliver on their commitments. When it comes down to it, nothing else matters.

Peter Drucker in his commentary about Alfred Sloan (General Motors) wrote, “The job of a professional manager is not to like people. It is not to change people. It is to put their strengths to work. And whether one approves of people or of the way they do their work, their performance is the only thing that counts, and indeed is the only thing that the professional manager is permitted to pay attention to. I once said to Sloan that I had rarely seen more different people than the two men who during my study had run the most profitable divisions of GM, Chevrolet and Cadillac. ‘You are quite mistaken,’ he said.‘These two men were very much alike – both performed.’ – But ‘performance’ is more than the ‘bottom line.’ It is also setting an example and being a mentor. And this requires integrity.” [1]

The great leaders were known for their talent to execute well. Henry Kaiser (Kaiser) exemplified this ability when he ramped up production of his Liberty Ships during the Second World War. So did James Burke (Johnson & Johnson), when faced with the Tylenol crisis in the 1980s.

Colin Powell (U.S. Army) observed, “‘The most important assets you have in all of this are the people, and if you don’t put people at the center of your process, you’ll fail. Not profit motives, not size of the organization’s headquarters, but people.’

What differentiates successful companies from unsuccessful companies is rarely the brilliant, secret, take-the-market-by storm grand plan. Indeed, the leaders of today’s great companies are inclined to freely share their plans and business models in books and magazines. Even if they weren’t, today’s fast-moving economy dictates that most organizations’ plans are on their way to obsolescence almost from the moment that they are publicly revealed.

The key to success, therefore, lies in exceptional, innovative, fast execution. Execution lies, in turn, in the capacity of people to quickly capitalize on fleeting opportunities in the marketplace; develop imaginative ideas and creative responses; generate fast, constantly changing action plans; mobilize teams and resources; get the job done swiftly an effectively—and then continue that process with relentless commitment.

That’s what this ‘people’ thing is all about, because it’s people that make all that happen. What effective leaders do is create an environment in which great people can flourish in optimal pursuit of the enterprise’s mission. In describing the famed symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein, one observer noted that ‘what Bernstein achieved—and what great leaders achieve—is a seeming paradox. He convinced his players they were free to innovate and express themselves, while convincing them to accept his vision for the music and to follow his direction.’ That description nicely captures the spirit of the leader role that Powell endorses.” [2]

As has been previously noted, Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), Fred Smith (FedEx), along with numerous other cited examples, all built successful organizations around their employees.

Howard Schultz (Starbucks) knows not only the value of his employees and their contributions, but also knows how to extract the best from them. “Howard asks questions and will challenge you to perform. He’ll push you to go gather the data.

He’ll tell you what he would do to try and solve a problem, but he’s not always going to hand you the answer.” [3]
While at Carnegie Steel, where he supervised all of the plant supervisors for Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab rose from laborer to the executive ranks through his uncanny talent to execute.

“Schwab was not an originator, he was a builder of integrated teams. His particular genius was in handling people…” [4] Schwab often recalled a story, which demonstrates his talent to execute. He said,

“I had a mill manager who was finely educated, thoroughly capable and master of every detail of the business. But he seemed unable to inspire his men to do their best.

‘How is it that a man as able as you,’ I asked him one day, ‘cannot make this mill turn out what it should?’

‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘I have coaxed the men; I have pushed them, I have sworn at them. I have done everything in my power. Yet they will not produce.’

It was near the end of the day; in a few minutes the night force would come on duty. I turned to a workman who was standing beside one of the red-mouthed furnaces and asked him for a piece of chalk.

‘How many heats has your shift made today?’ I queried.

‘Six,’ he replied.

I chalked a big ‘6’ on the floor, and then passed along without another word. When the night shift came in they saw the ‘6’ and asked about it.

‘The big boss was in here today,’ said the day men. ‘He asked us how many heats we had made, and we told him six. He chalked it down.’

The next morning I passed through the same mill. I saw that the ‘6’ had been rubbed out and a big ‘7’ writteninstead. The night shift had announced itself.

That night I went back. The ‘7’ had been erased, and a ‘10’ swaggered in its place. The day force recognized no superiors.

Thus a fine competition was started, and it went on until this mill, formerly the poorest producer, was turning out more than any other mill in the plant.” [5]

Related:

  1. Do You Have a Zeal to Execute?
  2. Do You Have Faith in Your People?
  3. Do You Have the Fortitude and Resolve to Continue?
  4. Should Profit Be the Only Measure of Success?

References:

  1. Drucker Peter, The Best Book on Management Ever (Fortune Magazine, April 23, 1990)
  2. Harari Oren, Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell (McGraw Hill, New York 2002) p.128
  3. Meyers William, Conscience in a Cup of Coffee (U.S. News, October 31, 2005)
  4. “Steel Titan: The Life of Charles M. Schwab” by Robert Hessen and “The Highest Virtue” by Alan Stang (Freeman, February 1976)
  5. Schwab Charles M., Succeeding with What You Have (Century Company, New York 1917) p. 39-41

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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