When great employees don’t get what they need to thrive, they wither; your previously amazing rock star employee may transcend to one of the ‘working dead’..... that have quit, but stayed!!! They may get sick a lot, become disheartened and don’t try anymore - overall team productivity takes quite a hit. You've probably witnessed it in action because this is a huge issue occurring worldwide!
According to Gallup less than 13% of employees are engaged worldwide – that means ‘working dead’ employees are all around us, but with a concerted effort you can bring them back from the brink while preventing the further demise of your very best people.
Top 5 Ways to Prevent The Office Zombie Take Over:
1. Provide Feedback & Guidance
Great employees are often given ‘atta boys’ and ‘keep doing what you’re doing’ pats on the back but what they really crave is your candid feedback and guidance so they can stretch and learn more. They want to know what are the right things to focus on, not just hear platitudes like ‘good job’. Real candid feedback is a great gift when given with the sincere wish to help others develop their full potential. Check out the statistics in this Forbes well named article: The Best Gift Leaders Can Give. This the single most valuable tool in your tool kit so take time to learn how to develop the art of candid feedback (new blog in the making)!
2. Offer Interesting Work & Personal Development
Employees want to to be given opportunity and support to do work that they love to do. In Daniel Pink - Drive’s book and You Tube RSA he points out that when people are able to develop mastery in a subject that is meaningful to them, they would work for free! Take a moment to reflect on each of your team and ask yourself what they are great at and what development would they be seeking, validate your in your one on ones, then make a plan to enable the kind of personal development that would be meaningful to them.
3. Be A Considerate Leader
Close colleagues and family are important to each of us; we want to work with a manager who realizes there is more in our life than just work, work, work (cue Rhianna) and who cares about our personal situations. Yes, work is work and personal life is personal life, but each and everyone of us juggles both!! The best leaders always take an interest in their employee’s lives, they make a point to know the names of their loved ones and ask about them. Give your team the support they need to maintain social and family life and you'll have great return on that investment. Demonstrate your support - send notes, flowers or gift baskets when something significant happens in their life, it always makes the difference to great performers.
4. Always Follow Through
Simple rule – Do what you say you’re going to do!! Living up to your own commitments with your team is a very simple yet profound non verbal 'statement' that you can be trusted. Live by your word; demonstrate they can trust you to fulfill any promises or agreements you sign up for. It’s the little things that really add up and count!! Nothing squashes loyalty faster than a boss that never follows through.
5. Encourage Innovation
Create a work environment that allows people to fail – give them ownership to try new things with a safety net. Problem solving together as a team and innovating collectively feeds the spirit with hope for a new and fulfilling future. Billionaire Richard Branson and his company the Virgin Group openly ‘encourage giving people the freedom to fail and try again’. They say ‘successful companies encourage risk-taking and reward ingenuity.’ No wonder so many people yearn to work with them!
If you want to prevent a 'working dead' environment from manifesting, dots Leadership Solutions can help!! We can provide you with one on one coaching to create a positive work experience for both you and your team.
We can also act as an objective partner to meet your team, delve in and uncover hidden issues that may inhibit motivation, causing the potential zombie uprising. We provide proven strategies to build back engagement, give us a call at Dots Leadership Solutions!
Ever work with someone whose style drove you crazy? Perhaps they talked too slow or fast for you, were overly demanding or passive, very logical or maybe they talked so much about feelings and relationships to the point it made it difficult to get down to business? The list of bugaboos vary because what bugs one person, may not bother another to the same degree.
We each have a unique combination of behaviours and priorities; they show up as our style to others. When you work with someone whose blend is quite different to yours, they will likely strike a nerve - when you're not well-armed to understand where they are coming from.
Assess for Your Own ‘Ah Ha!’ Moment
One way to ease this kind of discord is to conduct an assessment that decodes both you and your team’s behavioural styles. A tool to understand clear preferences and what they prioritize compared to you.
My tool of choice is a DiSC® model behavioural assessment tool – Everything DiSC®Workplace by Wiley Brand. It's simple, yet uncovers ‘pinch points’ quickly with leaders and/or their teams so they can adjust immediately. This tool works for building better cohesion in a team, improving communication, reducing tensions, but also offers self-awareness for leaders I coach, most of whom have a few ‘ah ha’ moments as a result!
Over the next series I highlight each one of the four dimensions of DiSC® characterized by people I’ve worked with (names changed, of course) quick links below:
Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston created the theory of DISC® in the 1920’s, illustrating that people exhibited emotions through four ‘Normal’ behaviours of Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, or Compliance – aka DISC® In the 1950’s an industrial psychologist named Walter Clarke went on to create the first assessment using the DISC behaviours Marston founded. Over the years the assessment has been improved and updated but the principles remain the same. Today we use the terms: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious in the assessment.
First lets start with the profile of “D” – Dominance.
Meet Belinda (not her real name)
Belinda is a Vice President in a Customer Service group (Canada) of a large multi national company. She moved up through the ranks fairly fast. Here are some of her traits and behaviours that demonstrate a strong “D” profile:
Do you know someone like Belinda? Or can you see a little of yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “D” behavioural style. Most of us have behavioural styles with varying degrees of each of the 4 DiSC® dimensions so certain circumstances may bring your “D” more to the forefront.
For Belinda to be considered for future, more senior level roles she must make an effort to develop work relationships by recognizing the opinions, feelings and ideas from others. Taking time to get to know people versus putting them to work.
Without some coaching, guidance and support from others, Belinda’s trajectory in a large multinational company will surely be hampered. Much of her advancement will depend on whom she reports to and whether she reigns in her power punches!
Can you see the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC® style and how you may impact others? Or to decode your team members so you can find the right way to communicate with them?
Get Your DiSC® Assessment!
Email or call me to take advantage of the eye-opening perspective of Everything DiSC® Workplace assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will surely provide a clearer understanding of how you affect others and decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but you will also have a confidential debrief with me where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic.
Call or email me when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
If you’re like many of my clients, you have probably posted a job to fill, only to find yourself sifting through 200+ UNqualified applicants.
With the likes of Monster, Indeed and Career Builder simplifying the job hunting process, it has made it easy for serial job seekers to blast out applications to a mass number of postings without even reading the full job posting.
But this doesn’t help you—you need to find the ‘right’ person to without wasting your time! This means you need to be extra diligent in your quest to hire, in order to reduce the number of serial job seekers you encounter.
To help you find the right fit for your new role, follow these top 5 tips…
Know Your Team Fit
Before you even post a job, you have some thinking to do. Ask yourself how easy is it for you to describe what your team is all about and what type of person you need to join the team?
The best way, in my opinion, is to begin by assessing your current team as well as yourself:
These are just a few of the questions you should think through in order to be clear about the right fit you are looking for, prior to constructing the job posting.
Bonus Tip - If you struggle knowing the personalities of your current team, consider using a tool like Everything DiSC Workplace®. In my experience, it offers an objective way to assess the different styles of both you and your people. It will help you avoid hiring the wrong fit by learning more about the type of person who may rub you or the team the wrong way. Call or email me if you'd like to give Everything DiSC Workplace® a try.
Don’t just ‘Post and Pray’
Job postings are a passive method to source candidates; you simply ‘set it and forget it’. But unless you hire help to review all of the resumes that roll in, I don’t recommend posting to public job boards—this is where serial applicants hangout because it’s very easy for anyone to apply to everything!
Better than posting to a public board is sourcing people through places like LinkedIn or hiring someone else to do the sourcing for you.
Agencies, while expensive, usually offer a guarantee to replace a bad hire and consultants are particularly great at finding those who come highly recommended. Regardless of which option you choose, both will save you the headache of dealing with serial applicants.
In my experience, people who come highly recommended have an 80% higher rate to be a fit for a role because seldom will someone put their neck on the line to recommend somebody who is a dud.
It’s vitally important that you’re crystal clear about the job function to be performed. By having a really crisp posting, you can reduce the number of, “Oh, even I can do that job” applicants, which only add to your pile of unqualified resumes.
To do this, write the posting for your open role identifying the 6-8 key criteria the right person absolutely must have—it should NOT look like every other job posting in the market, nor should it be a full job description filled with internal lingo.
Make sure your criteria includes both the skills required to do the job, as well as the behaviours you’re looking for that fits your business and team we talked about above.
Feel free to look at other similar jobs to get a few ideas for how to write the description, but make absolutely certain that your job posting captures the unique details of what YOU and YOUR business needs.
The serial job seeker will respond to anything they think they can do – so the more explicit your job posting is, the higher the likelihood of good quality applicants and reduction of ‘lookie loo’s’ wasting your time.
Bonus Tip - To ensure you’ve covered all of the necessary bases, have a few people lend a critical eye to the posting to check that it conveys the right level and complexity of the position you’re looking to fill.
Use a Title With Kick
The first thing a serial applicant will look at is the title, followed by the position summary, yet so few use this space for impact. This is a great spot to help nix ‘quick clicker Louis’ from automatically applying.
Just because the job title in your company is Customer Service Representative doesn’t mean you can’t post Customer Service Representative – Articulate, Quick Thinking & Data Savvy. This unused space in the title field is a perfect spot to differentiate your role. Right off the bat the reader will ask themself if they meet your criteria and you’ll eliminate a bunch of unwanted hopefuls. Likewise the summary – don’t just regurgitate company fluff here. Use the key success profile of the position to summarize the criteria you’re looking for. Think of it like the lead to a very interesting news article – a few short words that make it interesting to ‘click here.’
By using both of these underused spots you’ll increase your chances of:
Talk to Your Network
I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. It is a great tool for building your own professional network and it also serves as a powerful resource for viewing candidates before you meet them. Leveraging your network is a great strategy to avoid the serial job seeker.
If you have access to your own LinkedIn network, make sure you tap into it. Tell your peeps you are looking to hire and send them the posting to share or think about who they know who may know suitable candidates (hopefully they will tell two people who will tell two people… and so on). No matter if they’re friends, family or former colleagues and bosses, they’ll know people, and they may be able to connect you with your next right-fit candidate.
But LinkedIn isn’t the only way to connect with others. You can also try:
Help is But a Call Away
Hiring someone new to your team can be time consuming and, for some, even daunting especially with the number of serial applicants out there. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone.
If you have a position you need to fill and are tired of slogging through a sea of serial job seekers, I’m here to help. As your partner, I’ll save you time while finding the right person to join your team and organization by:
Get in touch with me and let’s talk about finding you the right person for the job—meeting and getting to know people is one of my most favourite things to do!
Previously in this series, I covered the various phases of building a kick-ass team, including the ‘Start Up’ phase, ‘Building the Team Identity’ phase, ‘Bust Through the Barriers’ phase and ‘Kum Ba Yes’ phase. By now, if you’ve implemented all of my suggestions, you should be experiencing the ‘High Performance R Us’ phase – high five to you for graduating to a kick-ass leader!
What Does This Phase Look Like?
You’ll know the ‘High Performance R Us’ phase when you see your team consistently triumph and achieve goals together. For the most part, they get along, openly discuss ideas, problems and solutions, and most importantly, they share recommendations for improvement, actively solving issues together and demonstrating commitment to the group and company. Generally the climate is positive and activated for achievement. This kind of high performing team emits a positive vibe, and as such, they make the customer (internal or external) want to work with you.
So…now what? What do you do once you’ve successfully attained a high performing kick-ass team? Some say great teams eventually come to an end, but I like to think its more of a metamorphosis–just like a butterfly, your people undergo a change that gives each individual courage and esteem, which often means they will move along.
Kick Ass Leaders Shift Gears
At this point, some members of your team will either take on new roles within the team or move along, triggering a change to the whole dynamic. Similarly, this may also be a time when you prepare to make your own move, or you earn that well-deserved promotion!
Lets look at how you can either course correct to help your team through changes or how you can begin to wrap up so you are ready to make a move:
After the team dynamic changes or the team divides after having been together for a long time, you may notice a shift in peoples’ behaviours. Watch out for complacency, disengagement or repeated illnesses. Even the highest performing employees can become frustrated with changes–they are usually the first to exhibit fluctuations in behaviour.
Keep an eye on things like:
These are often symptoms of disengagement or complacency.
How to Respond
Wrapping Up With Your Team
If you’ve instead decided to make a move and depart from your now, high-functioning team, it’s imperative that you take right steps to leave them on great terms and in great shape. Parting ways can be difficult, but if you follow the wrap up checklist below, you’ll be sure to leave on a positive note.
Check In – take time to check in with the team to reflect–review the vision and mission you designed in Part 1 and 2 and have your team help you assess the progress. Record what worked and what could have been better, and identify how the team adapted to changing requirements over the duration. Determine what were the best parts of this team and which core competencies made the group most successful and why.
Check Off – take time to celebrate the journey of the team and reflect on the growth of each team member. Sit down with a coffee and make a list of how you’ve seen each of them grow as you look back over the time you spent together. Be sure to exchange written feedback so they can keep track of their progression and enjoy the fruits of their labour – this can be done using formal performance review tools, emails or, better yet, hand written notes. Thank everyone who helped the team succeed and encourage team members to write notes to support people from other areas in the business or to vendors/suppliers who were instrumental in the success. Send a summary to your boss or present the overview at a peer meeting to acknowledge progress of the team. And don’t forget to book a fun gathering too – coffee, ice cream, drinks or an outing together will allow you to clink glasses and leave on a high note.
Check On – if you haven’t done it already, be sure to communicate to your management and HR department who on your team has high potential and may be ready to take on leadership roles. Be sure to have a development plan laid out for those specific individuals, to ensure they work on acquiring the missing skills needed to make the leap to the next level. You can continue to be a mentor whether you continue to be their boss or not.
Check Out – one of the best things about having a high performing team is the ability to export some of your talented people to other areas of the organization. Reach out to various leaders you know in other areas of the business and connect them with team members who you feel would be valuable contributors. This is a great way to help your people shine and begin kicking off their own amazing team! You can bet they will come to you as they go through their own kick-ass team development.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey of kick-ass team building–no doubt, you’ve noticed some consistent themes. Becoming a Kick-Ass Leader takes a great deal of effort, a lot of communication, and the ability to know when to be tough, when to take the reigns or when to let your people soar. As always, I’m at your service if you’d like help in dealing with the various phases of building your team. Reach out any time.
Well you’ve made it to Part 4 of our series, Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up! So far we covered the foundational phases of building a kick-ass team, including the the ‘Start Up’ Phase , the ‘Building the Team Identity’ Phase and the ‘Bust Through the Barriers’ Phase. Now, your team is in ‘the flow’ and it’s time to make an important leadership shift!
As a people leader, once your team has reached this stage of maturity you’ll find yourself being needed in a different way. Let’s explore what you can do to ‘amp up’ your team’s success during what I like to call…the ‘Kum Ba Yes’ phase!
Kum Ba Yes! Phase
Did you ever go to summer camp, sit around the campfire and sing Kumbahyah? Maybe I’m dating myself. It symbolized the moment when a group of virtual strangers became friends as they were far away from home and surviving together. That is where the The 'Kum Ba Yes!' Phase gets its name. This phase is a time in your team’s development where people are getting along, they’re joined together, they know what their doing – they’ve become a real team!
You’ll know you’ve reached this phase when you begin seeing signs that your team is operating effectively:
For the most part, you should see your people getting along, helping one another to problem solve and working towards departmental goals – productivity should be on the rise!
So what should you do now that the team seems to need less of you? Well, your leadership challenge is to move from being “directive” (taking control) to “observational”. The idea here is to let up on the reins, trust and empower your team to operate with minimal intervention while guiding quietly from the sidelines. This will not only help strengthen individuals on your team, but it will also help to improve your overall team dynamic.
Let’s take a look at some actions you can take to help strengthen your emerging Kick-Ass team during the 'Kum Ba Yes!' Phase:
1. Set Up ‘What’s Your Jam?’ Discussions – this is a good time to encourage individuals to stretch themselves to build new skills and find development toward longer-term career goals. By demonstrating an interest in their future your peeps will see you are here to support them, not just to get the work done but to help them grow.
Meet with your people one-on-one to discuss their development plans. Yes, I’m talking even if you have a team of 30! Take a half hour to discuss their individual development – no not performance, their development (there is a difference). The focus should be on the individual and their career aspiration. What activities have been most interesting? What are their strengths? What are their career goals? Where do they see themselves in the future? And what steps are they currently taking? Then, determine a plan for how can you help them move forward. Don’t know what to ask at their ‘Jam Session’ - Check out this online guide.
2. Build It Up – book time quarterly with your whole team to depart from work and focus on building relationships! If you have budget, consider bringing in an external consultant to take you through a workshop on behavioural styles and communicating. If not, you can also incorporate easy and fun activities into other meetings such as when you have a project review or an all-hands update.
Any activities that encourage learning about each other, working on a non-work initiative or fun experiential activities will strengthen the community of the team.
3. Feedback Gift Giving – I always say feedback is a gift, not sure who I heard that from. You can either accept it or decide to put it on the shelf and disregard it. All of us want to receive feedback from our manager to know how we are doing, but feedback doesn’t only have to come from the boss!
If you as the leader create an environment where your people feel safe and they trust each other, you can encourage open candid dialogue. This allows each team member to provide insights, reactions and suggestions to one another, which creates a culture of seeking and giving feedback – it’s a powerful tool! Recognize and support your team members when they make a point of acknowledging or provide constructive feedback. As mentioned in Part 3 Bust Through the Barriers phase I suggest carving out time at routine meetings to seek 'shout outs' to build a supportive, 'safe' work environment.
Kick-Ass Team Tip - Pay Attention to Millennials
In Gallup’s report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live it outlines that in today’s workplaces, our latest working generation are not getting enough feedback even when they ask for it. In fact, less than 20% feel they receive routine feedback, yet they seek it more than any other generation! So if you have Millennials in your team, pay close attention to this step!
4. Get Constructive – develop the art of constructive criticism! And it is an art! So often we shy away from criticizing anyone – when we grew up, most of us were taught ‘if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. Well that probably means we didn’t receive much constructive advice!
So here’s my take on it. Good constructive criticism is no different than good ol’ sound advice! As the leader of a Kick-Ass team, part of developing your people means giving them candid advice, in a timely manner and particularly at this stage of team development – people do best when they are receiving regular feedback both positive and constructive!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
a) Thank you for preparing the report on demographics; it provided some good insights. I noticed you seemed frustrated when we discussed it with the client as they tried to ask questions. It is frustrating when someone cuts into your thoughts, but I think the client was trying to clarify what you were saying. Just be aware of your reaction and be prepared that clients will likely want to ask questions along the way.
b) Great effort on the report, I do see there are a couple of things which could be improved. The font is a bit small and it would be good to standardize the same font throughout the document.
c) You handled that meeting very well with the team – they were a rowdy group. Next time you may want to pause or put your hand up until they quiet down instead of talking over them.
Kick-Ass Team Tip – Help is here!
If you have particularly difficult feedback to give to someone, consider talking it out with someone before you approach the person. Have them check your tone and check how it comes across.
When you reach the 'Kum Ba Yes' Phase it means you’ve done a great job managing through some challenging times with your team. They are already in a good place, but they need a different kind of leader now. During this phase, you may find you need some help in conducting team building and communication workshops, so give Dots Leadership Solutions a call to create a custom session for you. We can also help you prepare for any difficult conversations that you are putting off or provide a framework for your team’s development planning!
We want to hear from you - comment below about your leadership journey in getting to Kum Ba Yes! How did you release control and move them along to full effectiveness?
Watch for the next instalment on Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up – Part 5 – High Performance R Us
Welcome to Part 3 of our series, Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up. So far we covered the initial two foundational phases of building a kick-ass team: The Start Up Phase and Building the Team Identity. Now, it’s time to talk about everyone’s favourite topic – conflict!
So you have a solid team that’s working together. They know what they need to do and they have a good sense of how to do it.
Perfect! Or is it?
This is the time where bumps in the road to success are most likely to appear.
Think of team building like first starting to ride a bike without training wheels. Once you’re up and first rolling along, you may begin to wobble. Careful you don't overcorrect in an attempt to save yourself or you’re going to fall flat on your face…
Here’s how to handle your team’s wobbly period the right way:
Right now is the single most important time for you as a leader to really be present! Since this is when your team is actually settling in, the dynamics of different people sets off a whole chain of events and awkward reactions. Make sure you’re easily accessible and frequently visible so you can address concerns immediately.
Kick-Ass Team Tip - MBWA:
Ever heard of MBWA? Management By Walking Around is a great success habit for any leader. An unstructured random walk around to check in with your team demonstrates interest; it’s a deliberate strategy to get to know your people and will give you a chance to redirect and course-correct as friction develops.
As different personalities emerge, conflict and power struggles will surely arise. This period is when you’ll hear the most resistance from your people and a lot of questioning about why and how you and/or the company are doing things.
In addition, polarization or splinter groups can occur as your people start to choose who they like and who they don’t. In worst-case scenarios, you may even encounter open and vocal power struggles, which can be very difficult to manage.
Manage through this challenging phase using these T.E.A.M. strategies…
1. Talk it Out
We always filter what we hear based on our own personal vantage point, coloured by previous experiences and jaded by our own distinct behavioural style. During this phase of your team building process you may notice your team divides as some disagree with approaches or just need to be heard before they ‘buy in’.
Before a team can really work well together, you may have to help them work through their differences, and the best way to do that is by talking it out.
Bring the team together to discuss issues that seem to cause confusion or frustration. You’ll need to actively listen, hear out the root issues vs. just the conflict then facilitate the solution. In some cases you may have to veto the dissent. If so, bring the team back to the norms discussed in Part Two. The more you can reinforce HOW the team should deal with issues together, the better.
2. Eat Together
This may seem like an odd strategy for building a team, but I assure you, the more often you eat together, the higher the camaraderie and engagement!
The concept of ‘breaking bread’ may have a spiritual connotation to some, but the truth is, when you eat with a group of people, it creates an environment of meaningful social interaction.
Eating together improves connectedness at a basic human level, and as such, people’s ego’s leave the room. Everyone opens up and gets to know each other on an even playing field.
Consider these inexpensive ideas for eating together as a team:
There isn’t a human alive who doesn’t want to be appreciated. Being valued helps us reinforce our own sense of personal self worth.
When someone has noticed you, or you’ve been acknowledged for your work, you’ll feel well respected and more important. AND, as a result, you’ll want stay part of such as kick ass team!
According to Gallup Research, “The best managers promote a recognition-rich environment, with praise coming from every direction and everyone aware of how others like to receive appreciation. This type of employee feedback should be frequent -- Gallup recommends every seven days -- and timely to ensure that the employee knows the significance of the recent achievement and to reinforce company values.”
Kick Ass Team Tip - Appreciation
During this somewhat stress-filled period, you’ll likely be pulled in many directions – you’re going to be a very popular person! In order to provide the comfort and assurance your team are looking for, it’s important to host regular check-in meetings.
There’s also another reason why regularly scheduled (and attended!) meetings will pay off. Believe it or not, it’s one of the key ingredients in developing THE single most important factor of a kick ass team – trust.
Your team wants to, and needs to, hear from you…often. Don’t assume they are fine to just get to work – right now is when your team needs your connection and oversight the most. Through this phase you’ll want to set more touch points than usual so you can manage expectations, head off issues and communicate progress or changes.
Kick Ass Team Tip - Meeting Etiquette:
Ideal Meetings for Kick Ass Teams (Yes all of these during team formation!)
The Bust Through Barriers phase of team formation can be a very draining time for you as a leader. You may be called upon to referee and manage conflict and be pulled in multiple directions. It is a vital time for your team and can be a make it or break it period in the dynamics of your team. Give Dots Leadership Solutions a call if you need help, we can do individual behavioural assessments, facilitate meetings or work through conflict and coach you through difficult conversations.
We want to hear from you - comment below about your own experience going through this conflict filled phase about how you busted through the barriers?
Lookout for the next chapter in the series - Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up – Part 4 – Kum Ba YES! This is the phase when team identity really comes through, everyone understands why they are on the team, there are established rules and processes and the team culture really begins to come to life. Now your role as the leader takes on a slightly different course of action.
Welcome back to our series ‘Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up’. In the first post Part One - The Start Up Phase we covered the initial phase of team formation. In this blog, we’re moving on to building the team’s identity, which is essential for establishing team norms so that everyone knows how the team operates.
In this phase you will be hands-on and sometimes directive. This is a time for obtaining your new team’s commitment, setting well-defined expectations and clear objectives. This is also a critical time for you, as the leader, to demonstrate your commitment and follow through. Lets look at the key steps to founding your team with an identity each member can embrace.
1. Crack the Ice
Right now you have a team of strangers together or they haven’t worked together with you, as yet. To get work done, they’ll first need a chance to connect on a different level; otherwise they’ll naturally be cautious and hesitant to get down to work. You COULD throw them straight into the day-to-day work, but we’re talking about building kick-ass teams here – and kick-ass teams begin with a kick-ass culture. A better way to begin would be with a little bit of fun – laughter is the one of best ways to help people break down their walls.
There are plenty of team-building icebreaker games you can do to help warm up your group. Just be mindful that the icebreaker should properly underpin your objectives and be appropriate for the work environment. For example, I don’t recommend a game that involves hand-holding (i.e. like the one called Electric Current in the link) with engineers in a corporate workspace – they surely would be uncomfortable and resistant.
One of my favourite icebreakers is storytelling. This involves getting everyone together in a room and having each participant share the following:
As the leader of this icebreaker, it’s important to listen carefully and point out similarities or connections between team members (i.e. like how many people are a middle child). It’s also important to watch how comfortable each participant is. If anyone seems uncomfortable, try giving him or her a different question when they get stuck. If it’s a big group you can also break the team into smaller groups then have each group provide an overview of the fun highlights they learned.
To wrap up the icebreaker, make a summary statement about your team’s diverse backgrounds, different skill sets, similarities or the great potluck lunches you expect to have in the future!
The most important note is that YOU go first! You set the tone for participation. Make the exercise fun and memorable and be open and transparent. Enjoy this time to connect before you all get down to business.
2. Set the Stage
Remember in Part One – The Start Up Phase when you did all that white boarding of your vision? Now’s the time to share it!
Even if you went over your plans with each person, as you were onboarding, it’s still important to review your vision and communicate your expectations to the whole team. If you’re in a formal work environment, you may wish to create a slide presentation to walk through, otherwise use this list below to help guide your team meeting:
Kick Ass Action Step - Share Your Top 5 Personal Values
Take time to let your new team know about what you personally value and expect – these help to lay a foundation for the behaviour of the team. You can refer to this Core Values list to contemplate your top five. By conveying what you’re all about, you’ll be helping your team know more about who you are and what you do or don’t tolerate.
3. Assign the Mission
Just like in the Mission Impossible movies, each team member needs to know what they personally need to accomplish, what they will be held accountable for and who to go for approval or solving problems. This is a perfect time to share the job specs you developed in phase one, if you haven’t already.
Provide members of the team with their own job description and have him or her review their role considering the context you shared when you set the stage. Discuss their individual objectives to help meet the overall goals and ask them to begin thinking of their own development plan. This is a good time to check in and see what help they may need to be successful, and to let them know how frequently you’ll be checking in with them moving forward.
4. Establish Team Norms
You’ve likely worked in different teams with an assortment of distinct norms. Perhaps you’ve encountered one where the people were backstabbing and constantly late to meetings, or another where the people were supportive and eager to help each other succeed. I can guarantee you that the difference you experienced wasn’t the company; it was very much indicative of the behaviour of the leadership.
Team norms are standards and operating principles that groups demonstrate and quickly become the internal culture of a team – the ‘how we do things around here’ you encounter. It is during the ‘building team identity’ step that you, as the leader, can set the tone for these norms, whether by design or by action. The way your team operates is a direct reflection of you.
Think about what your team can count on when working with you…
With your guidance and direction in these areas, you can influence the culture of your team in a way that will not only have an immediate effect, but also a long term one. If you’d like to chat about developing a team charter that everyone will ‘sign up to’, let me know – I work with businesses to set principles that shape team norms.
Kick-Ass Action Step: Take a moment to list the norms YOU will personally uphold and commit to – i.e. responding to emails in a timely manner, remaining open to differences, working efficiently, following through on commitments, being on time etc. Then make those your MO! Your actions will directly influence how the team culture is formed.
5. Be Consistent
I recently read a great post on LinkedIn called No Consistency, No Success by Grant Cardone. In it, he acknowledges that consistency builds discipline and disciplined actions done consistently create success – both personally and professionally.
The fact is, the best leaders follow through. This builds trust, creates credibility, sets the tone with a team and forms the basis of a team’s identity. Follow my simple Kick Ass rule below to become a more consistent leader:
Kick-Ass Tip – a simple rule:
If you’re setting up your team identity or are struggling if its gone awry and want to talk strategy or simply design a killer team building session, contact Dots Leadership Solutions. We design kick-ass strategies to help leaders launch their teams successfully!
Watch for the next instalment in the series, Building a Kick-Ass Team From the Ground Up – Bust Through the Barriers, where we’ll talk about the high conflict stage of a team formation – this is where you’ll learn how to earn major leadership stripes!
We welcome your comments – let us know of your challenges or successes in building a kick-ass team.
Building a kick-ass team is one of the most rewarding experiences for any leader. To see the team YOU established succeed and thrive creates a sense of pride and satisfaction like no other.
Do you remember how it felt to be a part of an awesome team? You were in sync, you had fun, and you were an unstoppable machine. Everyone was connected and continuously driving in the same direction to get stuff done.
This blog marks the beginning of a series of posts that will walk you through the full cycle of not only building a team, but also supercharging it! Today, we start from the beginning, which involves creating your vision, crafting roles and selecting the right members. Over the course of the next few months, I will address other topics such as the settling in period, navigating through difficult times, celebrating successes and preparing for transformative windups.
The “Kick-Ass Team Building From the Ground Up” series will also include tons of practical tips and tricks for boosting your own leadership capabilities, so please follow along for full access to an abundance of insight and advice.
Without further ado, welcome to part one of our series – The Start Up Phase!
There are countless reasons why you may be forming a new team right now. It may be the beginning of a new project or initiative, or there may be an important new business direction underway and you have to pull a group together. Regardless of the reason behind the new team formation, here are your steps to get started:
Let me preface by stressing one thing – do not skip this step! Even if you’ve been handed a group of pre-selected individuals to begin with, I encourage all of my clients to start with a blank slate. Before you go sticking boxes on an org chart, ensure you are crystal clear on your own vision. Grab a whiteboard and consider these key questions:
Having this information readily available will assist you in figuring out which roles are required on the team and what work you’ll be in charge of overall. It will also provide a basis to review the team’s progress once set up.
2. Suss Out The Work
When beginning to build a team, it’s common for leaders to immediately think about managers – how many they need, who they will be etc. But there is a major drawback to this approach. What tends to happen is teams end up with too many people trying to lead without clear and distinct accountabilities – and you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen!
Instead of beginning with management, do a bottom-up build. Consider the day-to-day work of your team and allow your structure to fall into place according to what actually needs to get done.
In order to ensure you stack your structure with the right number and level of roles, consider these questions first:
Your answers to the questions above should start to create a picture of how many people you really need to DO the day-to-day work? And in contrast, how many managers are required to manage the people doing the day-to-day.
If you can, quantify the output that will be delivered – you may have to make a few assumptions at this point – and think about the ROI (return on investment) of your resources. You tend to get bigger return with ‘doers’ than with ‘managers’.
Here are some common pitfalls that many leaders face during this step of a new team formation:
3. Map Your Structure
This is when you get to move the boxes around. When creating an organizational structure, I prefer using an accountability-based approach – that is establishing a hierarchy with clarity so everyone will know who is on the hook for what.
Clear accountability is a critical success factor for a smooth running team. Also vital, yet sadly overlooked, is ensuring that each Manager fully understands that their responsibility includes the development of their team members, not just direct reports. This includes formalized succession planning for managers to have replacement plans for their own roles – setting this up in the beginning will make your job a whole lot easier.
Now layout a future focused org structure identifying how each role reports. Every role on the org chart needs a unique and clearly defined accountability in order to reduce confusion and improve self-sufficiency. Notice we haven’t talked about the people yet? This is done on purpose.
Million Dollar Tip: Never design your structure around your people. Big mistake! (Send me a message if you want to know why)
Here is an example of how you might divide work initially in order to support your longer-term structure to ramp up staffing over time:
Org structures evolve due to many variables over time, but having a plan to begin with a ‘target’ operating model (future structure) will help as you begin the hiring/selection process. Look for talent who can grow and be developed over time into expanded roles.
4. Spec Your Jobs
I know this may seem tedious, but believe me, this is worth the investment! Not only will this step get you thinking about what work is needed to be done and the talent you will need, but also the document you create will serve multiple purposes over the life cycle of the team (e.g. sourcing people, evaluating compensation, performance management).
Each role needs its own spec - a profile. Consider all the elements similar to a job posting you would need, which details the skills necessary, the type of characteristics required to be successful and the education or knowledge you feel is a must or nice to have in each job.
If you’ve never done this before, you can cheat by ‘Googling’ similar jobs and reviewing postings for relevant content. They will give you a clue for the type of jobs in the market (no one I know ever got into trouble for using another job posting for inspiration). Just ensure your job spec thoroughly outlines the work duties, tasks, and responsibilities so that a potential employee has an idea of what they’ll be signing up for!
5. Pick Your Talent
Finally, it’s time to talk about people. I could write a whole blog on just this step – I love selecting talent – but I’ll save that for another time! For the sake of moving along, I’ll keep this section brief.
If you already have a pool of people to select from, resist the temptation to simply slot in people you know in the boxes. Do yourself a favour and review them against the job spec for ‘fit’, and ask yourself if they are the right people to do the job. If not, you may need to post the role.
This is the step where it really pays to have objective help in screening candidates and conducting interviews. Having someone to whittle the list of candidates down to a choice few will save you time – they can also be your point person to field follow up calls and emails.
I highly recommend involving several people that you trust in the interview stage to help you screen for ‘fit’. It’s important that anyone new joining the team or business matches both the style and organizational culture of the company. If you have management roles, start with those first and perhaps have them join you in future interviews as you build out the team.
Prepare a series of questions that will help you probe and qualify the candidates until you find the right people to fill your roles. I also recommend considering the use of a comprehensive assessment tool that can give yet another dimension about fit to the team and clues for how best to manage and communicate moving forward.
Dots Leadership Solutions can assist you with crafting your structure, developing job specs, preparing your selection strategy and even screening, assessing and interviewing candidates – it’s kind of our ‘thing’. Give us a call today and let’s chat about the next team you’re building.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the 'Building a Kick-Ass Team' series Part 2 – Team Identity
Wow!! I hope you’ve been watching the 2016 Rio Olympics and have seen the strong and impressive Canadian Women’s Rugby team – it’s clear that their incredible team bond is core to making them a force to be reckoned with. So fantastic to witness the strength of this magnificent Olympic team; this powerful group clearly has an unbreakably strong bond!
They are such a perfect example of a strong crew of remarkable individuals – a tribe; a posse of people who really have each other’s back. The same high performance can be achieved in a working environment when a team develops such a strong sense of unity. Aristotle was right on the money when he said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
So what are the key ingredients to corporate teams becoming so well bonded?
There are a number of different circumstances that can be the catalyst for a team to form such an enduring connection. They may have gone through a seriously difficult time together, they may have worked through a tough project or they may have grown together through a unique experience like a new business venture or a new department build.
Regardless of the situation, there tends to be a common recipe for a strong team, which can be broken into five key components:
When reviewing cases where the strongest bonds are formed, the leader plays a crucial role; they genuinely and openly care for their team and are mindful of the needs of each individual. They also set high expectations; they deeply believe in their team and set them up for success by leveraging the strengths of each person.
Based on empirical research, Stephen Covey's book The Speed of Trust sums up the art of building trust as the single most critical leadership skill “the one thing that changes everything”. But it’s not just the leader who has to develop trust, it’s also the ‘trust contract’ established between the team members. This faith is demonstrated under pressure during the toughest of times. Difficult times are when you need to lean on each other the most. Can you count on each other through a rough patch? Does you team have your back and do you have theirs?
Whether during a planned team event or not, the degree to which you and your team laugh is a terrific way to gauge a team’s bond; a group who laughs together stays together. Think about the last time you had a great belly aching laugh with your team and colleagues. Sadly many corporate environments avoid laughter in the workplace because there seems to be this mistaken belief that it is not professional – bun that!
As long as the laughter doesn’t come at someone’s expense or disturb others, it is completely appropriate! Some of the best moments occur particularly when tension is high. Imagine a bunch of employees are working with their heads down, all tense and serious, when someone bursts the tension by making a light-hearted joke – how refreshing! Here is a great post by startups.co.uk discussing 30 Ways to Have Fun and Unite Teams, which includes very simple suggestions to inject fun at work.
Being a part of a group who have a lofty goal, a mission to accomplish or a really challenging task builds common ground for people who come together from very different places. The Olympics is a perfect example of this. Even athletes coming from the same country to compete in a team are often coming from ‘different walks of life’. They may have never played together before joining this team, but they share something huge in common – their drive to excel in the Olympic games and win a medal! If everyone understands the goal, they develop appreciation for the reason why it’s important to achieve and they will tend to check their ego at the door.
Even better when the goal is tough and the group has to tap into problem solving. People can’t help but communicate more and share ideas when there is little time or room for posturing and ‘one-upmanship’. It’s becomes a survival skill. You can do a simulation survival exercise to test this thinking by checking out this Team Exercise courtesy of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
At first you may think it’s great to get a nice bump of compensation or a year-end bonus as a result of doing great work. But the truth is what people generally remember isn’t the bonuses – in fact I bet if you ever received one you don’t even remember how much it was. Sincere and genuine appreciation in the form of formal recognition, hand written letters, plaques and special presentations on the other hand are just plain HUGE! I remember working with a President and suggesting that he provide a handwritten note to a team who had done something no one expected them to do. We made sure there was a presentation from him to each team member, but he thought I was crazy when I suggested it. To his surprise, for years later people talked about receiving those notes, and all of those people are still united over that small gesture today – never underestimate the power of a hand penned note filled with sincere gratitude!
As I watch this amazing group of young women on the Canadian Women’s Rugby team compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, (in the semi-finals at time of writing) I’m reminded just how a well connected team can be virtually unstoppable working together – I hope your own group can leverage the learning from this powerhouse of a well-formed team! Go Team Canada Go!!
If your team is struggling to bond together, or there are difficulties in working together consider seeking some outside help and support. Check out Dots Leadership Solutions blog for additional free suggestions and guidance or contact us for a consultation.
Photo Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/480540072
So your team has been restructured and the dust has only just settled. Now you’re supposed to go back to ‘business as usual’, but things feel far from normal. As the leader, you’re in a tough position, everyone on your team is turning to you for answers and clarity; what do you do?
Rest assured you’re not alone; heck, you can’t read a newspaper or hear a business report these days without learning about a company cutting back, laying off or reorganizing. Just like you, there are hundreds of leaders trying to find their way to get back on track and rebuild the trust of the ‘survivors’.
Just like after a shipwreck on a desert island, the survivors are worn-out, tired, grumpy and scared. At times they feel guilty they made it through the cuts, while friends did not, other times they wish they were gone too – these are all natural human reactions after riding through such a rough experience. It is important to be mindful of these emotions as you move forward with your remaining team, in order to help you rebuild momentum and trust. It’s not going to be an easy process to get everyone back on track, but with a bit of patience and guidance, it will certainly be achievable.
To help you make some headway, we’ve created a handy-dandy Survivor Checklist to help you through these stormy times:
At the end of the day, just like those people on the island after the shipwreck, the team will come together and rebuild a whole new existence. Together, you really will survive and you’ll have plenty of stories to share along the way.
Throw out a lifeline: Phone a friend…dots!!
If you need help to get through the trying times, or you’re looking for strategies to build your team, contact us at Dots Leadership Solutions! We have plenty of great tools and solutions to assist you. Learn more about our Specialties here.
‘Oh goody’, we’re going to have a team offsite (which is really onsite in the old boardroom), and ‘oh yay’ we’re going to have sandwiches and maybe even salad.
Everyone wants a free lunch, right?
You’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about – one of those team-planning sessions where they bring in only two Diet Cokes and three cans of Sprite for a team of 7. The food is the same, boring sandwiches and the last person to arrive always gets stuck with the egg salad…every. single. planning. meeting.
You do your “team building” [sarcastic voice] – “If you were an animal, what kind would you be and why”. And then your manager divvies up the agenda to each team member so that everyone can contribute. Together you wordsmith the team objectives from last year so they sound more like this year. That’s the planning done.
The big crescendo of the day is to all go out to dinner together (even though no one really wants to). Everybody sits with the persons they prefer and make idle chit chat, watching their phones carefully as they don’t want to miss an early train home. And then, everyone is gone promptly by 6pm.
Did you feel the team bond?? Do you feel setup for success for the coming year of challenges? Did they work through challenges they anticipate for the year? Was there candour about process?
Lets Kick That Old Way Up a Few Notches!
I want to amp up your thinking on team building – I want to really elevate and place emphasis on BUILDING a team. Building takes effort. Lets put a stop to meaningless onsite/offsites and start creating momentous building blocks for high performing, productive, ‘kicka$$’ teams!!
Who’s with me?
Definition of High Performing, Productive, 'Kicka$$' Teams:
So, imagine how good a purposefully BUILT team would be?
They do exist, some are in very good shape, but if you’re a leader whose team may not be there right now I have great news, YOU can make it so!! Here are some of the building blocks of success you can use to build your team with purpose.
7 Building Blocks to Strong, High Performing, Productive
1. Create a team credo – Why does this team exist in this company under this department? What do we believe in? What are our shared values? Think about what would be missing if the team did not exist, this will help you and your team members understand why you’re so important. Reviewing this together annually will keep everyone in tune with your stakeholders.
2. Define your deliverables this year – What must this particular team deliver this year? By when? Write down team goals using the SMART principle (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Create these together, openly debate and discuss.
3. Know your people – What skills exist in your team? Where did your people come from? What are their goals? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What comes easy and what work makes them most uncomfortable, why? How do they see their work, the company, the department and the team?
4. Design workflow and review structure – Does the work flow easily in and through your team, or is it convoluted, confusing multiple touch points with time wasting as a result? Does each role holder have a reason for being? This should be reviewed whenever work changes.
5. Create clear role clarity – This is a biggie. If I asked each of your team what the other people did, can they answer? Does everyone know what is expected of him or her? Do they know what is within their own control? Do they know when they would come to you or to someone else for decisions? Are they accountable for an output or are they a cog in the wheel? Does everyone understand what part they play to accomplish the overall team deliverables?
6. Play to their strengths – Do they know themselves? Are your people set up to do their best work? Have you matched them to the right level of work? Does the team know about each other’s strengths and know how to leverage them?
7. Provide opportunity to communicate – Do you have regular team meetings to review progress? Do you give time to openly debate and discuss and resolve issues as a team? Do you make time to connect with each person and check in to see what challenges they are experiencing? Do you ask questions to understand? Do you allow them to make mistakes and coach for the learning?
You’ll notice that embedded in each of these building blocks is the key leadership traits of today’s leaders. (Try our free leadership assessment to assess how you measure up). Creating a positive employee experience is one of the main roles you have as a leader, true team building serves as a key to positive employee engagement .
There are any number of fun and interesting team activities you can do as a leader to purposefully build your team using these building blocks – and there is help if you want it!!
If you need help in crafting a solution to set you up for success, or to discuss how we can help you reach leadership and team effectiveness, please feel free to contact us. You can also learn more about the Dots story .
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.