Last month we focused on the letter “S” – Steadiness of the DiSC behavioural style.
This month concludes the Style Talk Series as we focus on the profile “C” – Conscientious characteristics. You may also like to review the first two parts of the series focusing on the profile "D"- Dominance, or focusing on the profile "I"- Influence.
As previously mentioned, in each article I am highlighting real-life clients who tend to illustrate a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have different degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but you tend to have a dominant style that many at your work will witness. How you behave compared to people with differing styles to you may be quite different, even when presented with the very same scenario.
Meet Nadeem (not his real name)
Nadeem is an Accounting Advisory Executive with a leading professional services firm. Nadeem has traveled the world, offering advice on accounting and risk management for 15+ years and is considered a leader in this field.
Nadeem has led large, matrixed teams, working on highly complex projects with large multi national corporations providing advice and guidance on Accounting and Tax.
We have identified for Nadeem that he needs to pick up on social cues and demonstrate interest in others. This includes taking a brief time in the first part meetings to greet people and chat for a moment, assess his audience then communicate in a way the other party feels valued.
Nadeems’s development plan includes coaching on relationship building. Some areas include meeting preparation; helping him to assess the people he will meet so he is more prepared to make the right first impression. Also we are doing DiSC assessments with each of his direct team to help him decode their styles. Lastly he is working with an internal mentor who has the exact opposite style to his so they can learn to appreciate their differences. In future this will arm him for analyzing people and provide a roadmap for flexing his communication style accordingly.
Do you know anyone like Nadeem? Or can you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “C” behavioural style.
Can you imagine how it may benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how your style may impact others?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can adapt accordingly.
Likewise as you leverage team dynamics using DiSC assessment, you can find ways to pair people for the best outcomes as well as anticipate where friction may occur.
Do you want your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief that delves into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership derailers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “I” – Influence of the DiSC behavioural style and previously we focused on the “D”.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “S” – Steadiness behaviours and communication characteristics.
As I mentioned before, the clients I highlight tend to be symbolic of a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural dimensions, this month using the “S”.
In your own DiSC profile you will have differing degrees of each behavioural style. That said, people at work likely have observed your most predominant one because when you are under pressure your most dominant style usually shows up.
There is no perfect style, no right or wrong either; just like people are from different backgrounds, we each view a situation and react uniquely because we are approaching it from a different vantage point. This series is to help introduce the benefits of understanding your style.
Meet Melissa (not her real name)
Melissa is a Senior level Human Resource Business Partner for a global financial institution. Melissa has been in HR (different departments) for most of her 20+ career.
She currently supports over 40 executives (various levels) who collectively have over 2000 employees. Her day-to-day work is strategic, focused on providing business executives’ HR advice, shaping and implementing strategic plans. Melissa is keen to be promoted to VP level.
We have identified that for Melissa to move up, she needs to command more authority. Colleagues, leadership and clients enjoy working with her but to be ready for the next move she has to prove she can manage conflict directly and comfortably.
Showing she can stand her ground and be more direct in her communications will give senior leaders more confidence in her capabilities at the next level.
Melissa’s development plan includes coaching courageous confrontation, role-playing in a safe environment using real-life scenarios and critiquing conversations. Through routine practice she will develop comfort in finding her voice, without sacrificing her strong values for harmony.
Do you know anyone like Melissa? Or can you see yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “S” behavioural DiSC style.
Imagine the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how you impact other people?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can modify appropriately.
Likewise when your team uses DiSC assessment as a development tool, you will better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some people may be a lot like you when others are not, you will see how to get the best out of everyone when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “D” – Dominance of the DiSC behavioural styles.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “I” for Influence behaviours and communication style. I personally relate most with this dimension myself, though not quite to the same extreme as my client.
As you will see, the client I am highlighting tends to be emblematic of a strong “I” profile which is just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have varying degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but we all have our ‘go to’ dominant style that others tend to see, particularly under stress. Two people may react quite differently when presented with the same situation, depending on their dominant behavioural style.
Meet Daniel (not his real name)
Daniel is a Senior Vice President for a national Sales organization that employs 4000+ people across Canada. Daniel worked his way up to a senior level over 18 years of progressive moves.
He joined the company directly from University, when he began as an intern in Customer Operations gathering customer information from clients to prepare for year 2000 cut over.
For Daniel to continue to move up in the organization he must take more time to consider data and facts; use solid supporting evidence to help formulate decisions, and incorporate facts into his narrative.
He is seen as a promotable resource for the business, he may be considered for President or CEO of a smaller division in the future.
Daniel’s development plan includes an executive coach (external) as well as internal mentorship from the CFO, who is giving him guidance and support to develop data-driven decision making.
Do you know anyone like Daniel? Or do you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “I” behavioural style.
Can you imagine the benefit to better understand your own DiSC style and how you may impact others?
Once you grasp how your style affects people you work with, you adapt accordingly. Likewise as you build a team, you can better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some may strike sparks with you, yet they bring tremendous benefit overall when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for Your Own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to take advantage of the insightful perspective of Everything DiSC Workplace®
assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a note when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
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 varies because what bugs one person, may not bother another to the same degree.
We are all made up of a unique combination of behaviours that show up as our style to others. So when you work with someone whose blend is quite different to yours, they will likely hit a nerve if you're not well armed.
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.
My tool of choice is a DiSC® model behavioural assessment tool – Everything DiSC®Workplace by Wiley Brand. It is simple, yet uncovers ‘pinch points’ quickly with leaders and/or their teams so they can immediately adjust. 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 of blogs I will highlight each one of the four dimensions of DiSC® characterized by people I’ve worked with (names changed, of course).
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 I will start with a profile of the “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?
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 I will also provide a confidential debrief 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!
Hanging out with my grandson the other day he told me about a neighbourhood bully who makes ‘bad choices’. We had a great conversation about people who make bad choices, particularly bullies. In his vast wisdom of nearly 5 years, my grandson told me ‘Bullies are people too but its not OK when they hurt other people and if they do, then a grown up has to give them a time-out.’
What a thoughtful leadership lesson in this little statement. After all, we use time-outs with children to make them think about their actions, they must apologize and we expect them to do differently so they learn from their experience. So why don’t we tackle bullies in the workplace with the same energy - especially people in a power position over others?
What Would You Do?
You know the headlines these days are dominated by allegations of sexual harassment; victims are speaking out about their nasty experiences, almost daily - a topic seldom talked about before. Women everywhere have been emboldened to speak up and share their personal stories of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in work situations. With every news story, it triggers another woman's courage to speak out. Rest assured, there will be more to come.
Will you know how to manage an allegation at work if someone in your company or organization turns to you for help?
Policy and Practices Start with YOU, not HR!
Lets face it; dialogue about sexual harassment makes most of us uncomfortable. Anything ugly is difficult to speak about, but open discussion is vital to bring about improvement. It really concerned me when I read the Globe & Mail article that '94 percent of Canadian's leaders believe sexual harassment isn't an issue.'
Given harassment has become such a hot topic, every company should recognize that sexual harassment IS a real problem. It is time for leaders, or anyone in a position to help, to stand up, call out and follow through with discipline for inappropriate behaviour. No one should ever feel harassed at work, particularly if it is unwanted and sexualized in nature. It’s just not ok, regardless of how you qualify or explain it away as ‘that is how it is here’.
Turning a blind eye to anyone’s harassment claim can make worldwide headlines within a few hours through social media when they don’t get the help they need. So #Time's Up on covering up transgressions of anyone, especially senior level leaders or officials.
This is tough stuff to handle but there are steps you can take, immediately, to prevent all forms of harassment from happening at your work. Lets look at how you can create work environments where both men and women feel safe to bring forward concerns and get support rather than feeling they have to go public or leave the company.
Think ‘METALS’ - Leadership Steps to Say #Times Up
1. Model. Everyone is watching you whether you know it or not. Don’t speak inappropriately about women (or men); leave any form of sexual innuendo out of the workplace – sexual dialogue does not belong in a work environment. Help your team remain respectful in every interaction, show them how you manage with respect. You are the one your team will imitate, so show people the right way to treat others.
2. Enforce. The basis for change at work begins with having policy as a guidepost. No matter the size of your business, you need policies in place to fall back on to enforce. Ensure your workplace has a clear harassment policy in place with specific actions to take should any disrespectful behaviour occur – regardless of level or position in the company. Check to see that your company has a policy, become familiar and communicate it. If they don’t have a policy, suggest it be implemented ASAP. You can be the catalyst for ensuring a harassment policy is in place, communicated and enforced.
3. Talk. Talk about harassment with your team, long before an issue occurs. When opportunities arise to reinforce, discuss behaviour openly, highlighting what is acceptable and what is not at work. Openly share stories about past personal experiences and state how you would handle it now. Immediately discuss any sign of disrespect you observe or hear about so your team know you will not tolerate it. Make your team aware that they each have a role to play in keeping the workplace safe, people who stay silent are complicit; give them the courage to speak up. You create the environment of open dialogue.
4. Act. In the best work environments ‘respect in the workplace’ is a foundational training piece for all employees so they understand what behaviour is expected of them and what to expect in return. Many people go through training but notice when management doesn’t consistently follow through when something occurs, so they clam up. Be the one who acts swiftly. People want to work for leaders who readily step up and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their people. They will know you care enough about both the ‘bully’ and the bullied to deal with bad behaviour head on. Any form of bullying or inappropriate behaviour should be investigated and acted upon with appropriate discipline, without delay. Action begins with you, not HR.
5. Listen. Treat any form of harassment claim with urgency, seriousness and respect by hearing out those who have the courage to speak up, suspending your own judgement. Ensure a proper investigation is done while taking steps to protect the complainant from any form of retribution. Active listening shows them you care, understand and can be trusted to help. Listening with empathy is a key leadership trait.
6. Speak Up. By respectfully speaking out for those who feel harassed at work, you quickly become a powerhouse leader of tomorrow. Inappropriate behaviour at work is not OK; it is never to be tolerated. By speaking up and supporting others who speak out you will be the leader everyone wants to work for.
Take a Stand
You make choices everyday for how you treat others, we all do. If someone chooses to be a jerk or worse, an aggressor, then they should face appropriate consequences for their actions, regardless of their position in a company or organization. But it takes strong leadership to follow through with these people and take deliberate action. Take a stand!
As a leader you have the ability to choose what your team’s workplace should be like, irrespective of the culture or industry you’re in, or whether you have an HR team. YOU can be the shining example to others in management. YOU count to the people who report to you and how you act during the toughest times will be a key differentiator to their lives.
I’m here if you need guidance to manage tough leadership situations. Send me an email if you want support to develop policy or practices to enforce a respectful workplace or you’re struggling with a difficult issue and want a coach to talk it through.
Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “should I promote from within or hire externally?” And while I wish there was a quick way to answer this question, there simply isn’t.
When this conflicting decision arises, there are several factors I look at, and recommend my clients consider, to help decide and prepare accordingly.
For the most part, hiring from within is seen as a very positive practice. However, if you promote the wrong person, missing the right skills and attitude, you will have upheaval as a result.
Likewise, introducing an external hire into the team can bring forth new ideas, fresh thinking and objective perspective. But if the rationale for going external is not understood by the team, and people feel overlooked the person can be rejected pretty quickly–particularly in a tight knit group with an aversion to change.
Either way, hiring the wrong fit for the role or the team may lead to:
Taking time to consider the right type of people you need, who fit your environment, share the same values as the team and have the right skill set, is the key to determining whether to promote from within or hire externally.
To prevent bad feelings, it is very important to consider internal staff first in your selection process before going outside of the business.
To help you learn from other’s experience, I’ve highlighted some scenarios that underscore the pitfalls of in-house promotion vs. external hire.
Scenario #1 – Internal Hire
Meet Tony Saildude. Tony was a National Sales Director in an ever-changing, fast-paced company that was trying to acquire market share in a highly competitive industry. After his Sales Manager, Joyce Leadcraft left the company to stay at home with her 4 young children, Tony suddenly had an opening in their small business sales division.
Over several years, Joyce built the team from the ground up and was always there to ensure deals made it through in a timely manner. She continuously answered policy and process questions and effectively stickhandled internal conflict with both Marketing and Operations.
Acting quickly, Tony decided to select his best salesperson, Ron Sharp, for the role. Ron was well liked by the team and senior leadership, always upbeat, a great relationship builder and had been in his role for 4 years, frequently attaining the pinnacle of CEO Sales Club annually.
Ron was delighted with the promotion. He received a handsome increase, a parking spot and the coveted ‘inside office’. But shortly after he was promoted, the complaints began rolling up to Tony from the team.
Ron wasn’t available like Joyce had been and he didn’t take the time to solve internal issues. He usually took long lunches or breaks and frequently was seen socializing with people in Marketing. Ron was also bossy to the team, barking out deadlines and often raised his voice before closing himself in his office. And when they had internal issues with other groups, he would say things like “suck it up buttercup” leaving them frustrated and resentful.
Ron’s greatest strength had always been building rapport with customers, but in his new role, he was stuck in the office all day, forced to stick-handle a myriad of questions and expected to answer to Tony–it was not a good fit for Ron.
What Tony really needed was someone who could run interference internally, communicate clear direction, hold others accountable and also be readily available to resolve issues. These were skills and strengths Ron just did not have.
The Learning: Questions When Promoting Internally
Scenario #2 – External Hire
Meet Mary Newhere. Mary was the new Senior Vice President, Human Resources for a financial services company. The department was built on a foundation of promotions from within the company, so much so that many of the existing HR department did not have HR experience, which was why they hired Mary.
Seeing that the business was about to go through quite a bit of change, Mary wanted to hire a successor who could navigate the impending transformation, so she decided to hire externally. She hired Laura Right.
Laura had a 25+year HR career from different industries and was highly recommended through Mary’s network. Soon after she joined, Laura realized how tight the current team was and while they really liked her, she found that they rejected any new ideas or suggestions, even though Mary was always supportive.
Two months after Laura was hired, Mary was moved to another position and Laura’s new boss became Lester Oldschool–a financial services ‘lifer’ who navigated several departments over his 30 years and was a sceptic about new ideas that may impact the culture.
Laura’s peers adored Lester, complaining to him that Laura was hired too quickly and that none of them were even considered for the role. They weren’t happy that she wanted to make change to ‘tried and true’ practices.
It wasn’t long before Laura became discouraged and frustrated. She had no other sponsor or support once Mary left. Although her business clients thought she was refreshing, she was unable to affect change in HR and constantly faced a battle.
Laura left before her 2-year anniversary after being snapped up by another company.
The Learning: Questions When Hiring Externally
Trying to decide between promoting internally versus hiring externally can be a challenge. To avoid creating an unhappy environment, remember to consider your internal staff first, measuring them appropriately against the requirements of the role, before going outside of the business.
Hiring the right person and ensuring that they’re successful in their role requires careful consideration and planning. If you need assistance or guidance in this area, contact us to help you assess your environment and needs.
Dots Leadership Solutions also offer pre-screening or second interview support, custom recruitment frameworks and custom tool kits to assist leaders in making the right hiring decision.
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.
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.