Leadership Trevolution Blog
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Published on: Nov 21, 2012
Published on: Nov 05, 2012
I have never enjoyed putting jigsaw puzzles together, but when I have participated in completing one the picture on the box is indispensable. Without it, I find it difficult to know where to start or understand what pieces go in which part of the final product. I can’t imagine being expected to create pieces for a puzzle not knowing what the whole picture is supposed to look like.
That is the dynamic managers can create when they assign work without considering input from employees. Employees are delegated work with the expectation that they can create the parts without understanding or contributing to the design of the whole product. It is no wonder that in the end the pieces of the puzzle, whether a product, project, or service, don’t fit.
At times, collaboration may be perceived as more time consuming than top down direction, but is it really. It may seem faster to tell people what to do, but you have to consider reworks, work arounds, conflicts, and competing ideas in your assessment of the time that the top down approach requires.
There are three reasons that collaboration is faster than top down directing.
1. Seeing and developing the whole picture
In a collaborative process, employees engage in defining the picture. Every resource every team member brings is available to determine the best outcome and the most efficient way to get there. When each person sees the whole picture and contributes to it, most of the problems in the top down approach disappear.
2. Positive interaction develops better working
In the collaborative process, a skilled leader who knows how to use process and human interaction to discover the best solution manages the interactions. This develops quality relationships that engender communication and mutual support. As a result, when a team member is unsure of his or her impact on another they can work together to find a solution before problems escalate.
3. Complementary work
When a team that both developed and created the picture of the whole creates a product, project, or service the pieces tend to fit when the puzzle is put together. The individual work is complementary benefitting the whole.
In a fast pace, high change environment practicing collaboration to achieve a better result faster may appear counterintuitive. It also requires a leader skilled in both process and interaction that results in collaboration. If you are interested in learning more about these skills you should participate in our upcoming, complimentary webinar, Leading Your Team to Collaborate, on Friday, November 16 at 1 PM Central. For more information or to learn more click here.
Published on: Oct 22, 2012
It is common in business (and other areas as well) for trends to develop when new, fashionable words or phrases emerge. A look at recent management history will provide several examples of new language representing new concepts, or at times, new language representing the same dated concepts that have been practiced for years. In either case, we who want to be current and cutting edge tend to adopt the new trendy language.
The real challenge is not changing our language, but changing our practices. The behavioral patterns that develop over time, and become as comfortable as they are thoughtless in practice, prove difficult to change.
It is that difficulty which results in skepticism when leaders talk about the “new” and continue the exact practices that followers are so accustomed to experiencing.
For this reason, definitions matter when new and trendy words come along. Correct definitions result in correct understanding that can result in changed practices. You know your definition by your practices.
For instance, leaders have described two practices to me as reaching consensus. Of these examples, neither represents the definition or practice of consensus. They are:
- Make everyone happy – Defining consensus as everyone being happy ensures a leader will experience significant frustration. This definition may be based in the belief that the manager is responsible to ensure employees are happy. A manager who strives to keep everyone in his or her work group happy has accepted a difficult assignment. A few days of this approach to managing or leading will prove wearying. I would not practice consensus if it meant I had to keep everyone involved happy. I do not want that job. (Some days, I can’t make myself happy!)
- Everyone agrees with the leader – I have observed leaders who announce a decision and ask if everyone agrees with it. Of course, they agreed! I have seen this occur after the leader listened to input from the work group then announced, and when the announcement was made unilaterally. Some leaders have described this scenario to me and called it teamwork resulting in consensus.
It is risky to assume, based on this scenario, that everyone agrees with the leader. People in this situation may not speak up if they disagree, and will not do so for various reasons. Some will agree in external expression while planning how to undermine the action. Even if everyone agrees, it still does not represent a consensus result.
The correct definition of consensus will make a significant change in leadership practice. The term, while not new or trendy, holds much potential when it occurs as the result of a collaborative process in a team.
Consensus is agreement that the group has determined the best outcome based on the full contribution to the solution by everyone involved in the decision making process.
Based on the definition there are three characteristics of a consensus:
- Consensus develops out of collaborative process
- The group discovers solutions through the synthesis of individual contributions. The outcome represents a solution that was not previously recognized by any individual.
- The group agrees that the best outcome has been determined.
The skills required to practice both collaboration and consensus are different than those many managers have been taught. That may be why it is easier to redefine the concepts than change leadership practices. If you want to learn more about leading your team to collaborate, plan to participate in our next webinar.
Title: Leading Your Team to Collaborate
Description: Many organizations are beginning to make decision affecting next year. Next year’s performance directly relates to the quality of those decisions. Team and individual ownership in those decisions increases everyone’s potential.
Collaboration provides the best outcome with the highest ownership levels. The leadership skills that move a group from internal conflict and competition to collaboration create both higher performance and a positive work environment. At times, managers’ skills to address competition and conflict develop unintentionally through trial by fire. Collaboration and teamwork sound good, but seem more like buzzwords than reality.
This webinar will clarify collaboration as it defines collaborative behavior and the primary reasons many groups cannot practice it. Participants will gain insight into how groups become teams that collaborate, as well as practices that will support collaboration.
Published on: Oct 15, 2012
Collaboration can revolutionize both the experience and outcome people share when they work together. A revolutionary experience can result in both new freedom and a stronger team. For many work groups, this is an elusive reality to create even when it is both valued and desired.
Leadership is the key to revolutionary collaboration. The leader determines whether a team works collaboratively or not. My experience has been leaders who desire to develop collaboration in teams lack the concepts, knowledge, and skills to get there. This is not an indictment of their leadership, but an observation of how current management practices fail leaders.
We can begin with a definition of collaborative behavior as it relates to the workplace.
Collaborative behavior is the practice of considering how my decisions and actions affect my team members, and making the choice or taking the action that benefits everyone affected.
Beyond that, if I do not know how my decisions and actions affect team members, I find out before deciding or acting.
Practicing collaboration requires developing this discipline in both leader and group members. This practice will revolutionize the way you work together. Some affects you can anticipate include:
Increased and relevant communication – Team members must both seek and share information to act collaboratively.
Mutual support – Collaborative action is supportive action as choices are made that benefit everyone involved.
Openness – When one team member asks another how he or she can approach a decision or action in a manner that both or all benefit, there is an inherent openness to hear the answer.
Less conflict – When one person in a work group makes decisions or takes actions that undermine others conflict is created and grows. Collaborative behavior diminishes this dynamic lessening conflict on your team.
Better outcomes – When team members take actions that connect their shared responsibility to a shared outcome you will see an improved product. This includes less time spent on workarounds, reworks, or compatibility problems.
Can you see how collaborative behavior will revolutionize your team? Would you like to know more about revolutionary collaboration? Our next webinar Leading Your Team to Collaborate will provide more insight into developing collaboration in your team, in your leaders, and in your organization.It is scheduled for Friday, November 16, and you can sign up here.
Published on: Oct 08, 2012
A team, by definition, consists of people who work together. I have discovered a range of definitions for “work together” in organizations. At times it means people are connected to the same manager, others might say it means we tolerate one another, and still others might develop friendships enjoyed at work. These definitions do not clearly delineate how people work together, nor do they ensure realization of the true benefits of teamwork.
When many work groups do actually attempt to work together to make a decision, address a problem, or define a goal it becomes competitive. Competition influences the group members’ participation in those processes.
- One person may become more assertive, or even aggressive, to ensure he or she influences the outcome based on his or her perspective.
- Expertise can be positioned as an advantage to ensure one is heard and respected so his or her input is utilized.
- A group member can withhold his or her ideas, passively avoiding the interchange to avoid an escalation of tension while hoping someone else decides the results.
- The leader can depend compromise, knowing everyone received something important to him or her while accepting everyone also had to give up on part of his or her ideas.
When collaboration characterizes “work together” there are different influences resulting in different group member experiences.
- Everyone knows his or her contribution is valued and will be considered as he or she values and considers others’ contributions.
- It is a safe environment for everyone to contribute ideas and provide feedback to one another.
- Experts are open to questions, learning, and options as they contribute to a shared solution.
- The leader ensures that the group focuses on discovering the best outcome or solution.
At some level, collaboration and teamwork are synonymous. Competition in a work group counteracts most of the benefits that we gain when we truly work together. For this reason, collaboration is better than competition in teamwork.
There are three reasons that collaboration beats competition in a team.
Competition focuses on winning. Those who are competitive strive to see their input chosen as the answer. The non-competitive withhold the contribution that may make the difference, but is not known to the group.
Collaboration focuses on the best solution or outcome. The focus is on every person in the team contributing all that is available to achieve that common result. The competition is against the problem, best decision, or goal and not one another.
The interactions in a competitive environment usually do not promote healthy relationships. Communication can be ineffective with more talking than listening and ignoring those who do not compete.
Collaboration, which should be energized in lively debate, requires listening to understand and making sure one is understood. Interactions are respectful and it is safe to contribute as well as question the ideas of others.
Competition results in a one sided outcome, or a compromise of what everyone can live with. It leaves group members with questionable commitment to the outcome that they may or may not agree with fully.
Collaboration results in the outcome everyone agrees is best, knowing each one has contributed something to discovering it. There is ownership in the decision and clarity that engages everyone in contributing.
Teams will benefit from collaboration. Without leaders who possess both the skill and capacity to develop collaborative teamwork, they will not experience it. Our next webinar will provide foundational leadership skills for leaders who desire to develop a collaborative team. More information is available here.
Published on: Oct 02, 2012
Many managers find the practice of holding employees accountable difficult. At the same time, they resist empowering those employees to make decisions and take action, limiting performance.
There is a connection between the ability to hold an employee accountable and the willingness to empower that employee for performance and goal achievement.
Our webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability, provides you with methods that make accountability a positive experience for both the manager and employee.
Published on: Sep 24, 2012
In a recent article on The Creativity Post, Elizabeth Grace Saunders encouraged us to put ourself first. I completely agree with her. Balancing personal needs with the needs of others ensures that one succeeds over the long term.
I am writing this blog sitting in my small sailboat on Lake Travis in Austin Texas. I am not here because I deserve to enjoy my passion. I am here because a simple drive and investment in me results in higher productivity and creativity that I hope benefits you.
As a leader, you must invest in yourself. There are many ways to do that depending on how much time you have and what interests you. If you do not develop your capacity to lead and improve your skills, it is those you lead that will suffer not you.
There are many options for you to invest in yourself as a leader to ensure your success and the success of those in your life. Here are a few suggestions:
- Reading Books, Blogs, Articles (thanks for reading this one!)
- Observation of Effective Leaders’ Behavior
- Peer Learning Groups
- Professional Development Courses
- Mentoring Relationships
- Advanced Degrees
Our mission to Revolutionize the Way People Work Together guides us to invest in leaders who are successful and investing in greater success. If you cannot find time to invest in yourself, you will eventually hit the ceiling of your current skill level as a leader. Beyond that, you may be living with challenges and frustrations that you believe are intractable. What will happen if you take some of the time you spend constantly addressing the same problems to develop the leadership capacity to solve them?
We are offering you an opportunity invest one hour in yourself this week. If you are spending time addressing these challenges then it may be a great investment for you.
- Low Accountability
- Employees Who fail to Take Ownership
- Difficult Feedback Sessions
- Credibility as a Leader
Our webinar entitled, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability is designed to provide insight that develops leadership capacity to address these challenges.
It is true that many managers find the practice of holding employees accountable difficult. At the same time, they resist empowering those employees to make decisions and take action, limiting performance.
There is a connection between the ability to hold an employee accountable and the willingness to empower that employee for performance and goal achievement. This webinar provides participants with methods that make accountability a positive experience for both the manager and employee.
The opportunity to invest in yourself is this Friday, September 28 from 1 to 2 pm Central Time. If you have an hour to invest sign up here.
Published on: Sep 17, 2012
Someone recently said to me, “This is my perspective.” While I appreciated that person informing me, it was not necessary. When we speak, we usually do so from our perspective. I did appreciate that he recognized it though. Some of us do not think much about how our perspective influences our communication, decisions, and actions. This can have serious consequences when providing a team member feedback or holding him or her accountable.
When you are looking in one direction it is easy to be aware of what is creating your perspective, but it is important to realize that there are always points of view that you are not taking.
Try this, look straight ahead and consider everything you see. Now, turn around and consider how much you could not see from your original perspective, but is just as present in your current circumstance.
Many times leaders fail to consider all that they can see, much less what they may not see from their point of view. Have you ever said or thought, “I wish I had known that?”
That is usually my thought after it is too late to do anything about it!
Before you give a team member feedback there are three steps you can take. I am discussing the first one here. We will consider this further in our upcoming complimentary webinar.
- Look Around to Gain Perspective
Make sure that you have seen everything in your view, and then look around for additional interpretations of what you see.
A manager had a team member who did not contribute in meetings. He interpreted that lack of participation as disinterest and apathy: his perspective.
We broadened the manager’s perspective by looking at all of the information that was available, but ignored. The team member was engaged outside of meetings and his performance was above expectations.
This additional information influenced the manager’s perspective and made him more open to alternative explanations. Ultimately, he discovered that the person did not feel it was safe to speak in meetings.
In addition, he needed time to think about his contribution, and that time was not built into the decision making process for the team. He was not able to contribute as a result.
If the manager had acted on the original interpretation of the situation, he would have had a negative impact on a person who contributed in every way outside of meetings. He might have lost a valuable team member.
When the manager discussed the problem with the team member with a broader perspective, they were able to achieve a win-win solution that increased the team member’s contribution. Beyond that, the team benefitted as everyone’s opportunity to participate grew.
What difference will taking time to broaden your perspective before giving feedback have on your team?
We will consider this and more in our complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability. This is our second and last time to offer it this year so don’t miss out. It will held be on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here.
Published on: Sep 10, 2012
Accountability is the obligation to take responsibility. In terms of management, holding someone accountable is the idea that you are exerting control to ensure work is accomplished. It is true that, at the extreme, holding someone accountable is giving him or her the choice to achieve a prescribed result or not. At the basic level, there are usually consequences associated with the non-compliant choice. It is important to recognize this is not control.
Control is an illusion! Control resides in the choice of the employee.
What is accountability if it is not employee control? Accountability is about employee freedom. Empowerment.
When you position someone for accountability, you are acknowledging the reality that no matter what you do, in the end, his or her choice is the determining factor of the outcome. That is why the way you lead is critical to your ability to hold someone accountable.
You can rely on the five levels of accountability to position individuals to make the right choice. They are:
We will discuss these in our upcoming complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability. This is our second and last time to offer it this year so don’t miss out. It will held be on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here.
Before you develop the capacity to practice each of these, it is important to understand how they create employee freedom. Each one progressively positions the team member to take ownership of his or her work. Therefore, they are not separate practices, but build upon each other.
The effective leader begins with service and builds upon service with feedback. He or she does not shift from one to the other, but builds one upon the other. Each prior practice should be in place before you move to the next one.
Service is the foundation for feedback,
Service and feedback are the foundation for development,
Service, feedback, and development are the foundation for empowerment,
Service, feedback, development, and empowerment are the foundation for discipline.
The leader who masters these practices positions both the team and individual for the freedom to make the right decisions and take the right actions. I have trained leaders in these practices who have developed capacity in each one. These leaders acknowledge it is hard work.
Leaders also find it is less work than attempting to control the uncontrollable. Is that what you feel like you are doing some days?
A first step to developing capacity in these practices is our complimentary webinar. The previously mentioned webinar is a great place to find out more. Sign up here.
Published on: Aug 27, 2012
When my grandson was just learning to talk, I was speaking to him and patting his head (which has a lot of hair). He looked at my head and said, “Gone!” An astute observation that you would surmise is accurate if you knew how much hair I have. I was aware of the reality of his observation, but not expecting the feedback.
I find the same to be true when many managers fail to give feedback to team members. There are times that team members know something is not as it should be. They are not sure what to do and do not expect to get any feedback.
Alternatively, there are other instances when team members do not know there is a problem, an unmet expectation, or low productivity. In this scenario, the manager is aware, but fails to act. The unaware team member does not expect feedback.
Both of these scenarios end badly because they do not ensure team member accountability. Beyond that, each one eventually results in a negative experience for the manager and team member. This is unfortunate and unnecessary.
Four feedback practices make any feedback situation encouraging and ensure being held accountable is a positive experience. I am discussing the first one in this blog.
Provide Feedback Sooner Rather than Later
Sailing with a friend one day, I needed to turn the boat. When the boat turns the boom swings, and if you don’t duck it will hit you. Just before turning the boat, I told my friend, “You might want to duck.” As I turned the boat, I watched the boom hit my friend in the forehead. When I asked him why he did not duck he said, “I needed more time to process.”
- If a team member cannot approach you as a manager for feedback, by the time you realize he or she needs it, it may be too late to do anything. On top of that, the problems that result from your unawareness will take significantly longer to overcome. You don’t have time to duck.
- If you fail to provide a team member feedback when there is a problem, an unmet expectation, or low productivity he or she cannot address the issue. If you assume he or she knows there is an issue, you put yourself at risk. If you are aware that he or she knows and fail to act, you ignore your responsibility. In either case, when you finally have to address the team member it is usually too late for him or her to recover. That person does not have time to duck.
Do you prefer time to address issues before they become crisis? Be open enough that team members can approach you when needed and know they will be heard.
Do you desire to see team members recover from failures and enjoy success? Approach them early enough that they have a chance to recover. If they choose not to make changes, it is their choice.
What impact will positive feedback experiences have on your ability to hold team members accountable?
Would you like to learn more about making feedback a positive experience that results in accountability?
We are offering our complimentary webinar, Creating Employee Ownership through the Five Levels of Accountability, on Friday, September 28 at 1 p.m. Sign up here.
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