Joe Watkins - Monday, June 17, 2013
Misconception Number Two: A group of managers coming together to produce an outcome constitutes a team.
People either become part of a team by virtue of their role in the organisation (executive team, sales team, accounting team, marketing team etc.) or teams are created to produce certain outcomes (project teams, teams that work on culture, diversity, cost reduction etc.)
A group of people under the banner of ‘team’ does not mean that a ‘team’ exists. The default to team is a collection of individuals operating as individuals (agendas, ego’s, personalities and opinions). Their participation in the team is usually driven more by their individual concerns than those of the team and is the primary reason why teams perform badly.
Think of a great sporting team. It’s likely there were great players on that team, but that’s not what had the team be great. There are many examples of teams with great players, even masters, where the team’s performance was average.
What you will observe with great teams is how all the parts of the team work together, the flow that is created when the team’s performance is more important to the players than individual performance. This is what we mean when we say that everyone on the team, ‘owns’ the team. They are as committed to everyone’s performance as they are to their own performance and work with each other from that perspective. They own the purpose of the team, the concerns of every member of the team and the agreements that everyone takes on. This leads to people being accountable and holding others to account, speaking up to express their views and being willing to challenge the views of others, being supportive and empathetic, listening and considering the views of others and resolving issues with other team members that get in the way of participating fully.
This ownership dramatically improves individual and team performance. You’ve heard great players acknowledge that they could not have performed at such a high level if it wasn’t for the support and overall performance of the team. Individual performance is as much to do with the way the team interacts with team members, as it is to do with individual genius (possibly more than individual genius).
Thinking you have a team working on fulfilling a purpose when in fact you do not have a ‘ team’ working on that common purpose can be highly detrimental to the goals that the team is working towards. Assembling a team is relatively easy, having it work as a team is often a challenge and problematic – yet, unrivalled results are available through team, so it’s worth the effort.
Joe Watkins - Tuesday, April 30, 2013
MISCONCEPTION NUMBER ONE: Avoid confrontation because it will make things worse.
People in teams avoid raising breakdowns, issues and matters of concern they have with their team members, and also with the team itself, as they fear that raising them will make matters worse. They live in the delusion that sweeping issues under the carpet makes them disappear and removes any significant impact on relationships and team dynamics. This is the old 'ostrich with its head in the sand' syndrome.
Breakdowns and issues left unresolved, not raised and worked through so that people are left without any residual ‘baggage’, is the most common cause of dysfunctional and low performing teams. Even if only two people in the team have unresolved issues with one another, the team dynamics are impacted. Without resolution, the way in which the team works together will be shaped by avoiding, compromising or accommodating the impact of the issues between the two unresolved members.
Creating a commitment within teams to confront these breakdowns, to being willing to be vulnerable and learn how to raise matters in a way that resolves the breakdown for all parties and turn them into positive and productive outcomes is a critical competency for high performance. Without this competency, you will not reach your peak performance and you will not build a high performing team.
When a team has developed the competency to tackle the tough conversations and to keep going until resolution is achieved, they become highly creative and virtually unstoppable. A high performing team welcomes breakdowns, and in fact searches them out as the opportunity to reach even higher levels of performance.
It is the conversations we most want to avoid having, because they are difficult, that are the ones most likely to produce the results we want. In Misconception Two we'll address different ways of viewing the challenges in front of you to maximise the opportunity they offer.
Joe Watkins - Thursday, March 21, 2013
You know what you want, or at least have some idea of what you want. Now, what is the best pathway for getting there?
If you haven’t worked with coaching organisations, you will find it difficult to tell the difference between the myriad of offerings and may view ‘coaching as coaching’. That would be akin to relating to all accountants or lawyers or doctors as all being the same.
What should you consider when comparing potential coaches for yourself or your organisation.
There are many different approaches and models used in coaching. Two fundamental approaches are:
- Prescriptive coaching – this is working out what you should be ‘doing’ to achieve outcomes you want. The GROW model is an example. This approach is very widely used by many coaching organisations.
- Developmental or transformational coaching – this first addresses what are the worldviews or paradigms that define people’s behaviours before addressing what they should be ‘doing’. This approach asserts that ‘doing’ always aligns with the way people see things, and if their view does not align with taking the right actions, they will not take the right actions no matter how much they know they should. Look at things like delegation, difficult conversations, speaking up when you don’t agree etc. This is the approach Hewsons takes.
- This is not how long someone has been coaching but how they ‘live what they preach’. Ask for evidence that their lives reflect the principles of their coaching. This is what defines the value of the coach. You want a coach who lives their coaching, not ‘delivers’ or teaches their coaching.
- Ask for referees and then ask the referees “What are the key values that your coach embodied” and “how did those values change your life?” If they can’t answer this question, then the coach did not make a big impact.
- If assessing a coaching organisation for your organisation, find out how many organisations they are exclusive or primary provider of coaching/leadership development and how long have they been provided their services in that organisation. Being an exclusive provider or primary provider for a number of years is a measure of the value being produced organisationally.
- What are the values of the coaching organisation, and how are these values incorporated into the design of their services.
- How the coaching impacts what is of value to you and the organisation determines its value and is what produces increases in productivity. If you can get the same impact spending less, then spend less. However, look closely at what approach, and the kind of experience that is likely to provide the outcomes required. Once you decide who would best take care of what’s important to you, then talk to them about what you can afford and what they can provide for your budget.
Carolyn Dean - Saturday, February 16, 2013
As we come across quotes that we feel are worthy of sharing we will post them. Here's the first of those:
"The fixed idea that we have about ourselves as solid and separate from each other is painfully limiting. It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.
We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs—or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality, or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious—to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs—is the best use of our human lives."
Carolyn Dean - Wednesday, February 06, 2013
We are all driven to look for ‘the answer’, it’s hardwired into how our brains function. If something isn’t working or we need to make something happen, we have to work out ‘the answer’. Without that drive many of today’s innovations simply wouldn’t be. So it’s a good thing, right?
Not always. There are times when the very thing that we believe will solve our problem, becomes a problem in itself.
For example, when the car was invented to deal with the desire to move people and goods more rapidly, no one could have envisaged years later that the exhaust from those cars would cause an environmental crisis.
Or when guns were invented to increase the efficiency of war, they would end up being used to gun down innocent people sitting in movie theatres or children in primary school.
Or when strict school curriculums were developed and standardised that it would end up sucking out our children’s creativity and ability to think.
Why does this happen?
One possible answer to that question is that insufficient time and effort has been spent on thoroughly exploring the potential consequences of the solution. But in many cases, even if that effort had been expended, the prevailing circumstances would not have allowed people to foresee these longer-term consequences. Plus, often we don’t have the luxury of putting off acting quickly.
We need to look at this from another direction, one that may seem paradoxical. Whilst getting a solution is what is required, something happens when we think we have found ‘the answer’ – the right answer.
We humans get attached to things – our possessions, our image, our status, our jobs, our views, opinions and beliefs, and our answers/ solutions. Attachment is described by Eckhart Tolle as a state in which we use things as a means to self-enhancement, to present ourselves in a positive light to others, the letting go of which is difficult because to do so threatens that positive image we are desperate to cultivate.
When we make the subtle shift from ‘potential and possible solution’ to ‘the right answer’ we have moved into attachment and away from real exploratory and curious thinking. Our attention is now on ourselves, on being right about our answer. The opportunity to keep an open mind, constantly re-evaluate and consider all circumstances and consequences – to think - has closed. What also closes down is our ability to have others engage authentically with us because the context is now about agreement/disagreement and compliance versus collaboration.
The arena where this phenomenon can most easily be observed is the workplace. Running a business is a complex undertaking and the larger it gets, the more complexity there is. We are constantly confronted by the need to come up with solutions, but if we stop thinking then we run the very real risk of having those brilliant solutions become our next problem.
Carolyn Dean - Wednesday, October 31, 2012
In many ways, saying that trust is important is stating the bleeding obvious - but is it?
Employee engagement is one of the top priorities for many businesses today yet the activity that will rapidly and sustainably cause dis-engagement - violating trust – happens all too often.
Violation of trust is also at the heart of why a lot of people are cynical about governments and big business too, and now we can add cycling champions to the list. So what is going on?
My theory is that people are asleep and not at all related to their word. Years ago the term ‘man of his word’ meant something. If you said you would do something, you honored what you said and you delivered. It seems that somewhere along the line we lost our way.
Somewhere it became about appearing sincere and trustworthy rather than actually being sincere and trustworthy. Watching the recent debates in the US between Romney and Obama was like watching a competition to see who could make statements with more authority and sincerity. Politicians obviously worked out a long time ago that it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you say it that will get you the gig.
Those businesses that are concerned about engaged employees should put their attention on where the violations of trust happen. You can have all the staff parties and engagement surveys and plans in the world but if you’re going to continue to violate trust its all wasted effort.
A violation of trust can happen at any time and in a nano-second – when you discipline an employee for doing something wrong that you haven’t trained them to do right; when you say the meeting starts at 10 but you don’t turn up until 5 past; when you say you’ll get back to someone in 2 minutes and they don’t hear from you for 2 days!
Being your word takes being awake. You need to be awake to be vigilant about what you say and where you keep what you say alive for yourself so that it doesn’t disappear. You need to be awake to see the impact your words and actions are having on others. You need to be awake to be able to intervene with your own behavior when you are stressed, pressured or threatened and more likely to respond in ways that leave others mistrusting you.
Companies that have stated their corporate values are especially at risk because they set very high expectations with their employees. Every time a leader does something that is contrary to the company values it drives a wedge in the employee-company relationship.
When trust is there, challenges and difficulties can be dealt with rapidly and successfully. When its not there, life and work gets very complicated.
The answer to employee engagement is simple – TRUST.
Joe Watkins - Friday, September 28, 2012
One of the ongoing challenges that executives face is that there is “never enough time to get it all done”. It sounds like those executives think that they should have more time than they actually have. Thinking you should have more time than you actually have is an illusion that leaves you frustrated, overworked and dissatisfied with the work you are actually getting done.
In reality, the only things we actually do are those things that we work on, not the things we’ll get around to working on. So how we allocate our time determines what actually gets done, and therefore our performance and the results we produce.
This begs the question – “How do you allocate your time?”. Do you do it in a planned, intentional manner, or is it unplanned and unintentional? For example, some managers put off the strategic and leadership aspects of their role to focus on more immediate operational issues, saying to themselves “I’ll get to that when I have handled these more urgent issues” to find that they never seem to get around to it and they are always working on urgent issues.
If something is important, but doesn’t seem urgent, and you think that you will get around to it, it’s unlikely that you will, especially when there is a never ending list of things urgent things to get done.
Getting the right things done is a more realistic perception than getting it all done. Start there. Then address what the ‘right things’ actually are and intentionally plan when you are going to work on them i.e. decide how long you are going to spend, put it in your diary and then work on it when that time comes around.
This approach is a more effective, productive and balanced way to work and you’ll be more satisfied with the work you produce.
Also, if you are an executive or senior manager with people that you delegate to, remember, you are a role model and they will do things the way you do them. How you do things communicates more strongly than what you say, so your team will learn by observing you more than listening to you.
Carolyn Dean - Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Being a great communicator is often associated with having the ability to speak well, but I think it’s worth looking more deeply into what being a great communicator means and its relationship to leadership.
What is it that we are really talking about when we label someone as a ‘great communicator’? If they spoke articulately, but the people they are talking to are not moved in some way - have they gotten the job done? If they spoke articulately, but they didn’t listen – would we call them a great communicator?
Conversely, if they didn’t say a lot or fumbled through and still people were left inspired, aligned and/or committed to taking action – would we call them a great communicator? If they hardly talked at all but clearly listened and people were left clear that they had been heard and with new openings to take action – would we call them a great communicator?
I think the second set of examples come much closer to what I would call masterful communication. If I am right, then there’s a lot more than speaking to study if you want to be a master communicator.
The word ‘communication’ comes from the root ‘to commune’. It is fundamentally about communing with another, connecting with another. Too often our relationship to communication is more akin to radio. We broadcast, with no concern for how what we are saying is being received. And while we supposedly listen to other people’s broadcasts, we are in fact busy preparing our retort.
So what does all this have to do with leadership?
A leader is someone who creates the future. If you are a leader in your organisation you are being paid well and you are certainly not being paid to do ‘business as usual’. What you are paid the big bucks for is bringing creativity, innovation, smart thinking and new directions that are going to benefit the company, its shareholders, stakeholders, customers and employees.
You can have all the great ideas in the world, but if you can’t connect with people through communication and have them get on board with those ideas then you are sunk.
To become a master communicator you need to study how you listen. What is happening in your thinking when others are speaking? Are you really listening or are you waiting for your turn to speak? Are you interested in their point of view or do you already know what they are going to say or what needs to happen?
If you pay close attention to how you listen what you will discover is that a lot of your attention is on you, not on the other person. Whilst your attention is on you, there will be no real connecting with others and when people can’t connect with you, they can’t connect fully with your ideas or initiatives.
Carolyn Dean - Tuesday, July 31, 2012
In our executive coaching practice we are often talking to people who continually complain of a shortage of time and say that ‘time management’ is a leadership development issue for them. However, what we have regularly discovered is that the problem is not one of time management but of ineffective delegation stemming from a lack of accountability for the development of their people.
When a senior person is spending time working on things using the excuse “it’s quicker if I just do it myself” or “people don’t understand this job/subject/matter as well as I do” etc., they are out of touch with what their role is in the organisation and avoiding being responsible for the growth and success of the people who work for them, and ultimately for the growth and success of their organisation. There is clearly a lack of understanding of the source of high performance and the role that relationship and teamwork play in making it happen.
Delegation is not about finding someone to dump your work on. Of course it must be given to someone who can handle it, but oftentimes this will require training and/or supervision. Training is the answer to time shortage and time needs to be created as a priority to do that training otherwise you are left trapped in a never-ending cycle of lower productivity and personal stress.
Too often we see senior people not doing the work they need to do to have their people be successful, including being clear about their expectations and making sure their staff fully understand their expectations. The responsibility for the ‘right’ person for the role is often placed on the HR or Recruitment Manager and then when that person doesn’t live up to expectations it’s time to find another ‘more suitable’ person.
Your people must be trained to do the job as well as you can do it, or better – including being fully responsible and accountable for it. Often this takes initial close supervision. Sometimes that will involve keeping someone’s attention on a particular cycle or aspect of the job to be fulfilled that you are unsure about in terms of their capability, then doing that until it’s completed up to a standard you are satisfied with.
Training includes monitoring the productivity of staff members. If you are concerned about the level of production of someone it can often be because you have no clear picture or dashboard from which to view their productivity. That is the first step required to monitor and support the development of your staff until they are reliable for delivering to the expected standard. There needs to be clear measures to monitor and regular communication with the staff member to ensure that they are moving forward with meeting those measures.
Having a clear and specific set of measures and a dashboard or set of tracked statistics which allows you to detect when production is dropping, and more importantly, how well they are doing, is essential. Having this will also allow you to see clearly where the person needs training. Having this information is also invaluable for being able to see how well your ‘gut feel’ is working and also for seeing the reality of what is going on, good and bad. Without a tool to be able to clearly see what someone is doing well and what needs attention, we can get caught up in the ‘bad’ stuff and overlook the good.
How you know when a job is fully delegated is you will find that you have barely any attention on it at all. If you are worrying about an area, you should get back into that area with the person concerned until you have sorted out your concern and have handled it through measures and monitoring. When you are no longer concerned, you can move out of the area and let it grow.
Don’t set up your delegating activities in such a way that the person you have delegated to must refer final decisions back to you. That is not true delegation because there is no accountability involved. The person must be a decision-maker in her/his own area, whatever that is, accountable and responsible for what they do and do not produce.
Those who understand the concept of delegation with accountability know that although initially somewhat time consuming, in the long term it does in fact save time, develops initiative and enterprise among staff, and encourages ambition. Without accountability, staff will slowly lose their sense of responsibility and will tend to blame others or outside influences for any poor performance.
That’s when standards start to decline.
Joe Watkins - Friday, June 29, 2012
Principle 1 – Create a responsible culture, start with looking at how you contribute to your people not being engaged.
In our experience, people are already naturally engaged, they want to participate and contribute to the success of the organisation and its vision. So it’s not about ‘getting people engaged’ it’s about removing the barriers to engagement.
If you are not happy with the level of engagement, ask yourself ‘How am I contributing to this person (or team) not being engaged”. Look at your relationship with that person or team. See our blog “How do you engage your employees” August 5 2011.
Principle 2 – Have a clear vision, values and personal integrity with the vision and values – walk the talk.
If you do not walk the talk, you have no chance of engaging your people. Walking the talk creates respect and credibility. This includes integrity with the organisation’s vision and values. What chance do you have of your people walking the talk if they observe
you not doing the same?
People want to be part of a team that makes a difference and provides value. Revenue, profit, being the biggest or best, meeting targets are measures of making that difference, they are not a vision. Without a clear vision, what exactly are people engaged
An engaged employee relates to themselves as the team and its vision, not separate from the team and shares the team’s vision as their own vision.
Principle 3 – Establish what’s important to each person in their role and provide them with opportunities to contribute what’s important to them.
Create opportunities to talk to about what’s important. You can include this in regular performance reviews, or in your management meetings or as part of your
activities. For example, if contributing their creativity to the team is important, encourage and acknowledge their creativity, listen to their ideas and incorporate their ideas when you see value
Principle 4 – Relate to your people as having the capacity to get their job done and hold them accountable for working in a way that reflects your view of them.
Your people want you to be their champion, to relate to them as bigger than they relate to themselves. This creates the environment for people to grow and to be more effective. Acknowledge when they get the job done well and provide feedback when they don’t,
in other words hold them accountable for what you see is possible for them.
Just like you, your people want to be known, valued and respected.