effective team building

December 7, 2009

The Fine Art of Managing Exceptions

It’s vital for any manager to create a disciplined approach to the way they manage their team.

Discipline enables a focused approach with employees and the deliverables that are their required goals.

Team and individual discipline includes a number of rules and protocols by which every member of the team knows what is and isn’t acceptable. This is good for everyone, because each knows where they stand.

With the rules of the team being understood by all, this can be very freeing, actually enabling much more creative work, because the boundaries of acceptability are clear.

So, with all this in mind, what happens when someone on the team wants to behave in a manner which is normally beyond the agreed way of working? What does a manager do when what one of the team feels is quite acceptable as an exception to the rule?

In fact this can be the ace up a manager’s sleeve in how they build the team and it requires a secondary set of ‘unwritten’ rules that allow for exceptions. The key to this is that these unwritten rules are applied absolutely equally amongst the team.

Let’s say you are a retailer with a peak of business at Christmas. The written rule is that no-one has any vacation in the month of December. That’s a reasonable expectation for any employees who choose to work in that sector.

But what happens when a member of your team has a personal reason for asking for the rule to be overridden? What happens if their daughter wants to get married in the Caribbean on Christmas Day, with a few days beforehand to prepare for celebrations too? Is that permissible or not?

In these situations, smart managers allow an occasional exception to the rule in special, one-off circumstances, to show they care and understand what’s so important to their people. In fact it’s common sense, because any parent is going to attend whatever their employers says, so to lose a valued team member because they ask you to bend a rule is simply illogical.

Much better in such circumstances to allow it to happen, with strict controls and also with a strict management of any other people who choose to test this ‘rule’. After all, you could not manage the business if everyone chose to ask the same year.

That is, of course, quite unlikely, so where common sense prevails and you wave them of wishing them a great time, you will do much to create goodwill.

Of course, the rule within a rule needs to apply to everyone and needs to be seen as such.

But to deny your people reasonable, if exceptional occasions in their work environment is most likely a battle that will not see the organization as a winner, especially if those rules are not flexible enough to allow exceptions.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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November 25, 2008

Five Team Building Myths

Successful organizations recognize the importance of high performance teams in avoiding wasted time, wasted effort and wasted money.

This does not mean, though, that the people in these organizations are aware of the many team building myths that have gained acceptance over the years.

Here are five common myths that you should recognize and resist:

Team building is an event.

FACT: Too many managers and team leaders believe that holding off-site team building events is all there is to building an effective team. But, while some of these events can be useful in strengthening team bonds, they are but one component of an effective team building strategy. The key here is to never forget that team building is a process made up of many discrete events.

MYTH: Team building is designed to eliminate conflict and disagreement.

FACT: Eliminating conflict and disagreement results in a “group think” mentality that ultimately stifles innovation and achievement. An effective team is one that has learned to manage conflict and disagreement in a constructive manner.

MYTH: Only managers and team leaders are responsible for building teams.

FACT: It’s true that managers and team leaders are responsible for assembling team members and for their output, but they are not solely responsible for turning those individuals into a team. Each team member has a stake in the process of building an effective team. They must master the skills necessary to function as a team, even when the manager or team leader is not present.

MYTH: Team members must like each other.

FACT: In a perfect world, that would be true. But in the real world it is entirely probable that some of your team members will not get along on a personal level. The key is to recognize and acknowledge these conflicts and to work with these team members so that they can maintain a workable professional relationship

MYTH: A team that starts strong will stay that way.

FACT: While you may succeed at building a team that excels in the first two stages of teambuilding – forming and storming- that does not mean that the team will continue to excel as it moves through the last two stages – norming and performing. Teams typically fluctuate amongst the four stages, particularly when new members are introduced or when faced with unanticipated challenges.

Accepting any one of these five myths as fact can have a tremendous negative impact on your chances of team building success.

Recognizing them for what they are and taking appropriate steps to eliminate them from your team building beliefs, on the other hand, will lead you to focus on more effective methods for building a strong, high performance team.

Doug Petch PhotoDoug Petch specializes in helping organizations and individuals create the synergies in team building, leadership and communication skills that lead to sustained profitability and long-term success. He is also the host of the popular Sixty Second Success Seminar, an audio program focused on the tools, tips and techniques that anyone can use to navigate their path to success. Website: www.dougpetch.com

Filed under Developing Your People by Martin

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November 19, 2008

Building Your Team and Managing It Successfully

A well functioning team includes a number of effective people who are concerned about each other and are strongly committed to their assignment. These individuals have the right motivation to work with their collective strength and skill to achieve a given target. Building and managing such a team is a challenge and, ultimately, a pleasure.

From our studies and readings about team development, we have discovered three basic criteria that have to be fulfilled in order to achieve the greatest heights in team management and performance. Coupled with relevant reward and satisfaction for each team-mate, you have a recipe for success.

These criteria are:

1. Resources and Commitment
2. Ownership and Heart
3. Learning

Though these three requirements form the defining structure of teamwork, they are not everything.

You see, every group is different and the needs and factors that guide its team effort have to be outlined exclusively.

The second of the outlined conditions, “Ownership and Heart” specifies that the success of a team is determined by the involvement of the members while the foundations are being laid. The effort needs to be heartfelt, and all the members must strive to come up with “team friendly” attitudes, principles and beliefs.

Teamwork is most fruitful when the members believe in it genuinely and execute their tasks with faith and loyalty, in a way that adheres to the primary principles of team effort. Unbreakable groups are made of the right attitude, frame of mind, and principles as much as the policies and systems that support them.

At the most basic position, the key to unlock the power of the team effort “Genie” depends on the eagerness of the team members to the rub the lamp of responsibility. Individuals who hold the stakes in the group need zeal for personal management to incorporate teamwork and to maintain it. The seeds of team effort must be planted, watered and developed by the members themselves. As said earlier, the team can only be built from the inside and not the outside.

There is no doubt that external agents will bring about the pace and comfort with which teamwork takes hold. But these forces cannot run the hearts and minds of the members. Each person in the team is answerable for his/her actions to the rest. There are many people who simply cannot grab the concept of responsibility.

However, these very people are the ones to tell us that they are disappointed with the lack of tightness and integrated teamwork that are found in working groups today. Some maintain that they can experience the power, energy and enthusiasm that should radiate from an ideal team effort.

Frequently, members of an organization are ignorant of the level and nature of the teamwork that define their groups. They are too occupied in their own competitions against each other to worry about such issues. In any social condition, if the individuals are unwilling to take responsibility, get involved, or show interest in what’s going on, they cannot expect more than the poor results they achieve.

Group members forfeit their rights to report against the poor level of motivation and the quality of work life when they shirk their duties, do not assist in building teams or contribute to teamwork.

One of the principal challenges nowadays is to teach and empower people to be more involved while building teams. The main factors that affect teamwork are not those external to the team like the top management, the union or the government, the stockholders or the weather.

The ideas, beliefs, principles and mental constitutions we form collectively as members of a group are the important factors. We see alarmingly large numbers of people who play the roles of victims to the external enemies of an organization and instead trying to improve the situation lament on its adversity.

They constantly complain about how their confidence has been shattered by these factors but fail to act in order to protect the group.

Filed under Building the Future, Developing Your People by Martin

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