Author: TBAE Team

Team Building and Events Management South Africa (TBAE) specialises in coordinating and facilitating interactive corporate team building, with programs designed to promote team spirit and participative culture. TBAE is renowned for the design and delivery of unique, innovative, fun and memorable team building programs, customised to meet each client’s individual needs, agenda and budget. Our experienced and highly skilled facilitators work in partnership with our clients to ensure continuity in existing training or development programs.

Promoting an Effective Work Etiquette in Your Team

Promoting an Effective Work Etiquette in Your Team

Etiquette refers to unwritten rules or norms of acceptable conduct within a professional environment. Violations of etiquette are not always punishable by company law, but ignoring etiquette guidelines have considerable consequences for the team member and team.

In this blog post, you will be introduced to some tips in practicing work etiquette in a team. In particular tips related to proper greeting, respect, involvement, and political correctness will be discussed.

Greetings

The seeds of civility can be planted in an organization by encouraging every team member to give their fellow team members, greetings befitting the professional nature of the work environment.

What rules of greeting etiquette are worth remembering? Consider the following:

Formal Greetings: Always give a formal acknowledgment of another team member’s presence, regardless of that person’s rank. Starting an interaction with greetings is a way of establishing rapport with new acquaintances and maintaining rapport with old ones. A “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” is an excellent way to both initiate and maintain a positive relationship with a co-worker, client, or business partner.

In the same vein, greetings are best followed by expression of sincere interest in the person that you saw or met. For example, you can reply to an exchange of Good morning with “How do you do?” or “How are you doing today?”

When used as a greeting, questions like “How do you do?” are not meant to be answered in great detail. You can consider them as a polite way people can get abreast of what it going on in people’s lives. An appropriate reply can be as short as “I am doing very well. My son graduated from high school yesterday and the family is very thrilled. How about you? How are things at your end?” You and your fellow team member can always schedule a longer chat at a more appropriate time.

Informal Greetings: Informal greetings can also be a great way of developing civility in a workplace. If familiarity is already established among team members, or when expressly invited to, informal greetings can set up positive working relationships in a team. The use of “hi” and “hello” can put team members more at ease with each other, and set the foundation for social awareness.

Nonverbal greetings such as smiles, taps on the back, a handshake, a high five are also ways to develop civility within the team. Note though that it is not recommended to assume any familiarity unless expressly invited to.

Other etiquette rules worth considering when it comes to greeting:

  • Give greetings the attention that they deserve. Saying good morning to an entering team member while you remain busily sorting folders on your desk can actually come across as uncivil instead of civil behavior. Instead, pause whatever it is you’re doing, even for a few seconds, to offer your pleasantries. Establish eye contact; stand up when greeting a superior or a client, even step from behind your desk to offer a handshake if necessary. Make the other person feel that you’re greeting them because you want to, not because you have to.
  • Remember that greetings are not limited to face-to-face conversations. Even when sending and receiving written correspondence, including electronic communication such as emails or an instant message, it is recommended that you begin and end your letter with a greeting. “Dear (name)” is traditionally greeting for written and electronic correspondence; the word dear is acceptable for both formal and informal communication. “Greetings!”, “Hope all is well at your end.” are also acceptable salutations. Letter closings can include a greetings like “Best Regards,” “In appreciation of your message,” and “Cheers,”
  • In business settings, rank and professionalism matters. Make sure that you’re always sensitive to the power dynamics in a team when offering greetings. For example, avoid addressing your boss using his or her first name/nickname unless given permission to.
  • The questions of “who should initiate a greeting?” and “when to offer a greeting? “are often debated, but a good rule of thumb is to always initiate a greeting as soon you see another team member, regardless of rank. After all, you can’t go wrong with courtesy! The exception is when the other person is otherwise engaged and will likely construe your greeting as an interruption instead of a pleasantry. Greetings must also be appropriate to the context; you can’t offer a cheery greeting when the mood is grim or solemn such as during the aftermath of a workplace accident.

Respect

It may be said that the foundation of civility is respect.

Respect refers to positive esteem for another team member, one that demands both deferential and considerate behavior. Respect is commonly perceived as something persons of higher rank demand from their subordinates.  In reality though, respect is something every team member, regardless of rank, both freely give to, and inspire in, those they interact with.

In many ways, respect can be summarized in terms of attitudes. When you respect another team member, you understand that he or she is a person of worth, which in turn demands that you treat him or her ethically. A team member’s worthiness of respect has little to do with his or her job performance. All people are deserving of respect regardless of their contribution to the team.

Respect may also be conceptualized in terms of boundaries; that is, we know that we can’t act just as we please when relating with a team member that we respect. Every team member, for example, requires work space in order to perform their task effectively. Intruding on this workplace, for instance, speaking loudly when you know someone is conducting a task that requires mental concentration can be a sign of disrespect.

What are the ways you can show respect for your fellow team members? The following are just a few ways to consider:

  • Practice active listening. Every team member deserves to be given attention when they’re communicating. In fact, it’s recommended for team members to make a habit of encouraging their peers in contributing more to the discussion. More importantly, give each team member’s message fair consideration. Just because a suggestion came from someone not considered as a subject matter expert doesn’t mean that the suggestion is automatically without merit. (Active Listening will be discussed in more detail in a later module.)
  • Respect your fellow team member’s property. Disrespect in a team plays itself, not just through face-to-face interactions, but also through lack of consideration for another team member’s belongings and work space and privacy. For instance, it’s not uncommon in offices to have issues regarding missing lunches from the kitchen, or missing pens and staplers from a desk! Clarify from the onset what is to be considered as office property and personal property.  Better yet, establish rules and guidelines when it comes to using any and all equipment and materials from the office. For instance, should reservations be first made before using a meeting room? These rules and guidelines can go a long way in maintaining civility in the team.
  • Respect the right to own beliefs. Most companies advocate diversity in the workplace. Diversity means that you’ll have people of different religions, political beliefs, abilities, traditions, and values working in the same team. For as long as a team member’s faith and beliefs do not interfere with his or her work performance, there’s no reason for said faith and beliefs to be an issue in the company. And definitely, no team leader or team member has cause to compel a person to convert religion and abandon belief systems. A healthy debate is okay, but only for social purposes and not as a way to discriminate or bully.
  • Use your fellow team member’s time wisely. A little known way you can practice respect in the team is by respecting your fellow team member’s time. On the job site, time is an important commodity, especially when there is much to be done and employees are paid on an hourly basis. Don’t waste your fellow team member’s time with idle gossip or unimportant concerns. Keep team meetings short and to the point. And set appointments instead of ambushing. These little acts of courtesy may not look much at first glance, but they will surely be appreciated by those with lots to do and think about.

Involvement

Involvement refers to an active participation in the activities of the team. There should be a feeling of personal investment in how the team is doing. Involvement also demands that you don’t just content yourself with getting the tasks in your job description done. Instead, you’re on the constant lookout for ways to make yourself an active part of the team system. When the system is experiencing problems, you don’t view yourself as merely “caught in the crossfire” or a “victim.” Instead, you see yourself as a potential “agent of change.” You jump at opportunities to better your team as soon as the opportunity presents itself. And you don’t wait to be told what must be done; you take the initiative to inquire how you can be of help.

Being Politically Correct

Political Correctness, commonly abbreviated as PC, is a way of addressing, and at times behaving towards, other team members that takes special care in not creating offense against others, especially against potential victims of discrimination.

Political correctness is based on the idea that language captures attitudes, and potentially insulting language, even if delivered unintentionally by a speaker, can communicate and perpetuate prevailing negative attitudes against people commonly discriminated against.

An example of political correctness is the use of the term “persons with disabilities” instead of “disabled person.” This is to ensure that the premium when addressing persons with hearing, visual, mobility impairment, and any other disability, is their personhood instead of their limitations. In fact, the word “challenged” is preferred in some social circles as opposed to “impaired” (e.g. vertically challenged instead of height impaired) in order to communicate the idea that a disability need not mean lack of capability.

Another example of political correctness is the use of gender-sensitive language. Titles that specify a particular gender, when a position can be held competently by both man and woman, need to be reframed in order to be gender-neutral. For example, the chairperson is preferred to chairman, and cleaner is more acceptable than cleaning lady.

Contrary to popular belief, political correctness is not lying. Neither is it sugarcoating the harsh truth for the people concerned, or patronizing individuals who could otherwise defend themselves. Instead, it’s a way of positively reframing statements that box some members of the population into negative stereotypes.

It is, however, possible to overdo political correctness, to the extent that the positive spirit behind it becomes an object of ridicule.

 

Fun Minute to Win It Games for the Office

Minute to Win It Games for the Office

Minute to Win It games are a great way to energize your team and to get them to have some fun in the office. The following are some examples of Minute to Win It games that can easily be done in your office.

Office Dominoes

Using 11 reams of copier paper, a contestant must create a domino chain that ends with the last ream hitting a bell.

Equipment Needed for Office Dominoes Minute to Win It Game

  • 11 Reams of Paper (500 Count) per person or team
  • 1 Bell per person or team

How to Play the Office Dominoes Minute to Win It Game

  1. Prior to game start, contestant stands next to a stack of paper reams with hands at sides and may not touch the reams of paper.
  2. Once the game starts, a contestant may grab first paper ream.
  3. Once all 11 reams of paper are in position, the contestant must trigger the domino effect of tipping over the pre-set ream.
  4. To complete the game, the contestant must start the domino effect within the 60- second time limit, resulting in all 11 reams falling in succession and making contact with the bell.

The Rules of Office Dominoes Minute to Win It Game

  1. The contestant may only carry and place one ream of paper at a time. Reams must be placed upright on their short sides.
  2. A contestant may not throw, toss or slide reams of paper.
  3. All 11 reams of paper must be placed between the pre-set ream and the pre-set bell.
  4. The contestant may not move the bell from its original position.
  5. A contestant may not move pre-set ream from its original position until setting off the domino effect.
  6. If the contestant knocks over a pre – set ream, they must reset it to its original position. If any other ream of paper falls prematurely, the contestant may re-set it and continue. Even if the bell is activated prematurely, the game may continue.

Office Fling

The player uses a rubber band between the legs of an overturned office chair as a slingshot. The player must then launch and land a single sheet of folded paper on a desk 12 feet away

Equipment Needed for Office Fling Minute to Win It Game

  • Chair per person or team
  • Rubber Band per person or team
  • Paper per person or team
  • Desk or Table per person or team

Office Maximus

The contestant has to bounce a giant rubber band ball on the ground in order to knock 3 reams of copy paper off a pedestal.

Equipment Needed for the Office Maximus Minute to Win It Game

  • 1 Rubberband Ball per player or team
  • 3 Reams of Paper per player or team
  • 3 Stools per player or team

How to Play the Office Maximus Minute to Win It Game

  1. Place three stools next to each other and place the reams of paper vertically on them
  2. The player must bounce the ball to knock the reams of paper over within 60 seconds
  3. The rubber band ball has to bounce before hitting the reams of paper

Office Tennis

Using clipboards and a wad of paper, players must work as a team to hit the wad back and forth, moving down a line towards a trash can where they deposit the wad of paper.

Equipment Needed for Office Tennis Minute to Win It Game

  • Trash Can per Team per person or team
  • Clipboard for each player per person or team
  • Balled up paper per person or team

How to Play the Office Tennis Minute to Win It Game

1) Each player is given a clipboard/binder

2) They are to hit a balled up paper between the two players and make the ball travel a distance to the trash can

3) They must get the ball into the trash can

4) They have 60 seconds to get a certain amount or the most.

The Rules of Office Tennis Minute to Win It Game

Neither partner may carry, double hit, or drop the ball.

Back Flip

This is a simple to set up Minute to Win It Game where contestants need to flip 12 pencils on the back of their hand and catch all the pencils. The activity starts with 2 pencils and another two are added after each successful catch. The contestant wins the challenge when all 12 pencils are caught within the one minute time limit and bags some points for themselves or the team.

The Goal of Back Flip Minute to Win It Game 

The goal is to place 2 pencils on the back of your hand, flip it, and catch the pencils in midair. This must be completed six times, with two more pencils after each successful attempt. It’s not that tricky with some practice.

Equipment Needed for Back Flip Minute to Win It Game 

12 Pencils

A flat surface

Setting Up

Place 6 groups of two pencils equally apart on the flat surface, all facing the same direction.

How to Play the Back Flip Minute to Win It Game 

  1. When the timer starts, the contestant picks up the first two and places them on the back of their hand.
  2. The pencils are flipped up in the air and caught.
  3. Once successful, the player can move to the next group on pencils.
  4. The process is repeated, but this time with 4 pencils.
  5. Once successful, the player can move to 6, 8, 10 and 12 pencils
  6. The player wins the challenge when all 12 pencils are flipped and caught successfully.

The Rules of Back Flip Minute to Win It Game

The rules are simple:

  1. Player cannot add the next set of 2 pencils until the previous set has been caught.
  2. The pencils need to be caught by the same hand used for stacking the pencils
  3. The groups of pencils need to be flipped and caught in succession
  4. If the player fails, they will need to restart with 2 pencils. You may however decide that players can continue with the same amount of pencils that they are currently on.

 

Ethical Decision Making for Teams

Ethical Decision Making for Teams

A team should always attempt to make ethical decisions. It is possible, however, for two ethical team members to make different decisions in a situation. It is important that your team understand ethical dilemmas and the ethical decision-making process.

The Basics of Ethical Decision Making

Your team members will typically use five different ethical standards to interpret the world around them. For the best results, put the different approaches together and choose the answers that best fit.

Ethical Standards

  • Utilitarian approach: This approach focuses on the consequences of actions. The goal is to do more good than harm in a situation.
  • Rights approach: Focusing on the rights of all involved defines this approach. It makes respecting the rights of others a moral obligation.
  • Fairness approach: Fairness expects people to be treated equally. A fairly based standard is used to determine actions that are unequal such as pay rate.
  • Common Good approach: The conditions that affect all people are considered in the common good approach. Systems and laws are created to ensure the welfare of everyone.
  • Virtue approach: This approach uses virtues such as honesty, compassion, love, patience, and courage to guide behavior.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Balancing Personal and Organizational Ethics

It is important to be ethical on a personal and organizational level. Personal ethics influence decision both inside and outside of work. These are based on personal beliefs and values. Organizational ethics determine workplace decisions. Team leaders and team members, both face organizational ethics, and the company should have ethical standards in place.

Organizational ethics flow from the top down. Those in leadership need to promote ethical decisions by their example. Occasionally, personal and professional ethics will collide. In the event of an ethical dilemma, it is important to choose based on what is most important and what will do the most good for the parties involved.

Common Ethic Dilemmas in Teams

There are many different ethical dilemmas in teams that are specific to industries. There are, however, common dilemmas that every organization will face.

  • Honest accounting practices
  • Responsibility for mistakes such as accidents, spills, and faulty product
  • Advertising that is honest and not misleading
  • Collusion with competitors
  • Labor issues
  • Bribes and corporate espionage

Law governs many of these dilemmas, but an ethical organization will make the right decision regardless of legal issues. Because these issues are so common, it is important to create ethical standards and train team members to behave accordingly.

Making Ethical Decisions

Before making any final decisions, the team should use the following steps to make sure that they are making ethical decisions.

  • Determine the ethics of a situation: Does the decision affect a group or have legal ramifications?
  • Gather Information: Learn as much as possible about the situation, and get the point of view from all parties involved.
  • Evaluate Actions: Make different decisions based on the different ethical standards.
  • Test Decisions: Would they be proud of this decision if it were advertised?
  • Implement: Implement the decision, and evaluate the results.

Overcoming Obstacles

There will always be temptation to act unethically. These obstacles are particularly difficult to overcome when other people are encouraging a team member to behave unethically. They may be in positions of authority or simply intimidating, but they do not have to give into them.

Overcome Obstacles:

  • Sympathize: Do not attack unethical people. Sympathize with their situation, but refuse to compromise the team’s standards.
  • Make them responsible: Do not quibble. Directly ask people if they want you to do something illegal or unethical. This removes their plausible deniability.
  • Reason: Provide them with logical reasons for your refusal to compromise your integrity.
  • Stay firm: Make a decision and stick to it. Do not let people wear you down.
  • Take precautions: Keep a paper trail of your encounters, and be prepared to defend yourself.

Implementing Ethics in Your Team

Implementing ethics in your team is a complex but rewarding task. Every team member has a unique set of ethical standards. Allowing each team member to follow his or her moral compass will result in varied results. Companies need to focus on implementing uniform ethical standards and rules throughout their organizations. Team members should never have to question whether or not they are doing the right thing.

Benefits of Implementing Ethics in Your Team

Implementing ethics in a team will also lead to better success and long-term growth. Unethical business practices can cause immediate financial gain, but they will cost companies, customers and employees over time. When unethical practices become public knowledge, it is difficult for a business to recover its reputation. Organizations with reputations for being ethical will also find it easier to earn credit, find investors, and expand into international markets. There are also benefits at the organizational level.

Organizational Benefits:

  • Convinces team members that the company truly value ethical decision-making.
  • Builds awareness of ethical issues.
  • Creates an ethical guideline for team members to follow.

Guidelines for Managing Ethics in Your Team

Managing ethics in the team require certain tools. Every organization needs a Code of Ethics, a Code of Conduct, and Policies and Procedures. These tools direct the organization as team leaders attempt to manage ethics in their teams.

Guidelines for Implementing and Managing Ethics in Your Team:

  • Give it time: Managing ethics is a process-oriented activity that requires time and constant assessment.
  • Focus on behavior: Do not give vague requirements; make sure that ethics management has an impact on behavior.
  • Avoid problems: Create clear codes and policies that will prevent ethical problems.
  • Be open: Involve different groups in ethics program and make decisions public.
  • Integrate ethics: Make sure that all management programs have ethical values.
  • Allow for mistakes: Teach team members how to behave ethically, and do not give up when mistakes happen.

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities necessary to effectively implement workplace ethics will vary with each organization. A manager should be in place to oversee the ethics program, but he or she will need the support provided by other positions. Smaller organizations may not need to fill all of the roles listed below; determine what your company needs before executing an ethics program.

Roles:

  • CEO: The CEO of every company needs to support business ethics and lead by example.
  • Ethics committee: An ethics committee will develop and supervise the program.
  • Ethics management team: Senior managers implement the program and train employees.
  • Ethics executive: An ethics executive or officer is trained to resolve ethical problems.
  • Ombudsperson: This position requires interpreting and integrating values throughout the organization.

 

How to Manage a Team to Success

How to Manage a Team to Success

Managing a team is a complex process, but developing your management skills will help you become an effective team leader who achieves significant results. Pay careful attention to talent management, change management and organizational management.

Talent Management

Talent management differs from employee management in the development process. Rather than abandoning team members to tasks, team leaders develop employee talent to benefit the team. Studies have shown that talent management can increase productivity and decrease turnover. There are many different strategies involved in talent management. Below, you will find a few strategies that will improve employee development and increase productivity.

Strategies:

  • Mentor: Develop mentorship programs, and team up new team members with more experienced ones.
  • Invest: Invest in effective training programs that develop individuals and make them feel valued.
  • Communicate: Communicate effectively, which involves active listening and being open and honest.
  • Evaluate: Choose tools and measures to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies such as surveys, employee feedback, productivity, etc.

Change Management

Change is inevitable in any organization. Unfortunately, human beings are not wired to accept change easily, so tensions may run high as people resist changes. You can help alleviate the stress associated with change with effective change management. Smoothly implementing change will reduce lost productivity as well as improve workplace culture.

The Process:

  1. Prepare:
  • Define the change: Identify the change, communicate with the team, and assess the needs as well as potential resistance.
  • Choose a team: Find team members to lead the change.
  • Sponsor: Determine how leadership will actively sponsor the change.
  1. Manage:
  • Develop plans: Create a change management plan and communicate the details.
  • Act: Implement the change management plan, and continue to communicate the expectations.
  1. Reinforce:
  • Analyze change: Use surveys and feedback to determine success.
  • Manage resistance: Understand the causes, look for gaps, and communicate the need for acceptance.
  • Correct or praise: Praise team members who implement change effectively, and give corrective actions for resistance.

Organizational Management

Organizational management is unique to each team, depending on structure. It assumes that each singular element is linked to others. The individual unit as a whole must be managed effectively. It requires planning that will lead to team goals.

In organizational management, each team member needs to be part of the plan. You begin with a wide scale plan, and work your way down to the individual team member level. The responsibilities outlined in the plan should fall along the organizational structure of the company. The structure is what links the different positions. For example, there may be regional managers, divisional managers, departmental managers, and team leaders who oversee different teams. The plan should reflect the distinct divisions. When this is done correctly, all team members will understand the expectations on them and how they contribute to the success of the company.

 

Helping Your Team See the Big Picture

Helping Your Team See the Big Picture

Most team members, are responsible for specific areas, and they have little understanding of the impact their decisions have on other areas. When too much focus is placed on one aspect of the organization, it is difficult to make decisions for the good of the company. In order to make effective decisions, it is necessary for the team to examine the big picture.

Short and Long Term Interactions

When looking at the big picture, it is necessary for the team to consider long term as well as short term interactions. Short term interactions are immediate, single exchanges, and they are necessary for the team to survive. Without looking at the big picture, however, short term interactions may hinder the long term success of the team. For example, a team member may damage a business relationship by using aggressive sales techniques, costing the team sales in the future.

Long term interactions are processes or relationships that are essential to growth. Long term team success requires the long term interactions. The relationships with customers, vendors, and other team members need to be carefully cultivated. Failure to cultivate relationships occurs when there is a lack of communication or communication is not respectful. Long term relationships help guide the future of the team.

Improving Long Term Interactions

  • Build relationships: Relationships must be based on mutual trust, respect, and support.
  • Use feedback: Request feedback and listen to complaints.
  • Offer value: Provide value in product, services, and compensation.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Recognize Growth Opportunities

It is essential for every team to recognize growth opportunities to ensure long term success. An opportunity is any project that will create growth. Opportunities, however, can be overlooked when we do not pay attention to the big picture. If recognizing opportunities does not come easily for the team, there are steps to take that will ensure that the team do not overlook growth opportunities.

  • Identify market trends: Monitor changes in the market such as technological advancements.
  • Actively research customer needs: Conduct market research and anticipate customer needs, which you will fulfill.
  • Pay attention to competitors: Take advantage of a competitor’s weakness and learn from their strengths.
  • Monitor demographic changes: Changes in demographics indicate a potential shift in customer base or needs.
  • Consult team members: Do not overlook team members’ ideas; encourage brainstorming.
  • Monitor abilities of the team: Pay attention to the skills of the team. Offer training or hire new team members in response to growth opportunities.

Mindfulness of Decisions

Decisions need to be made carefully and mindfully. In stressful situations, it is easy to make decisions based on emotions or external pressure. The team should recognize these events which increase the risk of making a poor decision that can have long term consequences. Mindful decision making combines reason with intuition to come up with decisions that are based in the present.

Decision making Steps:

  1. Be in the moment: Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally. This allows you to reach your intuition and understand any feelings of conflict and their source. The source of the conflict may evolve as you become mindful. For example, conflict over the cost of change may shift to conflict that the change goes against team values. Naming the conflict will help the team make the decision without fear.
  2. Be Clear: Investigate for clarity. Begin by investigating your feelings and identifying the type of decision you are making. A neutral decision, for example, should not create a great deal of stress. Once the team identifies the decision, they should make sure they have collected the necessary information to make the decision. Additionally, they should consult the people who will be affected by the decision.
  3. Make a choice: Once they have all the information, they should write down their decision. Take some time to consider this decision. If you are still comfortable with the decision after a few days, act on it.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Everything is Related

On a team, it is necessary for each person to perform specific roles and functions. Every role in the team is related to each other. For example, poor production and poor customer service will affect sales. Too many sales returns cost the company money, damaging the profits. Each aspect of the business relies on the others. Most people only focus on their specific roles, without considering how they affect the other departments. Looking at the big picture allows the team to see how everything is related, and it begins with the leadership. The leader of the team is responsible for the culture and values.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

How to Relate:

  • Be Comprehensive: Monitor every area of the team to make sure each one is reaching their goals.
  • Be Balanced: Make sure that each area of the team is sustainable, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Be Incorporated: Integrate every aspect of the team with the others. Show team members how they affect each other and the team as a whole.

The Attention Zones Model for Teams

The Attention Zones Model for Teams

There are four different attention zones: Reactive, Proactive, Distracted and Wasteful. The attention zone determines productivity as well as stress levels. Attention management allows teams to move out of stressful or unproductive zones and manage their time wisely.

Reactive Zone

Many people, particularly team leaders, spend most of their time in the reactive zone. Those in the reactive zone spend their time putting out fires and handling urgent needs. The tasks are important, but they demand time that takes away from scheduled projects. An example would be finding someone to fill in for a sick employee. The task is important and demands immediate attention, but it does not help the team leader meet any of his or her goals or deadlines. Occasionally, a crisis will need to be handled, but attending to one crisis after another should never be a way of life. In order for the team to move out of the reactive zone and stay in the proactive zone, they need to address the time they spend in the distracted and wasteful zones.

Proactive Zone

The proactive zone is where the team wants to be. Teams in this zone work strategically. They are able to plan and achieve goals. Spending time in the proactive zone reduces the amount of time that is spent in the reactive zone because contingency plans will be in place. The proactive zone maintains relationships, budgets, systems, and personal well-being. Review team goals and plan accordingly at the beginning of each week to improve performance in the proactive zone.

Distracted Zone

The distracted zone takes up far too much time. Things in this zone seem urgent, but they are not really important. The distracted zone occurs when other people monopolize the team’s attention. Things like emails and phone calls fall under the distracted zone. Important time and energy is given to other people’s priorities rather than team goals.

Leaving the distracted zone:

  • Turn off email alert: Emails do not always need to be answered immediately. Constant email alerts are distractions that take teams out of the proactive zone.
  • Create a time-blocked schedule: Schedule time to return phone calls and emails and build relationships. Work on projects during the time set aside for them, and do not allow yourself to become distracted by other people.
  • Set boundaries: Stick to the schedule. Do not allow people to draw you away unless it is a real Be firm, and people will learn to respect your schedule.

Wasteful Zone

The wasteful zone is exactly what it sounds like, the zone where teams waste time. Activities that waste time include checking personal email, looking at social media sites, online videos, and other activities that are not productive. It is important to note that people need to occasionally decompress. When time to relax and regroup is not included in a team’s schedule, more time will be spent in the wasteful zone.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Leaving the wasteful zone:

  • Schedule personal time: Take the time to relax, meditate, eat, and socialize. It is not possible to continually focus on a single task, so schedule breaks and take them. It will increase productivity and prevent the need for mind numbing activities.
  • Limit temptation: Internet junkies should turn off their connection when they do not need the Internet, if possible. Turn off mobile devices when working, and indulge pastimes only when appropriate. Remind yourself that the wasteful zone keeps you out of the proactive zone and away from your goals.

Recognizing Learning Events as a Team

Recognizing Learning Events as a Team

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new as  a team. Successful teams are able to recognize learning events and take advantage of these opportunities. To be successful, a team must always be learning. As the team gathers knowledge, they will find themselves learning from their mistakes and improving their decision making process. The ability to recognize learning events will benefit the team as well as the organization.

Develop a Sense of Always Learning

Every encounter offers a learning experience for the team. The key to recognizing learning events is for the team to develop a sense of always learning. Identifying the eight different ways that we learn, will ensure that you do not overlook learning opportunities.

  1. Imitation: We learn from observing and imitating others, such as instructors or respected mentors.
  2. Reception/Transmission: Reception is the experience that requires you receive a transmitted message. It may be written or verbal, and it can include values as well as academic understanding.
  3. Exercise: Actions and practice create learning experiences. These can occur in any action that you practice such as writing, meditation, or computer programs.
  4. Exploration: Searching for answers or discovering information requires individual initiative. This comes from websites, interviews, books, etc.
  5. Experiment: Experimenting or assessing the success of a project shows different possible outcomes and influences problem solving.
  6. Creation: The creative process is also a learning process. These can be individual or team projects. The process ranges from painting to developing a new survey.
  7. Reflection: Analysis before, during, or after an action is a learning opportunity. This can be done on a personal level or with the help of friends and colleagues.
  8. Debate: Interactions with others cause us to defend or modify our perspectives. These are potential learning experiences.

Evaluate Past Decisions

Our past decisions often guide our current actions. Both successful and unsuccessful decisions need to be evaluated in order to identify errors in judgment as well as effective thought processes. The team should ask themselves a few questions after each decision, and learn from their mistakes and achievements.

Questions:

  • What was the outcome?
  • Did the outcome meet expectations?
  • Would they repeat the same decision?
  • What information or advice can they take away from this decision?

When the team takes the time to learn from all of their decisions, even the ineffective choices will bring them success.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Problems Are Learning Opportunities

People prefer to avoid problems or mistakes. However, problems are not always avoidable. When problems arise, you have a chance to learn from them and turn them into opportunities. The first step to learning from problems is to correctly identify the problem. For example, a shortage in cash flow may be caused by loss of sales or unexpected expenses.

Once the problem is identified, consider different solutions or opportunities. For example, a change in the market may provide you with an opportunity to introduce a new product you have been considering. If the problem is familiar, what were your past solutions? For example, did a price reduction help increase sales and improve cash flow? Once you consider the different opportunities associated with your problem, you must make a decision. If you make a mistake, embrace it. If you face the same problem again, you will know what to avoid.

Recognize The Blind Spots

Everyone has  blind spots in their lives, and they can easily transfer to the team’s success. Blind spots are parts of our personalities that are hidden to us. They may be deep-seated fears, annoying habits, or judgmental attitudes. Allowing blind spots to persist will cost the team in innovative ideas. Blind spots will also permit ineffective activities to continue. Recognizing your blind spots is not difficult, but it does require the courage to make necessary changes.

  • Request Feedback: Ask trusted friends and fellow team members for honest assessments.
  • Reflect: Take the time to reflect on your decisions, thought processes, and actions. If you are honest with yourself. You will identify blind spots.
  • Study: Use books, courses, etc. to help you become more in tune with your views and potential blind spots. Figure out what you don’t know and strive to learn.

Dealing with Difficult Behavior in a Team

Dealing with Difficult Behavior in a Team

Each of us can probably think of at least one difficult personality with whom we have had to deal with in our teams. With a strategy, it is possible to learn what the team member does to annoy you, and what you might be doing to aggravate the situation.

Dealing with Difficult Situations

A difficult team member can be your boss, your co-worker, or anyone else on the team. He or she behaves in a way that is disruptive to business. In a work setting, often the functioning of a team is disturbed, leading to a disruption of the work flow, flared tempers, and gossip. The bottom line is that the work suffers and difficult situations cost organizations money.

To deal with difficult people on the team, we innately try to apply coping filters, such as:

  • Removing virtually all positive attributes about the team member. (“He was my worst hiring mistake…”)
  • Defaming the team member (We build consensus with others against the person)
  • Explaining the team member in negative terms.

Anger also plays a big part; feeling angry, we instinctively use anger to try to manage the situation.

To break the cycle of negativity, take time to answer the following questions:

  1. What observable behaviors or statements did the team member perform or say?
  2. What is the most positive interpretation an outside witness would make? The most negative?
  3. What will you gain by interpreting the difficult team member’s actions or words in as positive a light as possible?
  4. What would you do or say when you respond to the difficult team member if you viewed his or her actions in a positive light? What is stopping you from responding this way?

Key Tactics to Deal With Difficult Behavior

Three strategies will help you gather facts and use targeted strategies to deal with the team member or the situation.

Active Listening

The first tactic, and possibly the most important, is to listen with empathy, which is listening while trying to be sensitive to the various components and levels of the message. Try to listen for the following information:

  • The Why: Why is the team member communicating with me?
  • The Length: What can the size of the message tell me about the importance of the message to the team member?
  • The Words: Does the team member use formal, aloof language? Impatience?
  • The Volume and Pace: What emotional pressures can be sensed?

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Active

Note taking after a Discussion

A second tactic is to write down your recollection of the discussion that just took place. The notes can be used to support your next communication with the difficult team member. Note taking also gives you the opportunity to plan and organize before the next communication takes place.

Writing Your Communication

Putting your thoughts into writing has three important benefits:

  1. The difficult team member cannot interrupt with an objection
  2. It’s easier to provide orderly communication in writing than in a discussion
  3. Written communication is pure; there is no body language to shape the outcome, reducing the possibility of mixed messages.

Coping Techniques for Team Leaders

Coping Techniques for Team Leaders

An assertive, self-confident team leader uses a variety of coping techniques to deal with the challenges of interpersonal communication and to enhance influencing behavior.

Building Rapport With the Team

Rapport is the relation of harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity to support an outcome. The intended outcome is more likely with rapport than if it is not present. There is a sense of a shared understanding with the team members.

Mirroring – matching certain behaviors of a person with whom you are interacting — is the process used to establish rapport. There are four techniques of mirroring to build rapport.

  1. Voice tone or tempo
  2. Matching breathing rate
  3. Matching movement rhythms
  4. Matching body postures

Levels of rapport range on a continuum from a low of tolerance to a high of seduction. For business, strive for levels of neutral, lukewarm, understanding, identification, or warmth, all in the center of the continuum.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Expressing Disagreement

Representation systems determine by the brain give us clues about how individuals process information. People can be classified as predominantly:

  • Visual  (The things we see)
  • Auditory  (The things we hear)
  • Kinesthetic  (The things we feel, touch, taste, or smell)

Both the types of words used, and the speaker’s eye movement provide indicators of the system type. In a conversation, once we understand which type our conversation partner is, we can use the same system language to match the person’s type, helping to ensure more reception to our message.

Coming to Consensus

Whether there is a disagreement on a particular issue, or you simply need to get the team to agree, Neuro-linguistics offers a solution. To plan, make the following decisions:

  1. What do you want your outcome to be?
  2. How will you know when the outcome is achieved?
  3. Who will attend the meeting? (Important: Each person invited to the meeting must have the information needed for two out of three agenda items.)

Then, establish rapport as the team members come into the meeting.

Now you are ready to use the PEGASUS model to achieve your desired outcomes.

Present outcomes

Explain evidence

Gain agreement on outcomes

Activate sensory acuity

Summarize each major decision

Use the relevancy challenge

Summarize the next step.