Category: Team Leadership

The Ultimate Guide to Team Leadership

The Ultimate Guide to Team Leadership

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Welcome to our ultimate guide to team leadership. They say that leaders are born, not made. While it is true that some people are born leaders, some leaders are born in the midst of adversity. Often, simple people who have never had a leadership role will stand up and take the lead when a situation they care about requires it. A simple example is parenting. When a child arrives, many parents discover leadership abilities they never knew existed in order to guide and protect their offspring. There are countless war stories of simple GI’s and sailors who rose to a challenge on their own in the heat of battle.

Clearly, leadership potential exists within each of us. That potential can be triggered by outside events, or it can be learned by exploring ourselves from within. This guide takes the latter approach. Once you learn the techniques of true leadership, you will be able to build the confidence it takes to take the lead. The more experience you have acting as a genuine leader, the easier it will be for you. It is never easy to take the lead, as you will need to make decisions and face challenges, but it can become natural and rewarding.

Leadership is not telling others what to do. Leadership is inspiring others to do what needs to be done. Many people around the world who are in leadership positions are not leaders. Dictators call themselves leaders but they are not – they are tyrants. There have been many presidents of the United States, but few were real leaders. Genuine leaders take a stand and motivate others to join them in a noble purpose. One such leader was Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States. Another was John F. Kennedy, who inspired a nation to go to the moon within a decade, and it did. General Patton had a completely different but no less effective leadership style. What is it that makes a leader, and what separates the good from the great? This guide will explore different leadership theories and examine what makes a great leader.

Influence is subtle, yet incredibly powerful. You can order someone to do a task, but you cannot order them to do their best. It simply does not work and usually has the opposite effect. You can influence people to do their best by providing a strong, motivating example in addition to positive reinforcement. Leadership addresses tasks, while influence addresses attitudes and awareness. Influence is the soul of leadership.

We will be covering the following topics in our ultimate guide to team leadership (click on a heading to go directly to that section):

The Evolution of Team Leadership

The Evolution of Team Leadership

As long as there have been leaders, there have been those who tried to determine how and why they were successful. Leadership itself has not evolved, but our understanding of it has. It is important to understand why very different leadership styles can be effective, why the same leadership techniques will not work in every situation, and which leadership style fits your personality best. Everyone has leadership potential within them, but understanding these concepts will help you maximize your leadership ability.

Defining Team Leadership

Simply speaking, “leadership” is defined as “the ability to lead.” Unfortunately, this is not very helpful. A better definition comes from the BNET online Business Dictionary: “The capacity to establish direction and to influence and align others toward a common goal, motivating and committing them to action and making them responsible for their performance.” Although this is more descriptive, it is not substantial. It does not tell us what leadership actually is, but rather what it does.

Characteristics of a Team Leader

The mark of a true leader is not a position or title held, but it is how many people are willing to follow them. Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters group outline the following leadership characteristics:

  • Honest
  • Competent
  • Forward-looking
  • Inspiring
  • Intelligent
  • Fair-minded
  • Broad-minded
  • Courageous
  • Straightforward
  • Imaginative

Team Leadership Principles

The United States Army offers 11 Leadership Principles:

  1. Be tactically and technically proficient
  2. Know yourself and seek self-improvement
  3. Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare
  4. Keep your soldiers informed
  5. Set the example
  6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
  7. Train your soldiers as a team
  8. Make sound and timely decisions
  9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
  10. Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities
  11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

You will notice that none of the above actually tells you how to lead in a practical manner. They don’t address what to do or say in any given situation. That is because there is no real formula to being a leader. Leadership must come from within and it is based on your personality. In this guide, you will learn how to develop your innate leadership abilities and build the confidence required in being a true leader.

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A Brief History of Team Leadership

A Brief History of Team Leadership

Historical Leaders

Throughout the centuries, there have been leaders. We are social animals who bond together, but we look for order against the chaos of life. We look to be organized to accomplish tasks as a society that we cannot perform individually. As a result, someone inevitably ends up in charge.

Leaders in the past have generally belonged to one of three categories: Political, Military or Religious.

Political: Around 1790 B.C., Babylonian ruler Hammurabi created the codified laws, which unified his empire in what was seen as a fair order as all people were subject to the same rules.

Military: Sun Tzu was a military general in China from 500 B.C. He wrote the Art of War, and although he was a great military leader, his book is actually about how to not use armies except as a last resort, focusing more on wise political policies and strategies to prevent war.

Religious: It may be said that religious leaders have had the greatest impact on their societies, with results that last for centuries.

Modern Leaders

With the rise of the industrial revolution, a new kind of leader emerged: Economic. The so-called Captains of Industry found they could build an empire based on modern technology instead of swords. Oil Barons, railroad magnates, and factory owners built large fortunes without the benefit of armies; it was often at the expense of the people they employed. This gave rise to Union leaders and various movements designed to promote justice where abuses were perceived to exist.

The Industrial Revolution also increased the number of Scientific Leaders, as scientists now had easy access to a wide range of new materials for their work. Psychiatry and Psychology came into prominence with studies on the workplace, in regards to improving productivity and the effect on the workforce.

Studies have shown consistently that workers are more productive when they are in a “positive work environment.” The attitude and influence of the boss is a major factor in this productivity. If employees feel they are listened to, respected, and treated fairly, they are happier in their work and perform better than those who feel they are disrespected and unappreciated. Which kind of work environment would you prefer?

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Three Theories of Team Leadership

Three Theories of Team Leadership

The Great Man Theory

The Great Man Theory was abandoned in favor of the theories of behavioral science. It’s easy to be inspired by stories of great men and women who did great things in their lives. Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Genghis Khan then ravaged most of it. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Harriet Tubman saved hundreds from slavery in the Underground Railroad. Mother Theresa aided and comforted thousands in Calcutta who were abandoned by society. Theory goes that these people did great things because they were simple great people determined by fate and fulfilling their destiny.

The Trait Theory

It has often been said, “Great leaders are born, not made.” Trait Theory takes this saying literally. If you have the ability to lead, you were born with it, with no way to learning those skills. This theory expands on the Great Man Theory by defining what makes great leaders “great.”

Today, we recognize that true leadership seems to come from a combination of both theories – and more. As we have seen, there are wide varieties of leadership qualities. Everyone has some ability in at least one or more of these areas. This means that under the right circumstances, anyone can rise to a leadership role and be successful based on the leadership style that best matches their personality if they know how to use that ability to properly address the situation at hand. Other leadership skills can indeed be learned, developed, and mastered.

Transformational Leadership

In 1978, James MacGregor Burns introduced the idea of transformational leadership as he researched political leaders. Burns theorized that “transformational leadership” is actually a process where leaders interact with their followers and inspire each other to advance together. His characteristics and behaviors demonstrated the differences between “management” and “leadership.” People and organizations are transformed due to the leadership style and abilities of the leader, who is able to convey a vision and guide the transformation.

Bernard M. Bass, in 1985, added to Burns’ transformational leadership theory buy shifting the focus to the followers. It is not the individual traits and vision of the leader that matter as much as it is their ability to influence the feelings, attitudes, and commitment of their followers. As we mentioned before in productivity studies, if followers feel they can trust a leader (or better yet, if they admire a leader who can stimulate a sense of loyalty and respect) the followers go beyond what was originally expected of them and will do so happily. As a result, productivity and unity increases. The followers are transformed by a charismatic, motivational leader.

Summary of The Team Leadership Theories

Through all of the studies, we have seen that there are a variety of attributes and abilities associated with leadership, and these vary from leader to leader. Some leaders are great orators, others great writers. Some leaders are very quiet, but the force of their logic or passion wins the day. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is partly the number of leadership skills they have developed. The other part is their ability to apply those skills properly to those who would follow. We will address these issues in the next section.

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Situational Team Leadership

Situational Team Leadership

Now we get to the nuts and bolts of team leadership. The definitive leadership style research comes from Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, which they expressed in their Situational Leadership Model. The Hersey-Blanchard model addresses the key to practical leadership development: the attributes and styles of the followers.

Not everyone is on the same intellectual, maturity, compliance, or motivational level. Different people are motivated by different things, and this must be taken into account if one is to be a great leader. Communications experts consider it critical to tailor your message to your “target audience.” It is the followers that you want to motivate and influence and you cannot do that if you don’t know whom you are trying to motivate or influence.

The Situational Leadership model addresses four types of leadership styles, based on the follower:

  • Telling
  • Selling
  • Participating
  • Delegating

Situational Leadership: Telling

Telling is the lowest level of team leadership style. Most new team members require direct instructions, so this is called the “Telling” or “Directing” style. The follower is characterized by low competence and high commitment, being unable to comply, with possible feelings of insecurity.

The team leader must focus highly on tasks, rather than a relationship with the team member, as a relationship does not yet exist.

When a team member can’t do the job because they are unknowledgeable, the team leader must spend much more time working with the team member, offering clear instructions and regular follow up. The team leader must be encouraging and motivational, offering praise for positive results and correction for less than positive results. The idea is to motivate the follower to rise to the next level of ability.

This is a very leader-driven stage.

Situational Leadership: Selling

Selling addresses the follower who has developed some competence with an improved commitment. The follower is not convinced yet, but is open to becoming cooperative and motivated.

The team leader must still focus highly on tasks and this still requires much of the leader’s time, but the focus now also includes developing a relationship with the team member. Build upon the trust that has begun to develop and the encouragement that has been demonstrated. The team leader must spend more time listening and offering advice, scheduling the follower for additional training if the situation requires it.

The goal is to engage the team members so they can develop to the next level. There is less “telling” and more “suggesting” which leads to more encouragement, acting as a coach. It is recognition that they have progressed and motivates them to progress even further.

This is a very leader-driven stage.

Situational Leadership: Participating

Participating addresses the team member who is now competent at the job, but remains somewhat inconsistent and is not yet fully committed. The team member may be uncooperative or performing as little work as possible, despite their competence with the tasks.

The team leader must participate with and support the team member. The leader no longer needs to give detailed instructions and follow up as often, but does need to continue working with the follower to ensure the work is being done at the level required.

The team member is now highly competent, but is not yet convinced in his or her ability or not fully committed to do their best and excel. The team leader must now focus less on the tasks assigned and more on the relationship between the team member, the leader, and the team.

This is a very follower-driven, relationship-focused stage.

Situational Leadership: Delegating

Delegating is the ultimate goal: a team member who feels fully empowered and competent enough to take the ball and run with it, with minimal supervision. The team member is highly competent, highly committed, motivated, and empowered.

The team leader can now delegate tasks to the team member and observe with minimal follow up, knowing that acceptable or even excellent results will be achieved. There is a low focus on tasks and a low focus on relationships. There is no need to compliment the team member on every task, although continued praise for outstanding performance must be given as appropriate.

This is a very follower-driven stage.

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A Personal Inventory of Your Team Leadership

A Personal Inventory of Your Team Leadership

In 2002, Jossey Bass published a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner called The Leadership Challenge. Building upon the Hersey-Blanchard model and other transformational leadership models, they went to the heart of what skills are required by the leader to stimulate such a transformation. What abilities are able to influence followers and bring them to accept the leader’s vision as their own?

An Introduction to Kouzes and Posner

James Kouzes and Barry Posner asked thousands of people to rank list of characteristics associated with leadership, including the seven top qualities that motivated them to follow willingly. They gave this survey to over 75,000 people over a 20-year period.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, the authors identified five abilities that were crucial to successful leadership:

  • Model the Way: You must lead by example. You can’t come into work 10 minutes late every day if you want your employees to arrive on time.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision: If you capture the imagination, you will inspire creative thought and increase loyalty. The vision doesn’t need to be grandiose, but it needs to be communicated effectively for others to adopt it as one of their own.
  • Challenge the Process: Don’t continue doing something just because “We’ve always done it that way.” Situations change, and sometimes a policy or procedure never worked well in the first place. Think outside the box.
  • Enable Others to Act: Truly empower people to act on their own within their level of authority. The famed Ritz-Carlton hotel empowers every employee at all levels to spend up to $1000 on behalf of a guest (who is informed reimbursement will be required for whatever request they make).
  • Encourage the Heart: A positive attitude is infectious. If the leader appears passionate or excited about the vision, others will catch the enthusiasm as well.

Creating an Action Plan for Your Team Leadership

Now that you understand the various concepts, it’s time to plan how to put them into action by incorporating them into your life.

Set Leadership Goals: In leadership, as in life, you will never come to the end of your learning, but you want to rank in priority order those qualities you want to develop

Address the Goals: Determine how you will accomplish your goals. Do you feel you need to learn more about teamwork so you can better lead a team? Join a team sport. Do you want to communicate better? Take a creative writing class or join Toastmasters and get some public speaking experience. Toastmasters are also great if you are shy and want to feel more comfortable in social situations.

Seek Inspiration: Learn about a variety of leaders, including their styles with dealing with challenges. Read books and conduct research on the internet or at libraries.

Choose a Role Model: Based on your research, choose a role model that fits your personality. You might choose a dynamic leader like Teddy Roosevelt, or an intellectual leader like Albert Schweitzer or Albert Einstein. Read several biographies and find videos on his or her life.

Seek Experience: Take a leadership role on a social group or club. Gain experience working with people on many levels.

Create a Personal Mission Statement: Imagine your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to think of you? What typeof leader you determined to be? Write a statement that defines who you will become.

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Modeling the Way with Your Leadership

Modeling the Way with Your Leadership

Remember that the best team leaders are examples of what they want their team members to be. George Washington rode into battle with his troops. You cannot lead from the rear, and sending your team out to take the heat and face the challenges while you remain in an ivory tower will eliminate any possibility of respect.

By definition, a leader is in the lead, right up front, ready to take the heat if something goes wrong. If something does go wrong, a true leader never blames his followers even if in fact they failed. A true leader takes the blame, and then addresses how to correct the problems that arose.

Determining Your Way

Once you have chosen your role model, study what qualities made them successful. Learn about what challenges they faced and how the challenges were met. Learn about the ideas and philosophies that drove them and made them successful. Study again the Hersey- Blanchard model and see how different situations called for different styles of leadership.

Since there is no leader in history who has not had failures, pay particular attention to how your hero deals with adversity. George Washington nearly lost the American Revolution through major hesitations in leadership and in fact, he lost New York to the British general William Howe, but he learned from his mistakes and the rest, as they say, is history.

Being an Inspirational Role Model to Your Team

Leadership is neither for the timid nor for the arrogant. Confidence is often resented or misinterpreted for arrogance. People who lack self-confidence often feel intimidated by a true leader. This should never hold you back. If you have honesty, integrity and deal with everyone fairly, then others will see that. Be willing to listen to criticism, but also consider the source. If you are too afraid of what others might say about you, or you ignore legitimate complaints insisting on respect solely because of your position, you will lose the respect and cooperation of your followers and peers.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

 “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Influencing Your Team’s Perspectives

You may have heard that perception is reality. You must always present an honest, caring, dedicated attitude to inspire others. To inspire loyalty, you must have a track record of honesty and fairness. If any of your followers do feel they have been wronged, for whatever reason, you need to address the issue immediately. People talk, and a problem ignored is a problem that grows.

Related: Team Building Activities That Helps With Problem Solving

Believe it or not, the most powerful influence you can have is often not trying to influence someone. When people believe you are open to their suggestions and believe they have been heard, they will work harder even if they disagree with the methods or goals. That is the power of listening. Simply listening to others makes them feel empowered, even if you don’t accept their suggestions. If a follower feels there’s no point talking to you, they won’t, and they will disengage themselves from your vision and will only follow your directions begrudgingly.

If you are seen as going the extra mile, your team members are more likely to go the extra mile. If you hide in your office and people never see you, you will be perceived as out of the loop, uninformed, uninterested, and therefore unworthy to lead. Many a successful corporate executive makes it a point to be seen by their employees every day. If an employee is to be commended for something, it is done publicly, often right in the middle of their workplace while they are surrounded by their coworkers. That sends a powerful message to everyone.

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Inspiring a Shared Vision for Your Team

Inspiring a Shared Vision for Your Team

The key to true leadership is to inspire a shared vision among your team. Before you can convey a vision, however, you have to develop it. You must be clear in your vision, live it before others can see it, and model it from your behavior.

Choosing a Vision for Your Team

What do you want to accomplish, and what do you need to do to get there? Determine attainable goals and focus on them. King Arthur sought the Holy Grail. Lewis and Clark mapped much of the United States. NASA took us to the moon. What is your vision?

Your vision will provide a sense of direction for you and your tea,. In the military, focus is on “the mission.” Whatever the mission is, everyone is dedicated to it. Let your vision be like a lighthouse on a hill, guiding ships to safety and warning them away from the rocks.

Communicating Your Vision to the Team

Communication is more than just the words you say or the memos you write. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Take every opportunity to communicate your vision in words and deeds. One of the best ways to communicate a vision is to sum it up in a simple catch phrase.

Post your slogan, catch phrase and mission statement in prominent locations. When you send out emails, list it in quotes below your signature block. Hold meetings occasionally or hand out “Visionary Awards” to people who exemplify your vision. Above all, lead by example.

Identifying the Benefit for Your Team

Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” as if you were one of your own followers. The answer might not always be obvious. Certainly, performance bonuses and awards work, but most team members enjoy being part of a larger, successful organization. Everyone loves a winner. When the home team wins at the stadium, you would think the fans in the stand were the players by the way they share in the victory and excitement.

We are social creatures who like to feel like we belong. We crave acceptance. If you can get your team to accept your vision as their own, and excite them about being part of it, they will often excel beyond what you (or they) thought possible. Be sure to reward loyalty and performance above and beyond the call of duty.

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Challenging the Process as a Team Leader

Challenging the Process as a Team Leader

Far too often, we cling to what is familiar, even if what we cling to is known to be inadequate. Most large teams are governed by the law of inertia: if it takes effort to change something, nothing will change. As a team leader, you must search out opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve.

There is no reward without risk however, so you must be willing to experiment, take risks, and learn from any mistakes. Ask questions, even if you fear the answers. Start with the question, “Why?” Why are things the way they are? Why do we do things the way we do?

Think Outside the Box

A paradigm is an established model or structure. Sometimes they work quite well, but often they are inadequate or even counterproductive. Sometimes it is necessary to “think outside the box” and break the paradigm. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Why?” Ask questions of your team, customers, former leaders. Answers and ideas can be found in the least likely places. Often the lowest ranking persons in an organization can tell you exactly what is wrong because they see it daily from their vantage points.

Developing Your Inner Innovator as Team Leader

Innovation is more than just improvement on a process or procedure; it is a total redirection or restructuring based upon stated goals and research. While it can be helpful to adapt an outdated procedure or task to today’s standards, often the procedure itself is the problem, not the manner in which it is implemented. Innovators reverse engineer policies and procedures based on the new vision and goals, working from the target backwards, rather than from the status quo looking forward.

To be sure, not all innovative strategies will be feasible or cost effective. Requiring an entirely new computerized network and infrastructure, for example, may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and produce little improved efficiency over the old one. However, if you don’t start thinking “outside the box,” you will miss many valuable solutions that can and will work.

Note that change should never be made simply for the sake of change. Change can be exciting, but it can also be unnerving and difficult for team members. Constant change causes frustration. Moreover, if you seem to change too many things too often, you will lose respect, as your team perceive you don’t really know what you are doing, so be sure to plan your innovations carefully. There should be solid evidence that a new way of doing things is likely to work before you invest money and everyone’s time.

Keep focused on the goals and be willing to break the rules if they need to be broken. Just make sure they really need to be broken and you don’t break something that needs to keep working! With proper research and planning, you can dare to be bold!

Seeing Room for Improvement

A strong vision does not lend itself to mediocrity. A drive to excellence always seeks improvement. If you accept 95% efficiency as a goal, the efficiency will inevitably slip to 90%. If that’s considered “good enough,” it will become hard to keep it above 85% and so on. A vision is a goal that is strived to achieve.

Goals must not be unrealistic or unattainable, or the followers will simply give up trying altogether, becoming dispirited and demoralized in the process. If 95% of people fail to meet a standard, then that standard is likely too high and must be changed. On the other hand, the bar must not be set so low that little or no effort is required to meet it.

Based on your vision, set high goals that are attainable but with some degree of difficulty, and reward those who meet the goals. If a large number of followers are meeting the goal, raise the target. If only a very few are meeting it, lower it somewhat.

Investigate any potential bottlenecks that might be stifling progress and resolve them. Talk to your team about possible solutions. The people who actually do the work are far more likely to be able to tell you why they are having difficulty accomplishing a task than their supervisors.

Lobbying for Change as a Team Leader

To lobby for change, you need to influence people and excite them to your vision. You may need to persuade a reluctant boss or fight a corporate culture that doesn’t understand what you are trying to do. In that case, you need to demonstrate why your requested change needs to occur.

Do your research, and always enter a meeting by being prepared. Study the situation and present all of your findings in a short report, preferably with simple charts or graphs. Give them something they can easily understand. Have the details ready in case you are asked a question, but don’t overload people with facts. Show as clearly as possible how your plan will effect positive change.

If you are lobbying your own followers, the same is true. You may want to revolutionize a cultural change. Perhaps you are a shop manager and people are unmotivated. You may need to bring about change slowly, rather than with one big dramatic gesture. On the other hand, you may need to shake things up in a big way. Whatever the situation, you can successfully lobby for change if you attack the problem with a plan, sound reasoning, and infectious enthusiasm!

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Enabling Your Team to Act Through Leadership

Enabling Your Team to Act Through Leadership

As mentioned before, you cannot do your team’s work for them. Besides, if you do their work, what are they getting paid for? You have your own work to do. This is the ultimate goal of the Hersey-Blanchard situational Leadership model: to develop your team members to the point where you can delegate tasks without a lot of oversight.

To be a true leader, you must enable others to act responsibly and not encourage bad worker habits by compensating for them or overlooking them. At the same time, you cannot berate a team member for trying hard but making an honest mistake. The goal of a team leader is to empower others to work. To the extent that you can do this is the extent that you will be successful.

Encouraging Growth in Your Team

A positive attitude is essential to encouragement. No one likes to fail and many take it very personally. While failure should never be rewarded, an understanding attitude and positive outlook can work wonders. A child only learns to walk by falling down many times. The focus is not on the fall, but on getting up. The goal is to walk…then to run.

Meeting with a team member one-on-one is important to positive motivation. Here again, you must use the power of listening. Avoid blame when something goes wrong and focus on the reason for the failure. You may learn someone needs more training, more self-confidence, or more freedom. You may learn someone does not have the tools needed to be successful. You will never know if you don’t ask questions and listen – or worse, if you berate someone for a failure.

If a team member is willfully defiant, then feel free to be stern and resolute. Take disciplinary action if necessary and document the conversation. If you allow a team member to be defiant or lazy out of a misplaced concern for his or her feelings, you will be performing a great injustice against the rest of the team who are working hard. In most cases, people really do want to do a good job and they have a sense of pride when they meet a challenge.

Creating Mutual Respect in Your Team

You will never be worthy of respect if you don’t give respect. Respect should be given to everyone at all levels unless they deliberately do something to lose that respect.

You need to build respect in other ways as well. Be visible to your team. Show them you are available and interested in knowing everything about what they do. Develop and demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and details of the product, service, or operation. If you are perceived as being knowledgeable and can answer questions, you will not only earn respect, but will motivate others to learn as well.

The Importance of Trust

Respect inevitably leads to trust. Do what you say and say what you mean. Under-promise and over-deliver can help manage expectations. If you are given a task you know will take you one hour, say you “should” have it done in two hours. You never know when you’ll get a phone call that eats into your time or when an emergency may pop up. If you get done in less than two hours, you will be perceived as a hero. If not, you can call and apologize that it will be “a little later” without much trouble because you said you should have it done. You didn’t promise that you would have it done. If people feel they can rely on you, they will trust you.

Also let people know that you are not asking them to do anything you would not do yourself, or have done in the past. Work hard and be seen working hard. If you come in early and see others who are there early as well, stop by and simply mention that fact positively. A simple word of recognition will go a long way to earning respect. Without respect, you will never have loyalty and without loyalty, you cannot trust your team. Without mutual trust and respect, you cannot accomplish great things.

Remember: while your team need to be able to trust you, you need to build them up to the level where you can also trust them.

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Encouraging the Heart as a Team Leader

One of the worst developments in the workplace was the creation of the term “Human Resources.” Formerly known as the “Personnel Department,” the focus was on dealing with people as persons. At a time when industry was supposedly focused on making the workplace more humane in order to increase job satisfaction and productivity, it took a major step backwards.

No one wants to be considered a “human resource.” A resource is something you use as long as it is functional. When the shelf life expires or is no longer as effective as it once was, you throw it away without a thought. It would be a glorious thing if every Human Resource department was abolished and the name Personnel made resurgence.

Employees, workers and team members are not robots. Human beings have intellect and emotions. Failing to deal with them on those levels will ultimately backfire. You cannot program loyalty.

Sharing Rewards with Your Teams

If your team members are going to share in the work, make certain they share in the rewards. If you are going to get a bonus for a successful task, share at least a portion of it with your team. More than one team member has felt betrayed by leadership when the boss gets a big bonus and those who do all the work get nothing. You don’t need to give them half or divide it all up among all your team members, but you should at least throw them a party, provide a free lunch, or give everyone a pair of movie tickets or a lottery ticket. Do something to show they didn’t work hard only to see you take all the credit.

Celebrating Team Accomplishments

Set both personal and team goals and milestones. Nothing motivates team members like public recognition. Although some may seem somewhat embarrassed by a public display, inside they are proud they have been recognized. There has never been a recorded study that quotes an employee who was honored in public with them saying that they never wanted that to happen again. Celebrate team milestones as well. It breaks up the routine of the workday, gives a well-deserved break, and motivates people to work harder when they return to work refreshed.

Making Celebration Part of Your Team Culture

You don’t need to decorate the office each day or have morning pep rallies, but the workplace should never be dreaded by employees. People spend most of their waking lives at work, with substantially less time for family, friends and activities they would much rather be doing. By the very definition, they come to “work” and you have to pay them to be there. People have to feel motivated by more than just a paycheck.

Be sure to have a welcoming environment where people feel respected. Celebrate special occasions to break up the routine, but don’t make celebration itself the routine of no work will get done.

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Basic Influencing Skills for Team Leaders

Basic Influencing Skills for Team Leaders

The best team leaders are able to influence others to do something and think it was all their idea. Don’t worry about taking credit for every good thing that happens on your watch. As the leader, you get credit whenever your team succeed because you created the environment that allowed their success.

The Art of Persuasion

Aristotle was a master of the art persuasion, and he outlines his thinking in his work, Rhetoric, where he identifies three important factors: ethos, pathos, and logos.

Ethos (credibility) persuades people using character. If you are respectful and honest, people will be more likely to follow you because of your character. Your character convinces the follower that you are someone who is worth listening to for advice.

Pathos (emotional) persuades people by appealing to their emotions. For example, when a politician wants to gain support for the bill, it inevitably is argued, “it’s for the children!” Babies, puppies, and kitties abound in advertising for a reason. Although a car is neither male nor female, they are sometimes called “sexy” in car commercials. Pathos allows you to tie into emotional triggers that will capture a person’s attention and enlist their support, but it can be easily abused, leading to a loss of Ethos, as described above.

Logos (logical) persuades people by means persuading by appealing to their intellect. This was Aristotle’s favorite and his forte’, but not everyone reacts on a rational level.

Of the three, Ethos must always come first. Ideally, you want to appeal to Pathos, back your arguments up with Logos, and never lose Ethos. President Bill Clinton appealed to people using Pathos, saying often, “I feel your pain,” but there were serious questions raised about his Ethos, and he often did not back up his appeals with Logos. There is no doubt that he was a successful, but there is also no doubt that he was not as successful as he could have been.

The Principles of Influence

Robert B. Cialdini, Ph. D. once said, “It is through the influence process that we generate and manage change.” In his studies, he outlined five universal principles of influence, which are useful and effective in a wide range of circumstances.

Reciprocation: People are more willing to do something for you if you have already done something for them first. Married couples do this all the time, giving in on little things so they can ask for that big night out or a chance to watch the game later.

Commitment: You cannot get your team to commit to you or your vision if they don’t see your commitment. Once you provide a solid, consistent example, they will feel they have to do the same.

Authority: If people believe you know what you are talking about and accept your expertise, they are far more likely to follow you. Despite the rebel cry, “Question Authority,” when people need help with something, they will seek out an authority figure. If you place a man in a tie next to a man in jeans and a ratty T-shirt, people will invariably ask the man in the tie for advice on a technical subject first simply because he looks like an authority.

 Social Validation: As independent as we like to consider ourselves, we love to be part of a crowd. It will always be a part of us, that school age desire to be accepted, no matter how many times our parents tell us, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you join them?” People will always jump on a bandwagon if their friends like the band.

Friendship: People listen to their friends. If they know you and like you, they are far more likely to support you. A pleasant personality can make up for a multitude of failures. More than one leader has been abandoned at the first sign of trouble because they were not very well liked.

Creating an Impact as a Team Leader

As mentioned before, communication is accomplished with more than just words. The more of the previous team leadership skills you develop, the more you will make an impact. In addition, the bigger the impact, the greater the positive change you can create.

Impact is created by a number of intangible factors:

  • A confident bearing, tempered by a kindly manner
  • A strong sense of justice, tempered by mercy
  • A strong intellect, tempered by the willingness to learn
  • A strong sense of emotion, tempered by self-control
  • A strong ability to communicate, tempered by the ability to listen
  • A strong insistence on following the rules, tempered by flexibility
  • A strong commitment to innovation, tempered by situational reality
  • A strong commitment to your followers, tempered by the ability to lead
  • Above all: maintain a strong personal commitment to your vision.

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Setting Goals for Your Team

Setting Goals for Your Team

A vision without specific, targeted goals is just a wish or a hope. Without targeted goals, how will you ever know if your vision is being accomplished? A vision needs a project roadmap with milestones, but how do you determine what those goals are? First, we will discuss goals themselves, then how to determine what your goals should be and how to support them.

Related: Goal Setting Team Building Activities

Setting SMART Team Goals

SMART goals are:

Specific: The vision itself is general while the goals are specific targets to be met. Specific goals answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how questions as specifically as possible.

Measurable: Goals must be measurable in terms of progress and attainment. They must be tracked according to the amount of time or money spent, or results achieved as appropriate.

Attainable: A goal which cannot be met, is not a goal, it is an ideal. If you know you need certain infrastructure in place to accomplish your vision, you should break down your goals into attainable steps you can monitor as each step is put into place.

Realistic: A goal may be attainable, but not with the resources at hand. In that case, you need other goals to build up to the level where the attainable goal becomes realistic. A goal may be possible, but you need the right people with the right amount of time and support to make it happen.

Timed: All goals need to be accomplished within a given time frame. Deadlines may indeed be missed, but without any timetable, there will be no sense of urgency and no reason not to put it off until “later.”

Each goal should lead to the “next step” in the overall plan until the ultimate vision is reached.

Creating a Long-Term Plan

Also called Strategic Planning, the long-term plan is the road map that guides you to the ultimate realization of your vision. As discussed in the previous module. A goal may be possible, but not attainable or realistic – now. You may be missing a quality person for a key position, you may lack the funds, or time to achieve the higher-level goals, so lower level stepping stone goals must be planned.

If your goal is to unify a modern computer network throughout your organization, but you only have a few outdated computers and older shared printers, your ultimate goal will be possible and attainable, but not realistic. If you do not have the money for the new equipment and do not have a strong IT person on staff, your goal will be unattainable. If you need everything done in a week, your goal cannot be timely, as it will take much longer. Intermediate goals, however, can make your ultimate goal realistic, attainable, and timely.

You might first want to increase your revenue through increased sales, a fundraiser, long-term business loan, or by other means. You can make a goal to hire a network guru for a reasonable cost who can analyze your current systems and determine what needs to be upgraded according to modern networking technology. That analysis will provide you the information to set new goals of buying, configuring and implementing the equipment, then adding the infrastructure to network it all together. In the end, the goal that seemed impossible will become a reality, according to your original vision.

Creating a Support System

Once your goals are established you need a way to ensure they are set into motion. Duties must be assigned and documentation must be established to support and track progress. A Gantt Chart is a great way to track milestones over a period of time. You need to establish the tools necessary to track progress or development as appropriate. These might include a simple checklist for some tasks and complicated advanced software tracking systems for others.

Monitoring and oversight are the keys to achieving all goals.

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Conclusion

To be a leader, you must first see yourself as a leader. Based on what you have learned so far, you now know what qualities are important in a leader and you have prioritized them as they apply to you. Experience is the greatest teacher, however, and there is no substitute. If you ever had a team leader that infuriated you and made you want to quit your team, you know what not to do. If you ever had a parent, teacher, coach, or supervisor who inspired you, you have a good example to follow.

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Optional Ways for Your Team to Work

Optional Ways for Your Team to Work

The traditional methods of work may increase stress and imbalance in the life of your team members. Each team member is unique, and providing different work options will allow the members of your team to choose the method that helps them be their most productive and maintain their balance. While it may not be possible to provide every option, allowing for different work styles on your team will improve company culture and promote balance. Each option comes with its own pros and cons, so examine them carefully before choosing a new way to work.

Telecommuting

Given the way we use technology, telecommuting is a popular work option. This allows people to work from home and send their projects in when they are due.

Virtual Team Building Events - Remote Team Building

Pros:

  • Cost: Companies can reduce overhead and other costs by allowing teams to work from home.
  • Productivity: Team members who work from home are often more productive.
  • Lowers stress: Many team members benefit from losing morning commutes and distracting office team mates.
  • Personal control: Team members who work from home are able to take responsibility for their own schedules.

Cons:

  • Communication: When all communication is electronic, team members may not communicate as well as they can face-to-face. Additionally, a lack of social interaction can isolate team members and stunt company culture.
  • Motivation: Team members who are not self-driven need more accountability than telecommuting offers.
  • Longer hours: Some people work longer hours when they telecommute because there is no distinction between work and home.

Access our ultimate guide to building and managing virtual teams

Job Sharing

Job sharing is a popular option that allows team members to balance their work and home lives. This technique allows two team members to share a job, with each one working part-time hours.

Pros:

  • Better attendance: When team members have the time to handle personal matters, they are less likely to miss work.
  • Continuity: With two team members sharing a job, there is always someone to come in and cover for a sick employee.
  • Morale: Team members who are able to find work life balance have better morale and productivity.

Cons:

  • Conflict: Team members who want to be in control may not enjoy having an equal share their responsibilities. This can cause conflicts between job sharers.
  • Inequality: If one team member is more effective than the other, that team member may shoulder too much responsibility.
  • More paper work: Team members have to double the paperwork for shared jobs.

Job Redesign

Sometimes it is necessary to redesign a team member’s position to alleviate stress. This requires analyzing and changing the scope and responsibilities of the position in a way that will motivate the team member and improve their work life balance.

The method:

  • Content: Discover what information leads to problems at work.
  • Information: Analyze job information to find inconsistencies.
  • Elements: Change the elements of the job.
  • Description: Rewrite the job description.
  • Responsibilities: Refocus responsibilities based on the description.

Flex Time

Flex time does not alter the number of hours team members work, but it does give them the flexibility to choose when they work. For example, a team member may choose to come at 7:00 am and leave at 4:00 pm to spend time with family.

Pros

  • Productivity: Team members are more productive when they know that they will be able to take care of their other obligations.
  • Morale: Everyone’s internal clock is different. Team members are happier when they can work at their optimal times.

Cons

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Changing Your Team’s Perspective

Changing Your Team’s Perspective

The interesting thing about perspective is that everyone has one. One aspect of open-mindedness is that it makes your team receptive to other viewpoints. The concept of changing your team’s perspective includes:

  • Limitations of Your Team’s Point of View
  • Considering Others Viewpoint
  • Influences on Bias
  • What to With New Information

Limitations of Your Team’s Point of View

An important component of critical thinking is having an open mind. This component as well as bias, relates to the team’s point of view. The less open-minded and more biased a team is, the more limited their point of view. The challenge of critical thinking is avoiding the limitations of your point of view and not be constrained by cognitive or mental blinders.

Related: Creative Thinking Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Considering Others Viewpoint

One reason we find it so difficult to consider another’s viewpoint is that we are over-concerned with our own opinions and views. A challenge for the team is to step down from the “mountain of self”, and climb up the “mountain of the other”. Considering others viewpoint is easier when your team understands the benefits. For instance, it helps them be more empathetic, it helps them to see the bigger picture and it also promotes objectivity.

Influences on Bias

Bias influences your team’s conclusions in the logic process. What are some influences on bias? The first thing that can influence bias is the way a team member interprets information he or she is receiving. The other influence on bias is the way the presenter or speaker frame questions and information. For instance, researchers have found that hypothetical questions influence behavior and promote bias. The key to not being influenced by hypothetical information is to remember that it is just that and not factual information.

When New Information Arrives

When your team receives new information, how should they organize it? Probably the most common way of handling new information is through an organization schema. Schemas indicate which role new information plays. It compartmentalizes information into a familiar format, which makes it easier for the team to use.

Conclusion

Changing your team’s perspective involves getting your team to be more receptive to other viewpoints. You want your team to avoid the limitations of their point of view and be more open-minded. Your team will be more likely to consider the viewpoint of others when they understand that it makes them more empathetic, it helps them see the bigger picture and promotes objectivity. You also want to change your team’s perspective so that their bias do not influence their conclusions in the logic process.

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Connecting with Your Team Through the Art of Conversation

Connecting with Your Team Through the Art of Conversation

Engaging in interesting, memorable small talk is a daunting task for most people. How do you know what to share and when to share it? How do you know what topics to avoid? How do you connect with your team through engaging conversation?

Most experts propose a simple three-level framework that you can use to master the art of conversation. Identifying where you are and where you should be is not always easy, but having an objective outline can help you stay out of sticky situations. We will also share some handy networking tips that will help you get conversations started.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Level One: Discussing General Topics

At the most basic level, stick to general topics: the weather, sports, non-controversial world events, movies, and books. This is typically what people refer to when they say, “small talk.”

At this stage, you will focus on facts rather than feelings, ideas, and perspectives. Death, religion, and politics are absolute no-no’s. (The exception is when you know someone has had an illness or death in the family and wish to express condolences. In this situation, keep your condolences sincere, brief, and to the point.)

If someone shares a fact that you feel is not true, try to refrain from pointing out the discrepancy. If you are asked about the fact, it’s OK simply to say, “I wasn’t aware of that,” or make some other neutral comment.

Right now, you are simply getting to know the team members. Keep an eye out for common ground while you are communicating. Use open-ended questions and listening skills to get as much out of the conversation as possible.

Level Two: Sharing Ideas and Perspectives

If the first level of conversation goes well, the team should feel comfortable with each other and have identified some common ground. Now it’s time to move a bit beyond general facts and share different ideas and perspectives.

It is important to note that not all personal experiences are appropriate to share at this level. For example, it is fine to share that you like cross-country skiing and went to Europe, but you may not want to share the fact that you took out a personal loan to do so.

Although this level of conversation is the one most often used, and is the most conducive to relationship building and opening communication channels, make sure that you don’t limit yourself to one person in the team.

Level Three: Sharing Personal Experiences

This is the most personal level of conversation. This is where everything is on the table and personal details are being shared. This level is typically not appropriate for a social, casual meeting. However, all of the conversational skills are crucial at this stage in particular: when team members are talking about matters of the heart, they require our complete attention, excellent listening skills, and skilled probing with appropriate questions.

Our Top Networking Tips

Understanding how to converse and how to make small talk are great skills, but how do you get to that point? The answer is simple, but far from easy: you walk up, shake their hand, and say hello!

If you’re in the middle of a social gathering, try these networking tips to maximize your impact and minimize your nerves.

  • Before the gathering, imagine the absolute worst that could happen and how likely it is. For example, you may fear that people will laugh at you when you try to join their group or introduce yourself. Is this likely? At most business gatherings, it’s very unlikely!
  • Remember that everyone is as nervous as you are. Focus on turning that energy into a positive force.
  • To increase your confidence, prepare a great introduction. The best format is to say your name, your organization and/or position title (if appropriate), and something interesting about yourself, or something positive about the gathering. Example: “I’m Tim from Accounting. I think I recognize some of you from the IT conference last month.”
  • Just do it! The longer you think about meeting new people, the harder it will be. Get out there, introduce yourself, and meet new people.
  • Act as the host or hostess. By asking others if they need food or drink, you are shifting the attention from you to them.
  • Start a competition with a friend: see how many people, each of you can meet before the gathering is over. Make sure your meetings are worthwhile!
  • Join a group of odd-numbered people.
  • Try to mingle as much as possible. When you get comfortable with a group of people, move on to a new group.
  • When you hear someone’s name, repeat the introduction in your head. Then, when someone new joins the group, introduce them to everyone.
  • Mnemonics are a great way to remember names. Just remember to keep them to yourself! Some examples:
    • Singh likes to sing.
    • Sue sues people for a living.
    • How funny – Amy Pipes is a plumber!

Conclusion

Engaging conversation is an effective way to connect with your team and staying within the three-level framework will help you master the art of conversation. Our team building activities offer the ideal opportunity for conversing and connecting with your team in a new and more relaxing environment.

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How to Gain Support for Change From Your Team

How to Gain Support for Change From Your Team

It is vitally important to make sure that all team members are on board with a change.

Gathering Data to Support the Change

In order to continue increasing awareness and to build desire to support the upcoming change; the management team must reach out to the team. The force field analysis, developed by German social psychologist Kurt Lewin helps a change management team to:

  • Identify pros and cons of an option prior to making a decision
  • Explore what is going right — and what is going wrong
  • Analyze any two opposing positions.

Related: Decision Making Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Addressing Concerns and Issues About the Change

If concerns or issues arise in the team, then steps must be taken to ensure awareness is continually raised and that desire to support the change is increased. Strategies that can help the change management team responsively address team’s concerns include:

  • Engaging team members, providing forums for people to express their questions and concerns
  • Equipping managers & team leaders to be effective change leaders and managers of resistance
  • Orchestrating opportunities for advocates of the change to contact those team members not yet on board
  • Aligning incentive and performance management systems to support the change.

Evaluating and Adapting

Change is not exempt from Murphy’s Law. And even if something isn’t going wrong, change management team members must constantly be observing, listening, and evaluating the progress and process during a change.

A feedback form can be used to gather information from those involved in a change to help shape the remaining course of the change project. Instead of a paper form, feedback can be obtained through online surveys (Zoomerang.com or Survey Monkey.com), an in-house questionnaire on the intranet, a few questions sent by email, or a focus group. The questions will vary depending upon the subject being queried.

The compiled results of the feedback forms can be used by the change management team members to modify the project plan and/or the communication plan or to work with specific members of the team that may be providing roadblocks to success.

Leading Status Meetings

The team leader must make sure that the project and communication plan remain on track. They need to identify, and explore any issues from the team members that have emerged, and review and consider any feedback gathered to date.

Acting as a facilitator, the leader helps to bring about learning and productivity. Communication will be a byproduct of this by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, and supervision.

He or she listens actively, asks questions, encourages diverse viewpoints, organizes information, helps the team reach consensus, and understands that the individual needs of team members will affect teamwork.

The LEAD model provides a simple methodology for facilitating a participative meeting:

Lead with objectives:  When clear objectives are stated up front, group energy is channeled toward achieving an outcome. The objectives shape the content of the meeting.

Empower to participate: In the Lead model, the facilitator is empowered to encourage active participation.

Aim for consensus: Getting the team to consensus will have members more likely to support and carry out the decisions of the team.

Direct the process: How the meeting progresses will influence the quality of the decisions of the team, and influences the commitment of team members.

Team leaders must differentiate between process and content. Content includes the topics, subjects, or issues; process is about how the topics, subjects, or issues are addressed.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Celebrating Successes

Because communications from managers and team leaders have been shown to have a significant impact on team members during a change initiative, it is appropriate that they be actively involved in celebrating success with the team members as a result of positive performance. Celebrations can occur on three levels:

  1. One on one conversation: In a private meeting, a team leader should attest to the fact that due to the team member’s effort, a change was made, and how it is succeeding. He or she should extend verbal thanks to the team member.
  2. Public recognition: Public recognition officially acknowledges outstanding performance and points out a role model that helped make a successful change happen. Team leaders should carefully consider who receives recognition, and not alienate team members who participated in the change but who many not have distinguished themselves significantly.
  3. Team celebrations: Fun or engaging team activities are used to celebrate key milestones by a group. They include buffet or restaurant lunches, dinner events, or can include group outings to sports, amusement, or cultural events. It is important that these types of celebrations try to include the involvement of the primary change sponsor in some way.

Sharing the Results and Benefits of the Change

In order to sustain the impact of a change, it is important for everyone who is involved in the process to know what results are occurring. This occurs across a number of dimensions. Ongoing feedback is needed from team members at all levels.

 

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How to Lead Your Team Through Change

How to Lead Your Team Through Change

Every change in the team begins with a leadership decision. Making the decision to institute changes is not always easy. Being prepared, planning well, and being surrounded by a good team will make that decision a lot easier.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Preparing and Planning for Change in Your Team

Begin by putting yourself in a positive frame of mind. You are likely to experience higher than normal levels of stress and knowing this beforehand will give you the ability to be prepared mentally and you will be the anchor person and the foundation, and with your steady hand will guide your team through the stressful events. Be a reassuring and active force throughout the whole process.

It is impossible to prepare for every contingency, but planning for the known is a must. Add time or extra room in the schedule for the unknowns.When you encounter an unexpected event, your schedule should not off by much if you have built in some leeway. It will provide that buffer that gives you and your team the ability to deal with the unknowns and keep rolling with the change process.

Delegating to Other Team Members

Surround yourself with people in the team that you can delegate to and be confident in their abilities and skills. Be precise and specific with your directions as when the change process begins you will be depending on these individuals and their talents. Communicating and providing feedback are the keys to successful delegation; make sure your team understands this. If communication fails or there is not accurate feedback the chances of a success are lessened.

An issue that sometimes arises when delegating is micro-managing. Keep an eye out to not micro-manage as you can quicklylose track of events and it will take time away from your main duties. Delegating is a skill that takes time as you must first learn the strengths and weakness of your team and know what tasks you can and cannot hand out. It may not be possible to always delegate, but when it can, it will provide a great resource.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open in the Team

Always be available during the change process. Before the change prepare your friends and family that you may not be available for social events. Reassure your team that you are there for them and you are here to provide them with the necessary resources to lead them through the change. Stress to them that you are available and focused on keeping the communications lines open.

Always be aware of rumors, they will happen before, during and after the change. Do not ignore any rumor, put out honest and clear communication as soon as possible. Reassure your team that if they hear a rumor to seek out more information from a reliable source. Remind them that spreading rumors helps no one and will cause more harm than good.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Coping with Push-back from the Team

Not everyone in the team will agree on the change. Keep in mind that these types of feelings are normal as people generally do not enjoy change and are sometimes made nervous by it. You will likely encounter push-back and resistance by some team members.

Provide facts and data to show why the change is happening and reassure them the need and benefits of the change. These types of individuals are best suited to be educated bout the change with information. If you are encountering an extreme case of push-back in your team, provide them with some choices that still fall within the spectrum of the intended change. They should then feel more involved in the process and it will help alleviate the negative mindset they may be experiencing.

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What is Best for Your Team? Succession Planning Vs. Replacement Planning

What is Best for Your Team: Succession Planning Vs. Replacement Planning?

Succession planning and replacement planning are two different things. Replacement planning is focused on identifying immediate understudies in your team, while succession planning is focused on developing talent in the team to move forward.

What is Business Succession Planning?

Successful succession planning relates to leadership development. It develops a pool of talent so that there are numerous qualified candidates throughout the team to fill vacancies in leadership. Succession planning used to concentrate on developing leadership at the top level, but now it is building a strong talent base, which helps to increase team loyalty and ensure the longevity of the team. This strategy requires recruiting qualified talent, creating a talent pool, and instilling loyalty.

Benefits of succession planning:

What does succession planning require?

  • Identify the long-term goals and objectives of the team: The long-term goals directly relate to succession planning. Is the team’s goal to grow or maintain its current position? Will it expand into other fields? All of these questions need to be addressed before creating a succession plan.
  • Understand the developmental needs of the team and identify team members who fit these needs: The responsibilities of team members change over time. Some positions may be eliminated in the future while others will be added.
  • Recognize trends in the workforce and engage team members to build loyalty: Understanding workforce trends will help you predict the needs of your team. For example, are your key team members nearing retirement? Have you invested in talented team members to take on additional roles?

What Is Replacement Planning?

Replacement planning works under the assumption that the structure of the team will not change. This is easier to apply in small family businesses that do not have any goals to expand or grow in the future. There are typically two or three “replacements” identified in the organization chart. Each backup is listed with his or her ability to replace an existing leader. The team members are not necessarily developed to understand the new working environment or smoothly transition into his or her new responsibilities.

Differences Between Replacement and Succession Planning

Many team leaders believe that they engage in succession planning, but in reality they are still using replacement planning.

The Main Differences:

  • Replacement planning focuses on finding suitable replacements only for top leaders.
  • Succession planning means that the team is easily able to fill vacancies throughout the business because team members are being empowered and developed.
  • There is a short list of candidates in replacement planning.
  • Succession planning builds a large talent pool.

Succession planning takes a little more time and effort from those in leadership, but it yields a high return on such an investment.

Deciding What You Need

There are several different factors that indicate when a team needs to implement or re-evaluate succession planning.

  • Turnover becomes critical: The number of high-potential team members leaving is higher than average team members leaving. (This can happen in any economy.)
  • Team members feel undervalued: When a majority of your team members feel that there is no room for advancement or that you choose too many outside hires, there is a succession-planning problem.
  • There are no replacements for key talent: Should a valued member of the team suddenly leaves, there is no one able to take his or her place.
  • Managers notice that there are not many candidates for promotion: Team leaders who are not developed for leadership will never be promoted.
  • The time to fill metric is high or unknown: The time to fill metric is the average length of time that it takes to fill a position. A high number means that the company needs to focus on succession planning.
  • The retention risk analysis is high: A risk analysis uses different factors to determine the potential number of team members who will leave. These will factor in retirement and other trends.

 

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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.

Related: Digital Etiquette for Your Virtual Team

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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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