Team Maintenance: Teams Need Tune-Ups

Team maintenance is easy to overlook. You’ve got stuff to do. Your team has stuff to do.

THE PROBLEM

People are the best part of your business, and they’re the hardest part. Your team has an operating system, an engine, that defines the way it functions.

Company culture.

And Deloitte gives us a few striking statistics:

  • “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.”
  • While they know culture is important, fewer than 1 in 3 report understanding their company’s culture and the forces that shape it.
  • And only 12% of executives believe their company is driving the right culture.

“Driving” culture is an interesting and apt analogy.

A great team is a high performance machine — like a BMW. And like most drivers, most leaders don’t know how to keep what’s under the hood in great tune.

And that’s nobody’s fault. It’s why there are mechanics in the world.

Unfortunately, most leaders don’t do much to keep the machine in tune. They leave it to chance.

THE SOLUTION — Team maintenance

Get that hood open. Make sure the plugs are gapped correctly. Insure the timing is tight. Deliberately install the culture you want, and maintain it carefully and consistently.

As a high performance machine, it has narrow tolerances and the habits your people bring from outside will press against your efforts. You’ll notice significant entropy, dragging down on performance, engagement, and satisfaction of the team. Invest in Team maintenance.

Rather than being frustrated, you can choose to expect that. And accept that. Just as BMW drivers accept that a high-performance machine needs frequent attention to maintain optimal performance.

IMPORTANT ADDENDUM

Some leaders are culture geeks. They’ve studied the science and they fanatically follow the emerging data. They put as much attention on the culture as they do on the technical aspects of their business.

Others don’t have that geek-out level of interest and insight.

Neither is a better or worse leader.

Just as there are tech CEOs who are coding geniuses, there are also tech CEO’s who can’t write a single line of code. Their strength is in knowing which they are, and getting the right support where their knowledge and interest is thinner.

And the first kind — the geeker-outers — can only be that person up to a point. When the company grows, they need to find ways to scale their influence.

And when you need help, The Yes Works is here to provide training and support for World-Class collaboration on your team.

 

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Communication and collaboration are some of the hardest things to get right in any company culture, and the difficulty increases exponentially as you add more people to the team. Adeptability Training gets teams communicating and collaborating effectively as a matter of habit and mindset. Book a call today.


How to deal with fear of the unknown so work can be fun

Fear of the unknown is one of the great performance killers. It doesn’t have to be.

Embrace the Fear

We’ve got a choice. We can freeze. Or flee. Or fight.  Most of us clench our jaw, grit our teeth, hold our breath, and try to face down the fear.

That’s the circumstance in which fear compromises our judgement, makes us touchy and reactive, burns us out.

What other choice have we got. We’ve got the hard choice. We can embrace fear. Decide it’s our friend.

Transform the Fear

Disarm Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the unknown can lose its teeth when we limit what aspects are unknown. When we can assure and reassure one another… We’re a team. I’ve got your back. You may falter, but we will not allow you to fall… When those are the circumstances, that’s enough that’s known to take the unknown in stride.

 

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Your team’s response to the unknown is a success-level determining aspect of culture. Culture shapes and defines the destiny of your company. Adeptability Training helps build the got-your-back culture that supports communication, collaboration, and innovation. And fun. Book a call today.

 

P.S. For another great insight into how to embrace the fear, gotta love this from Simon Sinek. “I wasn’t nervous. I was excited.”


Why No Feedback Is Very Bad Feedback

We recently conducted a workshop on cultivating a high-performance, collaboration culture at HR West in Oakland. Here’s a teaser. Feedback is a critical component.

A Common Critical Feedback Error

At one point, a CEO in our workshop loudly bragged. “Here’s what I do. My executive assistant knows she’s doing a good job when she doesn’t hear from me. If she’s not doing well, I tell her exactly what she’s doing wrong. That works!”

That doesn’t work!

The absence of communication is indeed communication. The absence of performance input is indeed feedback. It communicates volumes. And here’s the thing…

You have absolutely no influence over what your silence communicates. You may think it communicates, “good job.” Not likely.

At the very least, it communicates a message that is far more complex than, “good job.”

And every time, it leaves lots of uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to fear. And fear leads to poor decision making and bad performance.

The Only Effective Feedback Is Deliberate Feedback

Check out this video.

And, please, Let us know what you think.

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Deciding to give more input to your team is a great start. And not all feedback is created equal. We’re always happy to talk with you about what it looks like to be a skillful performance communicator. This podcast episode with Elaine Lin Hering is a great place to start.

Want an Adeptable team?

Book a call today.


Who Is Accountability For?

Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Who’s it for?

Accountability is one of the biggest concerns for leaders today. It’s a word I hear multiple times daily.

At The Yes Works, we very often get the question, “How do I hold people accountable?”

People resist accountability when they don’t trust the intentions of the person having that accountability conversation.

There’s Science

In his book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek lays out the evidence. In many workplaces, people wonder whether they belong. People feel ill at ease, anxious, or concerned for their belonging or well being. In that context, there’s a neuro-biological imperative to cover one’s ass.

The brain biologically cannot accept accountability when it feels threatened.

A Powerful Context for Accountable Cultures

Accountability is not for the company’s or for the leader’s benefit. It’s for the benefit — pride, fulfillment, growth — of the person being accountable.

In fact, it’s best to shift one’s thinking away from “holding people accountable.” Shift to simply “being accountable.” That way, it’s an action and a choice of that person for their own sake. It’s not something that’s being done to them.

Would you rather BE accountable or be HELD accountable?

Check out this video.

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Adeptable teams are accountable teams. Accountability becomes something people crave, seek out, ask for. Trouble is, reading an article doesn’t often change behavior. That’s why we created Adeptability Training for your team for a communication and collaboration culture as a matter of habit and mindset. Want an Adeptable team?

Book a call today.


Why Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Says who? Often, it’s said to be Peter Drucker — management guru for the ages.

Why? How does culture eat strategy for breakfast?

Who do you imagine will perform better… A team of competent, motivated, collaborators without a plan at the start of the day, or a team of arrogant, unmotivated, uncommunicative people who start the day with a solid plan?

Which team is going to have an easier time recruiting and retaining great people?

Important or Critical or Both

Strategy is very important. Culture is critical. Turns out, if you’ve got a great culture, you can set the team’s culture to work on strategy as priority number one. Then you’ve got both.

Catch some more of our thoughts in this here video.

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Communication and collaboration are some of the hardest things to get right in any company culture, and the difficulty increases exponentially as you add more people to the team. Adeptability Training gets teams communicating and collaborating effectively as a matter of habit and mindset. Book a call today.


Empathy Without the Pity Party Pitfall

Empathy is a relatively new buzzword in discussions of corporate leadership. And it’s a good thing.

Without empathy, leaders cannot profoundly effect employee engagement, motivation, and performance. With empathy, they can.

Empathy alone can be disastrous.

It’s important to be able to relate to one another’s feelings, to understand where one another is coming from, and to be able to predict what stimuli may lead to what responses.

Without other emotional intelligence ingredients, empathy can lead us to a pity party. I know what you mean. And, I feel for you. Moreover, I feel your pain. Of course these circumstances are hard. Those statements lead to connection. Left alone, they can lead to inaction and ineffectiveness.

And… Empathy + commitment to purpose = compassion.

Check out this video.

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Compassion is a key element of successful high-performing culture. And culture shapes and defines the destiny of your company. Adeptability Training helps build leadership habit that supports communication, collaboration, and innovation. And fun. Book a call today.


How can you boost your company’s profits by an average of 24%? HR Magazine says spending $1600 per employee can do just that.

Where to focus your training efforts

The present matters. And largely, it’s taking care of itself. The future of your firm relies on innovation. Not necessarily innovation with a capital “I”. It could be that you simply need a steady flow of micro-innovations. Certainly, without a doubt, change and adaptation are a more and more salient obligation for any company wishing to be around next year and the year after that.
In their recent blog, Exago observed, “Fostering trust and collaboration, the building blocks to creating a culture of ongoing innovation, is a key part of the innovation leadership role.”

When to start deliberate work on team dynamics

You may have been thinking about how to further improve dynamics on your team, improve communication and collaboration effectiveness. And you’ve likely been putting it off because of all the pressing projects and deliverables on your docket.
This is one of the easiest things to put off, and you cannot afford to do that.
Team culture, team effectiveness, teaming skill… Pays dividends.
You’re losing talent. At what rate, of course, you know better than I do. 85% of the workforce are dissatisfied with their jobs. Ouch! Who says? Gallup’s poll of 2017.
If you’re reading this blog, then you’re clearly among the top few leaders who’re deliberately and actively improving things. So, your team is likely more satisfied at work than the average. And, even if only 20% are dissatisfied, that’s still a painfully large number.
Those folks are not only more likely to leave their jobs. They’re also killing the vibe in your workplace. They’re increasing the likelihood that their team mates are becoming or will become dissatisfied as well. And they’re anti-enthusiasm creates a social pressure against enthusiasm among others.

It’s a vicious cycle.

And every day you wait to begin is a day you delay reaping the rewards. And not just… The heights you could reach by investing today you will never reach if you put off the investment until tomorrow.

Why? Ask Albert Einstein. He called compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world.” And he wisely said…

He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.
Take 2.5 minutes to watch this video.
The time to take action is today. Or at the latest, tomorrow.
If you’re ready to start investing and taking advantage of the power of compound interest, let’s talk.


To Succeed In Change Management, Take a Lesson From the Kite

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

— Heraclitus

 

If change is so constant, why do we suck at change management so badly? Right now around the country, change initiatives are failing by the dozen. A few of these initiatives fail because they are ill conceived notions. A few fail because they’re poorly planned.

Most fail because of execution. The idea is good. The plan is good. And, somehow, the change just doesn’t happen.

With a good idea and even a half-decent plan, it stands to reason, a change initiative should succeed. So what happens in the execution to scuttle a change effort?

FRICTION. MENTAL FRICTION.

“Here we go again.”

“This’ll never work.”

“I don’t want to.”

“We’ve always done it this way.”

“We tried that in 1983.”

When people say these things, it’s an expression of the fear of uncertainty. We’ve all got that fear. The difference between those of us who resist change and those of us who charge ahead is how we manage that fear, and how we approach the thinking part of the change management puzzle.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS FEAR MANAGEMENT

As leaders of change, it’s our job to support people to embrace what scares them. It’s up to us to help them respond healthfully and think constructively in response to uncertainty — so they can manage their fear and perform.

Change management is not about battering people into submission, and it’s not about coddling them and allowing them to let fear rule the day.

The people side of change management is about setting expectations, and holding consistent and high standards with compassion.

So, here’s a simple tool you can employ to help guide people through a high-performance change execution.

I call it…

THE KITE PRINCIPLE OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT

The simple kite is a very resilient operator. It can fly in a wide range of wind speeds. It can weather the gusts. If the wind switches, it shifts. Quick, easy, the kite doesn’t complain. And it twitches and wobbles only momentarily before regaining its equilibrium.

A lot people think that the purpose of a kite string is to keep the kite from flying away. Nope. If the kite had no string, then even in ideal wind conditions, it wouldn’t fly at all. If the string breaks, the kite falls.

The purpose of the string is to anchor the kite to make flight possible.

It’s this anchor point that allows the kite to keep its head in the winds of change. It permits the kite to make its quick shifts, to bob and weave. The anchor point gives it the ability to maintain an attitude of flight whatever happens.

So what can we learn from the simple kite about change management?

LEADING CHANGE TIP

Don’t tell people only what will change. Change arouses fear and anxiety. And the fear of uncertainty can interfere with people’s equilibrium and their productivity.

Tell people also what will stay the same. When you tell people about what they can count on, you quiet some of those alarm bells. The constant that you tell them about can already be obvious and still be effective for helping people face the change. There’s nothing that’s too obvious that it goes without saying.

Telling people what will stay the same — what’s dependable — gives them that kite-string anchor-point that allows them to maintain an attitude of flight.

EXAMPLES

“Even with all the change we’re going through, I’m going to remain your direct supervisor.”

“Even though we are going through a major reorganization, our mission, vision, and values will not change. We’ll continue to strive for the same culture of transparency we have now. You’ll continue to do the same job you do now, and the company will be able to support you better in your role.”

NOTHING IS TOO OBVIOUS

Nothing is too obvious because the Kite Principle is not necessarily about telling people things they don’t know. It’s not just about the information. It’s also simply about the neuro-chemical response to change, and managing that brain chemistry.

“Hey folks, we’re changing things.” Boom. The brain is flooded with the stress chemical cortisol. Performance declines.

Tell people what anchor they can count on. You can even tell them, “The sun will rise in the morning, and gravity will remain constant. And, you will have the same ergonomic chair to sit in tomorrow and the day after that.”

Hearing even these painfully obvious things can help to reduce cortisol levels and improve performance.

So, next time you announce a change — no matter how small — also announce the constants. Thanks to this little-known secret of change management, you’ll hear fewer objections. Fewer people will drag their feet. Your change executors will draw strength from that anchor, and it’ll be the best executed change initiative you’ve ever been a part of.

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Communication and collaboration are some of the hardest things to get right in any company culture, and the difficulty increases exponentially as you add more people to the team. Adeptability Training gets teams communicating and collaborating effectively as a matter of habit and mindset. Book a call today.


Help me leadership development hotline

A Leadership Development Tool for an Independent Problem-Solving Team

People often undermine their own leadership development by looking to established leaders for help solving problems that they can solve on their own. It’s a part of human nature, and a personal-risk mitigation play. “If I ask the boss for the solution, I won’t be responsible for any failure.” Put another way, “I won’t get it wrong.”

Usually, that’s an unconscious process. Consciously, it’s much more like, “I’m not sure how to solve this. I bet Boss does.”

The way we respond as leaders will determine the future of our team’s performance.

Here’s a tool that will help insure that your people will grow, improve, learn, and lead in their own right. It’ll free you up and leverage your experience so you’re enabling greatness at all levels of your organization.

It’s leadership development gold.

The Problem

Change happens. Surprises arrive. Problems arise. As leaders, our own response to the fear of uncertainty is often to step in. Take it on. Offer our opinion. Tell folks what to do. Control the situation.

Sometimes this deep executive involvement leads to a better resolution of the problem — not always. Almost always, it leads to an undesirable outcome. Instead of breeding confidence, capability, and independence, this style of leadership leads to dependence and self-doubt, and inhibits learning in our direct reports. It retards the leadership development of our team distracts us from the higher-level work we could be doing.

Here’s a valuable alternative.

The SMART Model

SMART is — I admit — a cheesy acronym — The cheese helps you remember, because if you don’t remember, you won’t do it.

So… The SMART Model.


S – Slow down. Giving them the answer may be quicker in the short run, and it will insure that you’d approve of the solution. It’ll also insure that they remain dependent on you for all their problem solving needs. This step is critical because by slowing down, you create the possibility of solving YOUR problem. The problem that people are coming to you. Giving them the answer is the easy thing. It’s addressing the symptom rather than the root cause.

 

M – Make it theirs. Try something like, “You’ve got a problem? Thank you for identifying that problem before it got out of hand. Keep me posted on your progress.” This communicates not only that you view the problem as theirs, but also that your expectation is that they’ll solve it on their own. You even seem to think they must only be informing you, because of course they’re not expecting you to bale them out.

 

A – Ask. Before they go, ask if they’ve considered this variable or that factor. Ask what resources they intend to employ. Ask to be kept in the loop. That way, you insure they’re thinking about the things you want them to be thinking about.

 

R – Reflect. Reflect some of what your experience has taught you. “Look out for this. Be sure to get input from here. When we did X once before, Y happened.” By reflecting your experience, you give them the benefit of your expertise in a way that supports their autonomy instead of usurping it. And they learn to think of you as a resource for learning rather than solutions.

 

T – Trust their judgment. At first, their solutions may not be as good as yours. Trust them to be good enough. You didn’t hire no fools. If their initial solutions are 75-80% as good as yours, you’re still ahead because your time is better leveraged doing the things only you can do. And as they learn and gain confidence by acting with autonomy, they’ll become more and more valuable to the team as their skills grow. And soon, their solutions will be better than yours. That’s the inevitable outcome of sound leadership development.

Your Challenge

Each leader faces their own challenge with one or more of these steps.

Some (like me) get impatient out of the gate. We don’t want to slow down. Giving the answer is so quick. Today. Tomorrow, when someone comes back again for our solution to a problem they can solve, it’ll be quicker again to give them the answer. And those times add up.

Giving over the problem to someone else is hard for some of us. Relinquishing that control opens up a world of uncertainty. Finding the questions to ask that help lead our people to their own best thinking is an advanced skill. Reflecting our experience without handing them the answer is also a fine distinction. And it gives others some of the power we’ve fought hard over a career to build up.

And Trust… Trust is a doozy for a lot of folks. “Prove yourself, and I’ll trust you,” we say. Problem is, no one can prove themselves if we don’t invest our trust in them in the first place. Trust is a verb. Extend it. Feel it later, when your people reward your trusting them by delivering results.

The Leadership Development ROI

Expect big things. Demand greatness. Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown — world renowned leadership development experts — call leaders who are willing to build the capacity of those around them “multipliers.” In their HBR article, “Managing Yourself: Bringing Out the Best in Your People,” They observed, “Under the leadership of these “multipliers,” employees don’t just feel smarter, they become smarter.”

The people on your team are smart. And you’re smart too. With a SMART leadership response to people who come ask you to solve problems for them, everyone’s smarts will soon be working full strength to help advance your company.

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Leadership behavior shapes and defines culture. Culture shapes and defines the destiny of your company. Adeptability Training helps build leadership habit that supports communication, collaboration, and innovation. And fun. Book a call today.