Posts Tagged ‘values’

Six Features of Terrific Teams

July 16, 2015

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Why do we so often fail to work together effectively?  

It is clear our capability to respond to problems lags far behind our ability to detect and describe them. It’s a sad paradox when abundant resources exist. We know that solo ventures don’t have the capacity to deliver what collective work can yield. Necessarily, the big and challenging work of change requires attention to teams.

Formal teams occur in our organizations and communities when two or more people are gathered to deliver a performance objective and shared activities are required to achieve it. Regardless of purpose, well-designed teams must include: roles & accountabilities; effective communications; individual performance & feedback; and evidence-based decisions.

A checklist of team essentials is a good start to building an effective team. Research indicates these six features are necessary:

A Clear, Elevating Goal. A high performing team has a shared, clear and specific understanding of what is to be achieved and passionately believes it is worthwhile. When goals are ambiguous, diluted, politicized or individual ambitions take priority then performance lags and dysfunction prevails.

Results-driven. Teams must be structured around their intended goal with explicit accountability. Typically, teams are established to tackle problems, innovate and/or support tactics. Problem-solving teams are often an executive or leadership group where trust is essential. Autonomy is a very significant for  innovation and tactical teams must have task clarity to assure execution. Sometimes teams handle all three purposes.

Competent Members. The right people matter hugely. The “right” people have appropriate technical skills, knowledge, training and experience as well as personal attributes which contribute to the collective. Successful NBA coach Phil Jackson said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” One adds, removes individuals to develop a team. Careful thought about the optimal mix of people on a team is time well spent.

Unified Commitment & Collaboration. Loss of self, enthusiasm, loyalty, dedication and identification with a group of people are all features of unified commitment that reflect a physical and mental energy. Collaboration reflects both a safe climate and structure that encourages interdependence.

Standards of Excellence. Urgent pressures to perform with specific behaviors set expectations for team members. Performing to specified standards requires discipline and explicit process improvement. To achieve shared goals, both learning and accountability are present in an effective team.

Principled Leadership. Any effective team includes a capable captain. Team leaders motivate, educate, facilitate and construct a fair environment that engages contributions. When talented people are in charge morale goes up. Principled leaders offer a moral imperative for change. They intensely seek the shared goal. Principled leaders steer past the compromises of politics. They are receptive, accessible and demonstrate a dependable set of internal and public values. They assure team function through: good design, clear goals, a results-focus, member engagement, unity, collaboration and standards.

Team Threats & Multiple Entities

Two common reasons frequently account for weak or dysfunctional teams: politics and individual agendas. They are developmental misfires that torpedo progress and leave the promise of joint efforts unfulfilled. Politics kills both trust and substance. A focus on power precludes collective effort. Individual agendas sabotage shared intentions, interdependence and generate a toxic culture. Sometimes organizational leaders can limit these challenges through their talent selection. Regardless, principled team leaders must respond promptly to politics and selfishness because they cause teams (and organizations) to unravel.

Be aware that complexity gets magnified when coordination is not only inside your organization, but across organizations. The inputs for and implications of creating collective impact are substantial. It means we must understand how to integrate perspectives, engage multiple motives and align energies and skills in effective teams, task forces, networks, coalitions and other structures. Getting our own shop in shape is crucial so that we can constructively reach out to others and generate powerful synergy.

We know what makes great teams. If we have the will, we can do work together far better.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and managing partner at Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com

 

 

 

 

 

Strategy: A Two-Step Dance

September 25, 2014

Very little planned change in any organization, community or individual occurs without strategy. It’s a core competence that requires deliberate attention. Far too often, it shows up in  a simplistic process at the annual retreat. Sometimes it is implicit and embedded in conversations about routine functions.

But, great managers know that strategy is the map that provides direction to daily decisions and actions. Once talent and capital are in hand, strategy is job 1. It has  just two steps and both are critical.

 

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The matrix above offers a quick way to think about the two steps. Strategy formulation and execution are equally important. One without the other has little value. When both are sound then there’s “a  good chance” of securing intended progress. When one or both are flawed, we can explain deficits in progress and bad results.

Accountability provides the “glue” for any effort that relies on strategy to improve and perform. It makes both steps relevant by specifying individual and shared ownership. In any organization, accountability occurs through relationships and structures that review performance. Formal and informal reviews specify expectations, competencies, attributes and results among participants. Without accountability –  wander, squander, delays, decline and failure are likely. With it, the “dance” can deliver value.

When assessing your program or organization’s progress, look carefully at formulation and execution. Ensure there are explicit high-quality processes for both, along with robust accountability.

(For lots more on strategy, see past tinker posts, like: Ten Good Strategy Questions-July 2010, Avoid Strategy Sabotage-October 2012, Great Plans Adjust-June 2012)

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com

So Facts Have A Chance – Lead With Values

June 6, 2011

 

What’s the best way to position change?

  • Connect to emotions through values and beliefs.
  • Support with dynamite facts.
  • Launch with specific and challenging objectives.

Yale studies have shown fictional newspaper headlines score differently with readers depending on resonance with their values.  Dan Kahan calls this “a culture war of fact.” Values and beliefs predispose one to reception of information. Simply put: a rational case is wholly inadequate to drive change.

 The Stubborn Status Quo

People and systems are desperately stubborn about keeping the status quo. Closed minds, preferences, established interests and other factors work hard to keep things the same. Regardless of how “broken,” the familiar is far preferred to new and different. This context is a fundamental reality in change management.

Inside organizations, managing change may be explicit or  embedded in other work. As an intentional adaption, change is often focused on efficiency or effectiveness.   Sometimes it’s competencies among sales staff, other times it might mean new processes in logistics and supply, purchasing or a software upgrade. In large organizations this special work is conceived and managed by organization development (OD) or effectiveness (OE) functions.

 People & Emotion

Regardless of the context it always means working with people. It very often requires learning. It also translates to deliberate attention to culture, strategy, and structures. This post brings a gentle reminder: it is never devoid of emotion.

 In your role as a manager and leader, you have special considerations in paving the way for new and different. Citing a clear case of need is logical and necessary. However, research shows that progress is rarely affected by facts alone. Six decades ago Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger wrote “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he fails to see your point.”

Even when evidence is unequivocal, “motivated reasoning” or pre-existing beliefs skew opinion and behavior far more than facts. An enthusiastic and urgent message that resonates with emotion is powerful.  Positive and negative feelings about others, things and ideas occur far more rapidly (in milliseconds) than our conscious thought. Humans push away perceptions of threat; we pull comforting information close.

 Facts Alone Fail

Have you ever failed with a direct, unadorned attempt to persuade via facts? Sometimes this doesn’t change minds but empowers the current point of view. It can result in wrong views held more tenaciously. This underscores why appeals to (and support for) emotions are essential to convince people to take the journey from their current reality to a new one.

Given the power of prior beliefs, if you want someone to accept new evidence, be sure to offer it in a way that avoids a defensive emotional reaction. So the facts have a chance, lead with values.

  –Lisa Wyatt Knowlton, Ed. D. is a strategy architect and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. She is also an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow.

See : www.pwkinc.com


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