Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't live in Resilience

October 13, 2010- What is the temperature of the team that you work on? Is your team in survive mode or is it in thrive mode? Resilience is a great quality in a team, but if you are not careful, you will find yourself living there. I am tired of just surviving. I want to thrive, and I want our team to thrive as well. Here is what I'm talking about.
Have you ever witnessed a wining sports team or a well-rehearsed orchestra and then felt the commitment and energy the team demonstrated? What you saw was more than just teamwork – it was team synergy, a phenomenon that occurs when a team achieves greater results than the sum of its parts. Using learning instruments, hands-on activities, and an interactive team simulation, teams gain a clearer sense of direction, clarify roles and responsibilities, improve operating processes and bolster both interpersonal and inter team relationships. Any team can experience these benefits if they are willing to go the extra mile. The benefits are incredible, and it produces momentum. Here are some tips that we are working on as a team. Maybe they will help you as well...

1. Set a positive example.

Leaders are scrutinized all the time. If you are a team leader make sure that you "walk your talk." Don't just "talk" quality, "live" quality! And when you make mistakes, share them with your team. My personal strategy is one of transparency. People make mistakes, and when people know that everyone falls, they tend to see getting back up as possible. Leading this way allows people to fall forward and it allows the leader to demand excellence.

2. Give support to create trust.

Leaders must create a feeling of trust in order for their team to succeed. When someone makes a mistake, leaders can discuss what went wrong and then problem-solve for solutions. Yelling at an person in front of his or her peers doesn't work. It only decreases morale and reduces self-esteem. Sir Edmund Hilary, and Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, took to their graves the question of who reached the summit of Mt. Everest first. Norgay said, "It was a partnership, Sir Edmund and I, we together, from start to finish." This is the key to team success's and failures.

3. Develop an open line of communication.

Create an atmosphere where employees can communicate ideas to you. Convey these ideas to the entire team. A common complaint from people is that they feel uninformed. Quality teams share their vision from the team leader on down.

Memos(or emails) are especially helpful. Now is the time to enlist the administrators on your team. Suggest they communicate the team's goals and strategies. 360% feedback is a very effective strategy. Productive teams are willing to be honest with each other. Team members evaluate leaders, leaders evaluate team members, and team members evaluate fellow team members. We all have blind spots (characteristics and traits that others can see but we are not able to recognize ourselves). Think of constructive feedback as a gift. This technique takes some serious training, and when it is done correctly, the team grows together.

4. Have productive meetings
Meetings waste time. We have a weekly staff meeting to get everyone on the same page and to incorporate the strengths of the whole team. But we don't have meetings just to meet. This requires people to be self starters and competent in their prospective areas. And when you have that attitude, people bring more to the table, and the creative juices flow.

5. Assess strengths and weaknesses.

Knowing where the team excels and what are it's weakest links is one of the strongest elements of a quality team. It can prove fatal when teams skip over their weaknesses. Teams need to constantly ask themselves: How can we improve, and what areas need strengthening? Teams need to find out what they can do to get that competitive edge. Constant improvement is mandatory for quality teams to excel.

Now all I have to do is practice it.