“It is folly for him to rule over others who cannot govern himself.” – Publius Syrus
Are some of you shaking your heads in agreement with this quote? How many of you have had managers who have little self-awareness and prove it, over and over again, as they manage others? So much of success involves knowledge of people and how they interact. How can you gain this knowledge without knowing yourself – what motivates you, what disconnects you, what you need to collaborate effectively?
How well do you know yourself? How well do you understand what motivates and engages others with whom you work? Your effectiveness as a team member or manager starts with you!
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As a manager, do you have favorites in your team? As a team member, do you see evidence of your team leader’s favorites? Is it outlawed to have favorites? Not at all – we are all human and resonate with certain types of people more than others. It is okay to have favorites. Where the challenge comes in for a manager or team leader, is to assure that all are evaluated by the same standards and are treated without personal bias.
How can you assess whether favoritism is an element of your management style? You can start by first, looking at your feelings and attitudes towards each team member. Do you have favorites? Second, look at how you treat each team member – do you show your favoritism in your interactions with them? This will get you started in creating a culture within your team that performance and productivity are what matters.
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So many organizations base their work on teams now. This creates interdependence that can be both a blessing and a curse. If there is someone on a team that is a weak link, it can affect everyone on the team and their productivity in negative ways.
Weak links have various natures. They can be emotionally unintelligent, lacking in necessary skills, uncooperative, strongly independent and unwilling to collaborate or imbalanced in their emotions (for example, anger).
Do you have a weak link on your team? Best to address this sooner, rather than later. It takes skill, but rooting out weak links and working to strengthen or eliminate them gets your team working at its best.
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Do you work for someone? Do you work for yourself? Boss is a common word in our society that is ascribed many meanings.
What do you think a boss should be? Hierarchical? Kind? Motivating? Encouraging? Tough? Collaborative? Distant? Connected? Smart? Expert?
If you work for a boss or are one yourself, it won’t hurt to think about what the role of a boss should be. Bosses have a huge impact on their workers. Alignment of purpose and style with their team is a win-win.
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As a society, we have done a lot of work on developing and improving how we work in teams. What if we add to the definition of a good team, minimizing the drama? We have come far in recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence and collaboration. There is still work to be done to lessen the stress and dissonance resulting from interpersonal conflict.
The drama experienced in teams often derives from individuals’ emotional makeup and perspectives. Root causes are not usually pursued. Rather, we attribute conflict to superficial causes and stop there.
We do not have the luxury of bringing group therapy into our team activities, but we can do some things to minimize drama and conflict. When a team is formed, why not recognize the potential for drama and set some guidelines to minimize it? Examples may be: emphasizing the importance of each member’s emotional intelligence, having structures to immediately deal with and resolve interpersonal conflicts or establishing zero tolerance of bullies, unrestricted anger, psychological games or unhealthy competition.
Drama has always been present in teams. Let’s bring it out in the open and deal with it. We will see positive results quickly, leading to happy and productive team members.
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Wouldn’t it be great if your workplace were composed of kindred spirits? Sometimes you get lucky and your co-workers are compatible with your values and ways of working. Other times, kindred spirits are few and far between. When that is the case, the stage is set for dysfunction, judgment, conflict and dissatisfaction. It doesn’t have to be that way. Difference, variety and opposition can all make for a creative and high-performing organization. The key is to create an environment where each person can communicate and thrive.
What are the elements of such a workplace? Here are some. I’m sure you can identify others. Just think of what you need to communicate and thrive.
• Demonstrated respect for each person and their views
• Established methods for effective communication when there are disagreements or differences of opinion
• Acceptance and valuing of diversity
• Enough space for each person to contribute their best work
• Understanding that people need different environments, acknowledgement and resources to thrive
So, if you are leading or part of a team that is not composed of kindred spirits, celebrate the opportunities before you and create a workplace that encourages high performance and work satisfaction.
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Collaboration is not the easiest means of managing and decision-making. However, it is the most effective. The best collaborations give all members a full seat at the table. Each person’s voice is heard and respected, disagreements are fully aired and considered and when decisions are made, they are made for the betterment of the collaboration, not just of one or more individuals.
This model can work. People, generally, are reasonable and rational and know that not every decision can go in their favor. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it is worth it. Trouble comes in when organizations go hierarchical and dictatorial in their decision-making. Or, when a sub-group, such as younger people, is disregarded. Some feel that because young people do not have the years of experience that older members have, they do not need to be listened to. They should have a full seat at the table and be valued for the unique insight, fresh ideas and enthusiasm they bring to a group.
Next time you are collaborating, give each team member a full seat at the table. You will reap the benefits of better decision-making, happier team members and creative and long-lasting results.
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As a coach and writer, a major part of my focus is on building a “platform” – an audience for my work. I build my platform through this blog, my newsletter, having a social media presence, speaking, workshops, writing and coaching. Without a platform, I will not succeed.
Whatever your profession, you have a platform, too. In business, your platform is built by how you function in the work world and may look out on your managers, team, customers or professional network. They are your audience. Your success and effectiveness are reliant on how you interact with them.
It is worthwhile to take a look at and cultivate your platform. If others are watching and can impact your success and effectiveness, best to pay attention to them. How strong is your platform these days?
photo: Radek Grzybowski, stocksnap.io
Last week The New York Times published an article, What Google Learned From Its Quest To Build The Perfect Team. Traditional team research has looked at the patterns relating to the people in a team. However, Google could not find any patterns relating to the people or personalities involved in its most effective teams – the “who” part did not seem to matter. Instead, group norms (behavioral standards and unwritten rules of the teams) did matter.
The article references a study published last month in The Harvard Business Review that time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more – how well you and your organization work in teams matters.
What do you think are the behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern your teams? Which ones are effective and which ones are destructive? It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to the intended or unintended group norms of your teams. By doing so, you can establish the ones that work best and let go of those that hinder your collaborations.
Grace is a powerful word with many meanings. Is grace something you can have in your workplace? If you define grace as simple elegance or refinement of movement, I think you can.
How can you bring grace into your work? Here are some ways: cultivate calmness, be aware of yourself and of what is happening around you, treat people with attention and fairness, stay fully present in the moment, acknowledge when you make mistakes that negatively affect others, practice a level of detachment in order to manage your emotions and keep things simple when you can.
Cultivating a bearing of grace can increase your skills as a manager, your ability to work with others and assist you in getting things done.
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