How Your Relations Affect Your Results

In this blog post, I would like to focus on the importance of relations.

The last blog post briefly touched on this when you worked through the high-performance team model.

The second step in that process—the who part—is all about relations.

Daniel H. Kim, the systems thinker, has illustrated this in an elegant way.

You then have a fundamental choice here which can go one of two ways: You can generate an upward spiral where we are continuously developing our relations and, as a result, performing better, or you can take the downward spiral where it all just gets worse.

It's a choice—a choice that's going to determine whether the team's going to be successful or not.

Ultimately, it’s going to determine whether you're successful in your role as a team leader.

For the first-time manager (FTM), this sometimes comes as a surprise. You may think, "I have a gazillion other things to do. Do I also have to think about that? I just want to get...

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Direction, Alignment and Commitment in 4 Easy Steps

In the previous blog post, I introduced you to DAC (Direction, Alignment, and Commitment), the leadership concept developed by The Center for Creative Leadership. You looked at how that can be useful for first-time managers (FTMs) to understand what they need to focus on from a leadership perspective. In fact, this does not only apply to FTMs. A lot of seasoned team managers could benefit from applying this thinking as well—but that is another story.

To recap, DAC stands for Direction, Alignment, and Commitment. This framework is not something that one person—the leader—tells everyone to do. On the contrary, establishing DAC is a process. It happens as a result of a two-way exchange with everyone on the team. It's co-created, so to speak, but often initiated by the leader.

That's the theory covered in the previous blog post. But if you're a newly appointed manager, you may well be thinking, "This makes sense but where do I begin?"

It's actually not as tricky...

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First-Time Manager: The Challenges

Research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership has identified a number of challenges that first-time managers (FTMs) have in common. You can read the full list here. I have chosen to focus on the top one because you could argue that the rest of the issues are all sub-issues that arise from the same overall challenge:

Adjusting to People Management: Displaying Authority

The FTM has been used to achieving results through a high degree of control over themselves. They set goals and manage their time and effort in such a way as to reach them. That's exactly what has drawn attention to them in the first place and is the reason they have now been promoted to their first management position.

But the way they control themselves is not going to work on others. They need to learn to switch from control to influence, which is an entirely different approach.

"If you knew how many times I have told them to do that."

But as they eventually work out, telling isn’t...

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The Big Leap from Team Member to Team Leader

In the previous blog post, you looked at how the first-time manager (FTM) is often neglected when it comes to training and development. In this blog post, you'll start identifying some of the challenges that the FTM has.

The scenario is quite the same in most types of service organizations. Due to a promotion or an organizational shuffle, you often find yourself needing a supervisor or team leader on one of your customer-facing teams. You are busy. The position needs to be filled fast so your first reaction is to look at the team and see who you have that could jump in the role.

Who gets promoted to their first managerial position?

Often you find who you think is the right person for the job. The criteria used to evaluate this is typically the person’s performance. You pick a high-performing team member with a lot of personal drive. On top of that, you choose someone who is well organized. In short, it’s a...

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How Are You Supporting Your First Time Managers?

We have onboarding programs for new employees. We train frontline staff in all aspects of customer service. We also have development programs for executives. But what about for the first time managers (FTMs)?

The FTM is typically an employee who is doing well in a specific function. They get the job done. Because they are doing well, they get noticed and promoted to their first managerial position. They become some version of a team leader.

Virtually from one day to the next, their job context changes dramatically.

What type of training program are you offering your new FTMs—programs that will help them cope with this new situation?

Well, if you're like most organizations out there, you probably aren't offering much.

In terms of situational leadership, the classical mistake is assuming that because someone is good at one thing, they will automatically also be good at the next thing you ask them to do.

But being a high performer in your functional area doesn't necessarily...

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Progress Drives Engagement: How Do You Focus on Progress?

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress, even a small win, can make all difference in how they feel and perform. — The Progress Principle

This quote, which makes so much sense to me, brings one to another aspect of not just why there is a need to focus on developing the people around, but also how it can be done.

Focus on Progress

To progress, you need a baseline to advance from. Once you have a baseline, you can start thinking about what you need to learn or practice to get better.

For learning to happen, there must be a gap between your current capability...

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Who Gets the Last Chef?

Who gets the last chef?

That was the title of my presentation for a group of managers. The title was inspired by a number of conversations that I have been having with clients. You can substitute "chef" for the type of critical position that is part of your current reality.

Reflecting on those conversations, I realized that there has been a common thread through most of them. They have all been concerned with:

  • The lack of bench strength on their management teams; and
  • The scarcity of new talent.

On a daily basis, this is not so obvious. Therefore, it’s not a high priority, but it hits them every time a key team member needs to be replaced. Firstly, they realize that there is no obvious No. 2 who has been groomed for the job. Secondly, when they start the search, they quickly understand that there is not a lot of talents available out there.

The problem is that once they realize this, it’s a bit late to do much about it other than pray—

...

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What The H— Went Wrong?

Driving home, Peter kept on asking himself this question: What the h— went wrong?

What a disaster! This was an important day. He had put together a cross-functional team of experts—supposedly some of the most competent people in the company. He had taken great pain—and expense—in organizing the best possible location offsite. There, he had given them a clear brief, explaining exactly what needed to be done and what he expected from them. The deadline was 4:00 P.M.—tight but doable.

The result?

—was a monumental f— up, to put it mildly.

What was wrong with these people?

There was nothing wrong with these people. What was wrong was that Peter was not managing their states in a skillful way. He might have ignored or was unaware of the basic mechanics of human interaction.

The Four Fundamental Questions

Once you understand that this instability of organic systems is what's going on, you need a basic tool to understand and master...

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Understanding the Stages that Your Team Goes Through

Last blog post, you took a deeper dive into understanding how the mental states of each team member influence the whole team, and that the team leader probably has more influence on the team's states than anybody else.

The mental states that team members are in also produce a certain collective behavior, especially as there are states that are typical for each stage of the life cycle of a team.

When you put a bunch of people together in a team, they typically go through certain stages. This was first described by psychologist Bruce Tuckman who came up with the memorable phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.

This is not new. On the contrary, it is a well-established framework. Many of you have also probably heard of the expression "forming, storming, norming and performing" before—the words that describe the basic stages that small groups experience. In theory, this is a linear process that...

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How to Help Your Team Manage Its States

In the previous blog post, you looked at how teams are organic systems, and by definition, unstable.

The lack of stability shows up as a result of the shifting states of each team member. In return, that obviously has repercussions on the state of the whole team.

What Do States Mean?

States are temporary conditions that constantly transition into new ones. You are tired, refreshed, lethargic, or energetic. These are all different forms of physical states. You are also happy, sad, exuberant, or angry. These are emotional states. The two play an ongoing interdependent dance with each other. For instance, when you have slept well, you might feel happier than when you just had two hours of restless sleep on a plane.

The state that you are in at any given time influences your performance quite dramatically. Just think of yourself and what a difference it makes to your own performance when you are feeling energetic and happy—or the opposite.

But it is more complex than...

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