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 on-boarding programs for new employees. We train front line 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...

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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...

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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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Teams are Organic Systems; Therefore, by Definition, Unstable.

As you continue to explore team leadership being different from team management, you now need to look at another aspect of the team.

A team is also a system. When you look at it from that angle, you need to recognize that systems come in many forms. One way to look at them is either mechanical or organic. Mechanical systems are things like computers, cars, and factories. Mechanical systems are, by definition, stable. You may feel that your car is "moody," but that probably reflects more about you than the car. The car just either works or not. Meaning, it continues to work up to a point, then it snaps and goes kaput.

Human beings—the core elements of your team—are organic systems, as are cats, cauliflowers or caterpillars. By definition, organic systems are unstable. They are always in transition from one state to another. Humans go from happy to excited to sad, from wide awake to drowsy, from enthusiastic to reluctant and back...

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How is Team Management Different from Team Leadership? Why Should I Worry?

When it comes to leadership, three common but major challenges appear. These are how to best:

  • Provide inspiration;
  • Lead a team; and
  • Develop employee capacity.

In a previous blog post, you explored what it means to be inspirational. In the next few blog posts, you will explore what leadership means in a team context. Afterward, you will learn about leadership dedicated to the challenge of developing employees.

Just to recap: The basic premise for this and the succeeding blog posts is that management and leadership are distinctly different. Both are required, but somehow most managers tend to focus more on the management part of the job and neglect the leadership aspect. If you are in the service industry, this mindset will ultimately affect your guest experience.

In my view, team management is all about the operational, practical and tangible aspects of what the team does—tasks, timelines, delivery, budget, among others. It all needs to be looked after or...

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The Something-For-Something System is at the Heart of the Uninspiring Workplace.

The something-for-something system is what happens in most organizations today.

Here is how it works: You come into work and give some of your time in return for a salary. If you work a bit harder, more, or better, you expect that you will also be rewarded for it—probably through some sort of bonus, overtime pay, or promotion, even.

If you don’t work hard or perform your job well, it is built into the system that you can expect some kind of "punishment."

The assumption is that you come to work because it is in your interest. You need the money so you can pay your rent, feed the kids, or play golf during the weekend. It’s a something-for-something kind of thinking which has thousands of years behind it. Technically, it is known as transactional leadership.

The Game We Play

If the employer and the employee, or probably in your case, the manager and the employee, have a relationship which basically is about something-for-something, then it easily becomes a...

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