WHEN YOUR TEAM GETS STUCK

29 noviembre 2012
The alignment of your team is critical for the success of your company and for your success as a top leader.  At the same time, countless and costly hours of debate may be the only result you can see when your team gets deadlocked.  When should you “step in”?  How do you balance efficiency with efficacy?
Sometimes the consequences of a decision are so extreme that a team can feel uncertain about taking this responsibility. Some teams can suffer from perfectionism: they try to reach the ‘perfect’ solution, but fail to find it because it doesn’t exist.
So you have a dilemma:  you see that the team is going around in circles and want to stop wasting time, energy and money in redundant debates, and at the same time you worry about possibly undermining agreement and mutual commitment if you step in authoritatively.
Here are four strategies from Aad Boot of Leadershipwatch (2012), when your team gets stuck and you want to break the indecisiveness without destroying team participation, alignment and commitment:
HAVE A PROCESS AGREED UPON: We all know that it is not advisable to unexpectedly jump in and overrule the team, and we also know that at times that is your best option. Prepare together upfront for the possibility that the team cannot come to a decision and decide on a procedure which includes the use of a designated process moderator and a “last-ditch” strategy of your authoritative intervention.
FACILITATE THE SHARING OF ALL THOUGHTS, FEELINGS AND OPTIONS: Indecisiveness of teams is often caused by a lack of knowing and understanding each other’s opinions, perceptions, suggestions, etc.  Check actively if everything is on the table and there is agreement about each others’ meaning.  If not, there is still a lack of team alignment and you can make the team aware of it and continue to guide the team to alignment. If there is agreement upon meanings and the team acknowledges it, they will more readily accept your  stepping in to make a decision.
FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE:  Sometimes a team can get stuck because the members don’t see the broader picture. As leader, you generally gave a wider perspective and can communicate it to the team, identifying the common interest, explaining the broader picture and showing how your decision is important and will serve the common interest.
GET YOUR EGO OUT OF THE WAY:  The word “courage” comes from the French “coeur” (heart), and requires us to show vulnerability with our resolve and assertiveness. When you do make a decision, be sure that it is based on your responsibility and not on your desire to wield power.  And make sure to explain to all of them how and why it is based on the former and not on the latter.
                
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PARA MANTENER EL AMBIENTE POSITIVO

29 noviembre 2012
Muchos líderes hablan del ambiente de su equipo o de su empresa como si fuera algo predestinado, heredado o algún resultado de una “gripa organizacional” inevitable.  El mal ambiente es generado cuando no existe una masa crítica de buenos líderes que construyen y mantienen un buen ambiente, aun ante las situaciones más difíciles.
En mi opinión, existen tres elementos claves para construir y mantener un buen ambiente:  comunicar expectativas, demostrar cómo lograrlas y reforzar los primeros éxitos:
COMUNICAR EXPECTATIVAS:  He conocido muchos líderes que creen que es suficiente ser un buen modelo y no más.  A veces es suficiente y generalmente no lo es.  Los y las colaboradores necesitan oír y/o ver escrito lo que se espera de ellos, tanto en los resultados funcionales como en las relaciones personales.  Si no lo oyen o ven, muchas veces no toman conciencia o aun malinterpreten el buen ejemplo del líder.  Cada equipo debe tener su “charter”, cada empresa sus normas.  Si no, una cultura de consecuencias es imposible establecer.
 
DEMOSTAR CÓMO HACERLO:  Dicho lo anterior, sabemos que las acciones hablan más duro que las palabras.  Si sus colaboradores no ven en ti, lo que tu  quieres ver en ellos, el inevitable resultado es el fracaso. Sus hijos y sus reportes aprenden más viendo lo que haces solo y con los demás, después de haberlo oído.  En otras palabras: es necesario tanto predicar como practicar.  Puedes identificar aquellas conductas personales pequeñas que sean indicadoras de un ambiente positivo o del cambio que quieres realizar, compartirlas claramente con tu gente, y luego mostrárselo en tu ser y hacer personal diario.
REFORZAR LOS ÉXITOS: Lo anterior no va a trascender sin esta tercer paso.  Un cambio cultural requiere al menso veinte ensayos reforzados con al menos un 20% de la población del la cultura; un cambio personal requiere algo como 12 o 13 ensayos reforzados para que se convierta en hábito.  La retroalimentación correctiva es importante, sin duda, y la retroalimentación afirmativa es igualmente importante para crear y mantener un buen ambiente de trabajo.  Puedes celebrar y agradecer aun los intentos de los demás de cambiar, luego sus primeros logros, y luego los impactos positivos y resultados de ellos.

AUTHENTICIDAD IN YOUR APPRECIATION

29 noviembre 2012
NOTE:  Due to a hectic work schedule since September, requiring 25 days per month travelling — mostly with your companies ;o) — I missed sending last month’s Top Leadership blogs.  I sincerely apologize for this lapse and I promise it will not happen again.  GBL
As I travel from country to country I hear the same plaintive cry from middle management and the base: “They don’t give a rip about me. It’s all about my performance.  If I meet my goals, they’re happy. If I don’t, I’m in big trouble.”
This has given way to a lot of cynicism when we talk about appreciative inquiry and the importance of positive communication. In my opinion, the lack of an appreciative mindset and/or the lack of congruence and genuineness in delivering it, are the two biggest barriers to positive workplace relationships.  Leaders, however, fear giving recognition and affirmation thinking it will lull their people into complacency, a completely disproved hypothesis.  Or when they do give it due to pressure from top management or us consultants, it may be given insincerely.
But the biggest challenge is when the affirmation and appreciation are given sincerely but perceived as false or hypocritical. These perceptions can have other explanations and the challenge is how to overcome perceived inauthenticity.  You can never “prove” your authentic appreciation of someone but there are behaviors which generally assure the perception of sincerity:
  • Only communicate appreciation when it is true: It is not helpful to try to “fake it.” People have excellent “radar” for insincere communication.
  • Acknowledge past omissions: You can use statements like, “I know I haven’t communicated much (if any) appreciation to you in the past…” or “I know we’ve had our conflicts and differences in the past…” and even, “I suspect you may think I’m saying this just because we’ve had the training on communicating appreciation…”
  • Affirm both the person and the behavior: The more specific you can be about what the person does and the characteristic or quality you value, the greater probability that you’ll be viewed as honest.
  • Don’t focus solely on performance or on situations that benefit you directly: A nice way to communicate authentic communication is to identify non-work related skills that are positive (for example, their cheerfulness or how they treat others kindly).
  • Communicate appreciation consistently over time: If you only occasionally communicate appreciation, the likelihood of being perceived as being genuine is low. Similarly, if you only communicate positive messages in front of others, that also will lead to a perception of your doing the actions just “for show.”I believe the only true way to get past other’s perceptions of whether our actions or statements are not “real” is to communicate them repeatedly over long periods of time (months) and potentially in different ways and different settings.