How to Inspire Meeting Participants Into Energetic Engagement

Are you tired of struggling to engage meeting participants? No one talks. Participants (using that term loosely, because of course there isn’t any participation!) look around whenever you ask for input? You are frustrated and tired of being the only one with ideas or even talking.
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The Practical Guide For Getting Your Team To Better Relate

Individually, each of your team members is fantastic. They are smart, hardworking, and committed to excellence. But something isn’t right. And that something happens when they’re in a room together. They don’t seem to relate to each other and you’re not sure why. You just know that it’s affecting the team’s ability to deliver and that worries you.

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Think Your People Are on the Same Team? Think Again.

Do you want to increase the collaboration on your team? You’ve got great people, you’ve invested in them and yet their performance both individually and as a team could be a lot better. Instead of seeking support from one another, they keep information and ideas to themselves. They don’t help each other. Meetings are boring and fail to produce results. If this sounds like your workplace, keep reading because there is hope!

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6 Keys to Improving Culture In the Workplace

You want to improve the culture in your workplace, but how do you make it happen? You’ve tried a culture-change initiative and it didn’t work. Or maybe you’ve heard from others who have. They complained about the results or lack thereof. Either way, you’re struggling with what to do next, because what you’re doing now just isn’t working. The culture isn’t changing and you’re tired of losing your best people.

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No Beach Balls in the Workplace

Highly effective teams have collaboration norms so that they don’t waste time by creating easily avoidable problems. Norms guide how teams work. They’re not the policies regarding vacation and sick leave, or emergency response protocols; nor do they define the roles, responsibilities, or human-resource processes. Rather, the norms govern how teams work together, reflect expectations, and prevent misunderstandings. Continue Reading

I’m Upset and It’s Personal

Have you ever felt that your words are not fully conveying your thoughts or feelings about a situation or that you aren’t appreciating another’s work because you are distracted and not fully present? It’s possible that occasionally, unintentionally, you send a message that you have no intention of sending. That message can be that your colleagues have somehow disappointed you – you’re not happy with their work or that they’re doing something wrong. This often might happen because you’re going through a difficult personal experience yourself. Continue Reading

Hold Your Team Members Accountable, But Don’t Be A Nag

Most people cringe at the thought of accountability because it is commonly thought of as being a negative or a punitive tool. You can, in fact, use accountability to achieve success so long as you focus on learning and on a project’s success rather than on assigning blame.

If your colleague fails to achieve the desired result, the first step is to ask yourself if success was in fact possible. Consider whether your colleague had sufficient time, resources, and training. If success was possible and your colleague didn’t fulfill his or her commitment for other reasons, use accountability as an opportunity to get to the bottom of those reasons: make sure that failure was not the result of a misunderstanding, identify what worked and what didn’t, as well as what you or the other person could do differently next time to ensure success. Ask yourself: did you need to clarify priorities? Did your colleague need to engage others or start earlier? You may learn, for example, that more effective planning and prioritization would have made a difference.

On highly effective teams accountability occurs directly among team members: team members support each other in achieving results. And, in order to truly embrace accountability, the team’s leader needs to demonstrate a willingness to confront difficult issues in a supportive manner.

No one likes being nagged or being a nag. That’s the negative version of accountability. You’ll feel like, sound like, and be a nag if all you do is focus on the problem and what isn’t working. If you instead focus on resolving the problem with support and strategy, you will be using accountability as a tool for success.  So if a team member isn’t doing what he or she committed to do, it may be time for a Win-Win conversation. Such a conversation will allow you to express concern, explore what’s really going on, and devise a strategy that works for you both. In particular, if you’re the person’s manager, be sure to probe whether the person had everything necessary, including time to complete the task.

Support the Risk-Averse

Whenever a project requires a team effort, you are likely to involve people with different risk tolerances. Some quite enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with trying a new strategy or taking a big risk (as judged by others’ more cautious standards). Others are quite a bit more risk-averse (as judged by risk takers’ standards). And, since you may need to take risks to ensure a project succeeds, you may also have to deal with the inevitable friction regarding the appropriate level of risk.

Let’s say you’re leading a team. It’s your job to recognize the different problem-solving styles and strengths of your team members in order to create effective teamwork. The Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory is a good tool for understanding your team members’ individual preferred problem–solving styles and risk tolerances. As you can see from the tables below, the more Adaptive styles are more prudent risk-takers, expecting a higher success rate. This is because the more Adaptive prefer solving problems within the current structure, leveraging the structure and corresponding rules and norms.

On the other hand, the more Innovative are more daring risk takers and consequently tolerate a relatively high failure rate. This is because they prefer efficiency and flexibility in problem solving, which also means they often toss out the old “tried and true” way in favor of a new, untried way. The more Innovative will solve the problem despite the structure, rules, and norms in place, adjusting the structure, rules, and norms as necessary. The occasional failure is merely a hiccup in the process of getting to the best solution.

If you’re more Innovative, be sure that you don’t dismiss your more cautious, more Adaptive colleagues and team members or exclude them from projects for the fear that they might hold you back. If you are working with team members who would rather be “safe than sorry,” try to encourage and embrace calculated risk-taking. Consider this: most problems are complex, meaning the solutions include components that range on the Adaption-Innovation Continuum. (Read more on Adaption and Innovation.) In other words, by including input from people with both problem-solving styles and risk tolerances, you greatly increase the likelihood of success because each team member will have focused on the aspects of the problem that he or she is best suited to solving. So yes, you’ll be taking a risk, but it’s more calculated because, as a team, you’ve mitigated the risks by considering the problem from many angles.

Let’s get back to supporting the more risk averse. The first risk a team member takes is simply putting his or ideas forward. It’s important to recognize that some will hold back their ideas and consequently will lose productivity and opportunities for professional growth. When you see this happening, support  this team member in building confidence by making it safe to share ideas that are not fully formed. You can do so by asking for his or her initial thoughts on a matter, meaning you don’t expect the ideas to be fully formed.  It’s also important to publically celebrate success and recognize team members for their contributions. Private conversations supporting a particular individual’s development will be a personally focused review of what worked, what didn’t, and the opportunities for improvement.