Organizational Development

Should I waste my time on team development with behavioral assessments?

Should I Waste My Time on Team Development with Behavioral Assessments?

Most people who have worked in the corporate environment have taken a behavioral assessment, or 2 or 4, or participated in some form of team or leadership development. Sometimes, I hear from leaders that they aren’t sure how to guarantee the exercise provides long-term, bottom-line value. Or I hear from participants, this is great, but I am not clear on what to do with this information. As a former Corporate Leader and a consultant who facilitates these types of exercises and discussions, we have found most people go through the following phases of development:

KNOW

Most people and consultants are aware of the common phrase “the first step is awareness.” But a good number of people think that means just learning the “lingo” of the particular assessment or methodology and what their “type” is. We encourage the leader, team and participants to honestly evaluate the current effectiveness, strengths and challenges of the team, including, their strategy, goals, and organizational structure (roles, process, and technology) that supports the execution of tasks to accomplish those goals. A more comprehensive review of how the team is working within the context of organizational factors, combined with, an analysis of the different behavioral styles, their natural strengths and struggles, the fit for the role and the fit within the organizational structure, values and behaviors (some people call this ‘culture’) will lead to a greater depth of understanding.

ENGAGE

But never stop at Knowing. Many people do and that is why they don’t see a lasting value with these exercises. The entire team, with the leader leading by example, needs to actively participate in the dialogue of what to do with this knowledge. And it can’t be just one team session talking “about” it. The team discussion needs to focus on how to apply this knowledge to their people, process, and technology. Each team member has to internalize ownership by explaining specific actions they are going to take to change how the team is working together. Often people want to focus on what other people need to do and not take ownership.

  • Is the reason the budget process is ineffective due to the instructions not being specific enough for Cooperative people who work better with specific instructions?
  • Is the process so detailed and constraining that Creative people have even more difficulty following it and the goal is not accomplished?
  • Does the CRM / HR / Process technology incorporate this behavioral knowledge in a way that is easy to access and apply at the moment?

GROW

Even great leaders and team members, tend to stop at the team session. Research shows that people, on average, require 7 interactions to be able to absorb information and change behavior. Most of us are lucky to communicate something 3 times before we lose patience. In order to truly grow the organization, there needs to be an intentional, specific, coaching or action plan (practice) over time with clear expectations to ensure that all this great learning translates into sustainable productivity enhancements.

Managing Difficult Project Delivery Conversations 2

Managing Difficult Project Delivery Conversations

Tom, who is the leader of a large technology solutions company, recently attended a 1-day leadership training workshop to learn more about how to effectively manage and coach teams. One of the aspects he learned was that engaging in difficult conversations is a critical part of a leader’s role. A key takeaway was that you cannot withdraw to get away from the possible conflict and then later re-appear to hold a team member accountable in a domineering way. With this leadership insight, Tom realized that learning to manage difficult conversations is critical to the preservation of relationships. Failing to understand the impact of communication on another person can lead to a relationship breakdown that undermines confidence, discourages employees and potentially destabilizes the business.

4 Primary Communication Style Graph

By nature, Tom is driven to reach goals, very competitive, confident and, in exercising initiative, makes things happen. Tom is currently under pressure as the delivery of a complicated and high-earning technology solution for a bank is running behind schedule. Tom naturally communicates very directly. He gets to the bottom line and is not interested in lengthy explanations or stories.

Josh heads up the project. He is analytical, very specific in his approach to business, won’t be rushed, and reacts when insufficient time is allocated to complete work. He recognizes that the timeline for the project is slipping but believes checking and re-checking ensure the outcome is successful and there will be little need to rework the technical solution for the client. Josh communicates using detail, examples and specifics to support a conversation.

Tom opens the conversation with “can you tell me why is the project slipping?” To which Josh responds, “we need more time, I want to be sure before sign off.” Josh continued outlining every aspect he was checking at which point Tom issued a directive: “sign the project off by close of business today.”

Under pressure, Tom failed to listen to the detail Josh was providing. Josh failed to see that Tom was under pressure and needed headlines, bullet points, and a range of sign-off options Tom could take to the client. The meeting ended acrimoniously.

 Lifestyle Communication DNA Style

Had Tom, as the leader, given Josh his time and attention to listen to the detail of where the project sat, he would have been able to provide Josh with suggestions on issues or priorities to help him effectively achieve a plan for a sign-off. Instead, Josh felt overwhelmed and rather than moving the project forward continued to focus on reviewing each issue/step of the project under the original brief believing that Tom was criticising his work.

The reality of the situation is that both Tom and Josh were operating from their natural behavior and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Then Tom remembered during the recent leadership training he had completed the Communication DNA Discovery Process which identified his direct goal-setting, communication style. He realized that if before the conversation, or even at the start of the project, that Josh had also completed his Communication DNA then the result of the difficult conversation could have been different. He would have seen the benefits of giving Josh space to present his position whilst steering him to the bottom line and thereby a solution. He could have demonstrated to Josh that any risk to the project was minimized and offered Josh assurances that he trusted him. Tom would have uncovered Josh’s natural ability to absorb and analyse information ‘on the run’ and offer strategies to move the project to closure.

GUIDE-TO-WORKPLACE-STRUCTUR

Guide to Workplace Structure and Collaboration

What does true collaboration look like?

From a 2008 Guide to Assessing Teamwork and Collaboration published by the Galileo Educational Network,

Collaboration is a structured, recursive process where two or more people work together toward a common goal-typically an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature?by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

Much of what we need to do in order to make an organization function requires us to work with other people. Traditionally, it takes time to learn how to interact with each person’s style, how to agree on the steps to take, roles and responsibilities, and individuals’ deadlines for a common goal. Managers incorporate various degrees of structure by defining roles and responsibilities, processes, project management, and methods of communication to complete the tasks to accomplish the goal.

There are various and differing opinions about how much structure strikes the right balance between helping to accomplish the goal efficiently and becoming a road block to productivity and creativity.

If not enough structure is in place, the team may be perceived as ineffective. Deliverables may not meet the expectations of the “customer” and/or leader(s) in terms of scope, quality, timeline, and/or budget. Often, in this low structure scenario, miscommunications occur.

Conversely, if there is too much structure, the team may be perceived as ineffective as well. In this scenario, it might be a time sink to go through all the process steps and the instructions may be so voluminous, people get lost and have trouble following the structure in place. In fact, too many meetings may take place that are focused more on the structure than on the goal, leaving a lull in initiatives moving forward. People may feel very restricted and disengaged and ultimately, Creativity is squashed.

For true collaboration within an organization or team, the structure and culture has to support two-way communication (creative conflict) built upon trust.

How much structure should you have in your organization?

Identifying the level of structure need in your organization depends on exploring a couple of key questions:

1) How big is your organization?

If you are a small company with just few people working together, less structure may be preferable. A company with fewer people requires each person to understand more of the bigger picture. They typically have to do many of the tasks themselves and there may be fewer interactions needed with other people.

If you are a growing or larger sized company, the more people you have, the more structure you may need in order to be effective. People may be added in order to handle higher volume. More people typically means that each person handles a smaller part of the bigger picture. People become specialized in their roles with specific tasks. The more interactions and hand-offs it takes to complete, the more guidelines and processes you may need to help everyone understand how to work together effectively.

2) What culture do you want to foster?

If you want to foster innovation and creativity, then you may want to have less detailed structure and more general high-level guidelines. Focus more on the goal you are trying to achieve, the communication channels needed to keep everyone in the loop, and fostering communication. Allow the team to figure out how to get to the end goal.

If your organization needs to foster nimbleness and an ability to react to changing customer demands, you also want to have less detailed structure and more high-level guidelines. Fewer restrictions allow employees to develop problem-solving skills in addressing customer issues quickly and foster engagement.

If your product has to be delivered precisely and there is no room for variability, then you will need more detailed structure and processes with step-by-step instructions.

If your organization is struggling with delivering and meeting expectations, then you will also need more detailed structure to help people stay on track. The detailed structure will hold people accountable for next steps /tasks and due dates, along with providing a more detailed analysis of the location of the breakdowns in the process and communications.

3) What are the natural behaviors of the people on the team?

If you have a team full of naturally take charge, spontaneous, and creative people, you will need at least a little structure to help keep them focused and productive. However, you don’t want to squash their natural strengths in problem solving, finding new or better solutions, and reacting instinctively to a dynamic business environment with too much structure.

If you have a team that is naturally very cooperative, planned, and anchored, they will need more structure to take advantage of their natural strengths of being able to follow instructions, ensure tasks are completed and results are delivered. These types of people are great at getting things done when the working environment is well-defined and there is less ambiguity.

Ideally the team would consist of a mix of traits that can provide for the proper balance of strengths to provide the best results.

How you add structure, and the culture you encourage, is important to fostering collaboration and creativity while still having enough structure to reduce miscommunication and issues and to ensure the outcome meets expectations.

Do you have the right level of structure in your organization? Use this Guide to aid in evaluating your team.

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How Important is Workplace Environment to Delivering Business Success?

Over the past years there has been a cultural shift to open plan working. The open office was first conceived by Quickborner a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the 1950s, to facilitate communication and idea flow. Their mantra: to furnish people with the most effective, productive and pleasant working environments possible.

Todays executives may well be following a trend in terms of open plan offices, or they may have the secret to workplace environmental success. Either way I wonder how many have taken the time to understand the behavior of their employees, and more importantly, the workplace environment within which their people can excel.

Uncovering the talent and behaviors of individuals not only provides insight into how and where they will fit in a business, but will also reveal important insight into the environment within which they will flourish.

I suspect that those who could be classed as outgoing and expressive were part of the decision makers who decided that open plan working was the best solution for business success. They would have determined that this environment would build team relationships and produce outstanding results.

Little or no regard will have been given to those who do well, not in an open workplace environment, but in the relative privacy of a closed office. This does not set them apart as non-team participants rather that they need time to withdraw, reflect and think through solutions.

What about those individuals who need practical diplomatic leadership and are hesitant to make decisions without guidance? Large open workplaces environments with an all in together approach will leave them unmotivated, unproductive and overly stressed.

Every business, every project, every team needs a mixture of talent and behaviors to be successful. But the key to success is more than knowing the talents in their people, but also what environment is most likely to bring out the best of the talents.

Lillian Cunningham of the Washington Post interviewed Susan Cain Author of Quiet, who said:

The vast majority of employees work in open-plan offices, where youre in a big open room with other people. There are economic reasons for setting up offices this way, but the theory is that its said to produce greater collaboration and greater creativity. For many introverts, in particular, this is a really uncomfortable way to work. Its an incredibly over stimulating environment, where its hard to concentrate.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2013/09/24/the-science-of-introverts-and-the-workplace/

Philip Landau writes in the Guardian Newspaper: ?Extensive international research from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase shows that 85% of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cant concentrate. Of those surveyed 95% said working privately was important to them, but only 41% said they could do so, and 31% had to leave the office to get work completed. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were surveyed.http://www.theguardian.com/money/work-blog/2014/sep/29/open-plan-office-health-productivity

Whilst many say that interconnection and teamwork are important requirements for organization effectiveness and success, a more likely delivery of rewards is when individually tailored behavioral based experiences are created in the workplace.

It is no longer enough to rely on skills and talents; understanding behaviors and the optimum environment to achieve sustainable success has to be the way forward.

People want to work effectively; the way in which they do that will range, for example, from group brainstorming to quiet introspection; from a systematic data driven approach; to spontaneous, random sharing. Each approach has its merits. Each method will produce outcomes. But to build truly effective teams, leaders need to take behavioral management to a whole new level to gain insight into the needs of others. They need to understand and recognize the distinctions of a situation. In other words recognize how individuals work in certain environments and respond appropriately.

How many leaders truly understand the power of inherent behaviors and further, how environments shape performance? Being able to recognize the differentiating factors associated with behavioral relationship management can change the landscape of thinking and drive up business accomplishments.

In Summary ? open plan working for some people may well be the best way to collaborate. But it can be very restrictive to others. One solution is to compromise by designing workspaces that balance the need for interaction with colleagues and quiet time for those that need to focus and reflect.

The starting point to be able to make these kinds of work place environment calls is to uncover every persons inherent unique DNA Behavior code which represents their natural behavioral style.? This will reveal a persons natural behavioral style and how it is shaped into their overall personality by their personal environment (history, experiences), values and education.

Having this knowledge and applying it to a work force will impact every business, career, financial and life decision that the individual and leadership makes.

What Makes a Great Boss?

The ability of a leader to engage their team is a hot topic these days. The pressure of getting results can often make it difficult to do. Further, typically, many of the people in leadership positions are naturally results oriented people in their behavioral style. You do not see as many leaders who are naturally relationship oriented.

So, the key is how do the results oriented leaders adapt and engage their team on a relationship basis?

What Makes a Great BossA key to this is that the leader firstly understands their own strengths and struggles, and then knows the same of their team members. The team members need to feel understood and be managed uniquely, which means the leader has to adapt. This is what provides the more customized work place experience. The team will then feel appreciated and connected with.

However, there are many more things leaders have to do to in terms of their approach to leadership beyond behavioral awareness. Although, a behaviorally aware leader will more naturally be able to manage his or her team respectfully and meaningfully.

The following article in Inc magazine provides a great list of 10 things bosses can do to engage their employees once they have behavioral awareness – Click Here to Read the article.

The ability of a leader to engage their team is a hot topic these days. The pressure of getting results can often make it difficult to do. Further, typically, many of the people in leadership positions are naturally results oriented people in their behavioral style. You do not see as many leaders who are naturally relationship oriented.

So, the key is how do the results oriented leaders adapt and engage their team on a relationship basis?

A key to this is that the leader firstly understands their own strengths and struggles, and then knows the same of their team members. The team members need to feel understood and be managed uniquely, which means the leader has to adapt. This is what provides the more customized work place experience. The team will then feel appreciated and connected with.

However, there are many more things leaders have to do to in terms of their approach to leadership beyond behavioral awareness. Although, a behaviorally aware leader will more naturally be able to manage his or her team respectfully and meaningfully.

The following article in Inc magazine provides a great list of 10 things bosses can do to engage their employees once they have behavioral awareness: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-things-extraordinary-bosses-do-for-their-employees.html#!

The ability of a leader to engage their team is a hot topic these days. The pressure of getting results can often make it difficult to do. Further, typically, many of the people in leadership positions are naturally results oriented people in their behavioral style. You do not see as many leaders who are naturally relationship oriented.

So, the key is how do the results oriented leaders adapt and engage their team on a relationship basis?

A key to this is that the leader firstly understands their own strengths and struggles, and then knows the same of their team members. The team members need to feel understood and be managed uniquely, which means the leader has to adapt. This is what provides the more customized work place experience. The team will then feel appreciated and connected with.

However, there are many more things leaders have to do to in terms of their approach to leadership beyond behavioral awareness. Although, a behaviorally aware leader will more naturally be able to manage his or her team respectfully and meaningfully.

The following article in Inc magazine provides a great list of 10 things bosses can do to engage their employees once they have behavioral awareness – Click here to read the article.

Why Helping Your Clients Know Their Number is an Old School Approach

Have you ever had a client tell you their number? You know, the net worth number that will make them happy. Or that number they ask you to calculate so theyll know theyll be okay?

Focusing on this number is outdated, a mistake and I contend will actually hurt someones chances of reaching their long term goals. Heres why:

You are encouraging your client to focus on the wrong thing. When someone focuses on a future number they arent focusing on what they need to do to get there. Unless they are planning for a short term liquidity event, such as selling a business or winning the lottery, having a big number in their head doesnt do anything to move them toward the goal.

Helping Clients Know Their Number is an Old School ApproachClients may very well use this number to gauge their progress. One of the positive impacts of goals is that they give us a target to move towards. One of the negatives is that when we dont hit them we feel as if weve failed. When we put our attention on missing a goal, our energy is on the failing as opposed to the achieving of the goal.? For example, if your goal is to drive to Denver and you hit a detour and find yourself in Birmingham it doesnt get you to Denver any more quickly by feeling badly youre in Alabama. Instead, if you get a map or use your GPS to guide you to your preferred destination youll have a much easier time actually getting there.

In his Psychology Today blog Ray Williams surveys various research articles looking at how goal setting doesnt work. He quotes L.A. King and C.M. Burton in an article entitled, The Hazards of Goal Pursuit, for the American Psychological Association. They argue that goals should be used only in the narrowest of circumstances: “The optimally striving individual ought to endeavor to achieve and approach goals that only slightly implicate the self; that are only moderately important, fairly easy, and moderately abstract; that do not conflict with each other, and that concern the accomplishment of something other than financial gain.”

Williams continues:? There is an addiction in our culture to getting more, the going for the goals hype is disconnected from peoples’ authentic selves, and their values.there are psychological manifestations of not achieving goals that may be more damaging that not having any goals at all. The process sets up desires that are removed from everyday reality. Whenever we desire things that we don’t have, we set our brain’s nervous system to produce negative emotions. Second, highly aspirational goals require us to develop new competencies, some of which may be beyond current capabilities. As we develop these competencies, we are likely to experience failures, which then become de-motivational. Thirdly, goal setting sets up an either-or polarity of success. The only true measure can either be 100% attainment or perfection, or 99% and less, which is failure. We can then excessively focus on the missing or incomplete part of our efforts, ignoring the successful parts. Fourthly, goal setting doesn’t take into account random forces of chance. You can’t control all the environmental variables to guarantee 100% success.

If youre not buying the danger of goal setting argument, then consider that making the number the goal is the wrong goal. People think that having a money goal will motivate them to achieve it. Actually, they are focusing on the wrong incentive. People may think they are motivated by money or advisors may think clients are, but really people are motivated by what they money will do for them. The money might help them leave a job they hate, pursue a hobby they enjoy, give to causes they believe in, etc.

Build better relationships with clients and do a better job supporting them in getting to where they want to go.The number is a meaningless moving target. I had a client who told me at our first meeting that his number was $5,000,000. When he got to $5 million he said, Oh, I guess that number doesnt really make me feel like Im there. I think its really $10 million that would have me feeling okay. Guess what, $100 million might not make him feel okay. The feeling of security or knowing that well be okay isnt typically related to the number, but rather our beliefs about what okay is.

As advisors, many of us create financial plans for our clients, run projections, make assumptions etc. We help our clients create a road map for their financial futures. Anyone who has been in business over the past ten years knows that our projections are just that, projections. The world often changes in ways we cant anticipate. What we are really doing for our clients by creating a financial plan is to provide them with a plan that satisfies their logical minds and really serves to ease their concerns about the future. When we can calm our clients worries we help them to make much better decisions with their money.

There are real benefits from the financial planning process. As advisors we need to expand our views about all the benefits a plan provides. When we move past the left brain logical benefits and expand our focus to the more right brain behavioral benefits well build better relationships with our clients and do a better job supporting them in getting to where they want to go.

As a 21st century advisor make sure you understand your clients well enough to know:

  • What they want their retirement to look and feel like.
  • The most important people in your clients lives and how they want to be involved with them in the future.
  • The causes important to your clients and what impact, if any, they would like to have on these causes.
  • How strong their internal barometer is for making adjustments in their financial lives based upon whats happening in the world.
  • What they really need from you to make solid financial decisions.

Helping clients to tap into their motivation behind their number will allow us to be much more effective in helping them get to where they want to go. People are motivated by avoiding pain and moving toward their passions. To succeed as an advisor in the coming years it will be crucial to expand the conversation from just the numbers to instead, focusing on intentions and passions. This is what it will take to truly move people closer to their desired outcomes.

Ellen Rogin, CPA, CFP
is the co-author of Great with Money: 6 Steps to Lifetime Success and Prosperity. She speaks and consults to the financial services industry on business building strategies and working successfully in the women’s market. To learn more and to sign up for Prosperity Tips visit www.ellenrogin.com.