Team Development

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Stop Projects From Failing by Conquering Change Management

You, as the reader, will learn one important thing in reading this today: effective change management as a key ingredient in preventing the perception of failed projects and change initiatives.

There are a multitude of factors at play to see a project or change through successfully from start to finish. First, it is important to understand how far out the initiative reaches. Regardless of the business, change needs to be identified and addressed at all levels: program level, organizational level, project level, and product level. This hierarchy touches on changing the approach to company vision (program level), changing people/ roles and processes (organizational), specific project scope changes and changes in technology, and product or service features (product level). At any one level there are multiple variables to keep in mind and sometimes missed variables can lead to delays or ultimately, failed projects. So, what is the key to achieving a successful initiative?

Out of all the factors, Leadership plays a key role in program and project success. To combat project stress and/or ambiguity across the organization, a leader should facilitate project success by:

1) Establishing clear expectations of the project (not just the due date) and it’s alignment with the organization’s overall objectives.

2) Prioritizing all major enterprise efforts and emphasizing the need for organizational resource planning. Budgets for key projects should include back-filling key operational roles so the Subject Matter Experts are working on the project. Asking your best functional resources to work the project off the side of their desk seldom works and can be a key contributor to failure.

3) Ensuring a culture where two-way communication is encouraged:

1. The people who are setting the scope, budget, and timeline need to listen to feedback from the people who will be responsible for executing those deliverables before committing to a plan. To encourage unity and team accountability, the people setting the direction need to be held equally accountable as the people delivering.

2. Encourage a culture of Relationship Change Management by ensuring the team is having an ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders. This open dialogue should be present at every phase of the project from the team selection through post-implementation support in order to ensure buy-in and ownership. Those efforts with a dedicated Communication and Change Management role, where activities are tracked in the project plan, will have better results.

3. Practicing honesty with oneself. Too often, as leaders, we want to believe something will cost less, take less time, and provide more benefit than the reality. C level executives need trusted messengers who are closer to the work to provide them with unfiltered information, especially if the news is bad.

4. Spending more time ensuring the key roles are filled with people who have the right experience, skills, and natural behaviors to ensure success.

5. Holding people accountable which also includes enforcing a culture of quality assurance. Motivate team members using both the carrot and the stick methods. Bonuses tied to project deliverables can be very effective if they are meaningful and permeate all levels of the project. Removing a problem person from the project catches people’s attention as well.

As a leader, it is important to remember that the two-way communication should be incorporated in every aspect of the project and organization. This will ensure that your organization is operating on the most accurate facts and can therefore, affirm the success of a project or change initiative. Setting up such a unified culture is most effective when it starts with the leader.

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Why Trust in Teams Increases Performance

It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations rely on groups of people (teams) to deliver significant outcomes for their business, yet invest little resource into understanding the behaviors, communication style and working environment needs of individual members.
Great teams are built on trust. They trust each other and they trust those that lead them. (Trust = the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.)

Trust doesn’t appear over night. It takes time. It requires the sharing of personal knowledge. It’s built upon respect, empathy, and a certainty that the relationship is being developed in a mutual way.

Trust increases communication and open, honest communication is essential to building a high-performing team.
Most organizations know the importance of building teams through 1) a shared vision, 2) ensuring that team members have clear roles and responsibilities and 3) are led by a leader whose people skills are honed and mature. But few invest the time or resources into understanding the behavior and communication style of the individuals within a team. Trust cannot be built if team members don’t know each other at a deeper level. If they don’t know how to communication with colleagues and if they haven’t shared how they wish to be communicated!
Trust begins not with knowing how talented a person is (though talent is important to have in a team) it begins by uncovering the core of a person, the behavior that is inherent and will remain steady under pressure. When that is revealed, relationships can be formed in an open and transparent way ? then trust can begin to be built.
Trust is fragile and can be lost quickly through negative experiences which makes it all the more important for it to be built on a firm foundation of communication, information sharing, ideas and opinion sharing, constructive criticism and problem resolution.

Understanding each other’s communication and behavioral style builds a bridge between people that makes trust much easier to be formed in team relationships.

Unlocking inherent behaviors not only reveals communication and decision making styles it also uncovers values. So why is revealing someone’s values important in teams? It ensures leadership can introduce guidelines that line up with the individual’s values which ensures teams are far more likely to respect and follow them.

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Top Managers Know How To Listen

Entrepreneurs are able to take a new idea and translate it into a tangible business venture through hard work and determination. Successful business leaders are not only savvy on how best to maneuver into a new market, acquire investors and engage customers, but also optimize human capital and skills to complement enterprise strategies. Entrepreneurs must leverage the resources available to generate revenue and increase growth potential. Without proper management of employees, companies may be dragged down by weak practices or delay expansion projects due to a high turnover rate or low productivity levels.

Business builders are in charge of numerous aspects of business operations, including coaching managers on how to promote a positive company culture in the way they treat and oversee their staff. Managers must be equipped with the necessary training, skills and experiences to empower employees rather than stifle them. Particularly in service-oriented companies such as a financial advisory firm, it is imperative for managers to know how to listen to their workers to effectively teach to their skill set and nurture strengths for business growth.

Avoid Micromanaging

Business leaders must make sure they are creating an environment for staff to feel comfortable expressing ideas and trying something new, without fear of an adverse reaction from an overly involved supervisor. When a boss micromanages their team, staff will have little room or motivation to grow within the company. A stifled employee will likely not feel appreciated by their supervisor(s), dread coming to work each day and offer minimal productivity levels. These unsatisfied workers will operate as if constantly waiting to be reprimanded, corrected or rejected by a superior and may eventually leave the company.

A new business with a limited budget, however, should focus on hiring talented workers who show potential for growth within a company, building up experience and skills that align with enterprise goals. Just as investors will fund a business concept that shows promise for a lucrative future, managers should invest in employees who can help an enterprise surpass expectations with innovative ideas and determination. Becoming an overly involved manager who does not trust employees or allow them to spread their wings will only slow down a company

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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.

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How to Close the 40/60% Relationship Gap in Engagement and Sales

Social media, in all its forms, is an important tool for businesses. When used appropriately, it enables interaction and engagement between service providers and their customers. An undeniable example for the power of social media in todays world is all the concepts, products, applications, services, etc. that have grown exponentially in reach through Facebook interactions and presence. The important thing to note is that these arent even business services that affect peoples bottom lines or their wallets. The common component in catching on to the social media fire is the connection sharers feel to the message portrayed. Regardless of what has been long in practice, no one wants to be sold to and everyone can now see the signs to look out for, avoid, and ultimately, dismiss. To close the relationship gap in engagement and sales, organizations have to focus on the engagement and the sales will follow. Furthermore, those organizations that have included both a communication and behavioral ingredient to their social media marketing are likely to be ahead of the marketing game.

Research shows that only 15% of online users completely read all their emails (Juniper Communications Research). How can an organization find and engage those 15% and perhaps more importantly, how will the organization be able to engage the other 85%. Although its not surprising that most of todays world is too fast-paced for lengthy communications through social media or any other medium, individuals still have natural preferences and information needs. Once an organization has tapped into what these needs are, the possible engagements are countless. For example, individuals that make decisions based on facts and thorough research will not be swept away to buying in to an abstract idea or proposal. To truly engage those with such a preference, honesty in specific facts, details, and data is the key to crafting a trust-building engagement.

Understanding how to engage customers so that they buy, stay, and refer, is probably one of the most important marketing behaviors to tap into. The importance of true customer engagements also reflects in the role organizations place their customers in when focusing on engagements leading to sales rather than sales leading to engagements. When customers are engaged, they play the role of supporters of your organization rather than just customers and this in turn leads to long-term loyalty, perhaps even regardless of service or price. But, how does an organization maximize their customer engagement through marketing platforms such as websites, taglines, and all marketing messaging? If the business is unaware of what kind of prospects are out there and interested, it is difficult to decide whether to add more graphics, more modern touches, more words, more stories, or more of a social media presence. By doing one of these, the organizations marketing might alienate a large group of others as in todays fast-paced world, all business have to compete to catch consumers limited attention span. The best way to engage various types of communication preferences is to follow a matrix type of message deployment on your websites or other communications. Since more goal-focused people tend to want things short and to the point, the most important information should go in the top left of your website or publication with graphics to the side and more detailed, elaborate information below. The idea is to take advantage of the patience that people preferring certain types of communication have and allowing them to scroll or move down further to get their information.

Initial questions to be addressed are:
1.Are you on the same page as your customers when having conversations? Research shows that sales and service teams will naturally engage only 40% of customers.
2.What are you doing to close the “Relationship Gap” with the other 60%?
3.How are you utilizing communication channels to gather information on the preferences of prospect pool?

A major advantage to interacting in the vast online market would be to have an objective and simple system to quickly understand how individuals like to hear and/or see information. Therefore, a useful starting point to engaging customers is having your employees, prospects, and customers complete the Communication DNA (CDNA) Discovery Process.

The CDNA Discovery Process uncovers natural preferences for how an individual wishes to be communicated with by others. This is powerful information for executives, marketingand sales teams,as well as others, to know in building personal and business relationships based on greater trust and knowing what is important to the customer.. The results of CDNA also offer an accurate report to integrate into the organizations marketing strategy.

The CDNA Discovery Process helps businesses and organizations increase engagement of their diverse customer base at all levels using technology platforms that are seamlessly integrated to all relevant processes across the business.

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It provides a hub of human behavior solutions powered by Communication DNA Discovery which are implemented by businesses using the DNA Relationship System for increasing customer and employee engagement across the business on an enterprise level. CDNA also simplifies the marketing process by categorizing prospects into four main communication style: lifestyle, goal-setter, stability, and information. If you find most of your prospects are information style and your organizations messages have not been providing enough key facts and details, then this could answer the discrepancy in interest attained from your marketing. Conversely, if you are providing a lot of details and maintaining a logical, scientific approach to creating interested customers but your customers are more big picture thinkers, you efforts are ill-placed.

Once you have the customers behavioral, decision-making, and communication style information at your fingertips, you can start to use it in your inbound marketing strategy and send your sales teams strongly engaged, well informed, and highly qualified leads. Research by eConsultancy shows that personalized online experiences produce a 19% increase in sales. At DNA Behavior, weve seen similar increases with an average of 23% uplift in revenue. Continuing into the marketing arena,this communication system will provide significant insight into the message format required to segment communication into the behavioral and communication style of existing and potential customers.

Closing the 60% Relationship Gap in customer engagement and marketing messages becomes a real possibility with the use of CDNA and will add an instinctive differentiator to your current business model.

Management Principle: System Irrationality

Today’s management term is geared toward team and corporate outcomes but imagine if we applied the principle below to our communities and to government at large? How would it change life around us?

The truth is most of the topics we discuss in this blog also apply to our families, neighborhoods, and most all other contexts of life. I hope you think beyond corporate as you contemplate today’s principle.

System Irrationality. System irrationalities reveal themselves when we think, plan and build processes one way, then get unexpected outcomes as a result. One clear and predictable example is the way in which we incentivize people. If we hope, for example, to engage directors who will develop next generation leaders through a deliberate mentoring approach as part of a succession process, but only incentivize them with financial reward for increasing business, then we shouldn’t be surprised when no leaders emerge to replace them. It’s human nature. We will reap what we reward. Imagine Navy Seals who are trained to guard and protect themselves only, when under attack. How effective will they be at achieving complex missions? They are rather shaped with engrained thinking to protect their companions first and worry about themselves last. They accomplish almost superhuman feats as a result.

As professional leaders, we can have access to similar results by utilizing the appropriate human incentives. When organizational leaders understand and employ the secrets of selflessness, true teamwork will occur that will have lasting, sustainable corporate impact.

Coaching questions: Where are you experiencing system irrationalities and getting less than desirable results? What inspirationally-based human incentives can you apply to cultivate hoped-for outcomes?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.