Friday April 18, 2014
Questions about how much autonomy a team should have in implementing its ideas come up with every team you form. This is one of the toughest questions to answer which is why it always comes up. Knowing the limits and boundaries is key for successful teams. The answer? It depends.
Image Copyright Phil Date
In my popular Twelve Tips for Team Building article, I emphasize the need for the team to understand its limitations and areas of control. This direction generally comes from the team's manager or management sponsor/participant. But, here's the problem.
Often, a manager is monitoring or participating in multiple teams so is unavailable to regularly participate in every team meeting. Teams vary in their experience, their expertise, their understanding of the goals of the organization, and their knowledge of other key organization initiatives.
Consequently, the team may become significantly invested in the solutions it creates that may not match the direction of the organization...
In other cases, the solution may require resources that are committed to other projects or cross over into the mission and action plans of another team. There are hundreds of reasons a team's solution may not be viable - that team members may not know.
So, what's the solution? Part of it lies in giving the team clear direction and defining carefully the critical path at which the team's sponsors need feedback and participation. This keeps the team from heading too far in a direction that won't be supported. But, part of the solution is that the team needs to recognize that their management sponsor or manager does not like surprises or being blind-sided.
The team needs to communicate at all of the critical decision points. The team is responsible to bring their manager along and to make their manager aware of their thought progression as it is happening. A perennial complaint I hear in organizations is that employees' jobs are changed without their input. The same is true for managers. They want to be involved in decisions that affect their jobs or about which they will need to communicate or justify decisions with their executive leadership. No surprises.
The manager also needs the opportunity to influence the project's direction and the team's decisions. It is far more effective to involve the manager or team sponsor from the beginning. Secretive teams are doomed to failure or worst of all, they persistently feel their decisions are shot down. It doesn't have to be this way. Communicate often and with full details - managers and teams.
More Tips for Successful Teams
Friday April 18, 2014
Do you take advantage of inexpensive, team building and morale boosting opportunities to help your employees adopt a continuous learning mindset? One of the hallmarks of learning organizations, employers can use brown bag lunches to enhance continuous learning.
A brown bag lunch is an informal opportunity for employees to learn at work. A brown bag lunch is used to convey work information occasionally, but mostly serves to enhance employee knowledge about non-work or job specific issues and ideas.
Brown bag lunches or lunch and learns provide an opportunity to develop employees' knowledge, pique their interest about opportunities, and demonstrate the company's commitment to providing a healthy, value-based, motivational work environment.
Topics for a brown bag lunch range from viewing slides of a coworker's vacation trip to a visit from a local banker to discuss maximizing the potential return that employees can earn by saving.
Here's more about why you might want to offer brown bag lunches or lunch and learns in your workplace. Suggested topics, too...
More About Continuous Learning and Learning Organizations
Image Copyright Aleksandar Petrovic
Thursday April 17, 2014
Teambuilding remains a tough topic in most organizations. You want team mates comfortably interacting. But, you also want the teamwork and teams supporting your organization's desired culture and team norms - not necessarily the culture that you have developed and that your teams mirror.
If your goals are creativity, customer-centric service, product offerings that anticipate customer needs, and agility, your goals for teams will be different from organizations that focus on customer service and improvement of current services. The best organizations expand their services to fulfill, and even anticipate and project, customer needs.
I've received a lot of questions lately from people who are new to Human Resources or who want to know what to do next in their HR departments. These comments about teams are appropriate because the HR department is on the company team.
As much as any other department, HR needs to be driven by company needs. If HR does not understand and anticipate the needs of their internal customer teams, their services may satisfy customers, but never delight. To delight, you must offer what the employes didn't even know they needed, until there it was.
And, suddenly, meeting that unpredicted need becomes the most important aspect of your service for customer happiness. Have you looked at your HR business plan and services lately? Are they anticipating customer needs - or just fulfilling - lagging behind in administrivia and rules?
Start by talking with your managers to see what they need from you. The HR team can lead the way to identify and anticipate their internal customer needs - to help the rest of the company teams identify and anticipate their customer needs, too.
More About HR Teams and Plans
Image Copyright Jack Hollingsworth / Getty Images
Thursday April 17, 2014
Have goals? Still sticking with your New Year's resolutions? You'd be one of very few people if you answered yes to either of these questions.
Indeed, how is your organization doing with its goals so far this year? Goals are a powerful force for good when set appropriately and shared with all of the right people.
When practiced poorly, however, goal setting also has a serious downside which can undermine your success. Poor goal setting makes people cynical, wastes their time, and fosters confusion about where to concentrate actions and energy. How does such a potentially successful practice as goal setting, go wrong, so often?
In the darker side of goal setting, I enumerate some of the problems with goal setting as a result of interviewing several executive managers. You'll be happy that you took a look because you may find the root causes of why your organization or personal goal setting objectives generally fail.
What causes you or your organization to fail to achieve your goals? Seriously.
More About Goal Setting
Image Copyright Kyu Oh / Getty Images