Monthly Archives: February 2013

Myths of Successful Teams

26 Feb
by Bridget DiCello

People working together in teams can create very powerful results, experience great satisfaction and feed off the energy and wisdom created by the team.  There are a lot of myths about teams though; things that people take for granted or do not clearly understand.

Myth #1:  People must like one another.

For a team to be really successful, its team members must like one another, be like a second family and have commonalities. People who are alike, like working together more.
The Truth:  Likeness can provide a false sense of security.  Complementary talents, which are valuable, often come with different personality styles.  Learning to work with others unlike yourself can be rewarding, as long as you don’t expect work to provide your social life.

Myth #2:  No unnecessary conflict is good. 

Good teams only praise each other, do it often, respect and don’t second-guess one another. They focus on being supportive and refrain from unnecessary conflict and confrontation. Team members must choose or compromise between getting the job done and treating one another humanely.
The Truth:  Conflict represents unique ideas and approaches being voiced, inadequacies and lack of motivation surfacing, and passions being shared.  Tackled correctly, these can be the spring boards to greater success for the whole team!

Myth #3:  People work better in teams.

People like working together and work better in teams. Teamwork is more productive than individual work, and the larger the team the better.
The Truth:  There are many times when working with others might slow you down, especially if your energy is not derived from interaction with others.  Certain activities that require collaboration are completed better in teams, and other times, working alone provides the environment for focus and fuels a ‘get it done’ approach that is difficult to coordinate in a team.

Myth #4:  The team is the goal.

A great team is an honorable goal. It takes a lot of hard work to create one.
The Truth:  Only if your goal was to build a team.  Most of the time, the goal or result you were tasked to, or wish to accomplish requires the work of a team, but the creation of one is purely a functional task, not an end in itself.

Myth #5:  Managers build teams.

Managers and owners are responsible for building teams. They need to hire the right people and the team will work well for a long time.
The Truth:  Managers play a valuable role in assembling capable team members. However, the really strong and effective team is the one who works hard to build its own abilities and effectiveness, and increase them over time.   The right people who are stagnant, turn into the wrong people.

Myth #6:  There is no ‘I’ in team.
Team members must be focused more on the group than on themselves and their individual success; and work hard not to do anything to the detriment of the team.
The Truth:  There may not be an ‘I’ but there is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’.  A team is comprised of people with complementary skills, offering each other mutual support.  Each person MUST focus on how they can grow and develop their skills to be able to contribute to the team, and focus on themselves and what they do well and don’t do well.

What Am I Listening for?

06 Feb
by Bridget DiCello

People like to be listened to, receive your attention and be heard.
We know that we should listen in conversation with friends, associates, employees and supervisors.
Even the Super Bowl coaches say they listen more now to their players. 

But, what is it we are listening for?
Haven’t you been in a situation where you felt you were supposed to listen as the person went on and on…? That certainly didn’t feel like the productive thing to do at that time!
And are you supposed to listen, when you feel you already know “the answer”?

Purposeful listening is paying attention to hear the messages the person is trying to communicate, relating them to your overall purpose for having the conversation, and asking the right curious questions to arrive at these two results.

Listen with a purpose. Know why you are entering a conversation in the first place. If you don’t know why, don’t enter the conversation yet. I’m serious. If it is simply for social purposes, make sure the other person would see it that way too, or they may be trying to communicate something serious and you appear to ignore them.

When you enter a conversation with a purpose, you stay focused on what you want to accomplish, while realizing that unless the other person begins to see and buy in to that purpose, you will not be successful – whether you need their help or cooperation, their willingness to be passive, or their active engagement.

You want reports to be completed on time.
They have a million excuses.
You want to tell them to get them done on time, ask if they get it, get a head nod, and have results be consistent and what you’ve demanded.
Fat chance.
The idea behind listening is to find out why they’ve been late – really why they’ve been late.
By asking questions that lead them through their thought process, and listening to the answers clearly enough to lead them in a way that they will follow you willingly, they will discover why their reports are late. Then you can ask my very favorite question: What specifically will you do differently?

Some of my other favorite questions as you listen are: (asked with genuine curiosity)
Really? Why do you think that happened?
How else could you have approached this?
Then what did they say? (chances are they aren’t listening well to others, leading to miscommunication, a productivity killer)
Why do you think they did what they did? Seriously, why do you think they were ‘upset’, ‘stubborn’ or ‘lazy’?

In order to listen well, you must know what it is you want to accomplish in the conversation, set an agenda if you can, listen for obstacles and positive movement forward, and ask the right curious questions to steer the conversation in a productive direction.