It’s always a pleasure to celebrate wins with your team and praise them for a job well done. Positive feedback, which reinforces exemplary behavior is not often something team leaders have a problem with. Most team leaders understand the importance of affirmation and encouragement although some need reminding. Sometimes giving positive behavioral feedback is a matter of making it routine - writing yourself a post-it note to remind yourself to take every opportunity to dish out some positive reinforcement.
It’s the difficult conversations we have problems with. The other two types of behavioral feedback are constructive and effective feedback. Constructive is where you’re addressing a type of behavior you’d like the team member to change. Effective feedback is related to a specific incident. Effective feedback could be positive when you’re really happy with the way your team has adapted to the pressures of the pandemic, for example. The...
Central to highly functioning teams is team members and leaders who make themselves available to help others. A culture of giving is an important one to generate for staff to thrive. As a team leader, you need to develop your capabilities to mentor, coach and nurture your staff, giving them the support and clarification they need, ideally before they even need to ask for it. For effective collaboration, staff need to be able to share knowledge and be of service to their colleagues wherever possible.
However, there is a flip side to giving. As much as teams need to be willing to offer help, they have to be just as willing and capable of asking for help. People are often more generous than we give them credit for, and a greater problem facing organizations is the unwillingness or missing capability to ask for help.
There are a myriad of reasons why staff don’t ask for help, and even why leaders don’t consult other leaders. As usual, the main general reason is...
So you’ve got a rock in the pit of your stomach. You know what needs to be done and it can’t be avoided any longer, for everyone’s sake. But how are you going to get through this?
It’s time to let someone go. But how do you do it with empathy and compassion? How do you let someone go with their dignity intact and the motivation to seek out new opportunities, to grow and learn and find the company fit that is right for them?
How are you going to get through that difficult conversation? What are you actually going to say?
If any of these thoughts are running through your head, this article is here to guide you through some considerations and strategies you can employ to get through it as smoothly as possible.
The best leaders are just as good at getting people out of the wrong seat on your team as they are at putting them in the right one.
Even if there haven’t been any errors in the hiring process, things change along...
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you, your kids or grandkids would have grown up with the movies, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Inside Out and The Incredibles.
The studio behind all these hits, Pixar, has been heralded as a game changer in animation and in business, under the fierce leadership of now retired co-founder, Ed Catmull. Since Toy Story was released in 1995, Pixar has produced 23 feature films, won 20 Academy Awards and 9 Golden Globe awards. Not only are their films well known and loved, but they are also box office successes, which is what makes them really special in an industry where only about 50% of films return a profit, let alone achieve nearly universal critical success.
Amy Edmondson cites Pixar as an example in her latest book, The Fearless Organization, as being adept at creating psychological safety. Psychological safety means that employees are willing to admit their mistakes without a fear of retribution or ridicule....
A study by Businessolver concluded that one out of three people would switch jobs for a more empathetic company. 40% would work longer hours for a more empathetic employer and a whopping 60% would even take a pay cut to be in a workplace wi greater empathy!
The study clearly demonstrated that an empathetic workplace directly affects employees’ productivity, engagement, motivation and retention.
It’s hard to imagine there could be such concrete benefits from compassion. The ability to put yourself in a co-workers’ shoes is not a skill to be underrated. It’s not something employees can pick up from a company handbook. Empathy is an individual skill that comes more naturally for some than others, but creating an environment where empathy is the norm requires a systematic effort and process across the organization.
Studies have shown that psychological safety is the most important factor in building effective teams. A team that has a high level of psychological safety is one in which team members feel safe to speak up, to admit their mistakes, or take a risk.
One of the biggest challenges most teams face is having trust in each other and their leaders. Trust allows for open communication and creates an environment where team members have confidence that they will be supported by their colleagues. If the trust foundation is lacking, it’s very hard to get people to listen to each other let alone collaborate effectively.
If you want to work on psychological safety with your team, here are some practical activities you can undertake. The activities vary in length and can be adapted to both one-off and regular meetings as well as team offsite meetings, retreats, and other events designed specifically for improving team dynamics.
Collaborative activity has increased significantly in the past two decades. Teams are an essential unit within an organization as well as how we function socially.
Given the proliferation of teamwork, in 2012 Google took on the task of researching how to optimize teams. They set out to determine what factors determined an effective team and how they could improve the way people work together.
They undertook a study they named Aristotle - in honor of Aristotle’s quote that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. They gathered statisticians, organizational psychologists, sociologists, and engineers and studied 180 teams across their engineering and sales divisions. There was a mix of high performing and low performing teams.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of a team, the researchers measured the evaluation of the team by the team leader, the members of the team, and the executive ultimately responsible...
One of the greatest challenges leaders can face is something they often don’t even realize is a problem. What happens is that leaders often have a pretty clear picture of what needs to happen in their head-who’s doing what and why. The problem is that just because it’s clear in their head, leaders might not realize things aren’t as clear for their staff. It’s only human for us to tend to assume that something that’s clear for us is just as clear for others.
Leaders often overestimate how well staff have digested messages and it’s common that staff need repeated communication or further elucidation to gain clarity. Unfortunately, this problem often goes unrecognized until it really affects output - staff might miss a deadline, skip a task or need to redo something because they have not been clear on what was required, or specifically what their role in the project was. Staff will often suffer in silent confusion rather than risk...
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an impossible workload of urgent tasks, you might feel like it’s time to find a new job! Or it could just be that you need greater clarity to identify where you really need to focus your efforts.
When you’re unclear about your role and responsibilities, it’s easy to be distracted by lower priority work. Or it may be that you’re being burdened with tasks that aren’t really aligned with your role. If so, it’s time to speak up. Perhaps you’re sharing tasks with colleagues and you may be unclear of who is ultimately accountable for what.
Where there’s confusion, jobs fall through the cracks, deadlines are skipped and you can end up bickering over whose fault it is, or what you should do next. Confusion can also lead to a full inbox, or days packed with meetings, never giving you the opportunity to actually get some work done. Whatever your concern, if uncertainty is at the...
‘There’s no team without trust’ Paul Santagata, Head of Industry, Google. Quote via HBR
When it comes to team performance, Google discovered that there’s a common denominator across top performing teams. Google undertook a two year comprehensive study on teams which revealed that psychological safety is key for performance.
Psychological safety is about creating a culture where team members don’t feel threatened with punishment or ridicule and can feel comfortable taking some risks. When they know they’re not going to be criticized for making a mistake, a fearless environment is created where team members can flex their individuality and be creative without fear of ridicule or ostracization that they’re not conforming to the well beaten path.
In 1999, Harvard’s Amy Edmondson published an influential paper in which she...