Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Spring has sprung…
The weather here on the west coast has been unseasonably warm this year – all through the Olympics people wandered the streets of Vancouver in light jackets, the sun shone and trees bloomed in spontaneous abandon. We made a wonderful impression on the world.
Were it not for the winter games we might have celebrated our early spring — instead we looked for something to pin the phenomena on – El Ninio – Global Warming – as trucks hauled snow from the interior 24 hours a day to make up for the lack of the white stuff on Cypress Mountain.
West Coasters are known throughout Canada as blowhards… we usually flaunt our flowers while the poor people on the prairies are still shoveling their driveways – we’re kind of awful that way. The rest of the country generally tries to get even – we get the gears about our seasonal wet stuff (the ten months of rain) and put up with claims that we rust rather than tan out here – we then retaliate with phone calls when we hear about blizzards or ice storms. It’s friendly banter.
Not so this year – the mild weather this past February almost proved an embarrassment… almost.
The 2010 Olympic Games were a huge success – despite of (or in part, because of) the weather. And that success has garnered us boasting rights again. So as I note the flurries in Edmonton this afternoon I am also making plans to run home after work to cut my lawn – I may just give my cousin in Sherwood Park a call. It is, after all, spring time in Alberta as well.
Friday, March 19th, 2010
I’m going to tell you a secret…
It could be about anything but my guess is you just perked up a little bit – there is a fascination that goes with the access to hidden knowledge. As soon as we hear the word ‘secret’ we begin to ‘anticipate’ which is why it so tempting not to keep secrets.
We all like to share information particularly if is privileged and while there is little harm in the practice most of the time this is also the basis of gossip.
Gossip is the death of teamwork – it breaks down the trust level within the group and has many adverse side effects on an organization. It increases conflict and decreases morale.
An informative article at http://www.w2wlink.com about the Dangers of Workplace Gossip lays out a strategy to avoid participating in workplace gossip:
”Let’s say you are not a gossiper. You simply listen to your coworkers so as not be rude. But here’s the thing that most people don’t realize-as a listener, you are a co-narrator to the gossip. In other words, the act of active listening actually supports and promotes gossiping. The more you listen, the more you encourage it. If you don’t listen, the gossip has nowhere to go.
Here’s how to get out of the gossip pipeline:
• Be busy. Gossipmongers want attention. If you’re preoccupied with your work, you can’t be available to listen to their latest story.
• Don’t participate. Walk away from the story. Don’t give visual clues that you are interested in listening. If someone passes a juicy story on to you, don’t pass it any further. Take personal responsibility to act with integrity.
• Turn it around by saying something positive. It isn’t nearly as much fun to spread negative news if it’s spoiled by a complimentary phrase about the person being attacked
• Avoid the gossiper. If you notice one person who consistently makes trouble, take the necessary actions to have as little interaction with that person as possible.
• Keep your private life private. Don’t trust personal information with coworkers. Remember, if they are gossiping about others, they will gossip about you, too.
• Choose your friends wisely at work. Share information sparingly until you are sure that you have built up a level of trust. Also, close association with gossipers will give the perception that you are a gossiper.
• Be direct. Confront the gossiper and confidently tell him or her that such behavior is making it uncomfortable for you and other coworkers.
• Go to a superior. Gossiping wastes company time and hurts morale. A company interested in a healthy work environment will value the opportunity to correct this type of situation.”
Gossip has no place in the formation of a healthy team – the sharing of teambuilding strategies however, is always desirable.
Friday, March 12th, 2010
Teams are thought to promote higher worker productivity because as a rule people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Team building can help facilitate communication between workers. When workers understand their roles, as well as the roles of everyone else, they can more easily do their jobs. It is also important to match the right personalities within a team and have people in place who can bring the strengths needed to achieve desired results.
If a team decides to engage in a team-building process, it should be sure to establish objectives for it, such as:
- Writing a mission and purpose statement for the team.
- Establishing roles and responsibilities for team members.
- Developing a conflict-management procedure.
- Examining and improving the team’s problem-solving strategies.
- Improving the group’s communication skills.
- Developing respect, if not actual friendship, among team members
Every member of a team is unique – each has special abilities, different strengths and weaknesses that contribute to the dynamics and functioning of the team. It is important to match the right personalities within a team and have people in place who can bring the strengths needed to achieve desired results.
When team members feel they are equal players instead of followers they are more committed to accomplish. By creating a structure that enables all team members to participate in decision making, planning and setting goals you encourage group work. When a group truly understands each other, knows what needs to be accomplished and is clear about each member’s role within the team, success can be achieved much more quickly.
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
To quote Henry Ford: Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.
Over the past few weeks we have focused on teamwork — building teams — choosing teams — developing teams. It seems a team is an evolution – a constant pursuit of harmony. Team work is ‘work’ – it requires effort — which is why a successful team is something to cheer about.
Next week we’ll talk about some successful team building strategies.
Friday, February 26th, 2010
I’m still surfing the net with regards to teamwork and I have found another really informative site with a focus on team building http://www.atlantachallenge.com.
The Atlanta Team Building site gleaned from a book called “managing teams for dummies” to compile a list of several qualities strong team players need to perform well.
Reliability – consistent performance and the ability to follow through tops the list of desirable traits of a great team player – a member who gets work done and does his fair share to meet commitments.
Constructive Communication skills are also an important quality – someone who speaks up and expresses their ideas clearly, honestly and with respect to others has the ability to make a point in a positive, confident manner and is a great addition to any team.
Active Listening skills are essential for teams to function effectively. Team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second so that meaningful dialogue results.
Active Participation leads to a can-do approach. Good team players come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions – they do not sit passively on the sidelines. They take the initiative to help make things happen.
Cooperation is the act of working with others. Good team players figure out ways to work together and respond to requests for assistance to solve problems and get work done.
Flexibility – Good team players roll with the punches – they adapt to changing situations. Flexible team players consider differing points of views and compromise when needed. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer.
Problem solvers are definite asset to a team. Team players who get problems out in the open for discussion and collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans. Good team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner.
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
These are but a few of the qualities of an effective team member – given the opportunity to build a team of your own it might be beneficial to keep them in mind when choosing your players.
Stages of Team Growth:
The discovery of the teacher’s resource site has provided a wealth of information on teamwork which can be applied to the workplace. As you have probably surmised, teams don’t just form and immediately start working together – they need to be given time to become effective. According to the site team growth can be separated into four stages.
Stage 1: Forming. When a team is forming, members cautiously explore the boundaries of acceptable group behavior. They search for their position within the group and test the leader’s guidance. It is normal for little team progress to occur during this stage.
Stage 2: Storming. Storming is probably the most difficult stage for the group. Members often become impatient about the lack of progress, but are still inexperienced with working as a team. Members may argue about the actions they should take because they may be faced with ideas that are unfamiliar to them and put them outside their comfort zones. Much of their energy is focused on each other instead of achieving the goal.
Stage 3. Norming. During this stage team members accept the team and begin to reconcile differences. Emotional conflict is reduced as relationships become more cooperative. The team is able to concentrate more on their work and start to make significant progress.
Stage 4. Performing. By this stage the team members have discovered and accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and learned what their roles are. Members are open and trusting and many good ideas are produced because they are not afraid to offer ideas and suggestions. They are comfortable using decision making tools to evaluate the ideas, prioritize tasks and solve problems. Much is accomplished and team satisfaction and loyalty is high.
Working as a team is a much needed skill in today’s workplace -
T E A M = T ogether E veryone A chieves M ore
Friday, February 12th, 2010
In keeping with the ‘theme’ of our blog here is what my research has revealed about: The Characteristics of Effective Teams.
The following are a few characteristics of effective teams summarized from a book titled Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong (Sage Publications 1989).
- The team must have a clear goal. Team goals should call for a specific performance objective, expressed so concisely that everyone knows when the objective has been met.
- The team must have a results-driven structure. The team should be allowed to operate in a manner that produces results. It is often best to allow the team to develop the structure.
- The team must have unified commitment. This doesn’t mean that team members must agree on everything. It means that all individuals must be directing their efforts towards the goal. If an individual’s efforts are going purely towards personal goals, then the team will confront this and resolve the problem.
- The team must have a collaborative climate. It is a climate of trust produced by honest, open, consistent and respectful behavior. With this climate teams perform well…without it, they fail.
- The team must have high standards that are understood by all. Team members must know what is expected of them individually and collectively. Vague statements such as “positive attitude” and “demonstrated effort” are not enough.
- The team must receive external support and encouragement. Encouragement and praise works just as well in motivating teams as it does with individuals.
- The team must have principled leadership. Teams usually need someone to lead the effort. Team members must know that the team leader has the position because they have good leadership skills and are working for the good of the team.
Next week - a little information about the Stages of Team Growth
Thursday, February 4th, 2010
As I’ve mentioned, I find Google an amazing resource – I typed ‘teamwork’ into the search bar and was presented with 985 MILLION results! Undaunted, I have been skimming a few of the sites and accumulating some interesting facts about ‘teamwork’.
One of the more valuable points about teamwork was made in a teacher’s resource guide. In part the site focused on the difference between an individual working as part of a group and an individual working as part of a team. (I’ve gleaned from their chart below).
- Members work independently and they often are not working towards the same goal.
- Members work interdependently and work towards both personal and team goals, and they understand these goals are accomplished best by mutual support.
- Members focus mostly on themselves because they are not involved in the planning of their group’s objectives and goals.
- Members feel a sense of ownership towards their role in the group because they committed themselves to goals they helped create.
- Members are given their tasks or told what their duty/job is, and suggestions are rarely welcomed.
- Members collaborate together and use their talent and experience to contribute to the success of the team’s objectives.
- Members are very cautious about what they say and are afraid to ask questions. They may not fully understand what is taking place in their group.
- Members base their success on trust and encourage all members to express their opinions, varying views, and questions.
- Members do not trust each other’s motives because they do not fully understand the role each member plays in their group.
- Members make a conscious effort to be honest, respectful, and listen to every person’s point of view.
- Members may have a lot to contribute but are held back because of a closed relationship with each member.
- Members are encouraged to offer their skills and knowledge, and in turn each member is able contribute to the group’s success.
So it would appear the most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals feel valued, encouraged and supported. Next week I’ll address the characteristics of an effective team… stay posted!
Saturday, January 30th, 2010
By: The Gatekeeper
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve introduced you to two new members of the ifinance team – I sense a theme evolving from this – Team work – What does it mean? How does a team work?? And who exactly are the players on our team.
The dictionary defines teamwork as: a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group. But how exactly is this accomplished? Does the individual get lost within a team? And does teamwork always work?
Over the next few weeks I will try to shed some light on these questions – perhaps pose some more – and re-introduce you to the team here at ifinance and their role within the company. Stay tuned – I think there’s a lot to learn.
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
By: The Gatekeeper
As promised I’m back – this time with the goods on our newest colleague Robert (who in future blogs will be referred to as ‘Bean Counter’). (more…)