What teams want to be known for

I often work with teams.  Some are new, some old.  Others are performing well and want to be even better.  Others aren’t. It might be conflict, lack of leadership, personal and group fortitude, poor direction or that they are a new group working their way to becoming a team.

One thing that is always true is that everybody there has been in a team before. That could be a work or sports team, a club, some volunteering activity or at school.  All are from some form of social grouping, whether it is because they happen to live under the same roof or because they are a tight knit family where everything is known and understood.

So, nowadays I tend to get bored with having to establish behaviours and Ground Rules at the start of a team session.  I want us just to be honest about what good and bad behaviour is and which we want to have.  That sounds like a slightly pathetic plea along the line of “why can’t we just love each other ?”  and my practical, pragmatic nature won’t allow that. So, I’ve tried to find a simpler way in, and found this Class Charter in a quick search.

I’ve now used this a couple of times and it says everything about what a team is – and what it should be known for, by its members and others that have any interaction with it. People haven’t felt that it is patronising.  They like the simplicity and clarity.  Everything in it can be ‘translated’ to any team and it seems to last beyond the session. It becomes their team brand.
If you are interested in this (not original) approach and want to share your ideas – get in touch.

A Story About Influencing

This story is mostly true. The fine beast that you can see below is the latest addition to the Tanner household. George is a rescued Fox Hound and joins Daisy and Ruby to build a trio of mutts around the place.
I had always insisted that two dogs was enough. When one passes away we get another as company for the remaining one and to occupy our sadness. Daisy and Ruby are our third pairing.

Sam, my wife, was driving past the dog rescue centre when she saw George being walked (or dragged along) as he picked at the rubbish he could see on the path. She found out some details about him online, and then went in to meet him. He had been a stray, was about 18 months old and could only go to a family that was used to dogs.

Once she had met George she introduced him to my sons – again online. Then she took Patrick to see him, and take him for a walk – or more of a drag at that stage. Patrick liked him too, and so next they took Daisy and Ruby to meet him to check that they would be OK too. They are a very laid back pair, so it was a given that they would get along.
At this stage I was shown an online picture of a random mutt at the rescue centre. I agreed he looked ‘nice’, and confirmed my policy that two was enough. Very clearly and firmly asserting myself to ensure that there was no uncertainty in my message (we’ve been here before).

A few days later we passed the rescue centre on our way to walk Daisy and Ruby, when Sam suggested we pop in to have a look. I’m not totally stupid, so I repeated my key messages. Anyhow, we met George. He was reintroduced to Daisy and Ruby, and then took him back to the centre’s staff, who asked me when we were completing the paperwork and taking him home !

As I mentioned I’m not stupid, though probably malleable by those I love. So, my protests were undone by some very sharp work with key stakeholders and influencers. Sam wanted him. Harry and Patrick thought he was a great character and needed a home like ours. Even Daisy and Ruby had met him and liked him. And he is full of character, energy and fun.

There is some learning here. One part might be how easily swayed I am by a call to the heart and wanting to please (or not upset) my family. The other more useful part is the skillful, focused influencing plan that Sam created to remove every objection I had and to create a vision of George at home that was irresistable. That’s the bit I’ve got to get better at.

3 minute coaching conversations

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I recently was running a development programme with a group of senior operational managers.  We were discussing different perspectives and approaches to leading and influencing others. A key part of that was on the conversations that managers and leaders have, and the balance of ‘Ask’ and ‘Tell’ that they need to find.

Most leaders want to be nurturing and develop others.  This leads them to prefer the ‘Ask’ approach, coupled with good guidance.  Unfortunately real life gets in the way of this approach, and they may find it more challenging than they hoped to be the leader they want to be.  It then becomes a challenge to get back on track.

One of the ways to do this is by taking a daily (or most days) coaching approach.  This is described by Marshall Goldsmith in the clip I’ve attached.  This simple discipline taken with a trusted coach can be immensely powerful and supportive.

I’ve shared this many times with colleagues and clients who are caught between what they want to be and what they are (‘forced’ to be).  They appreciate the practical simplicity of this approach. Have a look – and try.

If you are interested in finding out more – just let me know.