Author Archive

The sphinx

The airline attendant greets you at the door of the aircraft, with a warm smile and says welcome aboard. Throughout the flight s/he is pleasant, attentive and responsive. As a passenger you have no idea of their trials and tribulations, nor for that matter do many of their airline colleagues.

Nor would you expect to know such things.  The person is “in role”, as are each of their colleagues and the flight crew together operate as a team. They have a job to do. So it is with teamwork. When you are a member of a team you contribute not only to the joint task but you do so in role as a team member. And you do this no matter your personal temperament or the life issues with which you may be dealing.

High performing teams in manufacturing plants, mine sites, hospitals, professional service firms are no different. Invariably they are well formed and high functioning, they have the relationships and ways of working that allow them to be so. And well-formed teams have certain characteristics including active participation and contribution from all members with one another and to the task. But teams can’t form without this participation. Read More…

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Well-formed groups

Good facilitators or team leaders often make managing groups look easy!

To those less experienced who find themselves in a role or position to manage a group to get an outcome – whether this is in a meeting, workshop or joint problem-solving activity, they quickly find how easily things can go off the rails. For example, the group can “take control”, particular individuals by their behavior can distract or annoy the whole group, and alignment or achieving decisions seem less possible at the end of a meeting than at the start.

Our colleague Michael Grinder, has provided us and all people responsible for managing groups some very useful and practical approaches to this common dilemma (Interactive Managing Groups: The Fast Track 2nd Ed, M. Grinder with M.Yenik -2011). All Michael’s work on groups is under-pinned by the concept that there are n+1 entities in any group, where n=number of people in the group. The group itself is an entity in itself and when working with groups it is best to manage at the group level, rather than attempt to manage the individuals.

The group – is it formed or unformed?

There are some observable behaviors in a group that tell a facilitator or leader if the group is formed or unformed. It is important to establish this because different tools are required to manage the group, depending on the answer to this.

The more well formed a group, the easier they are to manage.  It takes less energy to facilitate of a formed group because,

  • The group owns whatever problems arise.
  • The members rely on one other
  • When a disagreement arises, the people tend to assign positive intentions to those they disagree with

Grinder’s 6 signs of group formation are,

Observable behaviors UnformedFormed
Where the group lookAt the facilitator
At each other

Speed of transition of group into activities or sub-group workSlowFast
Speed of transition of group from activities back to focus on facilitatorFastSlow
How well individuals in group know each otherNot wellWell
Who is providing psychological safety in the groupFacilitatorThe group itself
Whether they respond together and in unison to a request by facilitator
Patchy responsesIn unison – as a whole

It is therefore in the interest of the facilitator to speed up group formation if it is needed.

The way to speed group formation: it is EASY!

E—Echo

  • Any activity that has everyone doing something at the same time (eg – getting the group to stretch together or read a key word or two off the board)

A—Acknowledge

  • A group, especially an un-formed group, feels safe when the person-in-charge is competent. For example, the facilitator acknowledges that they know what is going to happen before it happens, or that the group, its history or its type of work is well known to the facilitator

S—Silence

  • The facilitator demonstrates they are comfortable with silence. And since “comfortable silence” suggests a high level of familiarity, it subliminally conveys that the group is already formed.

Y—Your Hands

  • When the facilitator represents the diverse sub-groups by using hands. Bringing hands together as she talks about the sub-groups, she symbolically blends the groups together.

 

Jill Tideman

 

 

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Sustainable Change: a whole of systems view

Towards the end of 2018, Tim Dalmau and Jill Tideman had a paper published, “The Practice and Art of Complex Change”. The paper draws together work over the last 15 years and is fairly long and extensive. We have prepared a short excerpt from this so that our ideas on leading change are more accessible to more people.

Click here to download your copy

Jill Tideman

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Assessing team development needs – Handbook #3

The third handbook in a series on Team Development gives you guidance in how to assess your team’s development needs.

In the previous Handbook,  #2 a nine-dimensional framework was outlined to provide a structure for your approach. In this handbook there is an approach suggested for determining what are the priority areas for focus are for your team.

Just enter your details below to receive your free copy of the handbook, Assessing team development needs.

 

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Review: One Mission: How leaders build a team of teams

One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams, by Chris Fussell and C.W. Goodyear published in 2017, follows on from the highly successful book, Team of Teams, that Chris co-authored with General Stanley McChrystal and others in 2015. General McChrystal, was commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) whose last assignment was commanding all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and co-founder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm where Chris Fussell and C.W Goodyear are his colleagues.

Generally, I would not be attracted to a management book written by military men, whose ideas are rooted in their military experience. I know this says more about me and my biases, but my assumption was that the military experience is very different from the corporate and organizational world – and I was sceptical of the relevance to that world. I eventually picked it up to read on the recommendation of my colleague, Tim Dalmau, whose judgement in this area I respect. Read More…

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The leader as a source of contagious destruction

Much has happened in the last two decades to re-shape our understanding of the effect we have on one another. There was a time when we used to think we were independent, autonomous agents who chose to react (or not) to another’s behavior. Those days are well and truly gone.

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Going beyond information exchange: good questioning skills

As far as we are aware, humans are the only creatures that ask questions. This shows a level of self-insight: that we don’t know or understand everything about a situation. Questions take us beyond the obvious.

Generally, questions are seen as ways to elicit or exchange information, but much more importantly questions can,

  • unlock learning
  • fuel creativity and innovation
  • reveal how another person ticks, and
  • build relationships

The use of carefully framed questions is an undervalued tool in organizations and teams. Unfortunately, our education system does not seem to recognise the value of questions or the skills required to construct and use questions. Questioning is a skill to be honed. Our education systems emphasize advocacy at the expense of skilled inquiry.

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Nine Dimensions of Team Development

The second handbook in a series on Team Development gives you a framework to guide your practical approach to developing your team.

Developing a team needs to occur across a range of perspectives and levels. A way of making sense of this is to consider team development on nine different dimensions.

Just enter you email address to receive your free copy of the handbook, Nine Dimensions of Team Development.

 

Jill Tideman

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Team development: a guide

Teams are the core operational unit of all organizations – no matter how small or large. Forming, building and sustaining functional and high performing teams is at the heart of managers' roles, and yet is a constant dilemma for them – how to effectively develop teams?

 To assist, here is the first in a series of handbooks or guides for team development. It provides an introduction to what makes effective team development. Over the coming months, additional handbooks will be available that will provide a framework and practical activities and approaches to help you build a flourishing and performing team.

Just enter your email address below to receive your free copy of the Team Development Guide

Jill Tideman

 

 

 

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When institutions go bad

Tim Dalmau has written a thought-provoking paper, based on his reflections on governance and leadership arising from the recent revelations in the Australian banking industry. He explores parallels across a range of settings. Click here to download your copy of this paper.

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