Ideas and Insights


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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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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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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Lessons from geese

Life is not a solo activity. It is an act of co-creation with all those with whom we interact over the course of a life time. No less in organizations with those with whom we work, as in any other sphere of life.

As we were reflecting on the learnings we have collected over the years, a number stand out and one is the metaphor based on geese flying in formation. An oldie, but a goodie, as they say. We share this again for the messages and learnings are timeless. The source is unknown.  They are simple truths which resonate with our experience and that of many of our clients

“As each bird flaps its’ wings, it creates an uplift for geese following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.”

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because the are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay with those who are headed in the direction we want to go, and be willing to accept their help as well as to give our help to the others.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and share leadership. People, as well as geese, are dependent upon each other.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging, and not something else.

When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down it honks for help and two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay with the sick goose until it is able to fly again or it dies. Then they launch out on their own, or with another formation, or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong …. and honk when we need help!”

Unknown source

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Tim Dalmau and Steve Zuieback launch their new e-book!

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Do you need practical help on how to work out what is going on in your team or organization – get the new e-book, Diagnosis: Strategies and Tools for Organizations by Steve Zuieback and Tim Dalmau

Leaders at all levels of organizations are often perplexed and mistaken about what is actually happening underneath the surface, in their teams and organizations. Like a medical practitioner, it is often critical to first understand the underlying dynamics causing the issue before making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan.

You will find a wealth of strategies and tools in this book for “figuring out” what is actually going on in your workplace! Read more…

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Leading teams to be their best

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Leading teams to be their best

Tim Dalmau and Michael Grinder will conduct a workshop in Adelaide for people who seek to lead teams to perform at their very best,  March 9th  – 10th, 2016 in Adelaide.

Would you like to get your group or team working collaboratively, be innovative, deal with conflict, be aligned and cohesive? Above all, would like to help them to perform at their very best?

Tim Dalmau and Michael Grinder will again conduct a special training event.. This time you will learn ways you can get the best from your team.

This training is for you if you are a leader, executive, educator, middle manager or supervisor who leads a team of people.

You will have the opportunity to work on your own specific needs under the guidance and skill of both Michael Grinder and Tim Dalmau

This is not a workshop of theory, but practical how to’s. Read more…

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The Key to Aligned Action

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Over the past 20 years we have used a model to explain why so much good communication that occurs in corporations with groups of people and other large institutions is ultimately wasted effort.  This is particularly the case when leaders seek to communicate information to a group of employees in the expectation that it will lead to some form of aligned action.
In the past few months it has become clear how much this particular framework resonates with clients. Over the years we have received a number of requests to publish it.
This paper is a response to those requests. Click here to read or download a copy.

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Two special training opportunities

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 Foundations of facilitation

Bob Dick  is offering a great opportunity for people who wish to improve their facilitations skills. Something he does every year, this workshop is for anyone who seeks to improve their competency at facilitation. Dates are May 21 and 22 in Brisbane, Australia.

Bob assumes that all people have experience of group activities.  The workshop is designed to help you become more aware of what you already know, and add to the methods and processes you can use in group settings.

People who can benefit from the workshop include managers, group leaders in all settings, teachers and trainers, beginning facilitators, and the like.

Bob is among the world’s best designers of good process. He is a prolific author, and publisher of some of the best facilitative and change processes available. A thinker, facilitator, consultant and mentor to many; I have had the privilege of working with him and co-authoring some books.  This is an opportunity not to be missed. For more details follow this link.

Working with dysfunctional team dynamics

Steve Zuieback and Michael Grinder are conducting a very special workshop for those leaders who want to get clearer on when to manage a team and when to lead or facilitate. It is is designed for leaders, managers and supervisors who find themself in challenging group and team settings. Perhaps they have inherited a team with dysfunctional dynamics or perhaps are themselves perceived by others to be a source of this dysfunction.

The workshop is being held on June 18 and 19 in Vancouver, Washington, USA.

Steve Zuieback is one of the best trainers in facilitation skills I have ever worked with and Michael is a master of precision communication. This is the first time ever they have worked together and it is an opportunity not to be missed. For more information about this special event follow this link.

Tim Dalmau

 

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Buy Tim & Steve’s Book

''A truly useful and practical book'' Rich Shapiro, EY

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