Could Your Team Land a Plane?

What is most important to you as you are heading into an operating room?  Is it the skill of the surgeon or how well the entire surgical team works together?  Surgeon and Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande’s research says teamwork is most important. In his book The Checklist Manifesto: Getting Things Right, Gawande describes the most common obstacle to effective teamwork in an operating room:  “silent disengagement, the consequence of specialized technicians sticking narrowly to their domains.”

In my work with leaders and teams in complex organizations, I often hear complaints about siloes and finger-pointing.  It can be hard work creating a culture that relies on everyone believing their job is to help the team get the best possible result.

How can you overcome “that’s not my problem” syndrome?  Research shows that something as basic as asking people for input can increase their willingness to offer solutions.  If you know the story behind the movie “Sully”, input from every member of Captain Sullenberger’s team made it possible for all 155 passengers on board the plane that landed on the Hudson River on a freezing January day to make it home.

What difference could active engagement and teamwork make in your world?

How Does EQ Impact the Bottom Line?

The CEO was fed up – if she got one more complaint about the VP Operations she was going to have to fire him.  It was obvious when he was in a bad mood because he yelled at people and slammed doors.  Then they were upset and distracted which affected their productivity and how they dealt with customers.  The ripple effect of his bad moods was negatively impacting the bottom line.

Human behavior is like an iceberg.  We see how people behave but we don’t always understand what drives behavior.  Using Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is like putting on your scuba gear to check out what is hidden beneath the surface.  Once you know which emotions are influencing your behavior, you can use those emotions more effectively.

In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on their teams generated measurably better financial results.  Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.

If you want to positively impact your bottom line, contact cheryl@csbryan.com today for an assessment and suggestions for improving EQ for yourself or someone on your team.

Don’t Burn Your Fingers!

Last month I described the results of a session on creating a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders”:  vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency with generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

In our “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” exercise, the group identified the following potential distractions to implementing that Secret Sauce recipe:

  • External market factors
  • Loss of business
  • Morale / Negativity
  • Resistance
  • Communication
  • Safety or other incidents
  • Talent
  • Resource management
  • Personal distractions

Could you choose the perfect dessert for each member of your team without asking them what they want?  Our last item on the menu for this session, “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert,” explored the importance of celebrating successes in ways that motivate each individual.  Here are some of the techniques that were mentioned:

  • Listening
  • Trust
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Support
  • Involvement in decision-making
  • Meaningful work
  • Autonomy
  • Training & development
  • Career advancement
  • Money

I invite you to create your own secret sauce recipe, develop a plan to put the lid on potentially painful distractions, and serve each of your team members a dessert that will motivate them to succeed even in a challenging market.

Vulnerability Can Be Your Greatest Strength

I’m working with a senior executive who recently joined a new company. He wants to build strong relationships as a foundation for major changes he will be implementing, so I suggested a new leader assimilation process – he would invite his team members to submit anonymous questions on topics such as his strengths, weaknesses, decision-making style, communication preferences, etc. and then answer them in an open forum.

This is a powerful way to demonstrate vulnerability and begin to build trust and engagement. It is also an opportunity to set an example and inspire others to see that vulnerability can be a strength. To my client’s credit, he is willing to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers and to ask his colleagues for support – a big challenge for someone who has always been the go-to guy.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work whose TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” is the fourth most viewed of all time, says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection.” Once you make that connection, you have a strength you can leverage.

Virtual Team Building

Two clients contacted me recently to explore options for virtual team building because travel bans and budget constraints are making a difficult situation even more challenging. They want to go beyond standard conference calls to bridge the distance between people in multiple locations.

Video calls are another option that can create a more personal connection. In the same way that we set ground rules for an in-person team building session, the team needs to decide how they will interact on calls. Here are some things to consider in making this an effective tool:

Include an icebreaker activity to help people get to know each other. Check out 50 Digital Team Building Games

  • Determine how to ensure everyone’s participation
  • Constructively voice differences of opinion during the call rather than afterward
  • Define the boundaries for confidentiality
  • Establish accountability and timelines for action items

In between calls, pairing team members on special projects or initiatives can create camaraderie. Rotating the responsibility for leading the call is a great way to develop new skills and generate different ideas and approaches. Find more ideas at HBR Making Virtual Teams Work.

Improve Your ROI

Try this exercise:  close your eyes and count to 20 slowly.  Sounds easy, right?  Do it again and start over every time you are distracted by another thought.  That is much more challenging for most of us.

The Power of Adrenalin

How long can you go without checking your phone?  Studies have shown that we get addicted to the jolt of adrenalin when we hear the text or email message notification.  When I lead team building sessions or facilitate a meeting, the participants agree on whether to turn off or silence their phones.  Some of them get the shakes – like they would if they had to give up coffee for a day.  I find it hard not to check mine every time I stop at a red light, even if I’m enjoying the song on the radio.

 40 Percent ROI

We have trained ourselves to expect distractions.  We think we can’t function without them but what do they cost us?  Research indicates that productivity can be reduced by as much as 40 percent when people switch tasks.

 Stop whatever else you are doing and think about that – you could be 40 percent more effective if you focused on one thing for a defined period of time.  Where else can you get that kind of ROI?

Achieving Your New ROI Goal

We know all this and yet we still do it.  Why?  We have to create a new ROIReturn on Intention©. What better time to do that than the beginning of a new year?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Identify one thing you will do differently.  Be as specific as possible and avoid saying what you will not do. Write it down where you will see it often.  It could be, “I will sit through five stop lights without checking my phone.”
  2. Write down when you will start and how often you will do it.  “I will start tomorrow and continue for the next week.”
  3. Describe the benefit you will get from doing this.  “I will be able to enjoy what I’m hearing on the radio.”
  4. Find an accountability partner.  “I will ask my coach to check in with me every Monday by 9:00 AM if I haven’t emailed her about my progress by Sunday at 5:00 PM.”
  5. Recognize potential derailers.  Notice what gets you off track and find a solution.  “I’m likely to forget when I’m in a hurry so I will leave five minutes earlier for my meetings.”
  6. Reward yourself.  “I will add a new song to my favorite playlist when I achieve my goal for the week.”

 I invite you to test this approach to improving your ROI and see how it affects your productivity.