Getting Action From Your Team: COLLABORATION

Tom Peter’s book, “In Search of Excellence,” recognized Hewlett Packard Co for emphasizing teamwork, delegation, and collaboration. HP created a brand synonymous with quality by requiring product teams to understand and exceed all expectations a customer might have regarding product performance. HP introduced an acronym to their employees, called FLURPS (functionality, localization, use-ability, reliability, performance, and supportability), to aid evaluation and review of requirements documents for their robustness and completeness.

For HP to obtain these robust designs, multiple departments in the organization had to lend their expertise. Collaboration is the cooperation among multiple parties with diverse perspectives to achieve a common goal. Product development, process design, and Kanban quality improvement are business examples where collaboration can deliver a solution greater than the sum of the parts. Achieving collaboration requires a manager to master the management skills that create a culture with a high value on leadership and accountability.

The greatest inhibitors to collaboration are inadequate communication and lack of trust. A “smokestack” organization is one where the departments or functional areas are managed independently with communication channeled through management or data structures. These organizations develop by managers limiting the interactions between departments to reduce the complexity of management. Significant performance improvements can be made by these managers ceasing to manage complexity alone and starting to involve their teams. Clear communication of expectations and status will sustain trust and allow collaboration to flourish.

Clear goals, willingness to share data and recognition, and the ability to negotiate timely decisions that self-direct a team are other key elements that encourage collaboration. Goals need to be clear, tangible, results-oriented, and preferably SMART. Teams that do not share a common view of the end goal tend to generate more meetings and distraction than results. A perceived scarcity of opportunity and confusion about their value can cause workers to hide information and knowledge. A possible solution is deploying technology that improves access to information while keeping data secure. Technology is no replacement, however, for making employees feel valued. One caution: imposing security barriers that separate people from information they need is just another way to hide information.

Achieving effective negotiation within a team is perhaps management’s greatest challenge.  It’s rare that a corporate culture emerges that is truly egalitarian. During my years in information technology, designers held disproportionate power over production engineers, field support, and technical writers. Teaching appreciation of other players’ roles and structuring incentives and performance measures to reward cooperation will boost collaboration. I observe when designers have too much sway, the product usually flops.

Developing a collaborative culture is a complex topic. If you want to learn more, let’s talk and get your questions answered.

Results-Based Leadership Video

Getting Action: Motivation

I remember Dan Reeves, coach of the Denver Broncos back in the 80’s, making a comment back then that caught me by surprise. Dan was being asked by the press how he was getting his team “up” for the next game. He said, more or less, “It’s not my job to motivate the players.” I can also remember running track in high school and hearing the sprint coach, who was also the football coach, joke that he thought coaching track is so much easier than football because all he had to say was, “Run fast.” In both cases, the coach insinuated that their athletes were self-motivated. The one thing leaders need to understand about motivation is that all effective motivation is self-motivation.

There are three types of motivation: negative, positive, and attitudinal. Negative is fear-based and, as any parent knows, brings the strongest short-term response. Negative incentives are threats of dire consequence if tasks are not completed. The problem with threats is that they lose effectiveness if they are too heavily relied upon and can result in retaliatory actions. Positive incentives are most often cash incentives. The problem with cash incentives is that the motivation lasts only as long as the payment remains in employees’ short-term memory. Attitudinal are intrinsic rewards that play to employees’ deeper needs; where the needs and incentive last in long duration. Examples of these needs are achievement, recognition, prestige, or familial responsibilities. Attitudinal motivation is most desirable because of its lasting effectiveness and ability to build employee loyalty.

The easiest way to build attitudinal motivation in a business is to make the business a desirable place to work. Companies that hire the best employees have the best chance of an engaged workforce. From my experience, companies that have developed a strong brand attract good employees. However, having a recognized brand is a luxury many businesses have not come to afford. Having a leader that is passionate about their business, able to articulate strong values, and able select employees that are committed to those values will create an attractive workplace. Recalling the last post on attitude, a leader with a positive attitude will attract employees with like attitude. The last piece to developing motivation is developing employee relationships where the leader understands what is most important to employees and helping them find a way to get what they want. Employees’ desire for opportunities to advance, ability to provide for their families, contributions to their community, and ability to adventure on their time off creates tremendous loyalty and motivation if satisfied. I offer a motivational value survey that scores interest in seven value areas. Anyone interested in trying it with a “comp”, please drop me an email. Developing a highly motivated team often entails culture change for organizations. Culture change is a big deal and help is valuable. Feel free to email questions or request information on how Accelerated Achievements can help.

2-Minute or So Video: Motivation Case Study

Getting Action: Attitude

Do you consider all telephone calls from sales people a waste of time or do you examine calls for merit? Do you get defensive or impatient when an employee complains about an assignment or do you see an opportunity to improve the work environment? We all have beliefs and attitudes and they all have at least some impact on success.

Positive attitudes begin with a leader understanding their role in the organization. Leaders see the people and resources around them as the source of their power and only use the authority of their position to maintain discipline. A positive attitude is invaluable for setting direction, clarifying roles, decision making, and both encouraging and recognizing performance from the team. Strong leaders hold themselves accountable for the clarity of their communication, unbiased judgement, and development of personnel.

Leaders improve attitude by making themselves aware of the habitual responses they have brought to their role and focusing on what is happening in the present. Discouragement, blaming, worry, frustration are all rooted in a leader’s past experience or anticipation of the future. A leader’s best communication with employees happens when that leader is fully focused on what is happening right now (I.e. reality). Managing risk and discovery of new possibilities happen only when firmly rooted in reality.  Style assessments can give a leader insight on whether their natural tendency is to focus on the past, present, or future. Anyone interested taking a complimentary assessment can click here or send me an email.

Good attitude management includes regular review of your goals. When disappointed with the results from an effort, I do the following exercise: draw a large square on a piece of paper and bisect each side of the square so that it is divided into four squares. Label the upper left box “facts” and list observable details surrounding the effort. In the upper right, label it “beliefs” and list all details you think or imagine to be true.

Label the lower box “feelings” and list the emotions you are experiencing after the effort. Note that there is a one-to-one correspondence between your beliefs and feelings. After you identify those relationships, the next steps you need to take are

clear and you will execute them with appropriate emotion. List the action you want to take in the lower right box and label it “actions.”

Finally, being a strong leader requires courage and persistence. The current literature might call this emotional intelligence. Not infecting a team with the leader’s negative emotions is the greatest challenge of leadership. A great way to accelerate discovery of attitudes that are holding you back is to work with a coach. Contact me if you want to learn more and I wish you every success.

Blind Spots Challenge Attitude Self-Awareness