Archive for the ‘Teamwork’ Category

20 Minute Manager Leading Virtual TeamsThe Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation title 20 Minute Manager: Leading Virtual Teams aims to help managers of remote groups succeed from afar. Virtual teams can present a unique set of challenges, including maintaining accountability from a distance and depending on technological means of communication, but these challenges can be overcome. Leaders of virtual teams can achieve success by ensuring that their teams have the right mix of skills and abilities for remote work, the right technological tools are in place, goals and processes are clearly defined and understood, and their employees remain engaged and accountable.

Leaders of virtual teams can overcome the unique challenges of remote workforces by employing six basic strategies:

1. Ensuring that their teams contain the right mix of skills and abilities. Team members must be able to communicate and collaborate effectively, be open to the use of technology, and possess the skills that are needed for success.

2. Assessing and fulfilling their teams’ technological needs. The success of virtual teams depends largely on the technology that they are given. Virtual team leaders must assess and implement the right tools to enable communication and the creation and sharing of content.

3. Clarifying goals, processes, and norms. Leaders of virtual teams must define common expectations, goals, processes, and norms to align the priorities of their teams.

4. Regulating the messages and communication channels that enable effective collaboration. Leaders must find ways to effectively share information through the appropriate channels. They must find the right balance of communication to avoid overburdening team members with information and undercommunicating their visions and objectives.

5. Keeping team members motivated, engaged, and accountable. Virtual team leaders must build rapport and trust among their teams and mobilize the social bonds that keep people engaged in and motivated about their work. They must also hold people to their commitments to prevent missed deadlines, poor results, and interpersonal conflicts.

6. Resolving conflict from afar. Leaders must manage conflict before it damages work relationships and creates toxic work environments. This can be achieved by practicing active listening, mediating, and encouraging transparency.

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A Team of LeadersIn today’s business world it is challenging for companies to both deal with problems and changes internally and at the same time be productive and competitive in the marketplace. In A Team of Leaders, Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff show readers how to create an environment where everyone is a leader. The lives of team leaders or supervisors can be fraught with frustration, as pressure is exerted on them from both the top and the bottom, as well as from the public who use their companies’ products or services. Some companies seek to lessen this stress by adopting team environments, which can be helpful but still puts leaders at the top of these teams. Building teams of leaders, however, replaces the supervisor-employee relationship with teams that eventually manage themselves.

The authors provide the following advice to readers:

  • The amount of involvement and interest a work force generally projects is relevant to how leader-focused that group is designed to be. Companies need to evaluate where their teams are. Teams possess a greater sense of ownership when all members have input and are equally informed about what is going on.
  • Different designs create different teams. The way teams are designed will predict the way they look and behave. Companies’ structures and management systems should be closely aligned with their overall strategies to begin with, which makes it easier for teams to have common visions and purposes.
  • Within teams, the goal is for everyone to be leaders. Each employee should have an individual development plan and recognition for accomplishments, and in this way all employees will be able to foresee future actions and promotions within the teams.
  • Leaders want to be contributors. Leadership is encouraged when each member of the team knows exactly what his or her contribution is to the overall mission. Regular feedback about the progress the team is making and how it is contributing to the overall goals of the company is extremely helpful.
  • Knowledge management is important and multi-faceted. Teams need to have data and information, but also knowledge about procedures, policies and other organizational materials, in addition to working knowledge of the values and beliefs of their companies. Each member should master the skills needed to perform his or her own functions and have a general idea of what others do to contribute.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

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A Culture of PurposeIn A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger relates how leadership today faces the complex task of building a culture of purpose to power organizations. Pursuing a purpose rooted in commercial success is one of the best ways to plant such a culture in a corporation. A company’s purpose should be bigger than the bottom line. Leadership needs to poses the right combination of competencies, including change leadership, influencing, and commercial drive. Hiring talent that has innate determination, insight, and curiosity will help spread the culture of purpose throughout the organization. Such a winning culture can be cultivated further by imbuing the company with energy, resilience, and openness.

Lueneburger provides readers with the following advice:

  • Leaders with a purpose sit at the core of any culture of purpose. They should be adept at change management, especially when first developing the foundation of a culture of purpose. They should also have the ability to influence others when initiatives begin.
  • As purpose reaches all corners of the organization, leaders who have developed a strong commercial drive coupled with the practical skills to achieve measurable results become central.
  • Hiring the right talent is the only way to perpetuate a culture of purpose over the long haul. Although employees can be helped to develop competence over time, they arrive with certain innate traits that are more or less useful in the journey toward a culture of purpose. Fortunately, candidates with the right traits are naturally drawn to companies pursuing cultures of purpose.
  • Everyone in the organization should have innate curiosity, so all new hires should demonstrate this trait. With curiosity can come insight, or gut instincts that go beyond the data. Determined people are more difficult to manage, but determination is the trait that will help a company power through difficult stages in building a culture of purpose.
  • A robust culture of purpose has energy, resilience, and openness. A common purpose provides initial energy while trust developed through honest and abundant communication ensures resilience. Openness to all stakeholder voices, including critics from the outside, will sustain the organization.
  • Sustainability should not be a drag on commercial performance but a positive goal that imbues the culture of a company with energy and purpose. By moving sustainability from a distracting item on the margins to the very center of the corporate culture, leaders can build winning organizations that stand up to challenges and thrive.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.


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94994429In Rapid Realignment, George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky chart the path to optimal organizational performance by integrating key processes, staff, customers, and strategies to serve the primary purpose of an enterprise—increasing stakeholder value. Alignment is the result of this integration, and organizations that achieve it succeed by focusing their people and resources on providing optimal customer satisfaction. In aligned organizations, employees at every level understand the business’s goals and strategies and know how their efforts advance them. Their clear understanding of customer needs enables the constant improvement of products and services that win and maintain customer loyalty. This adjustment, or rapid realignment, is a necessity in a global economy in which swiftly changing conditions and demands can pose serious challenges to an organization’s survival.

According to Labovitz and Rosansky:

  • To support an organization’s primary purpose, its staff, strategy, customers, and processes must be aligned. This alignment requires clear communication, complete understanding of its objectives, and the commitment of all involved in the process. When external forces or events cause misalignment and reduces effectiveness, rapid realignment is essential to ensure continued success.
  • The alignment framework is made up of four elements — strategy, people, processes, and customers. Strategies will change as requirements change, and when they do they must be rapidly deployed. Core processes that serve customers must continually undergo improvement.
  • Vertical alignment is achieved when employees can articulate the organization’s strategy and explain how their work supports it. This understanding is what boosts the deployment of new strategies.
  • Horizontal alignment is achieved when the communication barriers that separate employees from customers are removed. This means that employees understand customer needs and are committed to improving service.
  • Every organization must have a Main Thing — a meaningful description of what it wants to accomplish. It must be a common and unifying concept to which every unit can make a contribution.
  • Social media is an excellent means for fostering trust and bringing people together to advance both the Main Thing and management’s plans for achieving it. It facilitates employee communication with management and enables employees to ask questions that get answers.
  • To effectively change their cultures, organizations must determine the behaviors that will best implement their strategies and meet customer needs, as well as ensure that attitudes and values are aligned with their Main Things.
  • To effectively change behaviors, new strategies must be explained repeatedly. Employees must be able to comprehend how their participation will ensure the strategies’ success and how their contributions will be valued.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Wiki ManagementHBR Guide to Getting the Right Work DoneBusiness at the Speed of Now

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Flat ArmyStudies show that the majority of workers to be disengaged from their work and their organizations. To truly engage employees, Dan Pontefract believes companies need to adopt a “Flat Army Philosophy.” In his book Flat Army, Pontefract argues that leaders need to surrender command and control in favor of a more open and inclusive style of leadership. When they seek out authentic connections with their teams and come to understand work as an important but not existential endeavor, these leaders become truly connected and therefore profoundly effective. Such connected leaders make ample use of social media and other technologies to deepen connections across their organizations. The result is a self-generating, perpetually learning, dynamically balanced enterprise that is a pleasure both to lead and to work for.

According to Pontefract:

  • Employees are generally disengaged from the work they do and the organizations for which they do it. Work disengagement springs from the traditional hierarchical style of management that views workers as the “brawn” to managements “brains.”
  • The historical roots of employee disengagement stem from the British charter companies of the 16th century, the European armies of the 18th century, and the Scientific Management ideas that shaped American companies in the late 19th century.
  • “Connected leaders” break down traditional hierarchy in favor of a flat organizational structure. They treat employees as complete human beings and connections are encouraged across all levels and work areas.
  • The connected leader trusts their employees, involves and empowers them, empathizes with them, and helps them develop their careers. A key aspect of all of these traits is consistent and open communications with all team members.
  • The traits of the connected leader begin as behaviors that they must practice and exercise daily until they are habit. Eventually, the connected leader moves beyond merely practicing these attributes to truly living them.
  • Participative leadership requires continual, authentic, and reciprocal interactions with team members and the leader’s wider internal and external network. Education is a key component of the Participative Leader Framework and must be practiced consciously and formally.
  • The “Action Model” for the collaborative, or connected-participative, leader begins with connecting to all stakeholders and weighing their input. Next, the model calls for the leader to communicate a plan of action to all stakeholders, and then become immersed in executing that plan. The leader confirms with stakeholders that they are satisfied with the result and then congratulates all involved by focusing on the behaviors they brought to the project to make it successful.
  • To truly benefit from the Flat Army philosophy, one must embrace Web 2.0 technologies for conversation, education, and network presence.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: The Employee Engagement Mindset, The Enemy of Engagement, The Connect Effect

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In Reinventing Management, Julian Birkinshaw offers alternative counterpoints to replace the traditional ways people approach management and business. Arguing that management “failed” after years of corruption and employee disenchantment, Birkinshaw presents compelling arguments for how management can be improved and updated for a new era of business. With a fresh perspective on management issues, such as communication, coordination, setting objectives, and motivating employees, Birkinshaw offers decision makers and corporate influencers an actionable guide for reinventing and reinvigorating management at companies both large and small.

Birkinshaw offers readers the following advice:

  • Management is defined as the act of getting people together in order to accomplish certain goals and objectives. However, that definition has become corrupted over the years, narrowing the scope of what management should be.
  • An enduring source of competitive advantage for companies is a novel business model. In addition, a novel management model can also keep a company strong.
  • The traditional way for coordinating work in a large company is bureaucracy, which is a more formalized structure. Alternatively, a company can use emergence to coordinate work. Emergence is spontaneous, and work is accomplished by parties working together as a matter of self-interest.
  • The traditional path for making and communicating decisions in a large organization is via hierarchy. The alternative path is collective wisdom, where aggregated expertise is valued more highly than the advice of one leader.
  • The traditional principle for goal setting in large companies is alignment, where all employees work toward a common goal. The alternative is obliquity, the idea that goals are best achieved when worked toward indirectly.
  • Traditionally, extrinsic motivators like money or threat of punishment were used to incentivize workers. The better alternative is intrinsic motivation, by which employers motivate workers with rewards that are inherent to the task itself.
  • There are four main models of management: Discovery, Planning, Quest, and Science. Selecting the right model is important for managers looking to improve their organizations.
  • Management model innovation is usually driven by three sets of people. These are mid-level change agents, top-level executives, and external partners, such as academics or consultants.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Full Engagement!Bare Knuckle People ManagementManaging for People Who Hate Managing

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87598529In his book When Teams Collide, cross-cultural expert Richard D. Lewis offers pragmatic advice for assembling, blending, and strengthening international teams. An advocate for the frank discussion of the differing attitudes and values of different cultures, Lewis presents a guide to building and caring for these teams. Millions of these international teams will exist in the 21st century, and each of these teams needs to be capable of making decisions quickly while also striving to break new ground. When a team of international minds has a complementary skill set, members of that team can become key figures in the company as a whole.

Lewis offers the following advice to readers:

  • There are three main types of cultures: linear-active, multi-active, and reactive. Linear-active cultures are task-oriented and organized. Multi-active cultures tend to be emotional and impulsive. Reactive cultures feature good listeners who rarely initiate action, preferring to listen and then formulate an opinion.
  • Teams must be organized from the outset. National strengths, weaknesses, and taboos must be considered.
  • The team must share a lingua franca, or common language. Each language has its own benefits and limitations, with English, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and French being common choices.
  • The leader of an international team must be selected carefully. However, in the end, good leaders are defined by personality, not by their passports.
  • Cultural differences and taboos among team members should be acknowledged right away. Openness promotes synergy.
  • Humor is a powerful tool in a manager’s arsenal. When a team develops its own humor style, it signifies that it has “come of age.”
  • A decision-making process must be clarified to keep the team running smoothly. There must be a system to break deadlocks.
  • Ethics may vary from culture to culture, but behaving ethically is important in all cultures. Be aware of potential gray areas.
  • Building trust takes time. Trust often has to be earned, though it can occur spontaneously among countrymen.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Team TurnaroundsThe Secret of TeamsCollaborate!

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