Google Approved Team Productivity Recipe

Google Approved Team Productivity Recipe

23 Feb, 2018

We all know it. There is no amazing marketing without an amazing team and their smart minds to come up with it. There is no fast innovation without a team that has the drive to innovate fast. Your business is just as good as your people are. No secrets there. However, how do we make that amazing team happen? What are the crucial differences that set high performing teams apart? That is a question that even Google has been researching intensely for the past decade. Want to know what they found and how to use that secret in your business? Then read on.

Major factors in team’s success

In 2012 Google launched Project Aristotle which ran for a few years collecting massive amounts of data about team effectiveness.

Did they find the combination of people in the team important? Was the vision important? Were the personalities of the people important? Were their motivators important? Yes, yes, yes and yes again. However, they were not as important as one might think. The crucial element of successful teams was found in a different ingredient.What was it?

Psychological safety: “A shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor of Leadership and Management, has defined the term in her popular TEDx talk as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”

Imagine what would happen in any business if all its people had the confidence that their team will not reject or punish them for speaking their mind, and mistakes were openly discussed to learn from. When we feel safe enough to share ideas and thoughts freely; be curious, confident, inspire and be inspired, it increases not only our problem-solving and communication skills but also our creativity, resilience and motivation. Now we can talk about market-leading breakthroughs. This is a powerful hack into unlocking potential. Expert-level.

Wondering how to get your team to the high performing league?

Many business leaders still view concepts like psychological safety as the “soft fluff”. However, as Simon Sinek, the leadership expert and author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, says the hard data is increasingly showing that this “soft fluff” is incredibly precise in predicting a team’s performance. Do we have your attention now? Good.

 

Here are some tips to get you started on your journey to your team’s psychological safety:

START WITH BUILDING TRUST.

Trust is the feeling that you can show your weaknesses and be vulnerable around others without the fear of being judged or criticized. You feel confident to let your team support you and just generally be yourself around them. To create that atmosphere – start with yourself. Show your vulnerability. Show that you do not have all the answers. You do not always know the best. Stress that you NEED all your team’s input to make things work and their inputs are not only invaluable but crucial. You are all in this together. Any challenges an individual team member is facing, the whole team is facing. In a team, everything is interconnected. Turn to each other for help, solve things together. Give support and trust to receive it back.

Not everyone is a high-energy extrovert and that is the beauty of a diversely thinking team.

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT CREATING AN INCLUSIVE AND OPEN ENVIRONMENT.

Everyone wants to feel they belong. This is hard-wired into our biology. Make people feel included, heard and valued. For some people, it is more difficult to speak up than for others. To accommodate for those who prefer to express themselves in writing, you can ask your team to brainstorm ideas on paper before the meeting. Send them the agenda beforehand. They can even email you their comments a day ahead which enables you to organise yourself better and be more efficient in exploring and planning the next steps. Not everyone is a high-energy extrovert and that is the beauty of a diversely thinking team. Every single person brings something different to the table. Encourage your team to express themselves openly, catering for different preferences.

FRAME THE WORKPLACE AS A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

When Professor Amy Edmondson was researching high-performing medical teams, she was very surprised to find out that they were making more mistakes than all the other teams. How is this possible?

The truth is, the high-performing teams were not making more mistakes. They were just openly admitting and discussing them as opposed to the other teams which preferred to ignore or cover their mistakes. The high-performing teams created a safe space for learning from mistakes and exploring how to prevent or solve the situation.

Any challenges an individual team member is facing, the whole team is facing.

No one enjoys making mistakes or being wrong. We know that. Here is how to go about it: approach the “mistake” as a situation. Think: “Okay. This is what happened. What can we learn from it? How do we prevent this from happening again? What do we do next?” This is a very different approach from the usual finger-pointing and blaming, isn’t it? Mistakes are crucial and inevitable. Turn them into your team’s asset.

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For any of the changes to be successful, communicate your intentions openly to your team. Find out how psychologically safe your team feels. A short questionnaire would do the trick (if you need any help just send us an email). Tell them you want them to feel safe enough to express themselves openly. Tell them you need to hear their thoughts because only with all their inputs you can make real breakthroughs. And most importantly – ask how you can support them. Why? Because you care.

Key Learning Point

Psychological safety means feeling safe enough to express opinions openly and discuss mistakes without the fear of being judged, blamed or mocked.

It creates the ultimate productive platform for breakthrough business results as it inspires open communication, curiosity, fast progress, creativity, healthy risk-taking and increases problem-solving skills, resilience and motivation.

Barbora Kosnarova

Barbora Kosnarova

HEAD OF TEAM TRANSFORMATION

People connector, deep conversation enthusiast, food lover, multilinguist and proud owner of a big smile. Using her years of experience and expertise in leadership, team transformation, behavioural psychology, conflict mediation and coaching, Barbora turns groups of people into driven market-leading teams.

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Lead Your Team to High Performance

Lead Your Team to High Performance

19 Feb, 2018

If the name Bruce Tuckman and the four stages of team development cause no bell ringing in your mind, a smart thing to do would be to start by reading this first: “The Four Team Development Stages”. Unless you are an uttermost rebel. In that case, just keep reading but consider yourself warned. You are missing out on some pretty crucial information!

Best Practices for Team’s Four Stages

In the title we promised to enlighten you with the best practises of leading your team to the fourth stage of team development – HIGH PERFORMANCE. We at DotsMore believe in delivering on our promises so let’s get down to it.

As mentioned in the stages overview (which you have for sure read right? If not this is your last chance to do this the proper way! read me) any team’s journey begins with the “FORMING” period. This period occurs not only with entirely new teams but also after any team composition changes. Losing or gaining a new team member can revert your team to this stage. Ready to find out what approach to take at first?

Put on your coordinator’s hat.

At this stage your role as a leader is very crucial. There is a lot of anxiety and novelty in the team and your team needs your support to navigate through this safely.

  • Start by building relationships and getting to know each other. You need a strong level of trust to become a high-performing team.
  • Spend enough time defining a clear shared goal for the team. Identify milestones and facilitate formation of the first action plan.
  • Coordinate the tasks and roles of team members.
  • Introduce your team to effective problem solving practices (more about that coming soon in Tips And Tricks!)
  • TOP TIP: Make it an INTENTIONAL PROCESS. This will prove to be invaluable later on. How to do it? Simple. Just help your team to come up with what their expectations, concerns, needs and wishes Establish open communication from the beginning.

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Ask your team:

  • What kind of a team would they enjoy being part of?
  • What behaviours from the team members would make them feel supported?
  • What are their expectations?
  • What concerns come to their mind?
  • What are their expectations from your (leader’s) side? – follow this up by making a commitment to them. Tell them that if they support you and deliver on their promises, you will too. And stick to it.
  • What are they offering to the team?
  • What are they best at?
  • What do they need more support in?

Open communication does wonders. Taking the time to have this conversation shows that you care. It shows you are ready to support them. It builds trust and commitment. If you go out of your way to deliver on your promises, your team will go out of their way to deliver on theirs.

TASK ONE: Look at your personal learning notes from the “Four Stages“ article. How would have this stage felt different if you had this type of support from your leader? Can you think of any other ways to support your team better?

Time to switch gears into coaching mode.

The second stage offers you an amazing opportunity to practice your coaching skills. This is when the true colours of individuals start to show – both for the good and the bad. This period is when the “STORMING” comes in.

  • When interpersonal conflicts start to show, revisit the conversation about the kind of a team the members want to be part of.
  • Explore what needs to happen for this to become a reality.
  • Train your team to have difficult conversations effectively without creating friction or making it personal (more on this coming in another Tips and Tricks entry soon, so stay tuned!)
  • Work on creating a psychologically safe environment. (Read more about psychological safety here: Google Approved Team Productivity Recipe )
  • Lead your team with questions. Approach problems together with mutual curiosity about how to best solve them.
  • Make sure that during meetings everyone gets to express If someone is displaying overpowering behaviour, address it on a 1-to-1 basis. If someone isn’t willing to voice their opinions, find out what the reason behind it is and help them to open up.

TASK TWO: Looking at your personal learning notes – think about the difference of this approach and the one you have experienced. What other elements would you incorporate into this to give the best support? How do you think this would work in your current team?

Become the king/queen of empowerment.

Well done, you are almost there! Your team should have some solid ground to stand on at this point. This is the stage of “NORMING”. Your role is to empower your team to truly adopt the behaviours you have been discussing and make them their default.

    • If a conflict arises, empower your team to solve it the way you have trained them to. If a problem arises, support your team to find the solution using the processes you have put in place. You are empowering them with the aim for them to be able to work independently without you around.
    • Address any potentially “dangerous” behaviours (like overpowering, blaming, finger-pointing, prioritizing individual goals over team goals) that any of the team members are displaying. The aim is to raise self-awareness of the implications that such behaviour brings into the team.
    • Speak less.

If necessary, offer support with questions:

  • What do we do now?
  • What is working?
  • How can we make it better?
  • What should we be doing more of?
  • What should we be doing less of?
  • What is the most important thing?
  • What have we not explored yet?

Wondering how to get your team to the high performing league?

Take the back seat.

You have arrived safely to the PERFORMING stage! This is impressive. Only a small number of teams ever makes it to this stage. It is time for you to sit back a little. Your team should be able to manage all day-to-day decisions and problems effectively on their own, using the processes in place.

  • Check-in regularly with your team
  • Make sure they know they still have your full support in case they need it
  • Celebrate their progress
  • Ask for feedback and what could be improved
  • Continue supporting positive relationships and mutual trust
  • Think about other learning and development opportunities your team or its individual members might need.
  • Show appreciation and allow members to take on bigger and bigger responsibilities. Progress is key!

At any point a team can go back to any of the previous stages. If that happens, be ready to step in and offer as much support as necessary. After all, this is your team and you want them to do well, don’t you?

As Henry Ford once said:

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

If you manage to get with your team to the fourth stage, acknowledge what a success it is. You are lucky to have an amazing team and they are lucky to have you.

Key Learning Point

There is a different leadership approach required to effectively lead the team to a high performance stage. This starts with coordination, transitions into coaching, followed by empowering and supporting.

Support your team with questions. The purpose is to empower them to be independent from you and fully able to stay on the high-performance road even when you’re not around.

Barbora Kosnarova

Barbora Kosnarova

HEAD OF TEAM TRANSFORMATION

People connector, deep conversation enthusiast, food lover, multilinguist and proud owner of a big smile. Using her years of experience and expertise in leadership, team transformation, behavioural psychology, conflict mediation and coaching, Barbora turns groups of people into driven market-leading teams.

READ MORE

The Four Team Development Stages

The Four Team Development Stages

10 Feb, 2018

So you want to learn more about the four development stages? You came to the right place! Get your thinking hat on and your notepad ready. Yes. We did just tell you to use a notepad. Why? Because writing things down sky-rockets your level of information-retention. How about giving it a shot?

Becoming a high-performing team

It was the year 1965 when a psychology professor Bruce Tuckman first identified the four team development stages as part of his study into group dynamics. Effectively navigating through them clears the path for teams to enter the high-performance league, face challenges head-on and deliver exceptional results.

Here at DOtsMORE, we believe that the most valuable lessons that you can experience, come from you. So let’s try out how this works in practice as we walk you through this learning. Shall we?

PREPARATION: Set the scene

Think about a team that you have been part of from its formation till the days you could be called “a team” instead of just a group of people working together. It could be even years and years ago as long as all your memories of it haven’t fully dissolved yet. Got it?

STAGE ONE: Hi, my name is Kevin!

Think about the early stages when your team came together and you didn’t really know each other, you didn’t know who the other people are, how they work and what their preferences are. This stage is usually marked with feelings of excitement, politeness, anxiety, hesitation, lack of clarity and avoidance of conflict. Everyone on the team tries to be on their best behaviour, avoiding friction. Have you experienced this before? How did it feel? Make a note about all that you remember.

This stage is called FORMING. It is the beginning of the journey.

STAGE TWO: STORM coming

The duration of each period varies from team to team. For some the forming period can take weeks, for some it is over in a few days. What comes next is called the STORMING period and yes, it can be just as turbulent as it sounds. Unfortunately, some teams never properly get out of this period. Are you wondering what is causing the “storm” at this stage? Nothing more and nothing less than true human nature. At this stage the ultimate politeness of the team members starts slipping away and their true selves start to show – both for the good and the bad.

Here are some implications this brings: the decision making gets less smooth as people open up more and voice their opinions louder. This can lead to first interpersonal conflicts. The dominant members become loud, overpowering the quieter members of the team. There can be signs of tension as people try to establish their roles. The leader’s position of power can get challenged, alongside with the structure and the rules. The purpose of the team becomes clearer, however, there is still a lot of uncertainty.

How intense was this stage for the team you were part of? How did you manage to get through it? What helped? Write it down.

At this stage the ultimate politeness of the team members starts slipping away and their true selves starts to show.

STAGE THREE: Time for social rules and structure

If the storming period is managed well, the team is rewarded with coming into a calmer NORMING stage which is a more positive place to be.

In this stage the team members start to focus less on their individual goals and channel their energy into processes and procedures that help them work together more effectively. How long did it take your team to get to the norming stage? What were some rules, norms and procedures that your team came up with?

At this point commitment level in the team heightens, people accept their responsibilities and cooperation becomes more natural and comfortable following a defined problem-solving process. The team is becoming more independent from the leader. Did your team get to this stage? Did you notice how much easier working together got?

Get Started Today!

Fresh new information for our members to make sure that their team is growing.

STAGE FOUR: Welcome to THE BIG LEAGUE

Only the high-performing teams get to this idyllic stage called PERFORMING. Have you ever been to this mysterious place? Here is what happens: there is mutual trust in the team, relationships are strong, there is a drive to accomplish a shared vision which enables the team to make decisions and problem-solve at a fast pace. The team is able to function without the need of being supervised. All the team needs from the leader is support. That sounds like a good place to be at, doesn’t it?

If your team has ever reached this place, congratulations! It is a wonderful achievement and this is where the biggest market breakthroughs happen. Not only do people love what they do, they become incredibly good at it as well.

Wondering how to get your team to the high performing league?

There is always a possibility that the team will return to any of the previous stages. This can be caused for example by a team member who prioritizes his individual goals over the shared ones or by a new member joining in which changes the dynamics of the group.

Well done!

If you answered all the questions and made notes about the individual stages, what you are looking at is your personal learning experience. Storing information in this way helps you retrieve them easily at any point later on. Why? Because they are tied to your memories, to your own story and you can identify the stages easily just by thinking about your superb team again.

Good job!

If you want to know how to effectively navigate through these stages, read more here (link).

Key Learning Point

Bruce Tuckman identified four stages in team development leading to high performance. These are known as forming, storming, norming and performing.

Forming defines the beginning of the team coming together, storming brings up the personality differences in the team, norming is a period of creating strategies and rules of working together effectively which leads to the last stage – performing.

Barbora Kosnarova

Barbora Kosnarova

HEAD OF TEAM TRANSFORMATION

People connector, deep conversation enthusiast, food lover, multilinguist and proud owner of a big smile. Using her years of experience and expertise in leadership, team transformation, behavioural psychology, conflict mediation and coaching, Barbora turns groups of people into driven market-leading teams.

READ MORE

Tips and Tricks

Ever wondered how market-leading businesses empower their teams to be awesome high-performers? Have a peak into the best practices and get inspired by team strategy tips and tricks coming to you in actionable and digestible form. Learn how to master leadership, vision, productivity, performance, relationships, motivation, drive and most importantly – DO MORE!

Lead Your Team to High Performance

If the name Bruce Tuckman and the four stages of team development cause no bell ringing in your mind, a smart thing to do would be to start by reading this first: “The Four Team Development Stages”. Unless you are an uttermost rebel. In that case, just keep reading...

read more

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