Archive | Team Performance

The Wisdom in the No: A New Approach to Conflict

Deep Democracy: Book on Things I Wanted to Say
Image: Nadine Shaabana, Unsplash.

After thirty minutes of discussion, it looks like we finally have an answer. The facilitator calls for a vote: “Who agrees that we should do X?” Everyone raises their hands except two people. Many groups would call this success and move forward. But the facilitator does something unexpected. She expresses her sympathy to the dissenters that the vote didn’t go their way. Then she asks a powerful question: What do you need to come along?

The resulting conversation is fascinating and valuable. One dissenter points out that her team is completely overwhelmed with work. She would be willing to go along with the decision if the deadline was extended by two weeks.

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Sorry? (Not Sorry): Guest Post on the Art of Apology by Amy Yeager

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

After several days at a conference, I found myself woefully behind on email. “I’m sorry about the delayed response,” I wrote again and again. But what was I really saying with that apology?

There are actually six different types of apologies, according to Corentus Director of Client Engagement and Partnering Resources Affiliate Amy Yeager. Amy writes about the art of apology in this fantastic new article, Sorry (Not Sorry). As she says:

When does saying we’re sorry help or hurt, or just keep us stuck? As we think about the impact of saying we’re sorry, it can be helpful to distinguish between (at least) six different types of sorry.

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100+ Tried & True Problem-Solving Tools

Sense making illustration by Kelvy Bird.

Too many leaders choose the wrong tool for the problem at hand. Our infographic, “What’s Your Problem,” explains the four different types of problems leaders face. Once you’ve read it, you may be left thinking: OK, I know what kind of problem I have. What tool do I use?

In this post, we share over 100 tried-and-true problem-solving tools. These are effective and elegant methods that you can use to address the four types of problems.

Simple Problem-Solving Tools

Simple problems have easily seen cause and effect relationships. Your job is to assess the facts, categorize the facts, and then apply the appropriate best practice.

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Are You Solving the Right Problem?

What's Your Problem - Top

Problems come in many shapes and sizes. Some are small (“I can’t find space for my 2pm meeting”). Others are large (“I can’t get forty coalition members to agree on goals”). All have the capacity to drive you nuts, especially if you’re not solving problems using the right tools.

If You Have a Hammer, Everything is a Nail

Once you find techniques that work, it’s tempting to use them over and over again. Maybe you’ve had great success using Gantt charts. You might like performance charting, root cause analysis, or group dialogue sessions. Perhaps business ecosystem maps rock your world.

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The Employees’ Wishlist: Three Things Employees Wish Managers Would Do

Power of networks

Your employees need you. But not in the way you think.

Leadership is no longer about being the center of decision-making, expertise, and problem solving. Instead, today’s leaders work in such complex, variable environments that they simply can’t be as central as they have in the past. If they take on this role, they risk becoming bottlenecks and getting in the way of progress. Today’s leaders need to do things differently.

In the last post, I reviewed the leadership behaviors of clarify and connect. This post focuses on another important behavior that tops employees’ wishlists: caretaking.

Caretaking isn’t mothering or patronizing.

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Large Group Ice Breakers: Free Twenty Questions Activity

Image by <a href="">Sheila Swan-Scot</a> on flickr.

Effective large group ice breakers can be hard to find. I’ve often see leaders simply blow off the initial icebreaker as a waste of time since it’s so hard to find a short, engaging, helpful activity. However, icebreakers have a good purpose: they help people get oriented to who is in the room, focus their energy on the meeting, and participate actively.

Twenty Questions is an easy icebreaker that quickly gets people talking and laughing. It can be used with groups as small as ten and as large as two hundred. (Actually, it might be possible with more than two hundred.

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Free Tool: Project Execution Assessment

Balancing Rocks aeu04117 flickr

The best strategies are simply good ideas… until someone implements them. How well does your organization execute?

Our Execution Assessment measures performance along five critical dimensions:

  • Strategic Clarity – How well has the organization defined the strategy? How will you know you’re successful? How adept is the organization at understanding progress and adapting to changes that affect the strategy?
  • Right Resources – Does the implementation team have the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to succeed? How well have decision making parameters and performance expectations been clarified?
  • Good Data – How well does information about the strategy, progress, and changes affecting the strategy flow between the implementation team and other stakeholders?
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Collaborating Across Borders: Five Keys to Creating Powerful Partnerships

Collaborating across borders. If this dog and cat can do it, so can we. Image by Hannah W on flickr.

Several weeks ago, a distraught vice president called. His organization had just been restructured and he had just received ownership for two new divisions. He needed to integrate the new divisions quickly and help them collaborate with his existing organization.

The problem was that he had inherited a group of people who didn’t understand why the change had happened. They were struggling to comprehend why they should redesign their processes to accommodate the new organization chart. In addition, they were used to working alone and saw no reason to collaborate with their new peers. The VP had to help them find the way while continuing to raise the performance bar.

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The Power Five: Better Decisions through Strategic Questions

strategic questions

People are always looking for their magic wand: a miraculous tool that will immediately and painlessly improve the problem at hand. I haven’t found a magic wand yet. But this tool is the closest I’ve found so far.

The Power Five are five strategic questions that uncover expectations, assumptions, inter-dependencies, and impacts. They’re five of the best questions to use in any situation and bringing them into any decision-making, strategy, or planning conversation will improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.

The five questions are:

  • What is the goal?
  • Where are we now?
  • How will we get where we want to go?
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    Trust Falls at Work… Seriously? Trust in the Workplace


    I talk with a lot of people about networks. I tell them that, at the very root of the matter, networks are about trust. We build relationships with people we trust in order to solve problems, get things done, and imagine what could make our companies successful and the world a better place.

    When I have these conversations about trust, one group of people nods. They intuitively understand the importance of being able to trust your colleagues.

    Then there’s another group that subtly backs away, wary that I’m going to ask them to put on a blindfold and fall backwards into their colleagues’ arms.

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