Dave on September 29, 2011
How many team building days are no more than what can be at best described as a corporate day out? What is the tangible value or benefit of such events balanced against the corporate price tag and does it really matter anyway? Perhaps strange questions to ask given I have a vested interest in businesses and organisations continuing to invest in team building activities. Or perhaps not, may be just raising awareness of the difference and posing the questions in the context of the current economic situation.
Times are tough commercially and there has seldom been a time where getting as much performance as possible from all elements of a business has been so critical. We are in a time where efficiency and effectiveness are paramount to survival, let alone thriving. Without doubt, a cohesive team working together to achieve collective optimum performance yields the best possible results for an organisation; no matter the business sector or team concerned. Such levels of teamwork and organisational cohesion do not come without considered development and attention – it doesn’t happen by accident it happens by design.
Pat Lencioni’s ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, namely; absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results, are a good place to start in assessing an activity in terms of team building or corporate day out. If the planned activity does not address the dysfunctions in some way it is unlikely to be truly a team building activity. That is to say, teambuilding activities should build trust, facilitate challenging dialogue and encourage commitment and accountability whilst being focused on achieving results. All eminently possible through practical team activities involving objective appraisal and constructive feedback delivered which can be fun and delivered in an unusual environment. Arguably, it would be extremely difficult to address the dysfunctions without using interactive methods and more or less practical activities.
Quad biking, karting, a day at the races, clay pigeon shooting, etc. all fun, practical activities which teams can participate; however, team building? I don’t think so. Committing to participate in a CSR team activity, team challenge day, team competition, team ‘survival skills’ exercise, etc. all generally ‘hit the spot’ in terms of team building. Interestingly enough, both sets of activities are all probably pretty much in the same ‘ball park’ in terms of cost. When all is said and done, it is just a question of what is the real aim of the ‘activity day’. After all, enjoying social, fun activities together brings benefits to the team too, but let’s not call them team building.
Posted in: Motivation, Team Building
Phil on September 26, 2011
There are several levels of leadership required within an organisation and certain levels are better undertaken by particular types of people. This means that the characteristics that best suit one level of leadership may not be so useful in another. Yet most organisations drive their leaders through the various tiers without acknowledging the different attributes and skills required.
Early leadership is generally measured on results. So a successful leader is one who achieves results. They tend to be task oriented and hard taskmasters who drive their teams forward. Great in a sales environment great when measured against targets and within results oriented organisations.
Yet as these leaders move away from the front line or coal face their attributes may become less applicable. Driving a small team in a tactical environment is very different from the people skills required to motivate and influence larger teams perhaps through their own team leaders rather than directly. Leading from a greater distance away is far more challenging and people oriented. No longer are the close in results the only requirement but getting teams to stay motivated and to contribute over the longer term becomes an issue. Vision and strategy need to be developed and bought into People in these roles have to have developed their comprehension of social identity and leadership styles in order to be fully effective. They are divorced from quick results and move into a position where they have to lead people to generate long term results.
The ability to see and understand the big picture is often rare in leaders as they are too close in and results oriented. Organisations need to identify strategic high performers and nurture them in order to sustain and enhance their market position.
It is this sort of talent management that marks out the companies with genuine longevity.
Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Motivation, Uncategorized
Phil on September 7, 2011
Businesses appear to have a lifespan and it is only very powerful and agile businesses that survive through a paradigm shift. A fine example of failure is the American rail road businesses who believed they were invincible in the rail business rather than flexible in the transportation business! Woolworth’s once one of the UK’s strongest retailers suffered in the same way. So why do businesses only last so long?
Look at football clubs, the only ones recently who have had longevity are Manchester United and Liverpool although Liverpool’s glory days were along time ago. Are Manchester City and Chelsea future proof or just riding on the crest of a wave provided by a rich benefactor. What are the ingredients for longevity?
Having a strategy is key to longevity as it defines an organisations destiny, Key to strategy is vision which is an ability to assess where to position now for the long haul whilst identifying where the long haul leads. Vision is key in any strategy and unfortunately as businesses get entwined in the economics of the here and now vision is rarely evident in organisations. With vision comes risk management, an organisation has to identify the threats that will challenge it on its journey and manage those challenges until they are small enough to deal with. Talent management is another key part of strategy particularly the development and retention of high performers. Organisations that map out their destiny using strategy shape themselves and their environments to achieve. Businesses that don’t have a strategy will hit the wall.
When businesses are small and easy to control processes are less important, however as a business grows processes become more and more important as they allow leaders and managers time to focus on strategic rather than tactical issues. Time spent in the weeds reinventing the wheel is ill spent time and costs businesses, however if processes are put in place and control delegated senior members of a business can begin to map out and shape the future of a business. Small businesses that remain without processes remain tactical, waste time and hit the wall.
Review and renewal are key to development just look at the Manchester United story when players such as Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and David Beckham were sold or moved on to be replaced by fantastic talents. Manchester United are not afraid of renewing when necessary without sentimentality. So should a business be when necessary after all a business in only in business to satisfy its customer’s needs rather than its worker’s needs. Businesses need to know that they match their customers needs and regularly review their relevance. Businesses that are too internally focused and sentimental will hit the wall.
Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Organisational Change or Transformation, Uncategorized