by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“There’s nothing so rare as a plan,” was attributed to Napoleon by more than one historian, although others have disputed that.

 


Generals as successful as Napoleon probably didn’t have a plan. If anything, he more likely would have had a battle framework before his troops moved forward. Most effective leaders have a mental framework before they proceed. In Napoleon’s case: certain natural battle boundaries, a broad vision of victory, appropriate troop formations needed – based on their various competence levels – and the messages he would send to his commanders and troops to inspire them to fight to the last man..

 

He wouldn’t have precise battle plans because battlefields are so fluid – rather like marketplaces. It would be suicidal to have everything spelled out and then fall apart the moment fighting commenced.  This is why so many strategic plans get ditched: their whole chronology is under-mined no sooner than people begin to execute them. Their rigid, impersonal nature

often cause them to buckle quickly once kicked-off and so people’s belief in them also collapses shortly thereafter.

 

Napoleon would also have had within his battle framework assurance that his troops would have the armory they needed and that his troops were better trained and more fearsome than those of his enemy. Also he would have incorporated battle principles like:

» Try to flank your enemy unless you have overwhelming odds.

» Don’t engage your enemy unless they’re within range of your muskets.

» Take down their leaders first as well as their battle flags.

He may also have induced winning values like – be brave, stand your ground, and watch your comrade’s back. Principles and values are also an integral part of any effective battle framework; although should speak directly to the people who will be abiding by them.

 

Moving on to present times; it’s the time of year when executives start giving much attention to: “What’s next?” However, in place of pulling out your last strategic plan, why not take a lead from Napoleon and formulate a strategic framework instead? Let’s take a look at some of the differences and then you’ll probably be inspired to do just that:

»Planning is Two Dimensional: Framing is Four Dimensional – Most strategic plans are focused on the two dimensions, numbers – in terms of revenues and profits – and structure – how things are to be set-up to accomplish those numbers. In the case of non-profits, they’re more likely focused on the number of donors and the resulting revenues; which are then dispersed through a structure to deliver the required services.

Whereas with strategic frameworks, they bring four dimensions: Compelling vision – what does the outcome look like? Primary know-howwhat do we need to know to accomplish our vision? Vital resourceswhat complete range of resources will be necessary? And, finally, key outcomes what numerical and human outcomes should we expect? In the case of non-profits; their ultimate focus is on the human outcomes. These four dimensions are formulated with all key constituents in mind: customers, suppliers, workplace people, leaders, owners/shareholders and community.

 

»Planning has Limited Shelf-life: Framing brings an Ongoing Dynamic – Too often strategic plans lose their focus and momentum soon after they’re launched. Could this be because they’re cocooned in a bevy of numbers and structured strategies, which too often focus on the people who will primarily benefit from them – owners and shareholders? Scant mention is made about the people who will produce the numbers. It’s rather like living a story that doesn’t include you. No wonder younger generations are increasingly turning their backs on this deal.

   Strategic framing, on the other hand, refers time and again to all the people beneficiaries and associated markets that will gain from your organization’s products or services. Your people are involved in this think-approach.

 

»Planning is about System Delivery: Framing focuses on People Delivery – Typical strategic planning puts a great deal of effort into designing a system to deliver the desired results. It also assumes that “hands” will produce the required widgets and consequently reap the desired financial numbers. “Hands” were defined by Henry Ford because he only wanted pairs of hands; not the people associated with them.

     On the contrary, framing defines the know-how, resources and leadership that will inspire people to deliver an optimum performance. That sounds like a real deal.

 

»Planning is only about Numerical Goals: Framing is about Numerical and Human Outcomes – As indicated earlier, strategic planning is all about the numbers and the delivery systems to achieve them. Those numbers and systems are of primary interest to the bosses, owners and shareholders.

Strategic framing, by the same token, specifies the desired revenues and profits, but also indicates how workplace people will benefit – in terms of more training and resources, enhanced working-conditions and tools, possible team bonuses, and so on. Human outcomes, such as prestige in the community, pride in company success, joy at team contributions, allowed time for community activities, and so on, are also important in a framework.

 

  »Planning provides Structure: Framing offers Empowerment – Strategic planning provides the structure for organizing, directing and controlling with the intent of meeting required deliverables. It’s usually an impersonal and purely rational roadmap designed to meet owner/shareholder expectations.

          Strategic framing, by contrast, outlines the people empowerment gained by properly positioning things, engaging them at every level, and internal-external collaboration vital to surpassing desired outcomes.

 

»Planning produces Debatable Buy-in: Framing produces Higher Buy-in – For all of the above planning attributes, it is normal for only a number of numerate executives to buy-into the strategic plan and its goals. It’s also normal for the workforce and first level team-leadership to buy-in only marginally, since they are not typically involved in its formulation and they will probably not benefit much from the outcome.

     With strategic framing, its constant rhythm is about involving all the stakeholders as much as practicable, so as to build higher buy-in. Higher levels of buy-in will do much to propel your organization forward.

 

     Strategic planning has been dubbed an oxymoron by so many well-versed strategic thinkers, owing to its dependence on simultaneous analysis and synthesis which the human brain is not equipped for. Its impersonal nature and lop-sided beneficiaries also gives it limited shelf-life and appeal.

 

    Strategic framing by design aims to include all the interested stakeholders at every turn – including all the people involved in delivering its outcomes. Its focus brings a compelling purpose and human outcomes that most organization participants can identify with. Hence, it achieves its objective of breathing life and performance into your enterprise in every possible way.

 

Give it an honest opportunity this year and see the difference. (Note: The difference between the Houston Astros baseball team and the New York Yankees, in their 7 game series for the league championship, where the Astros prevailed; was AJ Hinch’s total reliance and belief in his team members and Joe Girardi’s total reliance and belief in his tome of a playbook.)

To find out more about building a strategic pathway, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc (R)

“…choosing not to ask for a video review after the home-plate umpire incorrectly ruled…” Article by Billy Witz, New York Sunday Times, Sports Section, October 2017. 

 

 


Can we all agree we’ve been in Joe Girardi’s shoes – New York Yankee’s coach – where we should have made a decision-call and have second-guessed ourselves?  Girardi’s crucial decision turning-point in a baseball league playoff series, between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, will likely live with him forever.

 

Perhaps some of us have been in his in-the-moment situation, too. A thunderous crowd in your opposition’s baseball park screaming mayhem coupled with a decisive but erroneous call by the home-plate umpire. Girardi ignored appeals by his on-the-spot catcher, his assistant coaches, and other team-mates in the dugout. His second-guessing rationale: it was taking too long to produce a dugout replay – he only had 30 seconds to do it. He didn’t want his favored pitcher to lose momentum. That pitcher felt overwhelmed – you could see it in the man’s eyes. Girardi could have used his umpire-decision, appeal

-time to allow his relief pitcher a few more warm-ups. The next Indian batter was the most dangerous on its team.

 

Of course, we would have all called it differently than Girardi; especially in hindsight. At the same time, many of us might have reverted to our deep-statistical playbook; something Girardi is well-known for. After all, he comes from an engineering background, so numbers are important to him. He is usually armed with a heavy folder containing all sorts of comparative statistics.

 

To indicate another numerical decision that went against the team: was when he retired pitcher CC Sabathia after two-thirds of the sixth inning. As Girardi recalled after the game, “We made the decision before the game to pull CC after 60 pitches.” And that’s what he did; at what also proved to be a crucial point, when Sabathia was cruising along against some pretty aggressive Indian batters and holding a five-run lead. Girardi wanted to insert a favored pitcher, even though that favored pitcher had gone above and beyond only two days before. Would we have done the same in his shoes? (NOTE: In fact, Girardi pulled Sabathia after 77 pitches: still well below the 100 usually expected of successful starting-pitchers.)

 

This was Girardi’s second decision oversight in a crucial second game in a five-game series.  Lady Luck now definitely left the Yankee’s side, especially when the grand-slam hit by that dangerous batter bounced the right way off the right-field foul-pole into delirious spectators. With such a real-life decision story, it raises yet again the specter of rational versus intuitive decision-making?

 

Our extraordinary emphasis on rational, quantitative decision-making has been drubbed into us by management books and educators for almost a century, which has now risen to an overwhelming but unwarranted cacophony in this writer’s view. The “quant” people completely and persistently overlook the scientifically proven fact that our intuition always makes our final decisions, irrespective of any obsessive rigorous analysis we may have made. Our intuition synthesizes the data that our rational mind extracts, in order to make sense of it. When our rational mind doesn’t produce enough intelligence on a given issue, our intuition hesitates and so we hesitate, too.

 

People’s intuitive minds draw upon our many life experiences, from the moment we were born, as a comparison point with the new rational issues we are confronted with. They aid us in making an optimum decision. Irrespective of this, a quant approach to baseball, started by the Oakland As many years ago and made into a movie, has now placed numerous quants on professional baseball team payrolls. It’s more than possible that data-driven decision-making, which has entered into the game over recent years, has provided a leg-up relative to the more ad-hoc, gut decision-making pursued in days of yore. However, the fact that pretty well every team is doing it, what competitive advantage is that? Of course, this writer appreciates your response: “We have to do it because everyone else is doing it.”

 

Following the herd is a great rationale. But what about going one step ahead of your competitors? If our sports and business worlds are awash with data, then why don’t we access it and then respect that our instincts – notwithstanding our many biases – will usually be available to help us make optimal calls. And probably, if we complement this activity by allowing our intuitions to review the right considerations, again based upon our life’s experiences, we will usually arrive at optimal conclusions. Take a look again at some of the earlier issues that Girardi took into consideration. His fatal error: he second-guessed his intuition, when he saw his catcher signaling or when he saw Sabathia cruising through the Indian batters. More often than not, once you do that, you’re on a slippery slope.

 

Coming back to the important question of our biases: In Girardi’s case, this is his penchant for numbers and cold rational solutions. We all have our own biases, which we need to be honest about. In any case, because Girardi appears to be a pleasant and rational guy at press briefings and because he has led a largely rookie team further than anyone expected during the season; he has probably earned many points as a decision maker. But now his team is in the play-offs, where the Yankees are playing the best of the best, it’s on-the-margin where decisions count. As Aaron Judge, one of his rookie batters with a new record for rookie home-runs, was reported to have commented: “It’s like we have just finished the spring-season and now the real season has just started.”

 

If you are in Girardi’s rational corner and there’s a very high percentage of us who are; it’s about time you have more respect for your life-long experience, deep professional know-how, and intuition. Organization executives can help by:

» Allowing their people to make many more reasonable mistakes, as long as they don’t make them twice on the same issue. They should resist pillorying people in their lust for blood when someone makes an honest error.

    » Where an error is made, the executive should make the time – which too often they don’t – to review the mistake objectively with the individual. Help them see other options – www.optionsolving.com –  to learn from.

    » If the individual makes the right call next time, take the moment to complement that person and reinforce their decision-making confidence.

    » Complement them, whenever they make the right key calls. They will remember that moment for a long time. We’re too quick to bash people, rather than uplift them. Perhaps bashing makes us feel superior in some way.

   

So, as a coach and team leader, can Girardi recover from his over-reliance on management data thinking? Although he owned up to his second-guessing, he was especially back to his play-book for the final two games of the ACLS series against the Houston Astros. He used his playbook to choose pitcher Robertson over Bettances toward the end of game 6. Based upon numbers he was right, but a leader would’ve spent 10 minutes with each before the game to discuss options and look them in the eye…the latter would’ve told him Bettances was up to his game much more for many reasons.

 

In Game 7 he could have turned his playbook upside down and done something really unconventional to give his batters a chance. When he knew Sabathia would fade after 3-4 starter innings, he should have emulated the Astros’ coach with game 4 in Boston (using Verlander for non-starter innings). Girardi could’ve used his starters one or two innings at a time after Sabathia; Gray, Tanaka and Severino. That would’ve kept the Astros in check and given the Yankees batters more reason to find a play to win: their faith in Girardi was blown with reliever Kahnle not holding his nerve. Saving his starters for the World Series didn’t matter, since it would’ve been a monumental achievement for his team to land there.

 

    At the end of the day, if players or people in your workforce have paid their dues with at least 10, 000 hours of playing the game, batting, pitching, coaching or leading: which they probably have been doing since they were 5 years old: then they should rely upon their intuitions as much as possible to make the optimum call…within their particular circumstances at the time. No second-guessing or definitive playbooks. Occasionally it may still be the wrong call, possibly influenced by personal biases, but it would still likely be small fry relative to the pain inflicted with not trusting your expert or leader instincts at crucial moments. Ask Joe Girardi?

To learn more about decision-making, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Managers are deemed to be more today oriented, while real leaders are more likely to be tomorrow focused”.

 

 

 Time and again various experts look to managers to take care of the day-to-day, while they expect leaders to be more interested in tomorrow. If this holds true, and there is plenty of evidence out there in various articles and among organization thinkers to suggest that it is, then we can likely identify the probable cause of so much reactive behavior in various organizations…especially as it seems that managers vastly outnumber leaders.

 

As this writer puts pen to paper, in drafting this article, he’s carefully monitoring the day-to-day condition of a hospitalized, lifelong friend in Europe. Apparently, earlier in the same week, his friend was enveloped by a sepsis state – the body’s traumatic reaction to a serious infection. This writer was left wondering why this should have happened.

 

His friend had been hospitalized for the second time since his surgery was completed at another highly regarded medical institution some three hours driving time away. His local hospital became well aware of his many post-op issues during his second re-admission and was supposedly monitoring his condition on an hourly basis. The question is therefore: Why did they have to wait for the sepsis condition to occur? Why weren’t they anticipating this and doing everything they could to prevent it from occurring?

 

Such incidences are a stark reminder of the differences between reactive and proactive modes. Currently, nurses and interns are expected to manage their patients through whatever monitoring schedule is required; be that every 5 minutes, hourly, daily or whatever. Meantime, doctors and surgeons ought to be leading their patients’ recovery by proactively steering them toward a positive outcome; if that’s within their nature to do so? The demarcation between the two groups is often stark, exacerbated by traditional hierarchical thinking within hospitals.

 

Demarcation gaps allow critical patient issues to fall between the cracks. Does it have to be this way? (NOTE: Frontline staff should largely manage day-to-day activities, although they should still also have a 10-20% forward thinking lead role. Whereas, higher-order experts – like doctors and surgeons – and organization leaders should still have a 20-60% management role, depending on the scope of their responsibilities, where they’re also focused on today. When such thinking is in place, it creates opportunities for some overlap, communication and synergizing.)

 

Questions like this pop-up time and again when experiencing and hearing about ineffectiveness in many organization spheres. At the moment of writing, we’re witnessing tremendous devastation in Puerto Rico as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria. TV visuals show tremendous hardships and disillusionment with the lack of food and relief supplies after nearly two weeks. All the indications are that government authorities are reacting to the disaster rather than having anticipated and positioned themselves for fast after-relief before the killer storm arrived…at least having everything in place and organized seems an obvious thing to do. One can envisage that it would only then require the President to press a green button to bring lightening relief, if necessary.

 

Momentum is built through a combination of seamless interaction between proactive and reactive modes that builds upon itself: one group telegraphing or handing-off to the other through synergistic communication. One mode without the other leads to dysfunction. If you take continuous motion sports teams like soccer, ice hockey, rugby or basketball, the secret is to create seamless connections between defense and offense so that every new attack emerges in a way that builds momentum. Where this doesn’t happen within a particular team, it will be quickly overwhelmed by any team that has its seamless-communication act together: assuming both team talent levels are pretty similar.

 

Effective teams that communicate seamlessly set a great model for aspiring full-functioning organizations. Where sales-marketing or media services lead the way, and operations and back-up services manage the product or service response in a synergistic fashion; then the enterprise flows. The goal, drawing from sport vernacular, is to meet the customer’s desires as effectively and efficiently as possible, which can only happen when the supplier’s in-between activities really flow. Where this communication synergy does not occur, the provider falters.

 

So the reality is this:

» If you have a culture fixated on management, with a small leadership component, the organization becomes highly reactive and misses untold numbers of opportunities.

     » If you have a culture fixated on leadership, with a small management component, the organization becomes overly proactive with no solid base behind it. It therefore doesn’t fulfill many of its opportunities.

     » Clearly a combination of the two is required, where there is a seamless transition between them. This creates solid momentum and flow. We cannot allow stark demarcations to develop between our reactive and proactive functions because we will just be overwhelmed by a more effective competitor, as well as have many dissatisfied customers.

 

Our challenge is therefore, how do we balance things to create flow? To answer that issue, we have to objectively ask ourselves some pretty probing and objective questions from which the answer will reveal itself, like:

»Do we have a clear picture of the roles of management and leadership within our current organization?

 » Do we have a clear idea of the executive, operational or outreach styles and preferences of the people who manage and lead our product/service producing areas and those who market them?

» How extreme are those styles, such that the two sides cannot effectively communicate with each other and synergize? For example, this writer is aware that traditional operational executives are high Producers but are low on people Diplomacy; whereas marketers are more likely to be high on Diplomacy, but not quite so strong on the Producing side. Where these lead P and D characteristics are somewhat extreme and opposite, it is easy to see why there would be relatively little synergy between both parties.

» Where there is some compatibility, to what degree do we allow the parties  to regularly communicate and under-stand where each other is coming from? Extreme communication factors generate dysfunction between two vital groups. In our dynamic information age, it would be far better if our operational executives were pretty strong Producers closely followed by Diplomacy. On the other hand, our marketers should be pretty strong on Diplomacy closely followed by a Producer orientation. That way , both parties can better minimize any barriers and find positive ways to work with each other. We’ve tended to encourage feuding in the past to stimulate action. Feuding in today’s fast-paced information age just exacerbates dysfunction and a lot of opportunities disappear.

»How do we stay on the right track? Stay focused on the synergy issue, once you have the right players in place. As with any well-functioning sports team, you have to keep rehearsing the right communication synergies until the plays or momentum building actions become second nature.

 

Using these questions as a framework, you now have to put your conclusions into action. Chances are you will have gulfs within your organization, since most current organizations do; purely because they haven’t understood and addressed the issue. That means there is a certain degree of dysfunction and lost opportunity within your enterprise of today.  You will then need to apply a three phase approach: 1) Understand your  organization’s current disposition; 2) Try to bridge the existing gaps; and 3) Where the gaps are irreconcilable, change the players appropriately over time without rocking your organization too much.

This is known as Momentum Flow and is a natural antidote to organizational bureaucracy. Why not get started today? You won’t regret it.

 

To learn more about “building momentum,” talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“A team comprises 6 – no more than 7- people who join together to accomplish a common, highly-prized objective that is important to all of them and their organization. A successful action team is usually two.”

 

    

It is clear that in any team sport or workplace team environment, where teams do particularly well, that those team participants experience incredible bonds with a unified desire for overall success: something not to be forgotten. However, in those environments where every man and woman is in it for themselves, then significant rivalry and dysfunction occurs – participants often wish they were somewhere else.

 

Even though most organization executives realize these axioms, so many of them still encourage and allow individualism to occur. Why does this happen?

 

» Nature of the Beast – This writer has had the privilege to objectively study countless numbers of executives over many years. It is apparent that 40%+ of them are high achievers

and ambitious people. Most of them have arrived at the top of their organizations through outperforming their peers and ‘making-it’ through their individual talent and determination. When they attain the top spot, they admire and promote those similar to themselves, and therefore position others in key spots that value individual rather than team success.

 

Another 5-10% prefer pursuing their own ideas and philosophies relative to others, consequently don’t encourage input from others or indulge in team building around them. An additional 5-10% look for rational and numerical answers in pursuing various initiatives around them; consequently team behavior, human factors or synergies are toward the bottom of their list of considerations.

 

Such an overall scenario indicates that as much as 60% of executives are not particularly disposed toward pursuing teamwork, despite its obvious advantages, purely due to the nature of the beast. Even the other 40% or less, who may be more disposed to teamwork, owing to their stronger interest in people and their value, could find themselves drawn to short-term, individual heroics by their team members as they pursue near-term results and objectives.

 

While these realities are not particularly encouraging for so many workplace people, who would prefer a team approach, it does give those organizations that actually propagate team sensibilities a distinct leg-up. We haven’t yet sufficiently moved from a dog-eat-dog culture to one of greater overall collaboration, where organizations could then accomplish much more by leveraging people’s collaborative instincts. These latter instincts undoubtedly exist across broader sections of many organizations, even though they are much rarer among the executive class. (NOTE: This is a distinction executives don’t seem to be fully conscious of; much to their unaware loss. They reckon that their people want to do their own thing because that’s what they- as executives – prefer.)

 

A recent documentary on the Vietnam War, underscored how teamwork prevailed under dire circumstances. The Vietcong were badly mauled on several occasions, based upon an individual cannon-fodder approach, whereas the camaraderie inculcated into American units drove them to prevail on more than one occasion against a vicious enemy.

 

» Knowing how to Build Teams  –  Notwithstanding the above realities and the undoubted benefits of teamwork, far too many executives are unaware of how to build effective  and successful teams. This usually includes the following:

  • Forming – As indicated at the outset of this article, a well established effective team size is 6-7 and the best team size for accomplishing an immediate key objective is 2 – not 1. Why? Because it’s been proven that the right pairing works better overall than the majority of people operating on their own. The costs of pairing are more than offset by the results they accomplish – assuming they are right for each other and are effectively assigned.

              Secondly, an effective team cannot join together without a truly effective leader or a challenging purpose.            So, if you are not a true team-believer, it’s better that you don’t bother investing in teams. Let them                            challenge themselves.

Thirdly, you will form the most effective teams with diverse personalities rather than similar ones. The                  latter may harmonize better in the short run, but will not become dynamic or enriched enough to make                    real  longer term gains.

 

  • Storming – Diverse constructive personalities, given a highly valued and common objective, may induce a degree of debate and disagreement at the outset. But, given the right leadership and encouragement, they’ll find ways to move beyond initial dissonance. It’s unlikely you will develop the right bonds with others without resolving challenging things together. (NOTE: Soldiers going through boot camp together, helps build mutual respect. Sports teams handling difficult games together and succeeding builds winning ways.)

 

  • Norming As indicated previously, the right groupings will come to terms with, respect and make allowances for each other. (NOTE: The same goes for successful marriages, once couples work out their differences.)

 

  • Performing – Once things settle down and assuming their leader keeps them focused and adequately resourced within a given timeframe, then teams will invariably step up to the task. Participants will watch each other’s backs, cover for each other, and encourage each other to give of their best. (NOTE: Watch for this in top football, baseball and basketball teams. Such teams are always collectively interested in how they’re doing.) Appropriate celebrations are especially appreciated by such teams where they can enjoy each other’s contributions.

 

  • The only other step is Disbanding, although even that needs to be done with sensitivity and a degree of patience. (NOTE: Is that why we see such high degrees of PTSD among demobilized, battle-affected military personnel? Is it also a form of grieving after being so closely interwoven with comrades in tough circumstances, but then those relationships are ripped apart without much time for grieving and letting-go of close, dependable team mates?)

Fortunately, in ongoing businesses, non-profits or other institutions, the need for disbanding is much less prevalent; unless through take-overs or closures. Ad hoc teams formed for various projects within such organizations, usually have the opportunity to return to their more permanent teams or groupings. They also rarely have to operate in life or death situations, accept for police officers or firefighters. The latter usually play out their team roles over many years with diverse assignments until they’re ready for promotion or retirement.

 

   If you already have teams, take a look at how effective they are and whether they’ve been properly set-up and orchestrated through the above steps. Where they appear to be dysfunctional or not terribly effective, consider reforming them into a more diverse grouping. Patiently work them through the above steps and there’s a good chance you’ll have much better results.

 

    Alternatively, if you’re not convinced regarding teamwork, try setting up a trial team using the above suggestions. This writer will be surprised if you’re not pleasantly surprised.  

______________________________________________________________________

To learn more about team building, please contact:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“One-way communication – just presenting to or talking at people – is hit-or-miss; whereas two-way communication – gaining people’s input or views – is a home run!”

 

   A recent trip to the local lumber yard in New York’s Manhattan really got this writer thinking about two-way communication once more. Entering the place was an immediate reminder of a famous comment by a relatively new female Chief Operating Officer for the Long Island Rail-Road Company some years back: “The boys are very sensitive about anyone interfering with their domain of playing with the trains.”

 

Believe it or not, this writer was completely ignored by the three store clerks when he arrived, as they kept their heads down, while fixated on some computer tabulating task. If you approached any one of them, they automatically pointed a finger toward the next clerk without even looking at you. Not a word was spoken at this juncture.

 

A tough communication spot: What is a customer or people leader supposed to do in such situations? The last clerk in the line just pointed back to the second person this writer had just moved away from. It was a bit of a helpless feeling. But it’s what’s to be expected in a one-way communication environment, where workplace people are just told what to do and their comments, ideas and feedback are not welcome. They’re just required to keep their heads down and work.

 

With no immediate joy of knowing what to do, this writer wandered into the adjacent shop where the lumber operatives hang out and their sizeable timber-laden warehouse exists. Those operatives just sat around with a half-glazed look in their eyes. When asked about the possibilities of a piece of hardboard this writer was looking for, they responded by pointing out that they were about to pack up for the day. A quick look at one’s watch showed there was at least an hour to go before normal closing time. A little more poking around and a plea for some advice and assistance did draw the aid of a ‘cutter,’ who, out of the goodness of his heart, cut off a right-sized piece of hardboard; although he wouldn’t accept any money or a tip for it. The yard apparently didn’t deal in such small pieces.

 

Such a noble act reminded this writer that such workers have a good heart, but our challenge is in finding it. Perhaps this is what more worldly and educated executives seem to find such difficulty in doing. Behavior, as experienced with these lumber yard guys, induces a stand-off where executives and the so-called elite view frontline workers as potentially belligerent; while the frontline workers view their bosses as stuck-up and out of touch. How do we close this gap?

 

You often get a similar indifferent response from Long Island Railroad ticket inspectors, or frontline staff in hospitals, or the drivers of city buses, factory floor workers and warehouse staff. Despite this reality, this writer’s wife is particularly adept at getting favorable responses from porters or reception staff at hotels. What does she do in these situations?

 

Extra thought about her skill in such situations, shows how she reaches out to them, treats them with appropriate respect, and talks about issues that are relevant to them. In return, they often display their good-will and good-heartedness to ensure she is well taken care of. By dint of observation, it would appear that up to 80% of workplace people are helpful and responsive to various degrees. It’s just the 20% that have a cold attitude; possibly because they’re in the wrong position in the first place. Most workplace people will treat you with respect, if you show them similar respect.

 

As this writer trundled home from the lumber yard with his prized, small piece of hardboard, he thought a good deal about what it would take to be a team leader in such a place. Factors that seemed to make sense included:

» Frontline “speak” – It would take a willingness to use language and shop-talk that everyday lumber-shop workers use. There would be no use in talking about profits and losses, or efficiencies, or policies and procedures. Much of that would go right over their heads.

» Sense of humor – It would take humor like you watch in famous TV shows like ‘The Brady Bunch’, ‘All our Fathers’ or ‘Lucille & Desi’ to appeal to frontline people: or  modern day comics thereof. Such humor would break down barriers and get them thinking.

» Involvement – Get their opinions, invite their ideas, ask them to contribute to evolving situations.

» Loyalty – Their loyalty to their leader would only be evident if (s)he was totally loyal to them. Would (s)he watch their backs and try to keep them out of trouble?

» Knowledgeable – Have sufficient knowledge – not be an expert – about the domain you’re leading, so as to win a modicum of your people’s respect and understand the nature of their questions.

» Fair compensation – It would be important for your frontline people to know they’re fairly compensated. They will be well-aware of the going rate for their role. Their expectations would not only be about money but also reasonable benefits. They will expect their rewards to be reviewed on an appropriately regular basis, in accord with their efforts, so they feel well regarded.

» Career interest – Some will care about you showing an interest in their career growth and building their domain knowledge. Others will be comfortable doing a good job where they are and making daily, worthy contributions.

» Camaraderie – Every day or at least every week, they will expect you, their team leader, to acknowledge them and show a friendly attitude toward them. Only then will they reciprocate. Also, you should encourage team members to appreciate each other and discourage the sharing of criticism or bad news behind their backs.

          If you don’t like someone, they will know it despite how hard you try to hide it. So this either needs to be resolved amicably or arrange for a parting of the ways in a respectful manner – all your team members will be looking for you to do that. Occasional team celebrations or events, for the right reasons, will always be welcome.

 

And so this writer’s visit to the lumber yard served as a useful refresher on the daily gulf that often exists between frontline workers and their executives. It’s a very real issue and is occasionally rampant. Once this stark, two-way communication gap is addressed, productivity and performance will blossom accordingly. Slowly in the beginning because it takes time to win people over, as they’ve been hurt too many times before to just jump on board. However, as you utilize the above suggested, desired factors, they are likely to pay dividends over time. When do you intend to review your workplace two-way communication issues?

 

To learn more about workplace people engagement, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
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