Monthly Archives: June 2019

Book Notes: Leading Teams

Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances by J. Richard Hackman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No leader can make a team work well, but all leaders can create conditions that increase the likelihood.

Real Teams have – a team task, bounded team, delimited authority to manage their own work processes, and membership stability over a reasonable period of time.

Team task – Where individuals are working independently (e.g. call answers) then this is not a team tasks and these people can not form a team, this instead is a co-acting group.

Bounded team – Actually knowing who all the people are – some groups have transient members which mean it can not form into a team.

Delimited authority – Clearly knowing what the team is permitted or not to do. Without this being made explicit the team with either be too timid or overstepping its bounds.

Stability over time – Teams perform better the longer they are together. The only exception is with design teams where fresh external ideas are useful.

Compelling DirectionEffective team self-management is impossible unless someone in authority sets the direction for the team’s work.

Energises the team members – creates a challenge which enhances motivation

Orients their attention and action – makes the direction clear and aligns performance strategy and purpose

Engages their talents – the direction has consequences and fosters full utilisation of knowledge and skill.

Enabling structure – work designed for the full team. It has been shown that individuals feel tasks foster internal work motivation thus a desire to perform well – their work is meaningful, they feel personally responsible for the outcome and can see the results of their efforts. When applied to teams this is bigger challenges, autonomy to excel and feedback to improve. There is a balance in all of these – too big a challenge, too much autonomy and not learning from feedback.

Norms – the teams should be constantly striving to improve and the behavioral requirements of how to and how not to behave. Taking an active, not reactive, stance to the environment as well as the behavioral boundaries which set out the small things that members must always do and those they must never do. This is because we naturally Reacting to whatever comes our way because it is easier to react to whatever comes our way rather than actively scan our environment. Stopping and reflecting is key to a team being able to be proactive in resolving issues. Secondly we seek harmony and as such we sometimes thoughtlessly do things which we should not and go further than we ought.

Composition of the team – the three common mistakes are assuming…

  • the more the better, so putting too many people on the team – the potential productivity – the process losses = actual productivity which peaks about 4/5 people
  • similar people will get along better so form homogeneous teams
  • everyone knows how to work in a group so ignoring the interpersonal skills of prospective members

Supportive Context – Ensuring things such as reward systems recognise and reinforce good team performance not individual performance. Providing visibility of data so teams are better informed so they can plan and execute their work – usually the really important stuff is secret, providers and users speak different languages, a flood is as bad as a drought and information is power which some organisations try to keep at the top. Education and support so that people have the knowledge to solve their own problems.

Expert Coaching – direct interactions with a team to help members use their collective resources well in accomplishing work, this is usually provided by the team leader. Effort – building team spirit e.g by giving themselves a name, decorating their area etc which can significantly build motivation. Performance strategy – mindless reliance on habitual routines results in suboptimal performance. When a team gets in the habit of regularly doing scanning and planning activities genuine innovative ways of proceeding with the work often emerge. Knowledge and skill – where a team develop pattern of interaction that fosters learning from one another thereby increasing the total pool of knowledge available to a group.

What coaches don’t do – the focus should be on the team’s task not on members social interactions or interpersonal relationships. Harmony is not the aim – interpersonal issues might be because of structural or contextual conditions.

What effective leaders do – they stack the desk in the teams favour, getting the order right. Providing great coaching as poor coaching can reduce the effectiveness of the team. Great leaders create the conditions that promote team effectiveness any way they can. Have emotional maturity and courage,

Book Notes: Resolving Conflicts At Work

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke, Joan Goldsmith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chronic conflict are conflicts that nations, societies, organisations, families or individuals have not been fully resolved; need to resolve in order to grow and evolve; are capable of resolution; can only be resolved by abandoning old approaches and taking on new ones; are resistant to resolution because they are frightened, dissatisfied, insecure, uncertain, angry or unwilling to change.

Each conflict has two fundamental truths : the truth of impasse – that people are stuck with a problem they want to resolve but can’t; the truth of resolution – it is possible to become unstuck and move to a higher order of resolution or relationship.

There is a huge difference between communicating superficially to settle a conflict through compromise and communicating deeply to resolve it and transforming the conflict by learning from it.

The strategies for resolving conflict:

  • Understand the culture and Dynamics of conflict. Every conflict is significantly influenced by the culture and dynamics in which it takes place. Understanding these elements will help you discover the hidden meaning of your conflicts, not only for yourself but your opponent and the organisation in which you work. Identifying the culture and dynamics of conflict for individual and organisations can lead to increased awareness, acceptance and resolution of the underlying reasons for the dispute. Typical responses are Counterattack, Defend, Roll over, Gossip, Run away, Refuse to budge, Undermine. In each of these responses it actually boosts the power of the accuser. These solutions tend to “fight or flight” and done boost listening and problem solving but more build a battle between people. The alternative approach of “tend and befriend” – which uses these as opportunities to learn.
    • Discover common interests
    • Bring in a mediator
    • Focus on the problem
    • Focus on the future
    • Invite it in as an opportunity
    • Create introspection
    • Reframe the issue
    • Let it pass through you
  • Listen empathetically and responsibly. Listening with an open mind and an open heart your opponent will encourage them to do the same for you. This will lead you to recognise the real issues in school and that’s to the centre of your complex strategies for resolution and transformation converge.
    • Let go of your own ideas, role and agenda and try to understand what the other person is saying
    • Be curious of what makes them tick
    • Before you speak draw out the other person’s ideas
    • Search behind the words for the other person’s meaning, especially ifhe or she disagrees with you
    • Discover and manage your listener’s unspoken expectations
    • Respond respectfully and non-defensively, acknowledging and addressing the other person
    • Choose an appropriate form of communicating
    • Speak respectfully, empathetically and responsively
    • Demonstrate that you heard the other person’s deeper needs and feelings
    • Anticipate objections and address them before they are raised
    • Clarify and emphasis your agreements
    • Acknowledge differences and restate issues positively
    • State your interests instead of your position
    • Ask for feedback
    • Compliment the other person for listening
  • Search beneath the surface for the hidden meaning. The language we use to describe our disputes, our opportunities and ourselves reveals a set of attributes and underlying assumptions that can block resolution. Beneath the superficial issue in every conflict lie subterranean fears, desires, interests, emotions, histories, expectations and intentions that reveal what is actually wrong, and can become a powerful source of resolution and transformation.
    • Issues
    • Personalities
    • Emotions
    • Interets, Needs and Desires
    • Self-Perceptions and Self-Esteem
    • Hidden Expectations
    • Unresolved Issues from the Past
  • Acknowledge and Reframe emotions. When intense emotions are brought to the surface, communicated openly and directly in a way that your opponent can hear, and are acknowledged, reframed, and integrated, then invisible barriers are suddenly lifted to problem solving, collaboration, resolution and transformation.
  • Separate matters from what gets in the way. The road to resolution and transformation lies less in blaming people skillfully addressing joint problems; less in asserting differences than finding commonalities; less in asserting position than satisfying interests; less in debating who is right than engaging in dialogue over what both sides care about; less in resurrecting the past the redesigning the future
    • Positions from interests
    • People from problems
    • Problems from solutions
    • Commonalities from differences
    • Future from the past
    • Emotions from negotiations
    • Process from content
    • Options from choices
    • Criteria from selection
    • Yourself from others
  • Solve problems paradoxically and creatively. Transformation requires the energy, uncertainty, complexity and duality of enigma, paradox, riddle and contradiction, which form essential part of every conflict. These complex paradoxical elements can lead to expanded creative problem solving techniques that can assist you not simply in reaching agreements, but in building diverse, overlapping, simultaneous options into a solution you are able to agree on.
    • Admit you have a problem, recognise it as a problem and accept it as needing to be solved
    • Collaboratively define and clarify the elements and nature of the problem
    • Jointly investigate, analyze, categorise and prioritise problems.
    • Invent solutions that satisfy everyone’s interests without becoming attached to any particular solution
    • Jointly act, evaluate results, acknowledge efforts and celebrate successes
  • Learn from difficult behaviours. In many workplace conflicts, people are rewarded for engaging in difficult behaviours. These behaviours offer excellent opportunities for you to learn how to improve your skills in responding to them while increasing your capacity for empathy, patient, and perseverance; to discover what makes it difficult for you; to become more grounded and effective in the way you respond.
  • Lead and coach for transformation. Because conflicts are places where we get stuck, leadership and coaching are useful in helping us find a way out. Leadership competencies in conflict resolution can be learnt and developed and “conflict coaching” can aid us in shifting attitudes, developing skills and locating our own unique path to resolution and transformation.
  • Explore resistance and negotiate collaboratively. We begin with the idea that “all resistance reflects an unmet need” and can therefore be interpreted as a request for improved communication, processes and relationships; for greater authenticity; for increased involvement in decision-making; or for a deeper and more collaborative relationship. Exploring resistance can unlock conflicts, allowing us to collaboratively negotiate solutions and, if other approaches fail to mediates the issues that seem too difficult to resolve.
  • Mediate and design systems for prevention. Chronic conflict emanate from systems rather than personalities, and can be addressed organisationally through a “conflict resolution systems design” process. Designing conflict resolution system enables individuals and organisations to prevent or reduce the severity of chronic conflict, to eliminate them at their source, to orient the organisation towards the institutionalisation of resolution practices and dramatically reduce the cost of conflict.