team dynamics

Lessons I Learned in 2017

It’s the last blog of 2017 for me.  It was a fantastic year, filled with many huge changes (to be discussed in a future blog post), and some valuable lessons for my team and me. At the end of a year, we take time to reflect on what has worked well, where there is room to grow, and what lessons we hope to carry over into the new year. Here are four valuable lessons from 2017: 1. Ask what your team expects of you regularly.

This year we’ve grown to a team of six (part-time and full-time) and are probably going to add a seventh in the next couple of months.  The growth has felt organic, more focused on the relationship than revenue.  We genuinely like being around each other and working together.

Recently, we outlined ways in which our work relationship would go.  We defined in a general way what the expectation for each member’s role is.  However, I wished I had asked each of them what they expected of me.

The team has shown great appreciation for what I have given, but I also learned that some of how I was trying to help were not as useful.  It was incredibly freeing to hear that I did not have to do as much.

I also saw that as time went on and we engaged different projects, I needed consistently to ask, “What do you expect from me as you engage this project?” I had tended to assume (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me), and I needed a clear understanding of expectations.

2. Sharpen the interpersonal dynamics as you go.

Another lesson learned is to actively clear any issues in interpersonal team dynamics as you go.  Since our team gets along so well with each other, what we needed to clear were tweaks, not major issues.  But even these tweaks were valuable.

Talking about how we experience one another has helped us to make personal shifts.  Capturing things in the moment helped us to notice that the dynamic of what was happening in ourselves was at play.  That awareness created great personal growth for us.

Also, it has been helpful to share what things, when we do them, really foster better relational dynamics.  So saying “When you did X, I felt engaged and alive” is the kind of statement that helped us understand what to do more for each other.

3. Diversify client base sooner.

Our largest client had crept up to 35% of revenue.  While we love working with them, 35% felt uncomfortable.  This year we took more active strides to diversify the client base than we ever had.  Carving out time to get out there and network has helped us to grow and to learn things from companies that have benefited all our clients.  I wish I had not sacrificed business development as much as I have for the immediate work that was presented.  Moreover, I wish I had hired faster so that I could spend more time developing the business.

4. Allow myself to be me, sooner, and not try to do it like everyone else.

Typically, coaching meetings are 1 hour long.  Early in 2017, a client had only 30 minutes, but we found that we did as much work in that 30min meeting as we had done in 60mins.  So I started experimenting with other clients and found the same thing.  Consistently they told me that they loved the “laser coaching” better than the 60min meetings.

There are plenty of coaches who use the laser coaching style.  I am built for it. I am more focused, think faster, ask better questions, and am not afraid to say hard things.  My clients are also more focused, come in prepared, can process what’s going on, and are much quicker to develop great plans for the issues they came to the meeting to resolve. They leave empowered, engaged, and eager to implement.  Moreover, the cost of laser sessions is less to them.  Win-Win all the way around.

As more and more clients chose the laser style of coaching, I wondered what had stopped me from doing this sooner?  Then it hit me: without realizing it, I had been following the example of some coaches whom I greatly admired.  They would never even consider having 30min meetings rather than 60min meetings.

They are great at what they do, but I needed to set myself up to do my best work, even if it is not in their style.

How about you?  What were the lessons you learned in 2017? I encourage you to sit with your team and explore these questions:

  • What has worked in 2017?
  • What are growth areas for 2018?
  • How will you measure this growth?
  • What are specific goals for each member within your team?
  • How can you help each other in reaching those goals?

I would love to hear from you and compare.

Have a fantastic holiday season! Looking forward to connecting in the new year.

Chew On This:

  • How can you perform your role in a way that is most you?
  • How can your team learn from this year and encourage each other in the new year?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams.

What To Do When Joining a Pre-Existing Team as the New Leader

You just got promoted, or maybe you just took a leadership position in a new company. Regardless, you will probably find yourself leading a pre-existing team. Team members know each other well, but you are the new one on the team.

Here are a few tips that clients have found to be universal principles of success for this scenario.

Building Rapport and Establishing Trust

1. Get to know your team well.

The faster you can build a connection with each member of the team, the more you will understand each other. You will build trust. You and your team members will discover how to leverage each other's strengths and contain one another's weaknesses.  More than that, you will be building a foundation for bringing the team to the next level.

2. Learn who the influencers in the company are.

In whatever organization you are in, there are certain people who have tremendous influence. Many times it is the leaders, but often you may discover that there is an administrative assistant who seems to hold a lot of influence.  Don't forget that each team has a member who is not the leader, but who wields a lot of sway over the others on the team.  As early as you can, you want to be actively building relationships with those people. Influencers can help you bust through obstacles. They can catalyze other relationships for you. Influencers also help with that next promotion. But even more than that, they will help you master the role you are in. Get to know who they are and build relationships with them.

3. Go through Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, for yourself, your team, and if possible, with your boss.

One of the first things you will need to understand is what is the most important part of your role, your team’s role, and your boss’ role. This book will help you do just that.  The more you, your team, and your boss are focused on the most important part of your roles, the more you all will move to the next level.

4. Find a base hit that is at the core of your role, your team’s role, or your boss’ role and fulfill it within 90 days.

Many start in a new role and just want to observe.  Others start, but they want to make a big grand slam home run right away.

In most cases, I've discovered that the clients who deliver base hits are the ones who win over their stakeholders and fellow associates.

Look for something that’s important in your role, your team’s overall role, or your boss’ role, where a base hit can be created.

If you can consistently deliver base hits, you will achieve remarkable results for you and your team.

Be sure to have one completed within the first 90 days so that it influences the perception people have of you.

5. Observe, observe, observe.

You will probably need to become a student for awhile, learning from your team members, peers, and boss how to accomplish meaningful actions.

You need to get the lay of the land first. If you try to make big bold moves right away, you may not realize until it’s too late that the big bold move was a colossal mistake because it did not fit the way the team or department works.

People tend to struggle with change. They want to build trust with you before things become massively different. Give them a chance to do that, and you will see how much more buy-in you will get.

Congratulations on landing the new position. You have the competence to pull off what you were hired to do. Now it is time to apply some principles and emotional intelligence to build relationships and set a foundation for major impact.

Enjoy the ride.

Chew On This:

  • What can you do to know your team better?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

You Won't Be Promoted Until You’ve Prepared Your Successor

preparingyoursuccessorTime and time again, talented, capable executives get passed up for promotions because there isn’t anyone to take their place. When speaking to their bosses I often hear things like, “I need her there... Who else can do what she does?” and “If he got promoted, it would leave a huge vacuum.”

We are coming to the end of a new year, a time when many of us are thinking about what goals we want to achieve in the new year.  One of the top goals I hear being expressed is to be promoted.

If that is your goal, then please consider which of your team members you will train to succeed you.  Also consider how you will train them.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Speak to your boss and key stakeholders about what they would like to see in the person who takes your role.

Your successor will need support from key stakeholders, including your boss, if the transition is going to be a success.  A conversation with them ahead of time will allow you to gain buy-in from them as they see the traits develop in the person you will be choosing.

2. Create a job description based on the reality of your role.

How much of the original job description is what you do day in and day out?  Writing a realistic job description will help your successor tremendously.

Be sure to focus on what is the most essential part of the role and what are the soft and hard skills necessary to succeed in the role.  Also emphasize the appropriate points which key stakeholders said they wanted.

A question I sometimes use with the executives I coach is, “If you could hire a more idealized version of yourself to take over your role, what characteristics would they have?” (BTW- your answers to that question are great for determining what goals to reach for while you yourself are in the role.)

3. Determine who will be your successor and get their buy-in.

After you have the job description, look at your team.  Who is likely to be able to match that description and exceed it?  It may not be the direct report who is excelling the most.  Be sure to think through who has the best potential to far exceed the job description.

Then go and see if that person is interested in being trained to take your role.

If you have a huge role that needs to be broken up (and your management supports that decision), then focus on a couple of successors.

If the best person to take over is not a part of the current team, be sure to keep your direct reports informed.  As you bring the new person in, help your direct reports understand your rationale, and explain how they can help the new leader succeed.

4. Train incrementally.

Give your potential successor opportunities to really stretch their skills.  Have them assume much more of a leadership role than they have had in specific projects.  Coach when necessary.  Then have times to debrief afterwards.

5. Create milestones.

Your successor will probably want to know when they will be viewed as being ready to assume the leadership role.  The more tangible you can make these milestones, the better.  This will help stakeholders to buy in even more.

6. Focus on the future.

Assume that the current problems your team is facing will be resolved, and that there will be new ones in the future.  What principles of problem solving does the team need to learn in order to make more effective decisions?

Moreover, think about where the overall organization is heading.  What are some key things your successor needs to know and do in order to align with the greater company’s focus?

7. Consider that your successor may not be a clone of you.

There are times when replicating yourself is advantageous, and there are times when having someone different from you take over is exactly what a team needs to move to higher levels of cohesion and performance.  What do the team and the overall organization need for this next step?

8. Communicate to your team early that a change is coming.

Knowledge of an imminent change can often lead people to fear the unknown.  You can minimize this fear by informing your team as soon as it is appropriate, to help them adjust.  Also, be clear about expectations, so that everyone knows what to count on.

9. Use job shadowing.

Your successor needs to know that they are being watched by those above the team members.  They need to learn to be the leader before they get the position.

Job shadowing will help them see a template in you.  If they are a different personality type than you are, and/or have different gifts than you do, then use some of the shadowing time to discuss how they would have handled things in their style.

10. Set your successor up for success.

Determine what win your successor could have before assuming their role that would help the team to fully embrace their leadership?

However you can set them up for success ahead of time will pay dividends in a smooth transition.

11. Offer to be a mentor/coach for awhile after they’ve assumed your role.

Some successors may not come to you as much as to others.  However, it will be great for them to know that you are there until they get their legs under them.

Succession is key to getting promoted.  When you have a replacement, your boss and others above you will look for opportunities for you.

If there isn’t someone to take your place, don’t be surprised if getting your next promotion is more difficult than you thought.

Chew On This:

  • If you could have a more idealized version of yourself take over your role, what characteristics would they have?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.