Friday, November 30, 2012

One Team

Many organizations are made up of multiple teams.  You have the Finance team, the HR team, the IT team, the Operations team, etc. etc.  Collectively these teams form the organization and deliver value.

Effective, highly functional teams are comprised of individuals who work well together, communicate openly, discuss and resolve their differences quickly, and all drive toward a common goal or vision.  We often admire these highly functional teams and wonder how they got there.  Is it luck?  Is it magic fairy dust?  What is it that makes them different?

By its pure definition a team is a collective group of individuals all working together toward a common goal.  Simple, right?  Then why is it so hard for teams to be highly functional?  The answer lies in the individuals.  Although they understand and can repeat verbatim the vision of the organization it doesn't mean they are buying in or even really understand the value.  The value of everyone pulling together is enormous.  You need a diverse group willing to communicate their thoughts, experiences, and ideas. This is how new ideas are born.  People must be willing to communicate - to share their thoughts as well as being open to new ideas.  This is a powerful aspect of ONE TEAM. 

It feels easy for people to work alone or in small isolated groups.  In these situations everyone tends to be like-minded.  As the needs of the larger group come into play however, agendas collide, personalities don't match, expectations differ.  This is hard and people tend to retreat to the small group or individual setting.  It's easy, it's comfortable.

But it doesn't work!  There is great energy expended to live outside the team.  People complain about how stressed or how busy they are while spending great effort to stay outside of the team.  Try this idea....  become part of ONE TEAM and spend the energy on productive tasks? 

Start by changing a few simple things.... 
  • Have the right attitude.  Demonstrate your desire to be a part of ONE TEAM
  • Instead of sending an email to the person on the team that sits two cubes away, get up out of your chair and walk over to talk to them.  Don't worry, nobody bites.  Too far to walk?  Pick up the phone.  Don't hide behind the electronic fence (aka email) all the time.
  • When managing a project, don't assume that everyone knows what to do and when.  Make it your own - own the project.  Share the plan with others, have a dialogue about it, listen to their input and make changes as needed.  Work together.
  • Share information about what you are doing.  Do you report status via tools like Sharepoint or Base Camp?  Keep the information up to date and timely so that everyone has a clue as to what is going on.  It's typically quick and easy to do this frequently,  Don't wait until your boss comes calling.  C'mon share a little!
  • Understand and live the vision of the team.  Don't pay it lip service.  And while you are at it, be positive.  It rubs off on others in a good way.
  • Talk to people.  Yes, take out the ear buds and have a conversation.  It works wonders.
  • If you don't want to be part of the team, do everyone a favor and find a new one.  It's ok, nobody will mind.
 Are you part of ONE TEAM or an isolated group within the team?  Take a look around, think about it.  What are you doing to be a part of ONE TEAM?

A team is one - everyone working together toward a common goal. Change a few things and become part of your team today.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Where is the sense of humor?

Recently I have had a number of interactions with recent college graduates.  The education background ranged from techies to social workers.  They are all technology saavy and think quite highly of themselves.  As I reflected on my interactions something really struck me as odd.  Most of them do not seem to have a sense of humor.  The trend I am seeing concerns me.  What is driving this?  Is it simply the people I interact with?  Is it coicidence?  Is the sampling too small?  Is this a classic techno-geek issue?  Or, is it just me?

I don't think it is any of these things.  I believe the culprit is technology.  Social technology to be exact.  This new generation of workers has been on the leading edge of the social media craze.  They started with instant messaging, moved up to email, then on to Facebook and Twitter.  Mix in a good dose of texting and I think you have a recipe for a problem.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I too am a texting, tweeting, emailing machine.  The difference is that I didn't start there.  I started by having to talk to people......with my voice.  There is nothing like the inflection of one's voice to get a point across or add levity to a discussion.  Texting and Facebook simply don't do that.  Sure, I can add a winking emoticon or two but it simply isn't the same.  Today's trend is for short bursts of conversation (limited to 140-160 characters as in texting and Twitter respectively).  The sharing of stories is getting lost in all of this.  The conversation is short and to the point.  The emotion is missing.  The use of sarcasm all but dead.  The quick comeback - gone.

Technology is a wonderful thing.  I make my living thanks to technology.  I have a passion for everything technology.  However, we have to understand some of the implications that our technology can bring (let's not even start talking about every regime out there now flying their own drones).  When the guy who created Facebook did so to help with his own social shortcomings, what do you end up with?  A generation of people who have learned how to communicate from the technology created by an introvert.  Not good.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Coaches - You are building the workplace team of tomorrow

Growing up, I participated in lots of sports, both formal and informal.  Basketball was my game, but many other sports were in the mix as well.  During those years I had many coaches and was lucky enough to have some very good ones. Those coaches helped shape how I think about teams in my work life today.

I have been a youth soccer and basketball coach for over 15 years.  During that time I have coached all age groups from six year olds up through those high school age.  Some teams were introductory and instructional while others were highly competitive.  Sometimes I had a kid on the team, sometimes I did not.
For me, it never mattered the age or skill level I was coaching, the message was always the same.  On the first day of practice I would get all the parents together to set expectations.  I would explain that we are building life skills for these kids.  We are not creating the next generation of national team players, division 1 athletes, Olympians, or professionals.  If your expectations are different, you have found the wrong team.  For the record, no parent or player left as a result of this proclamation.

Every day in some aspect of our life we work as part of the team.  To be a good member of a team requires skills that don't necessarily come naturally to everyone.  The discipline required for the preparation, training, and competition as part of a team is no different at its core whether it is soccer, band, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or doing your job.
As coaches we have the responsibility to put the pieces together in the most effective way and to provide the environment that allows for success.  We must leverage the strengths and improve upon the weaknesses of each member so as to allow them to be a success.  The kids that have great team experiences will be more likely to be highly functional team members for the rest of their lives.  Nobody is going to remember the score of the pee-wee football game 10 years from now but they will remember the team they played on, the commitment required, the hard work, and the experiences they had. 

Coaches and parents alike play a big role in shaping the corporate citizens of tomorrow.  So, the next time you are freaking out on the sideline (coaches) or in the stands (parents) during that next U-10 soccer match, remember what is really happening.  It isn't the wins and losses so much as it is the experiences and life skills acquired during the journey of being part of the team.  Help to make it memorable in a positive way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My perspective - A few cool gadgets

Apparently I am a gadget guy.  I don't know how I come across some of this stuff but I do. 

In a past post I raved about a few must haves - Sonos, Harmony Remote, Garmin Sports GPS, anything Apple, and Ford Sync.  I have to say that a year later my opinion hasn't changed.  I have used every one of them and have no buyers remorse at all.

Here's a new list of three gadgets that I use.  This may sound like some sort of advertisement but it really isn't.  These are just solid solutions that work for me.  Your mileage may vary.

Check this one out....  If you are into outdoor activities and need to cool down, check out the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad.  This simple to use, low maintenance, and inexpensive solution works great to cool you down during and after a workout, golfing, working in the yard, where ever.  An it is less than $20!  According to the Chill Pad is"made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch, The Chilly Pad® is an innovative way to cool down while enduring outdoor heat and/or high levels of physical activity. When wet, the towel begins to evaporate and cool, providing cool, soft comfort to the user. When it stops cooling, simply re-wet the towel in hot or cold water and wring it out. Within minutes, it’s cool again"

Here is another wireless speaker.  It is not the quality of the Sonos but for under $60 it works great in an office, a bedroom, or on a road trip.  The iHome IDM8 is a wireless speaker that connects to your music source (iPhone, Android, etc) via bluetooth.  If you don't have bluetooth you can also connect using a standard 3.5mm audio plug.  The speaker has a built in rechargeable battery that uses USB for charging. It is about the size of a baseball and is easy to use right out of the box.  It comes in red or black.

Maybe it is that I am a product of the George Jetson era or maybe it is that I just like cool stuff that works well.  Either way, the Roomba robotic vacuum is awesome.  Can it make dinner and clean up the kids like Rosie the robot did?  Well, no.  But it sure can vacuum the floors.  This rechargeable little beast comes in several models.  I recommend the unit that has built in scheduling.  It allows you to set a daily schedule and the Roomba will automatically start, vacuum, and park itself for recharging.  It deals with all types of flooring (carpet, wood, tile) and won't fall down the stairs.  You just need to remember to empty the dust bin regularly.  It gets rid of pet hair, dust bunnies, and all of the other junk that accumulates on your floors.  For what it is worth the customer service is excellent  Don't wait, go get one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Where have you been?

Much to my surprise, a number of people have asked me what happened to my blog.  To be honest, I didn't think there was that much interest.

I am going to try to resurrect this blog with a more regular pace of postings.  The content will continue the theme of "Random Thoughts".  What I have found is that writing this stuff is harder than it looks.  Coming up with topics is not hard, but coming up with interesting topics is.  So, I've decided to not worry so much about that.  Some of it you will be interested in, some of it you won't.  Hopefully you will find more postive than negative.

Look for my first new post in the coming days.  Thanks for your interest.