Archive for the Management / Leadership Category

10 tips for Better Team Work

Posted in Business start up, Human Resources, Management / Leadership with tags , , , on December 21, 2010 by virtualcitypa
Have you ever wondered how some groups work and some don’t? Effective team work is both profoundly simple and difficult at the same time.  Susan Heathfield of About.com published this article regarding team building that we thought is relevant for all small businesses..
Keys to Successful Team Work
  • The team understands the goals and is committed to attaining them. This clear direction and agreement on mission and purpose is essential for effective team work.
  • The team creates an environment in which people are comfortable taking reasonable risks in communicating, advocating positions, and taking action. Team members trust each other. Team members are not punished for disagreeing.
  • Communication is open, honest, and respectful. People feel free to express their thoughts, opinions, and potential solutions to problems. People feel as if they are heard out and listened to by team members who are attempting to understand.
  • Team members have a strong sense of belonging to the group. They experience a deep commitment to the group’s decisions and actions.
  • Team members are viewed as unique people with irreplaceable experiences, points of view, knowledge, and opinions to contribute.
  • Creativity, innovation, and different viewpoints are expected and encouraged.
  • The team is able to constantly examine itself and continuously improve its processes, practices, and the interaction of team members. The team openly discusses team norms and what may be hindering its ability to move forward and progress in areas of effort, talent, and strategy.
  • The team has agreed upon procedures for diagnosing, analysing, and resolving team work problems and conflicts. The team does not support member personality conflicts and clashes nor do team members pick sides in a disagreement. Rather, members work towards mutual resolution.
  • Participative leadership is practiced in leading meetings, assigning tasks, recording decisions and commitments, assessing progress, holding team members accountable, and providing direction for the team.
  • Members of the team make high quality decisions together and have the support and commitment of the group to carry out the decisions made.

If a team can get these ten factors right, success and a rewarding sense of team work will follow.

Susan Heathfield is a Human Resources expert. She is a management and organisation development consultant who specialises in human resources issues and in management development to create forward thinking workplaces. Susan is also a professional facilitator, speaker, trainer, and writer.

http://humanresources.about.com/od/teambuilding/f/team_work.htm

Problem solving tips – 5 Why’s

Posted in Management / Leadership, Office Management with tags , , on December 10, 2010 by virtualcitypa

The 5 Whys is a simple problem-solving technique that helps users to get to the root of the problem quickly. Made popular in the 1970s by the Toyota Production System, the 5 Whys strategy involves looking at any problem and asking: “Why?” and “What caused this problem?”

Very often, the answer to the first “why” will prompt another “why” and the answer to the second “why” will prompt another and so on; hence the name the 5 Whys strategy.

Benefits of the 5 Whys include:

  • It helps to quickly determine the root cause of a problem
  • It is easy to learn and apply

How to use the tool:

When looking to solve a problem, start at the end result and work backward (toward the root cause), continually asking: “Why?” This will need to be repeated over and over until the root cause of the problem becomes apparent.

Example:

Following is an example of the 5 Whys analysis as an effective problem-solving technique:

  1. Why is our client ABC, unhappy? Because we did not deliver our services when we said we would.
  2. Why were we unable to meet the agreed-upon timeline or schedule for delivery? The job took much longer than we thought it would.
  3. Why did it take so much longer? Because we underestimated the complexity of the job.
  4. Why did we underestimate the complexity of the job? Because we made a quick estimate of the time needed to complete it, and did not list the individual stages needed to complete the project.
  5. Why didn’t we do this? Because we were running behind on other projects. We clearly need to review our time estimation and specification procedures.  

Key Points:

The 5 Whys strategy is an easy and often-effective tool for uncovering the root of a problem. Because it is so elementary in nature, it can be adapted quickly and applied to most any problem. Bear in mind, however, that if it doesn’t prompt an intuitive answer, other problem-solving techniques may need to be applied.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm

Good presentation tips

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on August 28, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There are four aspects of a good presentation that we should all be aware of: 1) The purpose of the presentation is chrystal clear 2) The message is concise 3) Well prepared 4) Vivid message delivery

Understand what you want to achieve.

Before you start working on your talk or presentation, it’s vital that you really understand what you want to say, who you want to tell and why they might want to hear it. To do this, ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

When it comes to wording your message, less is more. You’re giving your audience headlines. They don’t need to and are usually not expecting to become experts on the subject as a result of hearing your talk.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few bullet points, or one statement or a very simple diagram

Be prepared

Preparation is underrated. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in determining your communication successes.

Of course, not all communications can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a good, thorough understanding of the office goings-on, enabling you to communicate with the knowledge you need to be effective, both through verbal and written communications.

Unforgettable delivery

Your delivery of your speech or presentation will make or break it, no matter how well you’ve prepared and crafted your clear, concise message. Some useful tips for keeping your presentation vivid include:

  • Use examples to bring your points to life
  • Keep your body language up-beat – don’t stay stuck behind a rostrum
  • Don’t talk to fast. Less is more here too. Pauses are effective.
  • Use a variety of tones of voice
  • Use visual aids.

We thank MindTools.com for this insight to effective presentations

http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm

Planning

Posted in Business start up, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , on August 21, 2010 by virtualcitypa

A good plan will:

  • State the current situation
  • Have a clear aim
  • Use the resources available
  • Detail the tasks to be carried out, whose responsibility they are, and their priorities and deadlines.
  • Detail control mechanisms that will alert you to difficulties in achieving the plan.
  • Identify risks, and plan for contingencies. This allows you to make a rapid and effective response to crises, perhaps at a time when you are at low ebb or are confused following a setback.
  • Consider transitional arrangements – how will you keep things going while you implement the plan?

The six phases of planning are as follows:

  • Analysis of Opportunities
  • Identifying the Aim of Your Plan
  • Exploring Options
  • Selecting the Best Option
  • Detailed Planning
  • Evaluation of the Plan and its Impact

MindTools.com was the source of this valuable reference article

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_05.htm

Negotiation tips for everyday use..

Posted in Business start up, Management / Leadership with tags , , on August 8, 2010 by virtualcitypa

In everyday life we all need to negotiate when dealing with others. How can we make a win:win for both parties..

  • Goals: what do you want to get out of the negotiation? What do you think the other person wants?
  • Trades: What do you and the other person have that you can trade? What do you each have that the other wants? What are you each comfortable giving away?
  • Alternatives: if you don’t reach agreement with the other person, what alternatives do you have? Are these good or bad? How much does it matter if you do not reach agreement? Does failure to reach an agreement cut you out of future opportunities? And what alternatives might the other person have?
  • Relationships: what is the history of the relationship? Could or should this history impact the negotiation? Will there be any hidden issues that may influence the negotiation? How will you handle these?
  • Expected outcomes: what outcome will people be expecting from this negotiation? What has the outcome been in the past, and what precedents have been set?
  • The consequences: what are the consequences for you of winning or losing this negotiation? What are the consequences for the other person?
  • Power: who has what power in the relationship? Who controls resources? Who stands to lose the most if agreement isn’t reached? What power does the other person have to deliver what you hope for?
  • Possible solutions: based on all of the considerations, what possible compromises might there be?

Style is critical…

For a negotiation to be ‘win-win’, both parties should feel positive about the negotiation once it’s over.

http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/NegotiationSkills.htm

Be more successful – Delegate more

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , , , on July 22, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There is only so much time in the day, so it is important to delegate tasks as the managementstudyguide.com reports:

A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to them. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.

Elements of Delegation

1. Authority – in context of a business organisation, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organisational objectives.

Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilise it.

Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done.

The top level management has greatest authority. Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility.

Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.

2. Responsibility – is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to them. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that they accomplish the tasks assigned to them. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then they should not give explanations or excuses.

Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person.

Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility.

The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If they perform the tasks assigned as expected, they are bound for praises. While if they don’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also they are answerable for that.

3. Accountability – means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set.

Accountability can not be delegated. For example, if ‘A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ‘A’ delegates this task to B and asks them to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ‘B’, but accountability still rest with ‘A’.

The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability ,in short, means being answerable for the end result.

Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.

For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps : –

1. Assignment of tasks and duties
2. Granting of authority
3. Creating responsibility and accountability

Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-

1. Assignment of Duties – The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate.

2. Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.

3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them.

www.managementstudyguide.com/delegation_of_authority.htm

Team Building – A Complete Guide

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on July 8, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Team Building is the process of improving collective performance.

Small businesses need to work harmoniously to really thrive and this is why we thought this exert from the teamtechnology.co.uk website was relevant for many of our clients.

Simple but effective way of making team building work include:

* Establishing ownership of shared goals
* Removing inhibitors/blockages to achievement of those goals
* Introducing enablers (awareness, resources, information, processes, etc.) to help achieve those goals
* Using team building processes (e.g.: health checks, performance management, 360 feedback)

Team Building is often ineffective because:

* In many cases, advanced techniques are used whilst there is a lack of buy in to the shared objectives (commitment to team building activities is predicated on commitment to the overall direction/goals)

* Interventions are made out of sequence (e.g.: a poorly defined structure, roles and responsibilities will undermine attempts to improve interpersonal relationships)

* Many offsite events fail to add any real, lasting value because the approach taken to team building is too generic(any offsite event should be designed to meet specific goals and outcomes

* There is often a lack of understanding of the difference between a group and a team (team building with a group can be counter-productive, detracting from individual performance without any compensatory collective benefit)

* There is a lack of assessment of the team (diagnosis is required in order to develop effective intervention strategies)

Objectives

In the Forming stage (Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing), individuals are committed, at most, to their own objectives. Members will only invest time in Storming activities if they think it is worth it – that is, if the collective objectives are seen as important as their own.

A common mistake is for individuals to think that being committed to their own objectives means they are committed to the team.

As in the age-old metaphor where a house needs to be built on rock, the foundation of all team building is commitment to the shared goal.

Techniques

If team building is viewed as a commodity, as a product to be purchased from a supplier, then it is unlikely to have any lasting value. Having an awayday, playing games or doing fun things will generally lead to lasting and improved collective performance only in the context of a good plan, where events are bespoke (designed to meet specific objectives and outcomes). In fact, having an awayday without good design is taking a gamble – it may achieve something, be a waste of time, or even damage teamwork.

The choice of intervention strategy depends not only on the current state of teamwork, but on the nature of the people. For highly motivated individuals, it can be enough to set a high level direction and then allow individuals to contribute to the detailed development of the goals. For others, whose natural motivations are more individual, there may need to be objective-based rewards that require teamwork. In some instances, where high levels of teamwork cannot be achieved, they may only be effective in the Forming stage, which is highly dependent on leadership.

Groups

A group is a set of people with individual objectives who happen to share the same boss, or the same workplace, or be part of the same organisational unit. In a group, individuals might even have the same objectives – e.g.: in a sales force, everyone might have the same sales target to meet, but they may also compete against each other rather than cooperate.

A team is a group that works towards a single, common objective. In fact, they might have different individual objectives, but those objectives contribute to the higher collective one. E.g. in a sales team, one person might make appointments, another provide technical sales support, another prepare a bid document, and another make the sale. But they are all accountable together for the sales and are not judged solely on individual objectives.

Strategies

Interventions fall into four main areas:

* Individual – e.g.: development of individual skills; establishing familiarity with shared processes
* Relational – e.g.: improvement of unconscious dynamics; engendering a sense of common purpose and commitment
* In/Out Groups – tackling the barriers between different organisational units
* Cultural – building a teamwork ethos in larger organisations
The foundation of good teamwork is having a shared commitment to common objectives. Without this, all other forms of team building will have a limited impact. Therefore, before using any team building exercises and activities, or team buildinglooking at relationships in the team, or embarking on other forms of team building, you need to put this foundation of shared commitment in place by:

* Clarifying the team goals, and building ownership/commitment to those goals across the team
* Identifying any issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals, rand emoving the inhibitors
* Putting in place enablers to help the goals be achieved to higher standards
* Using team processes in the correct sequence to help the team climb one rung at a time up the ladder of performance

Team Building is therefore not just a single event (though events can play a part), nor is it something that can be done by someone outside the team (though outside consultants can help). It is a task primarily for the team manager and the team members themselves.

Four Types of Team Building

Once you have established the basic foundation of shared commitment, the approach you then take to team building depends on the size of the team and the types of issues that may be inhibiting good teamwork.

Better teamwork is achieved through dealing with: individuals, small teams, team islands and the organisation.

Individuals

In a project environment, where team composition is continually changing, the emphasis must be on selecting people who are self-starters and developing the skills in individuals to become effective team members very quickly. The ‘scale’ involved is 1 person, and the team building consultant or trainer is endeavouring to change the skills and abilities of the individual at operating within a team (or within multiple teams).

Small Teams

In teams where membership is static – typically in management teams – the motivational challenge is to align the drive of the disparate individuals around the same goals. There can be many inhibitors to performance – eg: personality, dynamics, processes etc., and how the individuals within the team relate to each other can have a big bearing on team performance. So, if a member leaves, or another joins, the dynamics of the team can be changed greatly and the task of team building has to start again. Here, the scale is small – say, 2 to about 12 – and the main priorities are to build the foundation of collective ownership of team objectives, and then overcome inhibitors through team bonding, facilitation, processes, etc..

Team Islands

A larger scale operates between teams. Where the teams do not relate well, they are called ‘team islands’. The motivational challenge is to overcome the problem of “in/out groups” so that people have positive attitudes towards those in other teams. There are often many barriers between teams that inhibit team performance, but not all of them can be removed. The main task, therefore, is the bridging, or relationship, between the teams.

Large Teams

The largest scale is organisational culture change. With the exception of the senior management team, any changes to personnel have limited impact on the corporate culture. The key aim of company-wide team building is to change the behaviours and attitudes prevalent in the organisation, which are almost independent of who actually works there – new recruits who are ‘different’ often start behaving in accord with the existing culture.

Summary

* A team is a group of people working towards a common goal
* Team building is a process of motivating and enabling the team to achieve that goal
* The stages involved include clarifying the team goals, building ownership, removing inhibitors, introducing enablers and using processes to move up the ladder of performance
* The nature of the team building varies in terms of scale, and what you are trying to achieve:

http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/h-articl/tb-basic.htm