Collaboration Post 3 – 15 Collaborative Behaviours To Change Your Group’s Outcomes

Collaborate or Die

We are meant to play nicely, work as a team and respect each other. In Part 1, we expanded on 10 reasons why this often fails to happen.

In this Part 3, we now look at the key desirable behaviours that, when practiced mindfully and regularly, WILL produce a team breakthrough, get the group to the goal and leave everyone alive, and, at least on speaking terms at the end.

As you move through the behaviours, ask yourself, “Do I do this? “Can I start doing this?” And, “Will I step up and do this regularly?”

15 Strong Suggestions

  1. Interrupt your dark defensive moments and fill them with light.

Experienced in so many ways as sarcasm, denial, anger, avoidance and justification, defensiveness – This is the burden suffered by most teams attempting to become more collaborative and effective.

Action

Borrowed from anger management training courses, the best method is to spot the symptoms of early on-set defensiveness and divert the behaviour, diminish it or reverse it. If you are beginning to feel your blood boil, take a walk to the balcony, go smell the flowers and take your imagination to a place of cool, calm tranquillity to “reset” your body’s distracting chemicals.

Young attractive business people - the elite business team

  1. Coaching your colleagues through any resistance.

The majority of people will not instantly get behind a fresh idea or new change. They will choose to wait it out, criticise it, or, mount an attack.

Action

Here, a coaching approach can be effective as you focus inside your colleague’s head to access both their imagination and logic circuits to help them do the work of processing change and getting on board for themselves. Questions that help to create different and contrasting futures are good – “What if we carry on as we are? What are the risks of this?” “If we had 10 times the resources available, what should we do next?” “If you were the team leader now, what course of action would you recommend?” Etc.

  1. Actively listening to your concerned colleague.

The problem with teams is that the confident, privileged and beautiful get most of the airtime. And this dynamic is actually reinforced by everybody in the team – even the oppressed, the shy, or, the outsiders. The reflectors, quiet geniuses and shy analysts are not prone to speak up, do not feel they have permission to speak and, thus, do not take up their share of the microphone.

Action

Related to coaching but intruding less, listening is about getting the whole story out of the coachee / colleague. We can employ minimal encouragement – “That is important, please tell us more” “You were saying…” “And, what does this mean for our team?” Quieter members of the team may be more sensitive. If you overdo it they will clam up – Maintain a positive, still attention with minimal non-verbal, para-verbal and verbal prompts. This will be good for evening out the group’s share of voice, listening to all and including their ideas and concerns as well as counting the vote of everybody to form an inclusive group dynamic that will be effective in taking a diverse group all the way to a stretched goal.

  1. Building muscular resilience.

We can see resilience as the ability to bounce back from pressure, stress or becoming knocked off balance, AND, still being about to function effectively. In the politics of the team, possessing greater resilience can take people all the way to the top. And a lack of resilience will see someone being relegated to the oppressed group, or demoted to basic executive duties. They are sent to eat at the children’s table.

Action

Resilience comes in 4 flavours – Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Teams or individuals can be encouraged to participate in simple and repeated exercises to stretch and build their resilience muscles. Physical – Regular exercise, monitoring diet and alcohol consumption. Emotional – Developing the habit of experiencing positive emotions through appreciation, gratitude and laughter. Mental – Simple maths exercises. Spiritual – Practicing your faith or thinking pure thoughts.

  1. Learning to resolve difference intelligently.

It is easy to sulk, withdraw and dismiss a different opinion from your own. This actually represents a form of defensiveness and will not allow a team to become optimally collaborative.

Action

Imagine learning to reconcile difference to a level where, “I am OK & You’re OK”, becomes the default setting for the group. (We discuss a positive exception to this later).

What difference would this make to the atmosphere and energy in your team? The simplest method when two parties are on opposite sides of an argument or behaviour style (e.g. direct communicators v indirect communicators), is to reconcile the difference. We ask first, what is the benefit and contribution of each style, acknowledging that a diversity of approaches is actually NECESSARY for success. We then work on how we can accommodate those two benefits in team communications or by putting them into the project plan. E.g. direct people tell the unvarnished truth, which can be invaluable when a crisis is looming. Diplomatic indirect people keep the channels of communication open, maintain higher levels of trust and ensure the probability of long-term communication. It is easy to see that both styles are required. The task then is to design simple protocols that allow both styles to operate with respect and appreciation within the team.

Colorful 3D rendering. Abstract shape composition, geometric structure block. Wallpaper for graphic design.

  1. Two heads are better than one when solving a problem.

If you are a hammer, your default mode is to bash things on the head. Not great when changing the batteries in your watch. Again a diversity of approaches will be more effective.

Action

Practicing problem solving can be a bonding process that deepens the respect and positive emotions of all team members. Weekly intellectual challenges involving abstract problems can be a fun team building activity that is secretly growing the team’s capacity to handle complex issue, resolve involved messes, and, operate smoothly and efficiently when a live business problem comes along.

  1. Trust underpins it all.

Without trust we have defensiveness, solo silos, and Machiavellian plots.

Action

There are 3 components to trust – Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Each must be in play to ensure positive vulnerability and promote trust in a high functioning collaborative team. Ability – Giving recognition to the skills, competence and experience of each team member is a way that quickly establishing better communication and inclusion in any team. X becomes the go-to person on subject Y. Benevolence – By this we mean that each member declares and proves that they are not wishing a negative outcome upon their colleagues. They wish to allow a beneficial or, at least, neutral state to exist. Integrity – My word is my bond. It is essential to continually keep your promises in order to maintain confidence in the overall performance of any team. If there is a weak link, the whole side will feel let down.

  1. The Licensed Pessimist.

The risk to any team is Groupthink, where a strong personality is accepted as leader and their ego expands to a level where they propose actions that represent foolhardy risk taking. The compliant and passive nodders around them, allow and encourage adoption of this fast-track route to disaster.

Action

Challenging the precepts of 7. we deliberately create a rotating and official role that allows and encourages a critical view and gives full permission for that person to voice their concerns – The Licenced Pessimist. “What if the market does not recover? What then?” “Those numbers appear way too optimistic. How did you derive them?”

When immunity from revenge and animosity is established in the group’s ground rules, the role becomes effective and essential in stress testing all new input to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Team building. Group pf colleagues sitting in a circle and playing games and having fun.

  1. Holding everybody accountable.

Like a sulky child, the wayward executive defends their actions by saying – “Well I didn’t agree with the decision to go this route in the first place.” (Though they remained silent or did not actively disagree, when given the chance before the decision was made.) It is this lack of ownership that will lead to a suboptimal quality of work and poor outcomes.

Action

Asking everybody to say the word, “agree” can be enough to reduce the number of passive passengers on the bus and encourage everybody to process the information to form an active and personally held view. More people are then included in the process of building strategy, planning and problem solving.

  1. Regular Brainstorming.

Habits are quick to form and hard to change. It is easier to repeat what you did yesterday than take a different approach today in order to get a stronger result tomorrow. We are conservative, risk avoidant and take comfort in repetition. The zone we live in is far from comfortable – We stay in horrible jobs, relationships or houses not out of comfort, but out of habit.

Action

This activity will also count towards your resilience exercises. Brainstorming is about expanding the creative connections that you allow your imagination to make by expressing yourself freely. Exempt from criticism and editing, brainstorming moves in waves. There will be a burst of output, a lull, a second burst, and then a second lull. Keep going. It is often in the third burst that the gold is to be found.

  1. Turning passive to active.

What is written on the tombstone of most failed companies, “Well, we tried”. Not hard enough. Underperformance is supported in meetings and work by grey language, low energy sentences and half-hearted commitment. “I’ll try” is at the heart of all of them.

Action

Challenge sluggish, monotone responses to requests. Do not take “Maybe” for an answer. When you are asked, “How you are in the morning?”, upgrade your answer from a monotone, “ffiinne, I suppose” to, “SUPERB AND FANTASTIC. THANKS FOR ASKING.“

  1. Get rid of blame.

The best companies react intelligently to crisis, drama and adverse external circumstance. They do not start to defend, point the finger or avoid responsibility.

Action

The next time you have a company fire to put out and you follow the charter (point 15.) you will experience a difference in atmosphere and will have the chance to see the benefit of full-on collaboration in action. When people are scientific in their description of events this can be captured on a timeline. When they are objective in outlining the symptoms and measured in their analysis of likely causes, then you will experience the pay-off in investing to build collaborative mechanisms in your team.

  1. Moderation and facilitating collaboration.

The accidental hero boss can unintentionally ignore valuable input in order to maintain their hero brand. The neurotic and scared boss may shut down intelligent challenge, not because of the quality of the input, but due to their own insecurities. And, the time-scarce leader can move the meeting along, unconsciously, only asking group thinkers and fans for input, driven by a misguided and dangerous perceived need for peace and pace rather than quality and challenge.

Action

The job of a great moderator is to even out the debate and include a wider base of people, delivering a more diverse and representative contribution – Sampling a diversity of opinion and actively encouraging the quieter sources of wisdom to share their contribution, speak up and be heard.

  1. Good Conflict.

Many companies employ “nice” people who are expected to be “nice”. What actually happens is they become avoidant and this allows stupider ideas to become policy in action, leading to disaster.

Action

Promote the licensed critic, the robust challenger and include different opinions (and integrate these exotic gems via the process of reconciliation.) The smart move is to establish a protocol for allowed any civilised challenge within a robust but protected environment, to produce better suggestions, better processes, more considered solutions and a better customer experience. All this is done to generate improved products, services and engagement, the end result of which, will be experienced in higher income and healthier levels of profit.

  1. Capture collaboration in a charter    How many great training initiatives generated on a Friday are quietly killed off at the 8.30AM reporting meeting on a Monday? A. Most of them. It is easier to let innovation, change and challenge die on the vine and to go back to those old habits that are, actually not serving you well, but feel like an old pair of shoes – At least familiar. The problem is, they represent a slow company suicide.

Action

The formulation of a charter for collaborative team behaviours, formed collaboratively. Is that too obvious? It does not start with a stone tablet issuing from the CEO’s office. It does not come from an expensive off-site weekend jolly for Directors only. It comes from the floor. It evolves. It represents the voice and heart of everybody. And, it is signed up to by everybody – Volunteers stepping up, not coerced group thinkers just nodding along.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, writer, and public speaker, working with UK and International teams to get them beyond their blockages to create durable results in an exciting peer-to-peer atmosphere of exchange, fairness and excellence.

Contact Matthew on 075 40 65 9995 for a short conversation.

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How to Build Your Crowd, Tribe, List and Database (in the new world of GDPR)

Remember – No Database = No Business

Let us start with a shocker – I think GDPR is a GOOD thing for marketers.

  1. You are deluding yourself if you think that everyone on your 2500 E Mail newsletter list is opening up your monthly offering and devouring your every word. 30% will have moved on. 40% have redirected you to the Spam bin and 2% have DIED!

It is time to clean house and ask everybody still alive to opt back in.

  1. In time, effort and collateral, you are wasting real money. Imagine you budget for 10 £, $ or € per recipient every quarter, half-year or annually. If you cleaned your list, you could stop wasting £75,000 every year.
  2. When you clean your list you increase the richness, recency and relevance of your database – That is the GOLD standard for marketing professionals.
Crowd at concert

Build your crowd!

But I have just lost 75% of my list through asking people to opt back in. How do I make up the shortfall?

There was no shortfall – Those people where dead to you anyway. The more exciting question is, “How can I expand my tribe with current, live prospects that are open to my new offering, have fresh needs, plenty of money, and, have not become jaded by my recycled articles about old service X?

7 Ways to Grow your List / Crowd / Hot Prospect Database

There are at least 35 ways to legally and effectively grow you fan base. Here are just 7. (Contact me now if you want to talk about the others – matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com )

  1. The Congress Schmooze – You attend a paid conference and take your seat 15 or 25 minutes early in the main auditorium. You want people to have started to flow in – not too many and not too few. Then, pick a crowed row – Not a full one and not an empty one. Squeeze past a few and sit in the middle, about a 3rd of the way back from the stage. Make yourself comfortable, then, take out your smart notebook and a fountain pen. Now, look at the person on your left and say, “Hello, I’m Matthew” (It may be easier to use your own name here) followed by an expansive question – “What are you expecting to learn today?” or, “Have you looked at the speakers and selected your favourite?”

That should be enough to get you into a meaningful conversation. Steer this around to customers, outcomes etc. Do not offer your card first. Wait to be asked for yours. That will leave a much better impression.

Then, repeat on your right-hand side. Simple.

  1. LinkedIn Group Comments and Posts – When you know your stuff, you can seek out the right LinkedIn groups. Too big and busy and your work will get lost. If the group is tiny or dead, nothing will come back to you. Ideally you want 5,000 members and 5 or so posts a day, in your niche and with decision makers mixed in with the ambulance chasers.

Now either post some short punchy value in the form of a list article, story or a lesson learnt. When a credible person likes or shares your post, send them a connection request and hook up. Next, enquire about them and their needs. Do not be too pushy. There is nothing worse than a nice person connecting with you, only for you to pester them immediately like a high street charity mugger is a coloured vest. The aim is to smoothly take the relationship off line and build up to an exploratory call.

  1. Keynote Speech – The number one converter of cold strangers into contacts and instant customers is a great, structured, keynote speech – preferably with a Call To Action CTA at the end, a Product4Prospect exchange, or, a clever way to get engagement and permission. When done well, the result will be a rush to the stage. And, you will hear the magic words, “I want what you have for my team and my company.”
  2.  Giving Out Money at a Trade Fair – I experienced this at Olympia a few years back and it worked well. It was simple and left me feeling really good, not super irritated.

cioccolata da 50€ - vista a

I was walking down a line of exhibition booths and an older guy said, “Hello, would you like some money?” This was done with a calm charm so as not to creep me out. I laughed and was invited into the booth, across the threshold (clever) to a table at the back. Of course it was not actual cash – instead the entrepreneur had found chocolate banknotes of a high denomination. He had carried on the pretence in a light hearted and fun way. Reciprocity kicked in and, of course, I asked all about his business. We exchanged cards and I felt really good about our encounter. I have used of version of the chocolate money method myself and given away prizes of “money” as a warm up during interactive speeches.

  1. High Contact Voucher – This one works – both incentivising a cold prospect to take action and qualifying them in as a valuable potential customer. When you offer a live consultation on a hot topic of the day, you excite the right people to take action and discourage the wrong people to take up your valuable time. If you offer a 15-minute session, you can cut your losses with the non BANTs (No Budget, Authority, Need or the right Timing) and extend your call duration with hot prospects.
  2. Referrals – One of the best ways to expand your tribe with quality additions is to capture your existing customers at the PEAK of their happiness and ask them to think of peers and contacts that they have, who would benefit from your service just as they have. When you engage them at their emotional high point they will want to give you value in return. Push a little and get them to give you 5 names.

Then,

You can provide your beaming customer with a script to help them introduce you as saviour and helper. The best advocacy advice was written by star coach, Nic Rixon, who said a super sponsor told their contacts to “Do as Matthew says and pay whatever he asks!”

  1. Social Media High Value Webinar – When someone registers for your webinar, this doubles up as a GDPR compliant opt in. Just make the webinar of extraordinary value and promote it, via the most relevant LinkedIn groups with a punchy headline and long super copy body (If you need help with this, just call.)

I hope you have enjoyed this quick read and are moved to take action for yourself. Please share, and forward this piece to others who could benefit (Point 6!!)

About the Author – Matthew Hill generates new international customers for his work as a keynote speaker, trainer and coach and loves to share his methods with other leaders, soft skill coaches, public speakers and corporate trainers. If you wish to learn more, contact Matthew via E Mail; matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com

 

 

 

 

“Coaching with career and AI in mind” A new book by Coach and Interculturalist, Adina Tarry.

Finding your space, being resourceful and keeping optimism in this expanding digital age.

This intense and packed book attempts to bring together a cross-disciplinary view linking the individual to the wider context of the modern digital world, as we face new challenges and opportunities in our working life, in a world in flux, impacted by technology and at the cusp of the 4th industrial revolution.

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Coaching with Careers and AI in Mind.

Adina Tarry shares with us her experiential findings from more than 2500 hours of coaching with over 600 individuals. She explores key themes such as: personality, invisible drivers and values, age, personal branding and working internationally. Tarry employs research and scientific models to support her experiential findings. Probably the most useful part of the book is her digest of a large body of research on the wide impact of artificial intelligence and robotics, not only on work but also on education, governance, regulation, society and capitalism itself. All this is pitched at the individual, outlining their options in this wider system.

No book is perfect and this one could be seen as overly ambitious, attempting to tackle a vast array of subjects in a limited space.

How does it end?

The last chapter, far from being pessimistic, presents a constructive view of the future, shouts out a call to action and contains an optimistic message for the building of a resilient and flexible self, able to work through the changes and volatility that is coming.

Adina seems to have softened some theory and case studies to make the book readable, digestible and applicable. The narrative is in plain language making it accessible to both interculturalists and a wider audience – students to professionals, coaches, parents and HR practitioners and psychologists – anyone who takes an active interest in the way their working life is going to change in the future.

Overall, Adina Tarry’s book provokes thought and feeling in equal measure and is a practical tome that will certainly help those helping others or whom, personally, are moving through transition or doubt in their careers.

Getting the book

Follow this link: https://www.routledge.com/Coaching-with-Careers-and-AI-in-Mind-Grounding-a-Hopeful-and-Resourceful/Tarry/p/book/9781782205838

About the Author.

Adina Tarry is a Romanian born Coach and Interculturalist, who having lived in 5 countries, now works in London.

Coach and Interculturalist Adina Tarry

TTT Train the trainer – The 3 S’s of TTT – State, Style and Structure – An overview by Matthew Hill

When junior trainers are about to start their day shadowing me in the corporate classroom, they will often ask, “What is required to deliver a good training day?”

Great question.

My answer is to highlight the 3 S’s

Classroom.

Small Classroom

  1. State – The energy and focus in the room and what you wish to do with it.
  2. Style – What is the preferred learning style of the overall group and each individual? And,
  3. Structure – How are you going to set out the day to land your material, take the participants on a constructive learning journey in such a way that the lessons from your content are going to stick?

Let’s develop this and see what’s important…

**1. State – A 1,000 external factors affect the state of the room at the beginning of any facilitated session – weather, the economy, day of the week, company performance, the politics of the company – redundancies / rapid growth / merger or acquisition etc.

And, if you have a room full of introverted people or workers that do not see your topic as vital, interesting or even relevant, then you can assume that the room will feel cold and distant. So, what can you do about it?

The simplest method and one that has yet to fail is the solo – pair – group formation. It starts with you asking something simple such as, “Working on your own, remember back to your worst customer experience from last year. What were they like and what was difficult about them?” If they are an extremely withdrawn group you don’t even have to debrief the exercise with shout outs.

This will engage the participants whilst maintaining their sense of security as the work is private and kept in their heads.

Next phase, “In pairs, share your stories and compare them to see if there are any common themes.” Here you have overcome most of the reluctance to speak as everyone has generated some content that they can talk about. Facilitating a share or two in the debrief can start to get the crowd moving.

Then, the big one. Arranging the delegates into groups of 3 (for the quietest of groups) up to 5 or 7 people, ask them to discuss actions, brainstorm suggestions or analyse what is going on – either using one of their generated scenarios or a case that you have prepared that has some obvious treasures in and some hidden gems as well.

**2. Style – When it comes to how we take in information, process it, use it or remember it, people react differently. There are 4 main styles emerging from the research of Kolb, Honey and Mumford. The main types can be responded to in your training to make sure you catch everybody and create a successful day.

            Activist – Doer – An inductive and practical person that learns as they do. They will be best engaged with a brainstorming, divergent exercise, solving a problem, discussing in a group, attempting a puzzle, or being given a competition or role-play to perform.

            Reflector – Watcher – An observer, chewing over that has happened – Their favourite activities in the classroom include a self-analysis audit or questionnaire, taking on the official observer role in a game, being the feedback giver to others in a group, or, using the interview format.

            Theorist – Thinker – Probably a deductive thinker. Theorists are best engaged when the facilitator provides a model, facts or statistics to crunch. They appreciate plenty of context and background information and then being given the chance to apply a newly learnt theory to a particular scenario.

            Pragmatist – Feeler – The opposite of Theorists and Reflectors, these inductive thinkers like to get stuck in and do something, experiencing the world and coming up with theories as they go. For them a practical application such as a simulation will work well, or a case study that they find relevant. They appreciate the opportunity of getting down and dirty with a problem and figuring things out for themselves. Get them building a tower with multiple iterations and you will hit the spot.

An intake form sent our before the training can help you assess the largest style present in the group allowing you to adapt your material and exercises accordingly.

**3. Structure – Whilst the design of a classroom day will be tailored to the mission, the company and the group in the room, there are common elements that will help you get your group to a great learning outcome.

            Introduction – Meeting the audience where they are NOW, promising a specific benefit to them as an outcome and, vitally, agreeing the rules of engagement for the day, especially with a more volatile or testing group.

            Warm up – Something to get the brain going and for you, the facilitator, the chance to assess their styles in real time. How many activists, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists are showing up in the room?

            Win – You do need to make an impact as “the teacher” fairly early on – Saying something profound, uncovering the cause of some strange behaviour within the group, or introducing a life changing model, shortcut or a new way of tackling an old problem.

            Model – Framing your main input within a robust structure that the delegates can relate to, understand and remember.

            Feedback – This is a confident move. After about an hour of class, ask the group, “What should I change? Do you want me to start something, stop something or do more of something?” Best to find out if you are missing the mark as a facilitator with plenty of day left.

When you do this and get some stinking feedback – not to worry. In the worst case, say thank you and take a 10-minute time out to restructure your approach and get back on side with the group before they mutiny.

Best case – they appreciate the chance to give input on their needs and will rate you more highly as a confident and flexible trainer.

            Practical – Activity is the key for all types to connect the theory with their particular situation. I do favour gaining real company cases to work on here, wherever possible. Made up cases never ring totally true and will not gain 100% engagement from your cohort.

            Investigation – Handing over control to the group is an important stage in any training. Letting them explore, self organise, access materials in the own way and even storm a little will make them feel they have had a deeper and more significant experience.

            Reflection – The oldest teaching trick in the book is to ask (just after a break or lunch), “So, what have you learnt in the last session that you will apply in your day jobs?”

            Application – An entertaining training day with no impact on work will be remembered as just being a shallow jolly and may prove harmful to your professional reputation. Transfer from the classroom to the shop floor is what is required. Flipping the classroom and asking the participants to come up with great behaviours that everybody agrees to and wishes to encourage and reinforce and a list of undesirable and destructive behaviours that are to be extinguished from the company’s workplace can be profound.

            Summary – Telling them what you are going to tell them, telling them it and then telling them what you have just told them is sound advice (from the Army.)

And

            Follow up – I like to get a conference call going to debrief the participants a couple of days or weeks after we training day. I ask 3 simple but important questions, “What do you remember?” “What did you learn, try out, and, it’s working?” And, “What did you learn, try out, and, it is NOT working?”

So, what have we talked about today?

To summarise, you will inherit a state when you walk in to the training room and it is your job to decide what to do to build their energy level and engagement dynamic to get the job of teaching done.

People have individual preference for experiencing activities, taking in knowledge and applying themselves to tasks. You will also find a predominant style in one department that will colour your choice of task and exercise selection.

Finally, Structure – these are the elements that must be included in your training day, if you wish to get good feedback, achieve a learning outcome and transfer the key behavioural change elements to the delegate’s workplace.

Good luck with your next training day.

Matthew Hill has 10,000 hours of training, coaching and speaking experience and has worked in 30 countries with some of the best corporations in the world. He has had the pleasure of working with more than 80 nationalities and for 3 Governments.