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  1. Better team building starts with deep understanding of yourself and your team

    August 25, 2015 by Alison Hill

    by Alison Hill

    We’ve all had them – team building sessions that were fun and gave us a day out of the office, but ultimately didn’t accomplish anything. Back in the office, the same two team members refuse to cooperate, everybody seems fuzzy on goals and communication still seems to go wrong.

    Although well-intentioned, team building activities without a clear purpose and strategy are unlikely to address the team’s challenges. But when planned with solid knowledge about the team members and the issues you want to address, team building exercises are a powerful way to unite people, develop their strengths and work their weaknesses.

    Start by considering the challenges your team faces. Is it communication? Or perhaps your team is new and people don’t know each other, leading to lack of trust. When there is significant change, such as when teams merge as a result of downsizing or outsourcing, there can be resistance to change, holding the team back.

    Set objectives for the team building session. This will help you to choose activities that will effectively help you to address the issues and create lasting results. Clear objectives will help you to create measurable outcomes.

    Most importantly, UNDERSTAND before you seek to change. This means getting to know your team members individually as well as understanding the dynamics between you.

    A team-based assessment before you begin planning your team building strategy allows you to build on a solid base of knowledge. There are many tools that help teams to do this. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful way to understand both individuals and groups. A survey of the team before any events are planned will show:

    • The personality types in the group
    • How each person prefers to work in a variety of situations
    • Issues in the team

    Challenge Consulting can create tailored team building sessions to suit your team. The MBTI survey is completed confidentially online by each team member. Our facilitator then develops reports for each team member as well as one for the whole team. Team leaders participate in a debrief session, where we discuss the results and the challenges in the team.

    Challenge Consulting then runs a workshop tailored to your team, exploring individual and team results. This can be run on your own premises as a half day or full day event, and is interactive and practical. You will leave the workshop with:

    • New insight into yourself and your team
    • Ideas about how to solve issues
    • Clear objectives for improving teamwork

    There is then the option for one-on-one coaching and a focus group session, and a future program tailored to your team.

    AND it will be fun!

    Teams need to learn to depend on one another to succeed. Effective team building needs to happen continuously if you want your team to be successful. Why not take the first step by looking at our team building page and contacting our facilitators to see how we can make your team amazing.


  2. Great teams need great players

    August 4, 2015 by Alison Hill

    Search any employment site using the keyword ‘teamwork’ and you will find hundreds of hits. In today’s workplace, we are all assessed on our ability to work in a team. Teams may form to work on a specific project, or may be where the day-to-day work of the business happens. Teamwork is highly rated by employers and job applicants should always show off their teamwork skills. So what makes a great team? And what does it mean to be a team player?

    ‘A successful team is a group of many hands
    but of one mind.’ – Bill Bethel

    The best teams have a defined, shared goal and purpose

    Teams that are put together with a common purpose and a well-articulated goal are able to reach a solution and achieve an outcome. Everybody on the team should know what the objectives are and how to get there.

    High-performing teams have a great captain and a motivating coach

    An inspiring team leader does more than just coordinate tasks and see that goals are met. They will also be a great communicator, an adept facilitator and a skilled mediator. A good leader models desirable team behaviour and prioritises team goals over individual ones.

    A great team is much more than the sum of its parts

    When they run well, teams accomplish more and give back more to their members than working alone can ever do. (And when they run badly, they can be detrimental to both the business and the individual team members.) Teams offer an amazing opportunity to learn from others, share skills and knowledge, and to work more productively.

    Communication is the key to great teams

    A study by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and reported in HBR found that the best teams learnt how their members communicated and then shaped and guided the team to follow successful communication patterns. This mattered more than selecting the team based on individual talent and reasoning skills.

    Open communication and contributing ideas and information to the group are the foundations of teamwork. The best performing teams have clear rules about how and when communication will happen. This must include deciding how the team will share its progress and success with those outside of the team.

    The MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory study found that successful teams communicate by:

    • Talking and listening in roughly equal measures
    • Keeping contributions to group discussions short
    • Facing members of the team when speaking to them
    • Speaking and gesturing energetically
    • Connecting directly with other team members, and not only with the leader

    The best team members avoid negativity and set a good example

    The most valued members of teams set standards that others want to follow. They do this both through their work and in how they conduct themselves. Jealousy, sabotage, unproductive criticism and negativity have no place in a team. On the other hand, suggesting new ideas, participating fully, working towards the team’s target and respecting the contributions of others are behaviours of a valuable team member.

    According to this survey, over 90 per cent of people find that one of the best things about work is being part of a team. Has teamwork always been a positive experience for you? Is it one of the things you look forward to in your next role? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


  3. Workplace Conflict: How do you take responsibility?

    August 30, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

    ______________________________

    The Challenge Consulting office is on edge. As we always are at this time of year. The level of competitiveness will soon reach fever pitch. The coveted title of ‘Tipster of the Year’ is up for grabs! It is true that some members of the Challenge Team are more excited than others about the end of the NRL Season approaching. We won’t name the tipster who elatedly declared “It is nearly over!” when made aware that this weekend is the final round of the season. Naturally they were over moon to hear that the tipping continues for four more rounds of finals action – when each correct tip will earn double points!

    So as I sat down to write this week’s Challenge Blog – of course I had to use a sporting analogy. I had planned to use the recent Phil Gould spray on the Sunday Roast about head high tackles being an accepted “part of the game” as the basis of my sporting metaphor. But then Friday night happened. Two of this year’s most successful NRL Teams were involved in a brawl that has since resulted in both clubs being fined $50,000 by the NRL and 11 players facing charges, just a week out from the finals.

    This week the Challenge Poll asked: “Who do you think is most responsible for managing workplace conflict?”

    In the case of the Storm versus Sea Eagles, there have been varying views as to responsibility: Wayne Bennett (Coach for St George Illawarra Dragons) – declared “The players have got to be accountable. We just can’t keep blaming someone else”, whilst Monday morning NRL Chief Executive David Gallop weighed in to say: “This isn’t a time for anyone to be looking for excuses or deflecting blame to others … both clubs need to face up to their responsibility for the overall behaviour of their players.” Whilst pointing out “As much as we are keen to take any lessons that can be taken I stress that anyone who blames the referee for what happened on Friday night is wrong and that they are looking to escape the real issue at hand.” Perhaps the real issue at hand is the question of how did the culture of the NRL get to the point that this year’s two most successful teams participated in such an ugly brawl?

    Our recent Challenge Consulting Poll suggested that mostly the buck needs to stop with Line Managers, with 52% of respondents suggesting that Line Managers were mostly responsible for managing workplace conflict. The remainder of the votes were split pretty evenly amongst: HR, Senior Management, and Co-Workers, with a handful of voters selecting: ‘other’ and confirmed that managing Workplace Conflict is the responsibility of everyone. But what role should everyone play or how can we help Line Managers to ensure that conflict doesn’t become counterproductive?

    ►      “Each and every one of us is responsible. As much as line/senior managers should step in where necessary -it is up to all of us.”

    ►      “While Senior Management should ultimately be held accountable, HR should provide the strategic guidance and tools for management to be effective in the management of conflict.”

    ►      “Everybody should share this responsibility. Effective policies and procedures will empower all staff to recognise conflict appropriately, deal with it in a professional way, and limit the negative effects on the rest of the business.”

    During the recent Challenge Consulting discussion forum we discussed that conflict based on tasks and ideas is not always negative if managed effectively. In fact, a lack of conflict in some teams can be a sign of dysfunction. But we do know that conflict not managed proactively or effectively can have a range of negative consequences*, and can escalate out of control, much like what we saw on Friday night. During the Discussion Forum we explored the different conflict management styles people adopt, and confirmed that some organisations through their procedures, environment, and culture may escalate counter-productive workplace conflict**. Some could say that the examples of players pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour over the last few weeks may have influenced the conflict we saw on Friday night. But does this deny responsibility? No.

    Each one of us, regardless of level in the organisation, has responsibility for creating an environment where we can be our most productive. Senior Management needs to lead the way through their behaviour and actions. HR needs to help in developing the framework so that there are clear boundaries as to what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what to do when things have moved beyond what is productive. Line Managers need to develop the skills to build trust in their people through open dialogue and proactive feedback that encourages collaboration and proactive sharing of ideas. Whilst each one of us has responsibility to take the time to understand our peers and work within the frameworks that have been set out for us to manage conflict effectively. When counterproductive conflict does occur, we each have responsibility to manage it immediately, respectively and consistently.

    And for those playing along at home – Carmen Mackrill, Della Einfeld and Patricia Hegarty are currently leading the Challenge Tipping Competition – who will take the coveted prize? No doubt the competitive spirit will heat up over the coming weeks, but with Senior Management leading the way, a clear framework for managing disputes, and open and transparent dialogue, our conflicts should be based on the task at hand, rather than counterproductive behaviours, because at the end of the day we have a Tipping Competition to win!

    Want to know how Challenge Consulting helps Line Managers build their Conflict Management Skills – Effective Supervision Workshop or how Challenge Consulting help teams proactively manage conflict – Team Building Workshops.

    How do you help manage counterproductive conflict in your team and organisation?

    Disclaimer: During the discussion forum we discussed that sometimes Workplace Conflict reaches a point that may need external mediation. For more information, please refer to our article on Workplace Bullying and the references listed.


    * When it’s not always black and white, Human Capital Magazine

    ** Hershcovis, Turner, Barling, Arnold, Dupre, Inness, LeBlanc, & Sivanathan (2007). Predicting Workplace Aggression: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Applied Psychology 92, 228–238.


  4. You want the best people to work for you, but why would they want to?

    August 23, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …______________________________

    So, you’re a company. 

    You want the best people to work for you. Really talented people, unique even, with experience and skills and personalities that will bring even greater success to you. 

    But why on earth would they want to work for you? 

    Do you know why? Can you articulate it? Does your company have a strong brand, an attractive brand? Do people perceive you as a leader in your industry? Are your existing teams filled with people who actively share their skills and knowledge and expertise for the betterment of the whole? 

    Understanding a candidate’s expectations of your company and its culture is critical from the very start. If a disconnect exists between a candidate’s expectations and the reality of the situation, it can quickly lead to problems with engagement, performance, and business productivity. The candidate needs to know what is expected of them as well as feel a sense of strong company culture that is not only clear but inviting. 

    So, how do you go about building and leveraging a positive talent brand? 

    Brands are a powerful combination of symbols, messages and beliefs about a product or employer. You need to think about your potential candidates like a marketer would think about their potential customers. Take a look at the current advertising your company conducts. How does it come across? What are the key messages being put out? Who are you trying to attract? 

    The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

    – Delivering the message clearly

    – Confirming your credibility

    – Connecting with your target prospects emotionally

    – Motivating the buyer

    – Concreting loyalty

    In terms of attracting the best performing people to work for your company, your branding is about getting them to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem, ie, working for an exceptional company, and industry leader, that satisfies their professional needs and provides an arena in which they can contribute their skills and talents, make an impact, and continue to learn and grow. 

    To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. As the thrust of this blog entry is about attracting high performing candidates to your company, our most recent online poll asked: “High Performance Employees: what is the #1 thing your organisation offers to attract them that works?” 

    The results were:

    #1 – Providing opportunities for continued learning, both formal and informal – 25.0%

    #2 – Having a confidence-inspiring company “brand” that ensures high-performing people want to work for you – 16.6%

    – Providing a leadership and mentoring program – 16.6%

    – Paying above-market rate salaries – 8.3%

    – Having a defined career progression plan in place – 6.2%

    – Being decisive and quick to make job offers so the high performers don’t go elsewhere – 4.1% 

    It is interesting that money was fourth in our respondents’ list of priorities. Perhaps this reflects the fact that it is a given that high performing people will be appropriately compensated for their contributions and competencies anyway, and that exceptional people are seeking more than just monetary reward? 

    Clearly working somewhere that has a gold-standard reputation as a top employer is very important, but a culture of continued learning is number one in people’s list of priorities when seeking employment opportunities, something for all organisations to bear in mind when formulating brand strategies and during recruitment exercises. 

    This week’s Challenge Consulting News features two articles on this topic – for your free subscription, click here




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