Team Work Sucks! – In Defence of Introverts Everywhere 8

Gen Y 2I`ll try not to be too cynical here – but give me a break. Do teams really work? I know dolphins do it, whales do it, and even orcas, lions, and wolves do it too but, do we really accomplish more working in teams? I know teams and team work makes for a great sound bite. But in the real world – your world – does it really make that much of a difference? Research conducted by Susan Cain and published in her New York Times – best-selling book “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” paints a different picture. According to her research not everyone performs up to their full potential in a group setting. I know in a perfect world together everyone achieves more but after reading her book you may change your mind.

Worth Remembering … ” A strength over – used or used in the wrong situation, can become a weakness” – Unknown 

Generally speaking extroverts tend to be assertive, dominate, direct and decisive. They make quick decisions when others on the team cannot. They will confront tough issues or situations, accept change as a personal challenge and keep the team focused on the task at hand. Extroverts work well in a team environment as long as they are in a position to influence the direction the team is headed. They like to be in charge and lead the charge. They may come across to others as being unapproachable and insensitive to the needs of team members. (It’s their way or no way)  However, in a team environment their very vocal – in your face  – out-going and gregarious personality could stifle creativity. Listening to a difference of opinion is not their strong suit. They are comfortable with conflict.

On the other hand introverts – according to Carl Jung – are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling. They tend to listen more than they talk, think before they speak and work more slowly and deliberately – tackling one problem at a time. Other team members may see limitations because they act aloof , appear to be shy and prefer to work alone. They dislike conflict and would rather sit quietly in a corner – not offering an opinion for fear of making waves and getting noticed. They prefer to maintain status-quo and fly under the radar. They need a quiet space  to contemplate and reflect. They aren’t comfortable making quick decisions. They make decisions based on fact not emotion. The course of action taken must be logical and correct as they see it.

Worth Remembering …  “The task of an executive is not to change human beings. The task is to multiply performance capacity of the whole by putting to use whatever strength, whatever health, whatever aspiration there is in individuals” – Peter F. Drucker. 

The tide may be turning. Team work and working in teams may not be all it’s been cracked up to be. Recent studies suggest that the open office concept made popular in the late 90’s and early 20’s is reverting back to the cubicle. Studies conducted by the likes of Marvin Dunnette, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister have shown that performance gets worse as group sizes increase. (Too many cooks spoil the broth) The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups. If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is of the highest priority” says the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham.

Can extroverts and introverts work together on the same team and accomplish more? That will depend on the team leader – a team leader who understands the strengths of everyone on the team and gives everyone the opportunity to do what they do well. You can’t put a group of people together, call them a team and expect them to perform without teaching them what it means to be part of a team and how to be a good team player.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission. briansmithpld@gmail.com

Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment 3

Coaching Session - Digi60 - Ottawa Film Festival

One of the best compliments I had ever received as a Manager was from an employee after I had disciplined her. It took her about 15 minutes after the fact before she realized what I had done. I was reminded of that incident the other day when a reader wrote me and asked me how to go about “calling attention to a person’s mistakes indirectly”. In my management training sessions I talk with team leaders, supervisors and managers about how they need to create “Teachable Moments”. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes will happen but discipline should always be a positive learning experience.

It’s difficult for anyone to take constructive criticism in a positive way. (As far as I’m  concerned there is no such thing as constructive criticism only positive feedback) People on the receiving end do take it personal. (It’s human nature) I know for the most part you are giving it for the right reasons.

When working with others it’s important to always be positive. You need to look at mistakes in a positive way. (Look at them as learning opportunities) When mistakes happen – and they will happen – you need to create an environment where it’s OK to fail. You need to create a “Teachable Moment”. You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t. I don’t want to change you I just want to change what you did wrong.) Try using the “Sandwich Technique”. Think of a sandwich that has two slices of bread (whole wheat multi-grain, lightly buttered, hold the mayo) with a slice of lean roast beef, lettuce and a tomatoes. (If you’re going to eat this sandwich it might as well be a healthy one)

Try creating a “Teachable Moment” by following this simple recipe:

  1. The first thing you need to do is design the right environment. Make sure you have your teachable moment in an area that is conducive to learning. A quiet boardroom, office or on the shop floor if you are going to be teaching someone how to operate a piece of equipment, etc.
  2. Start the conversation off by saying something positive about the person. The years of experience they have that is invaluable to the department and organization. How they contribute to the overall success of the department. The first slice of bread will help you take your emotion out of the equation. The first slice of bread will help you separate the act from the person. Remember the person is OK; it’s the act that you want them to change.
  3. The lean roast beef in your sandwich is what you want them to change. It’s important to let the person know that it’s not them that needs to change but what they are doing. Let them know the negative impact the “act” is having on the team, department and organization. Let the person know you are there to help them be successful. Ask them what they think are the reasons mistakes are happening and what they would recommend be done to correct the problem(s). Together, work out a course of corrective action  that you both can agree on. However, it’s important that they own the plan.  If it’s your plan – and it fails – then you’ve given them an excuse why it failed. If it’s their plan they are more likely to “buy-in” to the process and make it happen.
  4. The second slice of bread is used to bring about closure. Let the person know that you are looking forward to working with them. Let them know that you will be following-up with them to ensure that the plan is getting the desired results. (People do what you inspect not what you expect) Always follow-up. Manage by walking around. Discipline should always be a positive learning experience. Be sure to praise performance. Let them know you are pleased with the progress they are making. “Catch people doing something right and give them a one minute praising” – Ken Blanchard – One Minute Manager.