Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Valued Team Builder...

How many times have we heard "Team" in sports,
organizations, and many other undertakings?

The fact is... Team has always been associated with matters
that involves people. From sports to business organizations
to professional associations to what have you.
Yet, management at times feel threatened and may even take
credit away from the team when improvements are made.
Often, they fail to realize that their own involvement in team
activities will promote trust and cooperation between them
and their subordinates... thereby, enhancing their own reputation
as effective Leaders. (Deborah Harrington-Mackin)

Now then, why create such a "fuss" with Teams?


  • Teams make it easier and faster to reach objectives.
  • Teams create harmonious and friendly working environments.
  • Teams promotes cooperation while drowning "competition".
  • Teams increases flexibility in task assignments.
  • Teams improve self-worth, thereby, affecting motivation.
  • Teams respond faster to change.
  • Teams furthers creative problem-solving techniques.
  • Teams encourages healthier communication.
  • Teams come up with better decisions as a result of greater commitment.
However, with all the hype that is given to Teams...
to start a Team is to accept that there would be birth pains as well.

Since members would be required to change, they could have difficulty
leaving their "hats" at the door. Because of that, Team formation could
be time-consuming and therefore, would naturally take a longer-time
to produce initial results. So, whether you are part of the Team or not,
the Team would then appear confused, disorderly and out of control.

All of these, however, are just part of the adjustment period...
that should not, in any way, discourage Management from supporting
Teams. After all, in the long run, Teams make organizations run like
well-oiled machines.

"If you do not believe in cooperation, look what happens
to a wagon that loses a wheel." - Napoleon Hill

So... How Do We then Form A Team?

First, always be guided by an achievable goal with a specific objective.
Then, decide on what type of team(s) to create for that purpose.

Here are the Types of Teams with their basic description (DHM):

  1. Organizational Policy-Making Teams (Multifunctional). Identifies major areas of concern/opportunity. Articulates organizational needs. Sometimes called Quality Councils. Can function as the organization's management team if so empowered.
  2. Task Force (Cross-functional). Sometimes called Process Improvement Teams or Product Launch Teams.
  3. Department Improvement Teams (Functional). Restrict scope of activity (select problems and identify solutions) to within the department.
  4. Quality Circles. Includes members from functional areas who work together on specific quality, productivity, and service problems. Have first-hand knowledge about a task but may not have the power and authority to transform ideas into action. Although often temporary in nature, QCs serve as a forerunner of self-directed work teams.
  5. Self-Directed Work Teams (Functional). Limited to a particular work unit. Functions semi-autonomously; and are responsible for controlling the physical and functional boundaries of their work and for delivering a specified quantity and quality of a product or service within a specified time and defined cost. Note, however, that the shift to self-direction represents change, and with change comes resistance.
  6. Self-Managed Teams (Functional). Operates with varying degrees of authority. Contract with management to assume management responsibility in addition to performing its specific jobs, including planning, organizing, directing and monitoring. Identifies, analyzes and solves task and relationship problems.
Now that we know the types of Teams,
let's get to the Basics of Team Functioning:
  1. Forming a Team. When in some cases, having the Team define its own goal means that the Team will take longer to get started on specific tasks than if a design team or steering committee had determined the initial goal.
  2. Determining the Level of Authority. When a Team is created to perform a specific task or to deal with a specific issue, it should be assigned a clear level of authority, defining the limits within which it may act autonomously.
  3. Establishing Team Membership. A Team can comprise a complete working unit or can include people from throughout the organization, including hourly staff and Top management. The critical issue that surfaces wjtb Team membership is inclusion and exclusion. Members on a Team begins to flaunt their special status; while employees not on teams are often left behind to "do the real work", and resentment grows. Generally, a Team that is experiencing problems or has suddenly entered into a new phase of development will not readily welcome a new member; if problems exist, members may use the new member to avoid confronting them. The larger the percentage of new members on an existing Team, the more resistance there will be to their inclusion. For Best Team functioning, a minimal amount of training should be required of all team members in such areas as interpersonal skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills.
  4. Determining the Optimal Team Size. If the Team's goals and tasks are complex and demand considerable skill, small teams (from 6 to 12 members) are most effective. If tasks are relatively simple and redundant, Teams can be sufficiently large to provide something meaningful to manage. If the Team is responsible for a task requiring a lot of technological know-how, the team size should be large enough to include people who can perform the job, as well as those who can manage - and even design - the product (a cross-functional team). The decision about Team size must be based on how willing members are to help the team function smoothly.
  5. Orienting New Members. Orientation of new members is the responsibility of the team, not the new member. To shorten the startup time for a new member, make sure he or she is properly oriented for the team, its members, and its work to date. Orientation should occur within thirty days of placement on a team and should include: (a) An overview of training specific to that team. (b) A review of the team's history and it's purpose in forming. (c) A review of team minutes, with an emphasis on decisions made to date. (d) The sharing of all pertinent information and date. (e) A discussion of roles and responsibilities agreed to by the team.
  6. Using Member Substitutions. A substitute person is a person who sits in for a team member when he or she is unable to attend a meeting. Substitutes are used when members sit on several teams and have occasional scheduling conflicts.
  7. Removing a Member from the Team. Removing a member from a team is an act of tremendous significance for both the member and the team. When a person is asked to leave or chooses to leave a team, it is up to the team to handle the situation as effectively as possible. Once the teams has determined that a team member is not working effectively, a procedure that basically follows these steps has proved to work with most teams.
  8. Handling Resignation Requests. In the normal course of events, Teams can expect to lose up to 30% of their members in the first year. Resignation requests should be presented to the team in writing. Whenever a resignation occurs, every effort should be made by the team to conduct an exit interview to determine why the member has resigned.

Key Points On Getting Started on Team Building:
  1. Describe Key Activities the team is expected to undertake, including specific objectives to be achieved or strategies, recommendations, or analysis to be performed. Require work plan, charts, reports, and presentations, if necessary.
  2. Identify The Results Expected of the team, such as improvements, savings, gains, and benefits.
  3. Identify The Resources Available to the team, including the team adviser, subject matter expert (SME), or single point of contact (SPOC).
  4. Identify The Type Of Frequency of Reporting and the Communication expected of the team, including who should receive copies of the team minutes and any interim reports.
  5. Identify Any Nonnegotiable Requirements of rules the team is expected to adhere to or that it needs to be aware of.
  6. Identify The Skills And Abilities necessary for the team to accomplish its task.
  7. Identify The Authority Level the team will have - what decisions it may or may not make and any spending limitations.
  8. Identify The Owners' Roles and Responsibilities (if applicable).
  9. Select A Core Team to build the first meeting agenda and to identify the first step. Select an interim facilitator for the first meeting.
Note again that there are some points to remember though in
Assigning Team Roles... Team roles should be assigned and/or
clarified at the beginning of each team meeting.
A healthy team allows members to be flexible in their roles.
This flexibility may be encouraged by rotating duties and responsibilities.

Here, Participative Leadership is a requirement of an effective team.
All team members must develop team leadership skills.
The facilitator must neither dominate the team nor decide team rules alone.

Therefore, supervisors have the greatest role change during the transition
to teams, and most need training to gain confidence in the new role.
Management plays an important role here, helping the supervisor cope
with the loss of power and control.

With Management support, the eventual success of the Team now really
depends on the member's commitment.

Share this paragraph (from Business Desk Reference) with team members
who believe that "doing your own thing" is all that matters.


My supervisxr txld me that teamwxrk depends xn the perfxrmance xf
every single persxn xn the team. I ignxred that idea until my supervisxr
shxwed hxw the xffice typewriter perfxrms when just xne single key is
xut xf xrder. All the xther keys xn xur typewriter wxrk just fine except xne,
but that xne destrxys the effectiveness xf the typewriter. Nxw I knxw that
even thxugh I am xnly xne persxn, I am needed if the team is tx wxrk as
a successful team shxuld.


As we know... "In Unity, there is Strength."

To be that Ultimate Team-Builder, Be that Relationship-Builder who can see Beyond.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Leading During A Crisis...

There are several classifications of crisis, but for this thread,
Let's focus on Recession.

And since we are into Leadership during a crisis,
let's first answer the W's and H of Recession for the sake
of our non-economist friends.

What is a Recession?
In it's simplest term, it is the fall in trade or in the economy.

What is the basic cause of Recession?
Lack of an agent of "transformational growth".

When does Recession take place?
Actually, there are various ways of deciding if a Recession
is taking place... and the usual one is when the GNP fails
for three (3) consecutive quarters.

How do we fight Recession?
We use the Keynesian Principle which is to "increase spending
specially for investment purposes".
And the way to increase spending is by lowering interest rates,
making it easier for business to borrow and invest; or if need be,
supplement private investment with public spending.

See, in periods of "transformational growth", new technologies
literally reshape the economic landscape, opening whole
new territories to business investment.

Now that we have an idea on Recession and some lessons
in Economics, let's get into the meat of things - Leadership.

  1. Know the "exact" cause of the crisis.
  2. Understand how the Organization is affected by the crisis.
  3. Know the effects of the crisis specially in your market, partners, suppliers, competitors, etc..
  4. Understand the alternatives on how to survive and make the most out of the crisis.
  5. Have a united team of strong-willed and competent people.
  6. Have a "flexible" contingency plan.
  7. Have an "eye" for opportunities and a "nose" for pitfalls.
Mind you - when times are bad, it's when opportunities and pitfalls are high;
however, note that it's a sign that an area is not performing well.

It is, therefore, crucial to note that how we maneuver during crisis
lies on how we are really built from the inside.
After all, this is what this blog site is really all about...
Leadership Enhancement.


As we all know, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

This is the reason why Character Strength is important in Leadership.
It is because the business environment is uncertain...
It is because life is uncertain.

And because things are uncertain, this is when relationships count.
Relatives, friends, business associates, peers, colleagues,
and specially your family or spouse.

Whichever way you may have built them would tell
on your capacity to hang in there and bounce back.

"The Best rose bush after all is not that which has the fewest thorns
but that which has the finest roses." - Henry Van Dyke

With a strong and sound character plus a good support system,
this now clears our minds of burdens and thus preparing us
for the tough grind.

As in a Recession, Leaders should be that "catalyst"
in bringing about or bridging that channel for the burnt bridge.

Do you have what it takes to Lead During A Crisis?

I suggest you reflect on the movie "Flight Of The Phoenix".

The Key for Effective Leaders is having the Ability to
Turn Crisis into Opportunity.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Root Of Success...

"Yes he succeeded... but... he almost failed!"
So did Robert Fulton and Abraham Lincoln and
nearly all the others whom we call successful.
No man ever achieved worthwhile success
who did not, at one time or other,
find himself with at least one foot hanging
well over the brink of failure. - Napoleon Hill


Whenever you think life is hard...
Whenever things seem uncertain...
Whenever you find work overwhelming...
Whenever business is shaky...
Whenever your dreams are threatened...

"Don't be afraid of a little opposition.
Remember that the "kite" of success generally
rises against the wind of adversity - not with it!"

There are some things in life that
we can't really control... but if we ONLY
focus on what we really want with such
intensity, creativity and determination...
We are bound to reach our goals,
it's just a matter of time.

Many people are poor and/or unhappy because
they allowed themselves to be miserable.
Because they gave up in the middle of th
e race.

Think about this...
"Would you just get down from your horse just
because you think other horses are nicer than yours?"

"Wouldn't you have just wasted time, money,
and effort if you do so?"

And if you do so, you will just be back to square one...
undergoing all the things you went through
ONLY to realize that the horse you got down from
was already the Best.
It would be less trouble if you can still get back
to that horse, but what if it's irrevocable??
Then... what a waste!?!

For those who think that there's a next time...
that's Procastination.
It's a bad habit that will just lead to another failure...
and another... thus, creating a vicious cycle!

How many of you have watched or
even heard of "Sea Biscuit"?

See, while there are changes in conditions,
the race is always the same... Everything just
boils down to how you handle the horse and yourself.

Your Attitude determines your Altitude.

Things are hard because you say it's hard.
Focus on your goals, on the future...
and not on your present hardships.

Years ago, there was this Chicago group known
as the "Big Six", consisting of:
  • WRIGLEY, who owns the chewing gum business bearing his name.
  • THOMPSON, who operates the chain of lunch rooms bearing his name.
  • LASKER, who owns the "Lord and Thomas Advertising Agency".
  • McCULLOUGH, who owns the Parmalee Express Company.
  • RITCHIE & HERTZ, who own the Yellow Taxicab business.
Analysis of the entire group of six men discloses
the fact that not one of them had any special
educational advantages; that all began without capital
or extensive credit; and that their financial achievement
has been due to their own individual plans...
and cooperation with one another.

"If you do not believe in cooperation,
look what happens to a wagon that loses a wheel."

If you have a spouse... join hands.
Remember, s/he should even be your number 1 supporter.
You are not opponents but you belong to one team.
Soon, through the strength of your bond,
you both will realize that life is not hard after all.
That everything has a way.
That everything is within reach.

Every noteworthy achievement met with some
sort of temporary setback before success came.

The real lesson in life is just Persistence.

"You are fortunate if you have learned the difference
between temporary defeat and permanent failure;
more fortunate still, if you have learned the truth that
the very seed of success is dormant in every defeat
that you experience." (The Law Of Success)

Yes, you may stumble many times, but keep moving!
Everything has a price. Nature can not be tricked or cheated.
Nature will give up to you the object of your struggles
ONLY after you have paid the price...
which is continuous, unyielding, PERSISTENT effort!

What you plant is what you harvest.
It's a fact of life.

Yes, there maybe times when you have to adjust
your plans for the achievement of your goal(s).
Then adjust the plans if you have to...
but stick to your goal(s) no matter what.

Mind you... Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times
before making the light bulb work.
Success, and therefore ultimately,
Happiness and Fulfillment is simply the result of

Be Positive. Be Staunch. And be Successful and Happy.

A Winner never quits, and a Quitter never wins!