Sunday, July 26, 2009

Maintaining your team through Inclusiveness

Have you considered how you maintain your team. We have discussed before about the various leadership traits and particularly how to maintain your team morale.
I was travelling again recently and in this workplace the people seems totally polarised, they were either very enthusiastic or were in a state of doom and gloom.

This got me thinking, what has happened or how is it that workers from the same organisation seems to have such vastly different opinions about the workplace and what was going on.

On further investigation I think I stumbled onto what had happened. One section of the workplace were sent off for a series of team building activities - that for all intents and purpose sounded very successful. These members came back to the workplace suitably revved up and ready to get stuck into another tough year.

The other group of people simply got to hear all about what a wonderful activity the first team enjoyed. The second team, then developed an 'us and them' attitude almost to the point of resentment.

Interestingly the management team didn't offer the second team any way of joining the first team or providing an alternative activity.

Consider the writings of every leadership pro in history and they will all tell you that one of "Man's" basic requirements after Food Shelter, warmth etc is to feel included in the group.

I look forward to visiting this team next year and see if there is any long term effect.

As leaders it is important that we find a mechanism to embrace inclusiveness into our dealings with our teams. By not taking a view to ensure all members are included we run the risk of our team running at less than optimal. The pay off for us, is when we are inclusive, our members will feel a better sense of belonging, and more willing to go the extra mile to make the team a winner.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Practical Project Management for Leaders

As the leaders of our teams it is important for us to carefully plan out our projects to ensure the start on time and are successfully completed.

Many of us are used to managing a to-do list, prioritising the events and working our way through the list. Project management is quite similar, with a few small changes. Lets go through the basic steps.

Project management requires us to look at the overall project and break it down into all its major steps. Once you have these steps look to see if there is an obvious sequence to complete these. If there is a path then arrange these in this order.

Take these tasks and examine them one at a time. Look at each step within each of these major tasks, and insert any interrim tasks to make each of these major tasks complete. This will leave you with list of all the small steps you need to manage to get your project completed.

Next task is to now look at each one of these tasks and assign a time for the task. If you don't know then find someone who knows how to do the task and ask them for an estimate of the time required.

Now lets look at this list, we should have a list of every task and an estimate of the time it will take. Between each major task insert some time as a buffer, this will give you some breathing space for those inevitable little dramas.

Next take your list and add two further columns, one for personal resources required. Can this task be done by one personal or are several required. Does this task need someone with special skills. This column is going to help us identify who will be doing the task. The next column is a space for you to list out all the materials you need to get this task done.

Common errors people tend to under-estimate are:

Preparation time
Materials shortages
Skilled personnel.

Re-examine you list, have you got all the steps, have you identified all the skills, materials and resource for the job. Are there any obvious bottle-necks? What can you do to clear the way?

With some time spent in the planning stage your project management will lead to a successful project and this will ensure your team comes out on top.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Keeping the Communication lines open

As leaders it's important to maintain communication with our team members. Have you considered what its like for your team members if they don't feel that your communicating with them. How do you feel when your boss keeps you in the loop, doe it make you feel empowered, of course it's no different for your own team.

Recently I caught up with an old work colleague, he was pretty down in the mouth about his current work situation. Apparently he has a new boss of almost one year. His new boss never shares his thoughts on the business or how well my friend is doing. Because of this lack of communication my friend is feeling very insecure.

How do we avoid creating a situation like this?

Keep your year goals in the front of your mind, how are we as a team coming along with these, what can we do to make a bigger impact, how is each team member contributing. With these few ideas updated regularly we have a ready stream of big picture views to share with our team.

Moving down a step, make sure we understand the various roles that our team members perform, this allows us to personalise by asking our team members to share their views on their most loved or hated part or their role. What is important in this step is to take the person view of how each member is enjoying their work.

If we can take the time to keep communicating with our team members they will feel more connected to us, their leaders and feel more valued as a team member.