Friday, May 14, 2010

Leaders and succession

Do you have a succession plan?  Have you chosen someone to replace you?  Have you had them trained up so they could step into your shoes tomorrow?
If not then maybe today is the day to start pulling a plan together.

Take a look at the roles within your team and categorise them, as critical or normal. You can easily judge this if you consider what the disruption would be if they left the team abruptly. Would it be a case of just filling a head? Perhaps hiring a temp while waiting for the usual process to recruit a new team member.  If this is not the case and the team would struggle without this person then you need to mark them as critical.

Now we have sorted the team members out, we need to evaluate, who might be capable to upgrade their skills with some coaching to take over the role. This is worth taking some time over to get the best fit you can.

What is the probable cost to conduct some upgrade training to each of these people, be sure to include their loss of productivity in addition to the obvious things such as travel and course fees if they apply.

Next look at the cost in lost productivity to the team if one of the current critical member left.  This will produce a delta  of the lost cost versus the upgrade costs. this is the cost we must bear to ensure our productivity remains high and our customers are provided with a constant good level of service.

By having a succession plan in place we can ensure our team will be minimally impacted if any member was to up and leave. The team will be comforted that there are people ready to take over and provide the necessary ongoing stewardship to our team.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Leading Virtual teams is a new expanded challenge

It is becoming increasingly more likely that you will be called on to lead a virtual team (if you haven't already). The question on most peoples' mind when this comes up "Is this different to how I lead my team today?". the answer is yes!

 Leading virtual teams is quite a new challenge that builds further on you team leading skills. Many of the subtle things you do today tomaintai and lead you team are not available to you when your team is virtual. For example, you cant catch-up and the water fountain and ask someone how their day is going and a casual update on the project. Furthermore you cannot get any of the body language of your members - where we would typically be able to tell when someone is upset or not committed to an idea.

Firstly you need to develop some close personal  association so that you can talk about other aspects apart from the team's job, this way when you speak to them on the phone  you will be better able to judge their mood and acceptance of the ideas flowing.

Secondly  when you meet ( usually phone conference or email) take extra care to make sure every person has an opportunity to express their opinion - for better or worse. Work out a strategy to keep the conversation on track and be careful of those people who try to dominate the conversation.

Thirdly, while it is good practice to follow an agenda  it is crucial you stick to it and that as each item is closed, you have appointed someone to take the relevant action and you have defined the time for updates and completion. At the completion  of the meeting have each member go through the list of items that they will be working on and how much will be completed by the next meeting.

Note: If your virtual team is to be working together for some time, you should look for an opportunity to get the team together, this may cost a bit to do, however the result will bond you team in a much tighter way. If this is totally out of the question, try for a teleconference so at the very least everyone gets to put a face to the name.

As the team leaders of today we need to look at how we can expand our capabilities to lead virtual teams to achieve the companies goals.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Inclusiveness the way to stengthen your team

Do you make all your team members feel special? Sometimes the act of treating your members specially can pay off big because they feel more attached and committed to the team.

While travelling recently I was introduced to a local company and the manager took me for a tour of their facility. As we visited each section he took the time to introduce me to all his team members. It was plainly evident that these members felt special as their leader had taken the time to introduce each person and explain what they did for the team. As each person was introduced he had each person tell me how they could help me during my short visit.

Our leadership training would tell us that inclusiveness is a fundamental requirement for each of us to feel happy within the team that we operate in. What was happening here was the local manager was putting this into practice, his team was made to feel they belonged, because as someone came to meet him and visit the company, then everyone got to be part of that experience.

While this seems a straightforward approach of being inclusive to the team members it gave each team member an opportunity to show what part they played in the ongoing operations of the company. Later when talking with some of the individuals it was quite evident that they each enjoyed their leaders way of managing the team and the fact that he gave them responsibilities and allowed them time to talk and explain how they fitted into the team.

I think as the leaders of our teams and with a little thought we can easily adopt this strategy when we have visitors, by taking our time to move through the team and have personal introductions. At the end of the day it doesn't take much time and everyone feels they are contributing to the visitors success while with the team.