Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter March 2011
Personal & Career Development – Tip of the Month
Adopt a continuous professional development approach for yourself, and for individuals and teams that you are responsible for.
Accept that your own professional development is a long-term project, and the development of those you are responsible for is a long-term project. Manage these projects as thoughtfully and carefully and professionally as you can.
March Theme – Developing Your Team Members
A large majority of our students manage teams – as a team leader, supervisor, manager, specialist, or senior manager managing other managers of teams.The articles and links in this month’s newsletter provide information and advice on how to effectively develop team members – individuals, whole teams, groups of managers, or groups of specialists.The articles below, and the website links to the left, are designed to introduce newcomers to Quality Management principles and practices, and to serve as a refresher to those with experience.
Developing others is your duty
Regarding developing your team members, there is one simple message that all managers of teams must accept:
– if you lead or manage others you are professionally, and morally, obliged to develop them to the best of your ability, and to the best of their ability
– if resources are scarce, find alternative, low cost ways to train and develop
– if individuals or teams resist, then find ways to overcome the resistance
– if a newly developed team member wishes to move on, find them a role that satisfies their needs, or let them move on with your best wishes
– if you train an individual to the point where they are a threat to your position, then develop yourself further to remain out of reach, or move on yourself.
There is no acceptable reason for not adopting this approach.
* compiled by the BSBM tutor team
Coaching others to improve performance – the GROW model
One key role of any leader is to coach team members to achieve their best. As a “coach” or mentor, you will typically help your team members to solve problems, make better decisions, learn new skills, or otherwise progress in their role or career.Whilst some leaders are fortunate enough to get formal training in coaching skills, many are not. They have to develop these for themselves.Now this may sound daunting. But if you arm yourself with some of proven techniques, find opportunities to practice and learn to trust your instincts, you can become a better coach, and so enhance your team’s performance. One proven approach that helps with this it the GROW model. GROW is an acronym standing for Goal – Current Reality – Options – Will. The model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring a coaching or mentoring session.A useful metaphor for the GROW model is the plan you might make for an important journey. First, you start with a the map: With this, you help your team member decide where they are going (their Goal) and establish where they currently are (their Current Reality). Then you explore various ways (the Options) of making the journey. In the final step, establishing the Will, you ensure your team member is committed to making the journey and is prepared for the conditions and obstacles they may meet on their way.In its traditional application, the GROW model assumes that the coach is not an expert in the “client’s” situation, and therefore must act as an objective facilitator, helping the client select the best options and not offering advice or direction.However, when a leader coaches his or her team members, or acts as a mentor to them, other dynamics are in play: As a leader you will usually have some expert knowledge to offer (see our article on expert power.) Also, it’s your job to guide the selection of options which are best for your organization, and veto options that are harmful.
How to Use the Tool:
Use the following steps to structure a coaching session:
Establish the Goal:
First, with your team member, you must define and agree the goal or outcome to be achieved. You should help your team member define a goal that is specific, measurable and realistic.In doing this, it is useful to ask questions like:
“How will you know that you have achieved that goal?”
“How will you know the problem is solved?”
Examine Current Reality:
Next, ask your team member to describe their Current Reality. This is a very important step: Too often, people try to solve a problem without fully considering their starting point, and often they are missing some of the information they need to solve the problem effectively.As the team member tells you about his or her Current Reality, the solution may start to emerge.
Useful coaching questions include:
“What is happening now?”
“What, who, when, how often”
“What is the effect or result of that?”
Explore the Options:
Once you and your team member have explored the Current Reality, it’s time to explore what is possible – meaning, all the many possible options you have for solving the problem. Help your team member generate as many good options as possible, and discuss these. By all means, offer your own suggestions. But let your team member offer his or hers first, and let him or her do most of the talking.Typical questions used to establish the options are:
“What else could you do?”
“What if this or that constraint were removed?
“What are the benefits and downsides of each option?”
What factors will you use to weigh up the options?
Establish the Will:
By examining Current Reality and exploring the Options, your team member will now have a good idea of how he or she can achieve their Goal. That’s great – but in itself, this may not be enough! So your final step as coach is to get you team member to commit to specific action. In so doing, you will help the team member establish his or her will and motivation.
“So what will you do now – and when?
“What could stop you moving forward?”
“And how will you overcome it?”
“Will this address your goal?”
“How likely is this option to succeed?”
“What else will you do?”
* from an article on www.mindtools.com
Developing individuals and teams – an overview
There is a well-established case for developing your employees. It makes sense for the organization, it makes sense for the team, and it makes sense for the individuals concerned. From the organizational perspective, it is clearly beneficial to make the best of the talent held in your employee base; there is huge competitive advantage in their creativity and imagination. In many industries, the opportunities to gain competitive advantage through pricing, distribution, and service levels are limited. Thus, differentiation may rely on innovations that change the experience someone has with your product rather than the attributes of the product itself. From the team perspective, harnessing the team’s collective talent maximizes its effectiveness. It also motivates everyone involved to learn, develop, and increase their contribution.
From the individual perspective, development brings new possibilities for career progression as well as personal rewards and recognition for the value that is contributed. Individuals gain a satisfying sense of personal achievement from expanding their own skills and increasing their value to the business. Fostering a culture that welcomes development reflects well on the managers who help their employees meet aggressive goals. If the art of developing people is performed properly it is a win-win situation, but there are pitfalls to avoid along the route to business success.Development should not be an indiscriminate activity that generates random skills, but rather a focused program that connects each employee’s talents and skills with the business objectives. This is a necessary focus if the planned development is to help people achieve their professional goals. The process must begin with a “diagnosis” that identifies the knowledge- or skill-gaps that threaten the organization’s effectiveness or, worse, make it vulnerable to failure or collapse. This process requires that the organization have a clear mission and that all employees buy in to this mission.
Diagnose the Need—An Organizational Perspective
Many indicators can trigger a company’s need for employee development. Perhaps the most obvious indicators are financial ones—unmet forecasts, falling share price, spiraling costs, unfavorable cash flow, etc. Other triggers may include increased competitive pressure, diminishing market share, or a new market innovation. Personnel issues such as high absenteeism, a loss of key staff, or poor motivation can also initiate a need to act decisively and fast.Recognizing the underlying problem(s) is the critical first step. Next, perform an honest and precise appraisal to identify an employee development focus that addresses this problem. Establish goals for early results and develop longer-term initiatives to ensure an ongoing infusion of new talent into the business. Longer-term initiatives could include an improved recruitment process, succession plan, or people policy that allows continual development and the achievement of organizational objectives.
Analyze Training Needs—A Team Perspective
To conduct a meaningful training needs analysis, the organizational objectives must be broken down and translated into functional, departmental, and team targets—all players must understand their role in order to perform it properly. By identifying the gaps in knowledge or skill, you will determine what the team lacks as a whole and can create a development agenda. Keep in mind that in less hierarchical organizations, teams tend to be more mobile, with members joining and leaving according to the requirements of the project. One person can also be a member of several teams, lending their expertise where it is needed most.Just as each team member must contribute to the collective success of the team; everyone should also be included in the analysis and development solution. It is important to devise roles that leverage the individuals’ strengths, and combine to achieve the desired objectives. Those who are particularly talented in one area can be useful coaches to new or learning teammates. Once a project concludes or a target is achieved (or not), bring the team together for a post-mortem—analyze the team’s performance, identify important successes as well as failures, and create a development agenda to prepare the team for future challenges.
Evaluate Performance—An Individual Perspective
On a more personal basis, performance appraisals and “360-degree surveys” (in which feedback is collected from those with a vested interest in a person’s performance) highlight the strengths and development opportunities of the individual. These should be integrated with the employee’s career aspirations, so that he or she is committed to their development plan and has incentive to follow it. If people aren’t motivated to learn new skills or expand their experience, they will impede the progress around them. All parties need to share common goals and provide resources to support others in their development activities. Remember that feedback on development targets should not be reserved solely for scheduled performance reviews, which are often performed only annually. Offering regular positive feedback helps employees learn and adapt continuously.
Identify Development Opportunities
Gone are the days when the only solution to a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience was a training program; the “one size fits all” approach is outdated. Successful businesses today possess a greater appreciation of the individual’s unique talents and their personal desire for development. Creating an effective development plan requires imagination and a high degree of tailoring in order to tap the full breadth of talent required. Consider developing custom training, specific to your company or division. Explore opportunities for work shadowing, job sharing, “stretch” assignments, special project allocation, sabbaticals, coaching, and mentoring. Institute tuition-reimbursement benefits. Allow people to pick and choose the approach that they feel will most effectively build their skills—whether distance learning, higher education courses, e-learning initiatives, etc.
Once you have recognized the importance of development and invested in it, verify your return on investment. This isn’t always an easy task, as much of the benefit is “soft.” For example, what value do you place on a motivated workforce, good colleague and supplier relationships, and customer satisfaction? Some experts believe that it’s possible to estimate the financial value of these results by looking at the cost of not having achieved them. Others advocate tightly mapping training objectives to outcomes, estimating the return on investment after accounting for all relevant costs. Whatever your approach, the bottom line is that development initiatives must effectively yield a more successful organization.
Follow Up and Review As Appropriate
Once the indicator which initially triggered your development plan has improved, it is easy to lose momentum and focus. To avoid this, periodically review all development activities against performance targets, and set new objectives to ensure ongoing benefits to the business. Don’t allow an effective initiative to fizzle out because early success blurs the original need. Establishing a performance culture creates expectations and develops a language that can be used to maintain momentum. If development plans are taken seriously and discussed frequently, they remain active and effective. We all collect experiences and learn new things throughout life; development is a natural human trait. We should all make the most of this characteristic and manage it according to our personal goals and objectives. Developing people is easy when you tap into their values and natural enthusiasm. As a manager, it is extremely rewarding to see people thrive and grow under your leadership. Initiate a discussion of development needs or desires with your team members, and leverage their natural interest in personal and professional growth.
Don’t expect too much of other people
Employee development takes a great deal of time. Inevitably, circumstances arise that impact an individual’s personal life. Study requirements may affect an individual’s family life, for instance, or force an individual’s colleagues or team members to make choices or sacrifices of their own. Avoid overloading employees’ development plans, and don’t expect them to work unreasonable hours in order to meet job and development objectives. Attempt to combine personal development goals with an employee’s job objectives. For example, assign a real-world task such as budgeting or project-planning, rather than leaving an employee to learn these tasks in the abstract. In this way, you can reduce the burden and also generate some immediate value for the business.
Don’t assume you know best
Assuming you know what someone else “needs” and imposing this on them wastes time, money, and energy unless they agree with you. It’s important for the employee to take part in the objective-setting and decision-making processes of a development plan if the rewards are to be realized.
Don’t think everyone will be motivated
Once a development culture is established in a business, don’t assume that everyone is motivated to learn and willing to put time and energy into a development plan. There will be some who genuinely do not seek additional responsibility or career advancement. If this is the case with an employee of yours, try to determine the rewards they do seek from their work, and assign them responsibilities that require competent and consistent performance. Failure is not an option.Finally, as you can see from the above – you will need to treat this as a project, and manage it thoughtfully, and devote sufficient time and effort to it.If you do not, you will not only fail, but will be failing in your obligations to the team and its individual members, who are relying on you to develop them to the best of their ability.
* from an article on www.bnet.com
Developing a team of specialists
Specialist teams tend to have less diversity within them than your average team, if there is such a thing. Highly specialised jobs tend to attract quite similar individuals to them. As a result, teams of people who all have the same core speciality, whatever that might be, often face a similar challenge. It doesn’t matter whether the team is comprised of fire fighters, software engineers or nurses. The chances are that all decided to move into that line of work for similar reasons, with similar interests and similar talents.For diverse teams to reach their full potential, the individuals within them need to work in such a way as to harness the different strengths with them. For the more homogeneous specialists teams the challenge is almost the reverse. Whereas diverse teams tend to have plenty of clashes within them due to the differences between the team members, groups who are full f similar people can instead suffer from something that is called “groupthink”. That is, they all are happy with what one or two people are saying over something important, so they settle for what is being said. When everybody is happy with something, why should they try to improve upon it? Well, without a contrary viewpoint, they lack the natural, inherent team ability to challenge ideas and challenge is a key ingredient in effective team working. Without it, great strides in team improvement is unlikely in the extreme.Professional team building activities will often be structured in such a way as to help the participants identify the team strengths that exist within the individuals and also show how the team’s favoured processes do not always enable those strengths to be utilised as effectively as they could be for the benefit of the team. While that makes the ideal for most teams, specialist teams of all kinds need something different. They need activities that highlight such a group’s tendency to accept the first idea that someone comes up with, the lack of challenge within the group and the lost opportunities that are the inevitable consequences of such an easy-going team environment.More than that, they also need to structure a debriefing session to help the team identify ways in which this groupthink issue can be solved. All teams need processes to support them and add strengths to what the team does and how it does it. Specialists teams often need some of these to be targeted at effectively adding a dissenting voice. It’s simple enough to add an item to the agenda for each and every meeting that the team has collectively, for example, that stipulates that no decisions can be made without someone suggesting an alternative that is then discussed for at least five minutes. It may sound a little change, and it is, but it can make such a difference to what the team produce at the end of such a session.Tools like lateral thinking techniques can also be added to the mix to help a team really come up with quite different alternatives. Add those to the challenge added procedurally and specialist teams will find that they really can improve significantly in a short space of time. And well-chosen team building activities are well placed to help them see that and implement those improvements quickly.
* from an article from www.sandstone.co.uk
Managing and developing remote and virtual teams
Most everyone works in a team environment. It has always been understood that the most effective teams are those located together. In fact, many managers decide to co-locate their team after reorganization, even though the constant churn of people moving from place to place is seen by others as unproductive. Against this backdrop is a global phenomenon that is driving team staffing in the other direction. The Internet, faster and more reliable communication, and collaborative tools are allowing people to come together on teams that are no longer co-located. In fact, the whole concept of “globalization” is pushing work all over the world, with independent people and teams working anywhere and everywhere.These groups are sometimes referred to as “virtual” or “remote” teams. They are real teams and they fit a classic definition of teams in terms of working together to achieve a common set of objectives. However, they are referred to as “virtual/remote” mostly because they do not communicate and interact in a traditional face-to-face manner.Here are some special techniques that can be used to manage these virtual teams.
#1: Establish team objectives
The team members need to know and understand what it is that they are doing together. If they understand only their own role and their own work, they will always just be individual contributors.
#2: Remind everyone they are a team
If the team members think they are all working independently, they will act independent. If they know they are part of a team working on common objectives and deliverables, they will tend to feel better about their work and be more active in their collaboration with other team members.
#3: Establish ground rules
Even though the team members may be remote, they still need to exhibit a common and acceptable set of behaviors. In fact, this is probably more important for virtual teams. Ground rules include things like setting the hours during which the team members are expected to be working, establishing lunch times, determining which meetings are mandatory (in-person, Web-based, or via telephone), and defining expectations for communication turnaround times
#4: Obtain the right technology
I suppose there have always been virtual teams. However, this trend has accelerated in the past few years. The technology is there to support virtual teams — there is really no reason to be without it. This includes fast access to the Internet, audio conferencing, videocams, collaborative software, and shared directories.
#5: Look for opportunities to socialize
Team members located together have opportunities to socialize throughout the day. Virtual teams don’t usually have this same opportunity to interact with each other, so it is more important for the project manager to look for ways they can bond. This might include getting everyone together one time in a face-to-face setting — perhaps for a project kickoff meeting.
#6: Be sensitive to cultural differences
It’s possible that your virtual team all thinks and acts the same way. However, more and more virtual teams consist of people from multiple countries and cultures. If you are the project manager on this type of team, make sure you have some appreciation for the differences in how people work and how they behave.
#7: Communicate, communicate, communicate
You need to be extra proactive in your communications to make sure everyone understands what is expected. People can start to feel isolated if they do not receive regular communications. It is hard enough to keep everyone informed on a “regular” project. The communication lines on a virtual team must be opened up especially wide. As project manager, you can provide this steady stream of communication.
#8: Adjust and compromise on time differences
Remember that what’s convenient for you may not always be convenient to the team members. I was on a project team at a large global company where the manager insisted that team meetings start at 9:00 am. That was convenient for him but resulted in hard feeling from people in other locations who needed to stay very late for these meetings.
#9: Be extra diligent in workload management
Be precise and explicit in assigning work to the virtual team members. You also need to ensure that work is completed on time.
#10: Give people shorter assignments
This is not the time to give people long assignments and hope that they are completed by the deadline. Instead of assigning a six-week activity, for instance, assign the work in three two-week activities. In the former case, you won’t know for sure if the work was done for six weeks. In the latter case, you can tell every two weeks if the work is on track.
* from an article on www.techrepublic.com
Study Resources of the Month
Fisher and Fisher — The Distance Manager: A Hands On Guide to Managing Off-site Employees and Virtual Teams (McGraw Hill, 2000) ISBN: 0071360654
Peter Hawkins – Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership (Kogan Page, 2010) ISBN: 0749458836
Marshall Goldsmith – Secrets of a Leadership Coach: Developing a Team (U of Healthcare, 2004) ISBN: 1932634037
Elearn – Managing for Results (Management Extra (Pergammon, 2008) ISBN: 0080557465
Student Recommended Resources
“…. http://www.asq.com …. “masses on all things quality” – our thanks to Debra
“… www.huawei.com … “many publications” – our thanks to Lian
Quotes from the Gurus
The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people – but real management is developing people through work – Agha Hasan Abedi
Value people on their potential, not on their history – Bo Bennett
The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership – Harvey S Firestone
Never tire of studying – nor of teaching others – Confucius
Not a Guru but ….
Margaret Jenkins, asked by a documentary maker what was so different about working in a factory that had recently introduced staff training and development, and Quality Circles, responded by saying:
“Before, I used to hang my brain on the same peg as my coat – now I take it into the workshop with me”.
Useful Study Links