Are we killing team performance by over-communicating

30 11 2006

Are we killing team performance by over-communicating?

That is the premise of Kevan Hall in Drowning in Co-operation and followed up with additional comments in the Slow Leadership blog The Truth about Communication.

The idea that we must communicate and include everyone in the team in every part of the project, all the time, is a classic example of a good idea that has gotten out of control.

Teams perform well when each team member:

  • Has a specific job, not shared with others
  • Is proficient at what they do, no learning curve required
  • Has easy access to the resources, tools and information required in order to get the job done
  • Clearly understands the group objectives and expected outcome
  • Clearly understands how their input/output affects the other team members
  • Is individually responsible and accountable for their performance and on-time results
  • Is not smothered with controls and time wasting meetings
  • Shares relevant information and communicates with those team members who need that information in order to do their job correctly

Analyze how a relay race squad works together. Each member has a specific and unique function, each member runs their part of the race alone, they expect their co-worker to hand them the baton at the right time in the right place, they all share the same goal and final outcome.

There is no stopping for meetings and communication between members during the race, there are no meetings with the coach halfway around the track to see how they are doing.

The runners do not stop to explain why they are passing the baton to only one member of the team.

The coach selects the qualified members of the squad and interacts with the team members before (preparation and focus) and after the event (evaluation of results), not during the race.

The focus of each team member is on doing their job efficiently and professionally, in order to reach the shared objective in the shortest time possible.

As a leader your mission is to identify the people with the best skills required for each part of the project, empower them by giving access to the right tools and training, build enthusiasm for the project and the other team members contributions, clearly identify the goal and the expected performance for their part of the project and let them do their jobs.

Encouraging communication between team members and leadership is only important and desired when it is focused and shared with those who really need the information to get the job done.

 

Related Links

Leadership, want the job or just the title and benefits

Leadership – who do you want to lead

13 tactics guaranteed to kill any project

Step by Step beginner’s guide to project management

Slow Leadership: The Truth About Communication

Management Issues: Drowning in Co-operation

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Analyze and Plan using 7 simple questions

3 10 2006

Who – What – When – Where – Why – How – How much

Project management, organizing a team, writing a business plan, creating strategies, planning meetings, running day to day operations, general analysis and problem solving can be facilitated and improved by using a simple application of 7 basic questions.

The application of the standard reporters’ questions of who, what, when, where, how and how much to a specific situation will help organize the process of analysis and planning.

In order for this system to work, all the questions and answers should be written down. You’ll be building a visual map while defining the objectives, tools, resources, bottlenecks, time limits and chronologies of the problem. It will become clear what the real goals are, what is required, what is missing, who should be involved and when the tasks should be accomplished.

Who – Who is or will be affected by the decision or process? Who are the participants? Who will be involved or affected in some way by the project?

What – What are the objectives and desired results? What is the problem or challenge? What are the options available? What tools are required?

When – When is this supposed to happen? Define the deadlines, time limits and chronologies.

Where – Where is it going to happen? The physical place or space should be defined and examined.

Why – Why are we doing this? Why are we doing it this way or by this procedure? Why is it occurring?

How – How are we going to do it? The mechanisms, requirements, and processes needed in order to achieve the goal.

How much – How much is it going to cost?

Example – You are asked to give a speech on the sales results in Mexico for the last quarter for the upcoming Board of Directors meeting on January 10.

Who – The audience is the Board of Directors. The sales department, marketing, logistics and finance departments have the numbers and explanations of the results. Who is responsible for the agenda, audiovisual set up, room reservations? Are any other members of the company required to attend the presentation? You are the project leader and responsible party for the presentation.

What – The presentation is directed at the Board of Directors, they want to hear about results, expectations and strategies of the sales in Mexico. What questions will they ask, what aspects of the business will be of interest or concern? What information is important?

When – The meeting is January 10. You’ll need all the pertinent sales information by what date? It has be polished into a concise presentation by what date?

Where – The meeting will be held where? How big is the room, what equipment will be required for the presentation.

Why – Why do they want to review this information, is there a problem, is it routine? Why me?

How – Will you give a visual media presentation along with documents? What graphics will you show? Will you be the only speaker? Will the presentation style be serious, upbeat, creative or different from other presentations?

How much – Do you have a budget for the presentation and required materials? Do you have to fly in the Mexican sales representative to be present at the meeting? Do you have to rent equipment, hire caterers or provide refreshments or coffee service?

Related Links

How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

9 steps to better decisions





Intellectual wealth, sharing ideas and knowledge

17 08 2006

There is a quote attributed to Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico, about wealth.

“Economic wealth is like an orchard, it must be protected and cultivated carefully so it can grow and expand. If you leave it unprotected, or try to divide it among all the people it will soon be destroyed and cease to exist.”

That might be true for economic wealth, but what about intellectual wealth, created by ideas and knowledge?

Ideas are valuable and important. They should spread and be disseminated to as many people as possible. Once these ideas are processed, filtered and modified they provide us, and society with richness.

Intellectual wealth (which benefits us all) can only increase if we share our ideas and knowledge.

Remember this the next time you’re in a meeting and have an idea but are afraid to mention it

Remember this when a new employee begins work in your company.

Remember this when speaking with children and young people.

Remember this when talking with customers or creating marketing campaigns.





Build your organization, don’t destroy it

14 08 2006

Pragmatic business people know that strategies must be reviewed before, during and after implementation. Difficult questions must be asked and answered throughout the organization. Results analyzed and reviewed in order to identify flaws and errors.

Many times this exercise can push us into seeking and identifying problems instead of solutions. Too much time spent on what can go wrong and not enough focus on what can be created. Gridlock sets in, no solution is good enough, there is always a flaw.

All to often we find ourselves criticizing the work of others and the efforts that did not succeed as expected. We spend time taking things apart to find out what went wrong, and seeking to identify who was responsible for the “failure”. Our days are spent destroying the ideas of others.

Why not focus an equal amount of time on the positive aspects?

What did or will work, and why?

Creation is much more difficult than destruction. Support the creation of ideas and solutions in your organization, make your first analysis focus on the successful or positive aspects.

Ask yourself, “what am I creating today”.





13 Tactics Guaranteed to Kill any Project

26 07 2006

How many of these tactics can you identify and how many are at work right now in your organization?

13 tactics guaranteed to kill any project

1. Assemble and invite a huge group of people to participate, most of whom have no stake in the outcome.

2. Do not assign or elect a leader, or better yet, assign leadership to several members.

3. Never make the goals and objectives of the project clear. Leave them as vague as possible.

4. Never assign responsibilities to specific members and never set firm dates for the completion of tasks.

5. Stifle and block all new and alternative ideas, never allow questioning of procedures or goals, eliminate all creativity and any dissension.

6. Plan lots of long, unplanned meetings without an agenda, where nothing is achieved, goals are not reviewed, and no new compromises are agree upon. Especially good are meetings very late in the day, on Fridays.

7. When asked for information and interaction with other members, take a long time to answer and do not give them what they are asking for. Never respond to emails from other members.

8. Never participate during a meeting, but outside the room complain to everyone that the project is doomed and that everything is wrong.

9. Allow meetings to be interrupted by phone calls and visitors, let everyone answer emails and do work on their laptops during the event.

10. Make sure there are no resources assigned to the project or members, this includes time and money.

11. Give all the decision-making power to one individual, and make sure they never make a decision. Good lines to use to delay decision-making include “this is an important decision, I think it should be reviewed and studied further”, “we don’t have all the facts yet”, “I’ll take it under advisement”. This person should also travel often and be difficult to contact.

12. Big decisions that affect the project should be shared with only a few of the participants.

13. Always blame other members for anything that might be wrong. Attack aggressively, loudly and in public if possible.

Related

Effective Business Meetings

Create a debate – find out who really wants the project to work

Step by step beginner’s guide to project management