Respectful Creativity: Encouraging Different Viewpoints on Your Team

Respectful Creativity: Encouraging Different Viewpoints on Your Team

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." – Bryant H. McGill, American self-improvement writer and speaker  Effective teams are most often led by leaders who expect innovation and therefore encourage diverse viewpoints. (click to tweet) This is no secret, despite the fact that—as cynics will surely point out—we rarely practice the concept adequately, and I would agree. However, we also let pettiness, bureaucracy, groupthink, disengagement, laziness, and other failings hinder our creativity and slow us down. Business as usual runs down and crushes flexible creativity. When I think of respectful creativity, I think of Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve Jobs was no saint; he had his flaws, but that just makes his story all the more amazing. The … [Read more...]

Giving of Yourself: Tips for Building Trust With Your Teammates

Giving of Yourself: Tips for Building Trust With Your Teammates by Laura Stack #productivity

“A relationship without trust is like a cell phone without service. All you can do is play games." – Origin unknown Business is supposed to be strictly about financials and hardnosed, logic-based decisions, based solely on what's best for the company and its shareholders. Right? This seems to be the public perception of business, anyway, fostered by the popular media and sadly, by certain corporations where the quest for cash regularly overrides human concerns. Those of us who actually deal with businesses on a daily basis know this perception is mostly untrue. What’s more important that the human side of business—the most important asset? In large businesses, whole departments exist that do nothing but find good workers and try to keep them happy. Of course, there's an equilibrium … [Read more...]

Yearning to Be Free: The Importance of Information Sharing

Yearning to Be Free: The Importance of Information Sharing by Laura Stack #productivity

Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.” – Robin Morgan, American political theorist. Some activists like to say information yearns to be free, and we should allow anyone access to it. I don't agree that this should always be so, but it's definitely the best policy for you and your co-workers. Everyone on a team should have open access to all shared data at any time (click to tweet), insofar as it's possible—especially since our current technology makes electronic access simple and easy. Most of us have experienced the dreaded information silo, where valuable work data dams up within one team or under the control of one individual, either because of deliberate hoarding, incompatible technology, or … [Read more...]

Encouraging Strategic Thinking Among Team Members

Encouraging Strategic Thinking Among Team Members Podcast by Laura Stack

How do you create a culture of thinking strategically? Listen to my podcast today and find out! (C) 2015 Laura Stack, All Rights Reserved. … [Read more...]

The Breaking Point: What’s Your Team’s Minimum Operating Capacity?

The Breaking Point: What's Your Team's Minimum Operating Capacity? by Laura Stack #productivity

"Bus factor (noun): the number of people that need to get hit by a bus before your project is completely doomed." – Brian W. Fitzpatrick, American software developer and author. In recent years, the software development field has contributed a significant number of productivity terms, concepts, and methodologies to the business world at large. No surprise there, since software development is a fast-paced field that prizes speed. Admittedly, not all these ideas have come to the rest of us unchanged; the methodologies of Scrum and Agile Project Management, for example, don't quite work for most other disciplines, though many of us can adapt the underlying principles to our own work. Brian W. Fitzpatrick, author of Team Geek, defines one software development concept, the "bus factor," in … [Read more...]

Assuming Command: Taking the Lead When You’re Not the Leader

Assuming Command: Taking the Lead When You’re Not the Leader by Laura Stack #productivity

“Lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.”—Traditional American saying, source unknown. In an enlightened workplace, one of the most important aspects of taking initiative is adopting the thoughts and actions of a leader. A decent executive, especially one who cares about succession planning, will ask or encourage different people under his or her authority to take the lead in meetings, specific projects, and certain types of tasks. After all, most of us learn best by doing. These leadership opportunities may be explicit, in that he or she will deliberately give you the opportunity to lead. Or, they may be tacit, where the leader expects someone to step up and do the job without being asked, even if it’s something as small as making a call to ensure a client got a package on … [Read more...]

Playing By the Rules: Establishing Procedures for Resolving Team Conflicts

Playing By the Rules: Establishing Procedures for Resolving Team Conflicts by Laura Stack #productivity

"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else."—Albert Einstein, German-American physicist. With rare exceptions, first-time ballerinas don’t perform a perfect Swan Lake, inexperienced writers don’t produce their magnum opuses immediately, and brand new teams don’t slide effortlessly into perfect productivity. There’s always a learning curve, a period when individual members test their boundaries, discover where their jobs end and others begin, and yes, figure out the pecking order. You can expect some delay before high performance emerges, but you can speed the process by setting ground rules—specific procedures to ensure that all team members play well with each other. Effective teams know how to work towards mutual resolution, even when … [Read more...]

Coworker Codependency: The Value of Teams

It's unfortunate that the term "codependent" has taken on such negative connotations over the past few decades, because otherwise it would be ideal for expressing the value of teamwork. Indeed, I would argue that all teams are codependent to some extent, in that each of us depends on our teammates to do their jobs promptly and professionally. In this sense, "codependent" works in the same spirit as "cooperation," since we help our teammates—our coworkers—function at the height of their productive abilities. Perhaps a less loaded (if less accurate) term for this relationship would be "interdependent." Each team member, from the leader down to the summer intern, engages with each other to produce the most product possible in the least amount of time. Ironically, teamwork is both the … [Read more...]

Yes Men, No Men: Dealing With the “Autonegatives” at Work

Yes Men, No Men: Dealing With the "Autonegatives" at Work by Laura Stack #productivity

Do you have a coworker who says "no" to your ideas before he or she has given them a decent hearing? For whatever reason, some individuals always have to say "no" before they can see clear to even considering something new. These “no men” (gender neutral) are more annoying and useless, at least in the short term, than “yes men”—and that's really saying something. I call them "autonegatives." These people love to criticize and tear down ideas before they’ve given them any real thought. Autonegatives live everywhere in life. Some may be masquerading as your friends or family. Sometimes you run into them in shops (though the smart manager doesn't leave them in place long). At work, the fiefdom builders and information hoarders tend to be autonegatives, some because they like the tiny … [Read more...]

That Sense of Belonging: A Teamwork Necessity

That Sense of Belonging: A Teamwork Necessity by Laura Stack

"A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people."-- Brené Brown, American author We all want to belong, whether it's as part of a marriage, a family, a social club, a political party, a community, a nation, or some combination of the above. The best workplace teams also provide a sense of belonging. Well-established work processes, mutual respect, a deep sense of familiarity, and a commitment to group decisions and actions can all contribute to greater productivity. Perhaps most importantly, productive teams develop and live by a series of team norms. These represent the "rules" all team members work under, based on group consensus. They don't have to be unanimous; but like most group decisions, everyone lives by them for the good of the whole. The Evolution … [Read more...]