Leverage individual communication styles to enhance team operations

top view photo of people near wooden table
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”.

(Mark Sanborn)

There are no two teams that are exactly alike.  Not the most prophetic thing I’ve ever written in this blog space but worth stating.

Teams have different dynamics and function based on these things and the people who make up the team.  The most successful teams can leverage the talents of each team member into the overall organizational dynamic to ensure successful outcomes.

We’ve discussed team communication strategies in previous posts with an angle to strengthen your team.  Individual communication styles and preferences should be reviewed and discussed when you add someone new to your team.  I’m sure everyone strives to hire the best candidate to fill an opening on their team.  How much thought do you put into understanding how to integrate the new team member’s communication style in with others?

I’m a firm believer that leaders should know direct reports’ communication style and preferred way they want to receive information.  This knowledge allows leaders to seek ways to ensure they communicate in a way to maximize operational needs.  This knowledge has helped me when assigning tasks to team members.

Example #1:  When faced with a project that has an extremely quick turnaround time, I normally assign this project to my ENFJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project excites the staff member and I know they will get things done quickly with enough time for review before the deadline.

Example #2:  When faced with a project due four months from today, I normally assign this project to my ISTJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project allows the staff member time to plan, strategize and ask all the questions they need to for a successful outcome.

The examples listed above are two actual scenarios I’ve tackled in the past.  Both had successful outcomes because I knew and understood how to engage staff to maximize their talents.  This in turn produced successful outcomes for the organization.

Knowledge of individual communication styles also provides a blueprint to help build training plans to help staff members grow.  Introverted staff are not exempt from ever getting a task with a quick turnaround.  The leader needs to provide a more detailed set of instructions and understand they may have to follow-up with the staff member.  This process begins to stretch the staff member and helps their professional growth.  This also provides the leader with another staff member who can handle future quick turnaround projects and not wear out the extroverts.  Also, extroverted staff are not exempt from being assigned long term projects—training applies to all staff members.

There are multiple ways to engage staff to understand their individual communication style.  MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two tools used in my work environments.  These tools allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone on my team and integrate this knowledge to help teammates understand each other as well.

What’s the most successful way for me to understand how to communicate with my team?  I sit down with them and ask everyone how they like to receive information.  Simple, huh?  Then I make sure to communicate with everyone in a manner they identify (as much as possible).  Things pop up but I try to remain consistent with the communication process.  Direct reports seem to appreciate this fact and respond in a positive manner.

A final note, leaders need to ensure their team knows how they like to communicate as well.  The team shouldn’t have to guess how to approach a leader.  This creates undo stress and is not productive.

How do you account for individual communication styles in the work environment?  Can this knowledge impact your current organization?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

blackboard business chalkboard concept
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Advertisements

Superhero work is tough but worth every minute!

boy child clouds kid
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape”.

(Superman)

Who knew saving the world would be so tough?  Note:  I’m enjoying every minute of it!

My current Walk into the Future allows me maximum flexibility on projects I decide to tackle.  Leveraging my why daily provides a foundation to ensure I’m getting things done the right way.

Got a request to help a local high school student find renewed focus and create a schedule to enhance academic success.  I never ventured towards this demographic since my work with college students and experienced professionals fits my areas of interest.  I didn’t accept the request initially because I didn’t see how I could help.  My excuses were:

  • Not familiar with high school curriculum
  • Two parent home provides enough guidance
    • Why would a high school student listen to me and not parents?
  • My personal bias towards education
  • Not invested in this process

Well, once I got out of my own way and viewed this as another opportunity to help someone succeed regardless of grade level, the obvious choice was to put on my cape and shiny boots and get down to what true superheroes do—save the world! 😊

Decided to leverage the MBTI with my new tree branch and parents to determine a communication pattern in the household.  The MBTIs were extremely close, and this gave me additional information to begin our meeting.  Discussed the implications of the MBTI results and how we could leverage this information to create an action plan for success.

Next, we discussed ways to bring a more organized approach to studying and getting assignments completed.  I thought this would have been an area that would create a level of resistance but was pleasantly surprised with the overall buy-in.  I didn’t create the organizational approach but suggested some things I thought would work; consistent study times, area, length and scheduled breaks.  I let the family discuss and recorded highlights so we could follow-up; wanted to ensure the family took responsibility for the learning outcomes with me serving as their resident superhero (guide).

We were able to create a study schedule with predetermined breaks and a stated commitment from everyone to abide by this schedule.  Adjustments can be made as needed, but we need a consistent team effort to make this work for everyone.  Again, they agreed to the parameters and we moved forward as a unified group.

The commitment was further verified when they ask me when they should follow-up with me for a progress report.  I wasn’t going to push this aspect but believe this shows a new level of progress and willingness to put the work in for success. We agreed to have follow-up sessions in two-week increments based on assignment due dates.  The follow-up sessions allow us to adjust as needed or provide an opportunity to praise progress.

“Life doesn’t give us purpose.  We give life purpose”.

(The Flash)

Happy to report this process allowed me to stay true to my why:  to impact people in a positive way to leave them better than when I found them.

Doesn’t really matter if it’s a high school student, experienced professional or a random person on the street.  Superheroes save the world regardless of how hard it may seem.

spider man on top of building
Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

“You don’t need to be strong like a superhero, you just need to be better than yesterday”.

(Spiderman)

Okay, enough superhero talk—need to take this cape off and my boots are hurting me feet!  Tomorrow’s another day! 😊

Who can you be a superhero to today?  What would stop you from helping?

 “Wakanda Forever.”

(Black Panther) 

Don’t fear the unknown–life moves forward

full frame shot of text on wood
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“On the other side of your maximum fear are all the best things in life”.

(Will Smith)

How many times have you talked yourself out of doing something based on perceived fears?  I’m talking about larger life episodes like changing careers, starting your own business, learning a new skill or traveling to an exotic locale.

Sometimes we fear the unknown simply because it is unknown.  Nothing has happened to instill the fear we live with; we just bring it along into our daily routines.  Don’t let that little voice in your head talk you out of pursuing something you want to accomplish.  Positive thoughts generate positive outcomes!  Tackle life with an Irie mindset!

Look for ways to embrace your fear and understand the root cause.  Challenges provide opportunities to grow so don’t let a little apprehension stop you from making a move.  Try to place a marker or name on what you fear.  Is it the actual change, lack of confidence, professional requirements or something else?  Understanding the root cause of fear provides a road map to help overcome the thing you fear—sounds simple, right?

Look for ways to visualize the successful outcome you seek.  Leverage a vision mapping process to walk you through the entire process.  Start with the most basic concepts and then work to put everything into a step-by-step diagram as a road map for success.  Your vision map may show holes in your thought and execution patterns you can counter to help eliminate fear and enable success.  The vision map also allows you to put time frames in-place to accomplish the task you identify.

Positive people make positive things happen!  I continue to stress having an Irie mindset.  Believe this is vital daily in life.  Expect great things to happen and back up the expectations with proactive research, conversations and efforts needed to get what you want.  Positive thoughts will help build up resiliency so when faced with obstacles you go to the next option but never stop trying to get what you want.

Be prepared to pivot as needed.  There are times a fundamental change in approach is needed to get what you want.  This is not a failure but a proactive way to work towards outcomes to enhance your current situation.  Do you need to get a specific certification prior to starting a career change?  Do you need to have a business partner to make your small business idea successful?  The willingness to pivot when needed can eliminate a level of fear associated with similar changes.

“Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather it is knowing that you will be okay no matter how things turn out”.

(Unknown)

Accept fear as a natural motivator in life.  Sounds counterproductive but what if you tackle a small fear daily to build up confidence for the larger things in life?  Fear public speaking? Then join Toast Masters to get in front of people to learn how to overcome this fear.  I’m a natural introvert so speaking in front of people was a fear I had.  Discovered the more I speak in front of groups the less fear I have.  The process becomes easier the more I face the fear.

Mentors can help you when facing your fears.  We should all have multiple mentors to help get through personal and professional scenarios.  Why not enlist a mentor when you must face a fear?  This trusted advisor may have experience in the area and can provide insight to help you move forward.  The mentor can also serve as a sounding board for you to present your thoughts.  This simple concept may allow you to hear what’s holding you back.  Your mentor will be able to provide feedback based on thoughts you present as well.

Fears are natural to most of us.  Visualize success, leverage positive thoughts, pivot if needed, accept fear to defeat it and engage your mentors.  Simple, huh? 😊

Remember, everything Irie!

What tools do you leverage to overcome fear?  What have you thought about doing but let fear hold you back?  (Respond in the comments section—thanks!)

 

 

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can”.

(Yoda)

Quotable Leadership philosophy!

FAU Leadership quote August 2019

“A leader is a dealer of hope”.

(Napoleon Bonaparte)

Always wonder if my leadership and mentor quotes travel well.

Received the image above a couple weeks ago from a Career Center friend in South Florida.  The Career Center had Graduate Assistants (GAs) present to leadership how they would incorporate National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) competencies into daily interactions with students and alumni.

One of their GAs researched the NACE site and found an Authentic Leadership article done with me and leveraged my words to make her point on how a leader truly inspires an organization.  I was happy to see my words helping the next generation of college students and future leaders.

You can find the full NACE article here:  https://www.naceweb.org/career-development/organizational-structure/authentic-leadership-hinges-on-listening/

  • So, yes, proud to say people are listening and putting these words into action! 😊

I continue to promote Authentic Leadership as a platform to enhance organizational success. The four variables are easy to understand and apply in daily interactions within the work environment.  True leaders need to be visible and available to engage direct reports to ensure everyone has input in how the organization operates.  Top down leadership may be needed in isolated situations, but your people want to be engaged.  The only way to accomplish this is to engage them—simple concept.

Leverage Napoleon’s words above and become a dealer of hope.

What’s your favorite leadership quote?  How does the quote impact your daily interactions?  I welcome your thoughts, thanks!

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others”.

(Bill Gates)

photo of assorted letter board quote hanged on wall
Photo by Mikechie Esparagoza on Pexels.com

Take the meeting—unlimited opportunities are waiting for you

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade”.

(Tom Peters)

My current Walk into the Future allows me to constantly look for opportunities to impact others and make a difference in this world.  My why was identified in June 2018 — to impact people in a positive way to leave them better than when I found them.  To stay consistent with my why I make a point to take meetings from everyone who requests a sit down with me.  Taking meetings is a form of reaching back to help someone else and it helps me continue to build tree branches.

Received a request via LinkedIn last week from someone I knew from my former role at FSU–we sat in several meetings together but never engaged much after the meetings were done.  Fast forward a year and a mutual friend suggested we get together because we both are making a difference in the world (different focus areas) and he thought it would be good for two like minded people to sit down.  Opportunities are all around us!

I happily accepted the meeting and let my new tree branch select the date, time and location.  We were able to quickly identify this meeting should have taken place a long time ago.  Sometimes career ambitions AND life get in the way of two people sitting down to talk about life, plans and focus.  Discovered quickly we have similar passions to help others in their walk into the future.  Shared my why with him and several of the projects (blog included) I like to work on and how my why guides my daily interactions.

I was able to listen with intent during our time together.  What I heard from him was a need to generate/identify a why to create the foundational model for his work.  Leveraged how creating my why gave me a renewed focus and helps drive my efforts.

The why concept was well received during our time together and resonated with my new tree branch.  It wasn’t rocket science, but I was able to listen to him and help strategize a way to gain the focus needed to take his operation to the next level.

My takeaways from our meeting:

  • Opportunity to help someone expand their message / focus
  • Opportunity to add another branch to my growing tree
  • Opportunity to share my why and leverage it in real time (application not just a theory)
  • Opportunity for future networking / interactions with a new tree branch
  • Opportunity to watch a branch grow and move towards goals
  • Opportunity for me to learn from someone doing great things in the world
  • Opportunity for me to continue to grow

So, when presented with an opportunity to take a meeting, go ahead and meet.  You may be able to help someone find exactly what they need for success.  You may also make a new friend which is awesome on its own.  Stay available to opportunities around you, they may provide the compass needed for your Walk into the Future!

Note:  I have taken 3 additional meetings since I originally wrote this article.  They have all been beneficial and I’ve added more branches to my tree.  Always looking for continued growth.

How open are you to accepting a meeting request from someone?  What benefits would taking this meeting have on your growth?  Curious, thanks!

“Keep your mind open to opportunities. They are closer than you think”.

(PictureQuotes.com)

woman wearing teal dress sitting on chair talking to man
Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

Team communication strategies to build a strong organization

adventure backlit dawn dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

‘Good teams incorporate teamwork into their culture, creating the building blocks for success.’

(Ted Sundquist)

The 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team was nicknamed the Dream Team because of the collection of NBA superstars who made up the team’s roster.  The roster included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley to name a few players.  Every member of the Dream Team was considered the top player(s) on their respective NBA team—the best of the best.

So, with a collection of overwhelming talent available on the Dream Team, this roster is considered the greatest basketball talent ever assembled on one team.  With that in mind, do you know what their ‘overall’ record was?  Most people will say the Dream Team was undefeated in their run towards Olympic gold in 1992.  The Dream Team’s overall record was:  8 – 1.  That’s right, the greatest collection of individual basketball talent lost a game in their quest for Olympic gold.

Head coach Chuck Daly assembled a collection of college basketball stars to scrimmage the Dream Team to help prepare for the style of play they would encounter in the Olympics.  College stars Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Chris Webber and others were invited to training camp to match up with their basketball idols.  The Dream Team lost to their understudies on June 24, 1992, 62-54 because they assumed, they would roll through the college kids.

The Dream Team hadn’t completely bought into the ‘team’ concept because they were all great individual players and thought they would overwhelm any team put in front of them.  To be fair, coach Chuck Daly limited Michael Jordan’s minutes and didn’t utilize his players to optimize their playing time.  This strategy was taken to get the pros to focus and understand they could be beaten without ideal situations.  The next time the Dream Team played the same collection of college players, they beat them soundly.

The Dream Team provides an excellent example of how team building enhances organizational success.  Simply hiring people and then telling them they are a team does not work.  Understanding team members’ strength, weaknesses and communication styles are a few things needed to build and enhance team dynamics.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The MBTI is a self-report tool that provides and makes psychological types as described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful (MBTI).  Organizations use the MBTI for various in-house needs.  One area I have found useful for the MBTI is for team communication.  I have direct reports complete the MBTI and then create an organizational chart we share with the team, so everyone knows the MBTI for their teammates.  We create desktop placards or MBTI heads to display in individual offices as a quick reminder of everyone’s MBTI.

Examples of MBTI heads:  https://eu.themyersbriggs.com/en/Using%20Type/Head%20Type%20table

I leverage this knowledge when assigning tasks to team members.  There are MBTIs who crave fast-paced and deadline filled assignments and others who view these type things as torture.  The key is balancing assignments to maximize the team and help individuals grow.  So, I’m not saying an introvert never has to do presentations but understanding team members helps with the overall health of an organization.

Understanding MBTIs within a team construct has led team members to appreciate each other more.  My MBTI is ISTJ and if you view the MBTI head associated with me you discover things like analytical, organized, and calm.  This knowledge helps everyone on my team understand why a perceived crisis does not impact me the same way it would someone who is an ENFP.  No MBTI is perfect but understanding other indicators provides a team with a foundation to grow.  This growth is a starting point for open communication and a successful team.

CliftonStrengths

I was introduced to CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthFinders) during my time at the University of Central Florida Career Center.  We were looking for ways to maximize our team and contracted to have someone come in to facilitate a workshop for the organization.  This was an eye-opening experience for staff.  I discovered my Talents were:   Analytical, Relator, Learner, Deliberative and Strategic. 

Domain examples here:  https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/home/en-us/cliftonstrengths-themes-domains

This knowledge will allow leaders and teams to build on current talents in the organization.  I can leverage my identified talents with someone who has more talent in another area to ensure the team can complete a task.  This can only be done ‘if’ talents are identified in advance.

There are other tools available to help leaders build teamwork and communication strategies for an organization.  The MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two I have used and provided multiple organizations with outstanding results.

6 steps to build a strong team:

  • Focus on roles
  • Value each role
  • Communicate
  • Set goals
  • Celebrate successes and failures
  • Know each other
    • (Entrepreneur.com, 2016)
administration adults agreement black and white
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

What strategies do you use to enhance team communication?  What tools have been most effective?  Thanks!

‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.’

(Henry Ford)

References

Johnson, C. (2016, May 23). 6 Steps to Build a Strong Team. Entrepreneur.

The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (n.d.) Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/home.htm?bhcp=1

 

Emulate great leaders ‘and’ learn from bad bosses

‘Never step on enthusiasm.’

(Colin Powell)

Humility Post

I love the image above for the simple message it sends.  True leaders are not afraid to engage to ensure team success.  Leaders display a level of humility when they show direct reports they are a part of the overall team, not just the person demanding results.

Contrast the two examples in the image.  Who would you want to work for?  The leader or the boss?  Why?

I have been lucky to work for some truly great leaders in multiple work environments.  They all shared a vision of what success looks like and made sure everyone was working toward the same goals.  These great leaders always led by example and made professional development/learning a priority in the workplace.  This enhanced direct report engagement and made everyone want to get more accomplished.  Regardless of style (authentic, transformational, democratic, etc.), great leaders provide positive interactions and examples we can emulate and utilize within our own leadership practice.

Luckily, I have not experienced too many of the boss examples in the image above, but I have made a point to learn from these people as well.  Don’t be so quick to write off the lessons you gained from a boss:

  • How did your boss make you feel daily?
  • How easy was it to bring them problems?
  • Did they explain tasks or just say go get things done?
  • How competent were they getting the job done?
  • How invested were they in your professional development?
  • How much fun were they to be around?
  • How much staff turnover did your office have?

I could add more things to this ‘boss check list’ but believe you see my pattern now.  So, what lessons can you learn from a boss?  I’ve learned to never repeat a ‘boss’ trait I viewed as a negative.

Getting up from behind a desk or closed door to engage with people daily is an easy task for everyone.  Never get so comfortable with a position you forget your responsibility to the people you serve.  Servant leadership is centered on the idea the leader serves their people.  Take the time to explain the ‘why’ of a task not just the ‘what’ needs to be done.  Leverage the strengths of everyone on the team.  This requires the leader to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.

It’s okay to have fun at work!  No, really, fun and work can go together.  Look at some of the most successful organizations and the culture they build in the work environment.  Work still gets done but fun happens daily—may be a coincidence but these type organizations are able to retain their staff members.

Consider implementing a stay interview process.  Stay interviews allow great leaders to engage staff to see what they need in the work environment.  The stay interview builds a dialogue to enable both sides to enhance relationships and create a productive culture.  The leader does not have to promise anything they can’t back up and allows them to explain these things directly to staff members.  Example:  staff would like to work from home, but this is not applicable because the business has drop-in clientele.

Note:  Had a great conversation at a networking event last week in Orlando about the term ‘stay interview’.  Some organizations/leaders do not like this term.  That’s fine, call it ‘professional development interview, career development orientation, etc.’ but look for ways to engage staff on their professional needs.

So, continue to emulate the great leaders you have had in your work life but don’t miss the valuable lessons the bosses have provided.

What leadership traits do you emulate daily?  What have you learned from a boss (no names needed)?

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

(Maya Angelou)

war chess

Photo by Gladson Xavier on Pexels.com

‘Play chess, not checkers.’

(Calvin Williams)