What does it mean to collaborate? Dictionary definition: the action of working with someone to produce something.
Collaboration has become overused, poorly implemented. Leading to collaboration fatigue!
Here are my 6 tips for optimal collaboration.
Define the problem statement as a group. Ensure everyone is aligned on the statement: we all love getting to the solution however, this is unhelpful and can limit creativity.
Educate on the impacts of the problem and why its important. Data is key to presenting the facts of the impact. Don’t assume your audience understands the context, history or challenges the problem represents. The more time you spend here the better the creativity re the results.
Black hatting is a great way to ensure all voices are heard especially people who are not convinced about the problem and reluctant to work on a solution. The purpose is take the role of all the internal and external stakeholders and role play their position on the matter, including any risks or opportunities
Ensure all parties that are impacted are included in the collaboration. The last thing you want is having to bring someone on the journey when a recommendation is made.
Don’t be afraid to lead. I am often asked why are you doing this? In the absence of anyone owning, it is impacting my team and I therefore I am happy to lead to find a resolution. You can lead as an individual contributor. Regardless of where the process lands, leading change is critical and very fulfilling.
Have fun. Get to know each other. Don’t launch into a session, socialise with each other for the first 5 mins.
The favorite saying of my boss of 15 years and mentor Des Miller. I find myself quoting this saying more often these days and each time I recall the many amazing lessons I learnt from Des.
All to often business tries to many activities at once, leading to nothing succeeding. Focus and dominating a particular market, really allows excellent execution.
A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone I competed with in business nearly a decade ago and he recalled the outstanding success for the product and market, he said he would not even compete, even though he worked for a gorilla business, as the business I worked for owned the domain.
In the telco sector there are few that own a niche. Regional players, sector players ie hotels, schools and one that specialised in 1-50 employees in business and nailed the proposition. In a market where Managed service providers and Information technology providers are owning the customer, the challenge for the pure carriers is clear. Again the lesson is relevant: What piece of the kingdom are you going to own?
In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.
As a women in Corporate and wanting to succeed in leadership, you cannot display an ounce of emotion, you are expected to be cool and calm.
I am passionate about my work and heavily invested in my team, working with colleagues and creating great outcomes. The passion drives emotion and that comes at a price in the eyes of the leaders of the business. With passion often comes outwardly expressed emotions, express at your peril! For me it can be cynicism, poor choice of words, frustration with progress and a feeling I am not being listened too.
Here are some tips on taking the emotion out of your work:
Exercise or meditate before work. If I have an important meeting or presentation I ensure I practice yoga, go for a walk or Surf. Surfing puts me in the best in mental state and I find I am exceptionally calm. The day ahead is always balanced and definitely makes a difference.
Ask your peers to hold you to account. One of my peers gives me feedback constantly and I help him. He tells me I am far more powerful when I am calm. My messages are clear and land exceptionally well. Having an accountability partner definitely helps.
Never speak to anyone when you feel frustrated or annoyed. Take time to meditate or pranayama breathing(Yoga breathing). Only speak when you have managed the emotion.
Write and communicate facts only, remove anything that reads as emotional. Use read aloud to check what you have written or write save in draft and read later. Even better leave what you have written for 24 hours and return to assess facts from emotion.
Listen to others who are emotional, how do you react? Looking in the mirror is powerful for me and understanding how I feel listening to someone who is emotional. Ask your self do the messages land? are they believable or do you sense attachment, that might affect their judgement?
If I feel that I wont be able to control my passion/emotion, then I ask colleagues to step in and I remove myself. Don’t be afraid to explain why, as this builds trust and rapport and also helps with accountability.
One of my amazing mentors Carol use to say “take the emotion out of it”.
There are many benefits to working on controlling emotion:
it reduces the time spent on mulling over a situation, when you have facts you can see the wood from the trees.
expend less energy, more productive
approachable by your colleagues, bosses and peers
more powerful when you are presenting
There are exceptions to this rule, but use with care and check with peers who know you. The only time using emotion is successful on complex issues that stakeholders do not fully understand the impact even though the facts have been laid out. In these times, emotion can be a powerful vehicle to land the message.
I hope this helps with “Taking the emotion out of it”
Way more than you think! Loser not being able to influence to get an outcome. Give up to easily. Victim
Since moving to corporate getting anything done, is infinitely harder than in a small and medium business.
The reason: many more stakeholders with many different agendas. Unless you have the patience, combined with excellent influencing skills and stamina to see it through, you could be the person making the statement ‘I have been asking for this business change for two years? ‘
Is it worth driving for the change? Yes you have your values and none of us come to work to do a bad job. We all want to make difference. So how do you go about making the change?
Really clearly define what you want to change. Put it in simple terms. Test the messaging with peers and team members
Use examples of how it will have an impact, who it will impact
Business case to demonstrate one of the following : revenue increase, cost saving or risk mitigation. If capital is required then their are extra steps re: budget etc depending on budget cycle.
Finally the risks and mitigation strategies for each risk. Clearly lay out and don’t miss any. Be open to receiving more!
Once you have the above nailed, then you need to go to your stakeholders and take them through steps 1-4. Solicit feedback, enhance any of the fours steps with the feedback and continue as you go stakeholder to stakeholder to gain support. Don’t miss any stakeholders. Look who is on the leadership team, do you have them covered?
When someone says “No” they wont support, deep dive on the why? fully understand why they are opposed. If you uncover reasons that you should not proceed, then you are wiser, you can move on. If you don’t agree with their views then proceed to get more feedback, ensure the non supporters risks are captured and you have clear mitigation as this wont be the last time it will be raised.
Once you have done the rounds and you have adequate support,( if not you need to rethink the strategy), take your boss through 1-4 with all the feedback and then all the names of people you have spoken with and who is supporting your recommended change. Agree the next step of approval and implementation.
The above could take significant time, but it is always worthwhile. Being passionate about a better future is contagious and a great leadership trait.
This lesson I am constantly relearning. My personal challenge is flawlessly executing the above every time, as once I meet the person who say No, once I hear this I stop dead in my tracks, especially from more senior leaders and start to reflect on the request, and then eventually I put it in the drawer for another day. With experience and benefit of hindsight I realise that is not what the business needs, they need the challenger mindset and finding support is not far away if you are prepared to look.
Don’t be the victim saying “been asking for this business change for 2 years”. Take action.
There are some unwritten and unspoken rules to getting in incorporate. Here are 10 things you need to nail to get on.
1. Get on with everyone. You cannot afford to have any detractors. Always look at how you can help others be successful.
2. Deliver results. Focus on the inputs to deliver results not the outputs. Energy placed in the right place will deliver the outcome
3. Get great at PowerPoint. This is key with point 5. Being succinct on your delivery of information, content for a decision or content for collaboration, be clear on your asks as this is where most presentations fall down.
4. Dont talk too much, learn to ask questions, be the third or forth person to contribute
5. Learn to speak in public and be on point. Remove the waffle
6. Always give execs a heads up on things that may get escalated. A key skill is making sure stakeholders understand a risk of escalation. Content needed what have you tried to mitigate the risk, what you are doing next and the next update.
7. Be a great project manager. Key skill to delivering plans
8. Have great Business process skills. Never bandaid, always find the root cause and fix process
9. Collaborate to deliver great strategy, resolve issues and creating plans.
10. Communication is critical to keep everyone across what you are doing and get feedback.
Corporate is where you accelerate your personal development and develop skills that are critical to driving business success.
I was 20 years old working for a US software company in the Uk and I was lucky enough to land a boss who was keen for me to develop. He recommended a 12 week Dale Carnegie course based around the book: How to win friends and influence people. The book changed my life and my career trajectory.
I have read the book numerous times and even thought the book was written in 1936. The lessons are as relevant today as they were then.
Each chapters headings are critical leadership skills and life skills. We should teach this to children at school.
My favourite chapters of all is don’t criticise, condemn and complain, followed by seek to understand before your understood.
The book is full of real life stories, that really challenge your thinking and actions. A must read for enjoying life and really developing great friendships and rapport.
Are you in a team where you feel you belong? you loved getting out of bed every day and connecting with your peers, they inspired you, you felt safe to share your vulnerabilities, felt safe to challenge the norm and together you delivered outstanding results?
Patrick Lecioni’s story of the Five dysfunctions of a team, is about the foundations that have to be in place to be a high performing team. As a leader your role is to create a safe environment for the team to express themselves without judgement and actively encourage the team to challenge, so the team can develop and remain highly engaged.
Here are the seven steps for you as the leader to build a high performing team:
Once the strategy is in place. Reviewing progress(monthly/quarterly): what’s working and not working, is essential with the team. Celebrate every success along the way, as the motivation for the team is critical. When parts are not working; Ask the team why they think it’s not working? what should we do? Amend the strategy and don’t forget to share the learning. At the back of the book 5 dysfunctions of a team, there is a survey and action plans on each of the 5 dysfunctions, use this with your team quarterly to see which area of the 5 dysfunctions need attention.
On the bus/off the bus. If the commitment of an individual or individuals is not there, tackle the situation head on. What is the issue? Is it behavioral? Get on top of this quickly as having a detractor in the team can slow the whole team, even if they are outstanding performers. Toxic individuals can bring a whole team down.
Another lesson during Covid19, the importance of regular 30 minute check ins without an agenda. Time to catch up and share, more recently the challenges for the team in Melbourne.
Personal development plans for each team member. Tailoring to the ability and need of the individual. This is critical for motivation and development. Being able to clearly articulate the difference between average, above average and excellent with clear examples of what they need to deliver helps them understand how they can be more successful.
Work with your team members to find internal and external mentors. This is so powerful, there are many times I have had individuals looking to move into different areas of the business and I have found them a mentor in that area and within 12 months they have secured a role.
Diversity is key to the above being successful. If you have inherited a team with poor diversity, here are some additional steps that you will need to take:
1. If you are in a corporate with a graduate program, go and introduce yourself to the Graduate talent manager, find out why graduates would find coming to your part of the business interesting and become a “destination for graduates”. They really know how to shake up a culture with their drive and curiosity.
2. Find talent in other parts of the business looking for a challenge and secure them on a secondment to deliver key components of the strategy. This is a true win/win in business for the individual and for the company.
3. Ensure the minorities are well supported and take time to understand any poor behavior. In my experience where you have low diversity of age, culture, gender and LBGT, you will have behaviors that will not be acceptable.
4. Expect to take 12-24 months to fix.
There are many leaders who believe the term “high performing teams” is overused. For me it is absolutely essential as a leader to create the environment that people can thrive and deliver outstanding results and that by definition is High performing teams.
I wish you all the best with building a high performance team.
Just completed a 6 week resilience training with Phil Crenigan a leading executive coach and my team. I have personally worked with Phil for many years as a business coach, so the opportunity for team coaching during covid19 on resilience was a unique opportunity. There were many learning’s from our journey.
Three weeks into working from home the team were overwhelmed by workload due to covid19 and the many challenges Covid19 posed. The resilience team coaching was timely as they faced new challenges working from home, concerned for family overseas, financial challenges and motivational issues. The team shared vulnerabilities, what they were implementing from their leanings on the resilience g training, they supported each other and trust was built. Patrick Lecioni would have been proud of us. 5 Dysfunctions of a team
Personally there were many reflections, honest conversations with myself and recognition of what was needed to move forward.
Developing resilience means I can move on quicker from situations that challenge me, spend less emotional energy on catastrophizing, and move to action swiftly.
Building trust in the team is critical for people feeling comfortable talking about something that is so personal. The team have been amazing at sharing and supporting each other
Doing the self-assessment on resilience, I started by putting top marks in all the boxes. That is not being honest with myself. When I revisited I realized I need to ask for Support more.
Tools that I learned or re learnt:
When catastrophizing, what is the worst that can happen?
Asking for help more, working with peers and people outside the team
Greeting people in the lift, supermarket, waiting for a coffee: Lighting up their day
Revisit the team feedback about what I do well, keep doing it
Team coaching is critical to bringing the team together and during Covid having a forum to learn together really makes the difference. Resilience is critical during these uncertain times. Even if you think you can handle uncertainty well, there is always room for improvement.