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Each Work Style Brings Value to the Team

October 12th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

TeamWheelWe all tend to gravitate toward people who are like us. This is true in our friendships, our relationships and, yes, our work teams. We hope that by focusing on those similarities there will be more harmony and, by extension, a better, more productive work environment. But think about what “harmony” is, in the true sense of the word. It’s NOT everyone singing the same note. It’s people singing different notes that creates harmony.

As a team leader, it’s easy to fall into like = harmony thinking. Avoid conflict. Get to the performing stage quicker. Shorten the decision cycle. And yet, without giving air to those different notes – different ideas, strengths, approaches, views – you miss the opportunity to create something innovative and new. Same ol’, same ol’ produces the same ol’, same ol’. Every time.

Consider this scenario.

Mike is about to meet for the first time with a temporary project team he’ll be heading up for the next several months. The members were assigned to him, so he had no input into their selection. He’s disappointed that he wasn’t asked to pull together a team from “his” people, who think just like him. Life would be so much easier. He hasn’t met any of the team yet, but he’s spoken with four of their managers and has made some notes.

Robert. Quick-thinking. Direct. Not afraid of conflict or challenging the status quo. Confident and decisive. Track record of meeting deadlines and staying within budget. Competitive. Task-focused.

Yolanda. Lots of ideas. Good at creating a vision and inspiring others to follow. Outgoing and friendly. Likes variety and flexibility. Tends to change topics quickly during discussions. Relationship-focused.

Gary. Quiet and reserved. Great listener. Works to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Good at coordinating efforts and maintaining strong relationships. Strong focus on values.

Barb. Analytical and detail-oriented. Excellent at ensuring all bases are covered. Processes information by asking questions. Lots of questions. Takes a systematic approach to decision-making.

Mike wonders how he will ever be able to meld these diverse styles together to complete the project. He worries that Robert will compete with his leadership, and that Barbara will get too caught up in the details to get anything done. And how will Yolanda and Gary work with the other two?

Mike decides that the only way forward is to embrace the differences instead of fearing them. And a magical thing happens. Yes, there are some conflicts at the start – as there are on all teams – but those conflicts, and the different approaches, perspectives, talents, ideas, and strengths harmonize into a final product that is far superior to anything Mike in his monotone world had ever seen. Because…

Yolanda created a vision.

Robert kept them on track.

Gary ensured they were heard.

Barb let nothing fall through the cracks.

Want to learn more about individual styles and the value each can add to your team? Contact PeopleThink: 415.440.7944 or kcolligan@peoplethink.biz.

Till next time,

Karen

Communication, Diversity, Teams, Uncategorized

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Tips for Adapting to Different Personalities on Your Team

April 22nd, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

IntroExtraAs I often say, the best teams are composed of people with a variety of skills, experience, points of view and personalities. Yes, there may be clashes at times, and…when managed effectively, those differences can spark innovation and even lead to closer relationships.

The key to finding harmony in those “different notes” on the team is recognizing…well, more importantly, accepting… that others may have a different approach to solving problems, to communicating, to making decisions, to working. Leaders need to lay the groundwork for productive dissonance. Team members need to develop awareness around their own style and then learn to recognize and adapt to others. Here are some tips for recognizing and adapting in some typical team interactions.

Team meetings. Extraverts speak to think, and are quite comfortable launching and bouncing around numerous ideas and comments in quick succession. Some of these never land at all and extraverts are OK with that. Introverts, on the other hand, think to speak. They prefer to listen and reflect on one idea at a time. How to adapt: Extraverts, slow down. Breathe. Put the ideas on a whiteboard so team members can begin to reflect on them. Introverts, take some time before the meeting to think through your ideas on the topic so you can be prepared to add them to the list. Propose a structure for prioritizing and narrowing the field of ideas so each can be reviewed and discussed by the whole team.

Team building. Extraverts are energized by other people, and often look at team building as an opportunity to socialize with the entire team. And anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity of the event. The more the merrier. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer smaller groups and as a result tend to build deeper relationships. For them, team building happens one one-on-one get-together at a time. How to adapt: Extraverts, recognize that all-team socials are not the only way to bring the team closer together. Consider small group lunches and other, lower-key team building alternatives. Introverts, attend at least one team social, even if you don’t stay for long.

Team work. Extraverts favor working collaboratively, surrounded by lots of buzz and activity. Open work environments with lots of interactions during the day are just fine, in fact energizing for them. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer quiet workspaces with plenty of opportunities to work solo and spend time in reflection and deep concentration. How to adapt: Extraverts, resist the temptation to interrupt your introvert teammate to chit chat or seek feedback on an idea. Instead, schedule lunch or a specific time to get together. And make the suggestion via email. Introverts, recognize that some ideas are just too great to contain! If you absolutely DO NOT want to be disturbed or need time to recharge, consider working in a conference room for a few hours.

Making the effort to recognize and appreciate other team members’ work styles, preferences and hot buttons, and helping them understand yours is perhaps the best team building strategy of all!

Till next time,

Karen

Communication, Diversity, Personalities, Teams

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Adapting Your Extraversion to the Introverts on Your Team

April 15th, 2015

By: Karen Colligan

IntroExtra-2More than one-third of the world’s population are introverts, according to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. That means, if you are leading a team of three or more people, most likely at least one of them is an introvert. And if you’re an extravert, chances are you’ve had some challenges in the way you and that team member interact.

While we all have both introversion and extraversion qualities, which reveal themselves based on the situation, we tend to lean more toward one than the other. Although many people still seem to define extraversion as “outgoing” and introversion as “shy”, the real difference between them has to do with the source of energy. Extraverts derive their energy from others (extra), introverts derive their energy from within (intro). Extraverts love large social gatherings and fast-paced conversations, and often get bored with too much time alone. Introverts prefer smaller gatherings, and are quite content to spend time in more solitary activities such as reading, writing and thinking.

Both extraverts and introverts bring value to the team. The introverts, though, are less likely to tell you about it. So I’ll do it for them, and then give you, the extravert leader, some tips on how to lead them effectively.

Five great qualities of introverts:




      1. They are good listeners.

      2. They are planners.

      3. They form deep, meaningful relationships.

      4. They work independently.

      5. They keep their emotions in check.




To lead introverts effectively, you’ll need to adapt some of your extravert qualities to meet them where they feel most comfortable. Here are some key areas to pay attention to.

Communication: Introverts think to speak. Don’t put them in a position where they have to give an immediate answer or report out on the spot. Pace your questions. Give them time to process information. Allow them to pause and reflect before they respond. Respect their silence and don’t interrupt their thinking.

Recognition: Introverts generally prefer to be recognized for their efforts in a personal rather than a public way. At least give them the option. Come to think of it, this is a simple question you should ask all your employees, both introverts and extraverts – “How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?”

Meetings: Send out the agenda before the meeting so they have time to think about the topics and what they want to bring to the discussion. During the meeting, manage the extraverts so that the introverts have the opportunity to speak. Don’t ask for their feedback immediately after the meeting; give them some time to process it. You will get valuable feedback.

Workspace: Introverts prefer a quiet, private workspace that allows them to “recharge” by spending some time alone. If this isn’t feasible because of cubes or an open office environment, allow them to work at home occasionally or to retreat to a conference room.

Work style: Introverts have tremendous powers of concentration. Refrain from interrupting this with multiple check-ins throughout the day. Consolidate your non-urgent questions into one conversation. Best: by email.

The best performing teams are made up of individuals of differing skills, experiences and personalities. Keeping this in mind as you work through the four domains of leadership: Leading through People; Leading with Vision; Leading with Drive; and Leading to Deliver, will increase your effectiveness exponentially.

Want to learn more about the leadership domains and understanding your style and others? Contact me.

Till next time,

Karen

Communication, Diversity, Leadership, People

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Working Effectively on a Multi-Generational (Diverse!) Team

November 13th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

Most workplaces today are a mix of three distinct generations – Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1979) and Generation Y, or Millennials (born 1980-2000). Each generation brings its own particular strengths and “peculiarities” to the team.  Stereotypes abound, and leaders struggle to determine how best to engage and retain team members from these three different age groups.

I personally think it’s simple: Value diversity.  Recognize that each individual brings to the workplace different experiences, knowledge, belief systems, ideas, skills, communication styles, fears, hopes and dreams. No matter the age, or generation, there are differences. Certainly we can make some broad generalizations about Boomers vs. Gen Xers vs. Millennials based on the events, pop culture and technology of the world they grew up in, but we can do the same for women vs. men, other cultures vs. US culture, etc.  Value diversity.

So with that in mind, here are my tips for managing and working effectively on a multi-generational  team.


  • Focus on the VALUE each generation brings to the workplace.

  • Acknowledge and embrace the diversity of the generations.

  • Remember that it’s about talent…not age…

  • Learn from the other generations on your team.

  • Figure out what you have in common and start there.

  • Use multiple communication streams to address each person’s style.

  • Mentor and teach each other.

  • Be “kind” to one another.


  • As Stephen Covey said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

    Value diversity.

    Till next time,

    Karen

    Diversity, Multi-generational workforce

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Managing Generation Xers in the Multi-Generation Workplace

October 28th, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Generation XIf you read my last blog (which of course you did!) you now have a better idea of how to work with and manage Baby Boomers. But what if you’re a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964) or a Millennial (born between 1980 and 2000) and you need to work more effectively with Generation Xers? THAT’S what we’re going to talk about this time.

Generation X refers to people born between 1965 and 1979. They grew up in the disco/pop/MTV era and witnessed the integration of the personal computer into our everyday lives. They are self-reliant (think “latch-key kids”), tribal and technologically literate. They work hard, but are more assertive in their quest for work/life balance than their Baby Boomer parents were.  They are adaptable, creative and willing to go against the system if necessary. They prefer not to have a lot of rules.

Here are some tips for managing and working effectively with Generation Xers.

Don’t require a face-to-face for information exchange. If you call and they’re not there, leave a detailed voicemail rather than just “please call me back.” Or write them an email.  It’s more efficient, and that’s what technology is for. And speaking of technology, you can attract, retain and motivate them by providing them with the latest technology and adequate resources.

Give them a task or project and let them fly. Gen Xers are motivated by the freedom to get the job done on their own schedule. They don’t do well with micromanagement.

Develop them. Gen Xers prefer managers who support their training and growth, and provide ample development opportunities. Give them stretch projects or put them in charge of something highly visible to spotlight their abilities. Provide them with frequent, specific and timely feedback to help them build their skills and position them for future career opportunities.

Value diversity and think globally. As this generation was growing up, the world was shrinking (in terms of perceived distance) due to the reach of new technologies and the influx of new cultures and nationalities into our communities. Generation Xers embrace diversity and want to work in environments that are not limited in scope.

Be genuine and direct. Generation Xers tend not to like managers who don’t “walk the talk.”  Demonstrate your competence and show that you trust them by allowing them to work autonomously. Make your interactions with them purposeful, rather than just “schmoozing.”

And, whatever you do, don’t forget to make time for FUN!

Next time we’ll talk about how to work effectively with Millennials.

Till then,

Karen

Communication, Diversity, Leadership, Multi-generational workforce, People, Teams

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Individual Styles and High Performing Teams

March 27th, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

High Performing TeamsWe all tend to gravitate toward people who are like us.  This is true in our friendships, our relationships and, yes, our work teams. We hope that by focusing on those similarities there will be more harmony and, by extension, a better, more productive work environment. But think about what “harmony” is, in the true sense of the word. It’s NOT everyone singing the same note.  It’s people singing different notes that creates harmony.

As a team leader, it’s easy to fall into like = harmony thinking.  Avoid conflict. Get to the performing stage quicker. Shorten the decision cycle. And yet, without giving air to those different notes – different ideas, strengths, approaches, views – you miss the opportunity to create something innovative and new. Same ol’, same ol’ produces the same ol’, same ol’. Every time.

Consider this scenario.

Mike is about to meet for the first time with a temporary project team he’ll be heading up for the next several months. The members were assigned to him, so he had no input into their selection.  He’s disappointed that he wasn’t asked to pull together a team from “his” people, who think just like him. Life would be so much easier. He hasn’t met any of the team yet, but he’s spoken with four of their managers and has made some notes.

Robert. Quick-thinking. Direct. Not afraid of conflict or challenging the status quo. Confident and decisive. Track record of meeting deadlines and staying within budget. Competitive. Task-focused.

Yolanda. Lots of ideas. Good at creating a vision and inspiring others to follow. Outgoing and friendly.  Likes variety and flexibility. Tends to change topics quickly during discussions. Relationship-focused.

Gary. Quiet and reserved. Great listener. Works to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Good at coordinating efforts and maintaining strong relationships. Strong focus on values.

Barb. Analytical and detail-oriented. Excellent at ensuring all bases are covered. Processes information by asking questions. Lots of questions. Takes a systematic approach to decision-making.

Mike wonders how he will ever be able to meld these diverse styles together to complete the project.  He worries that Robert will compete with his leadership, and that Barbara will get too caught up in the details to get anything done.  And how will Yolanda and Gary work with the other two?

Mike decides that the only way forward is to embrace the differences instead of fearing them. And a magical thing happens. Yes, there are some conflicts at the start – as there are on all teams – but those conflicts, and the different approaches, perspectives, talents, ideas, and strengths harmonize into a final product that is far superior to anything Mike in his monotone world had ever seen.  Because…

Yolanda created a vision.

Robert kept them on track.

Gary ensured they were heard.

Barb let nothing fall through the cracks.

Want to learn more about individual styles and the value each can add to your team? Contact PeopleThink: 415.440.7944 or kcolligan@peoplethink.biz.

Till next time,

Karen

Diversity, People, Performance, Professional and team leadership, Teams, Uncategorized

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