high performing teams

Habits for High Productivity Days

The first thing you need to know about having a high productivity day tomorrow is that it starts with the last thing you do today.

Habit 1: End your day with a plan for the next day.

One of the biggest pits I see busy managers and leaders fall into is that they work to exhaustion and leave the office without setting a plan for what they need to get done the next day.

Starting the day with a plan for what you have to achieve is key to having a highly productive day. That plan can and should be crafted in advance so you can: Continue reading…

Managing in a Blender

Just as a complete breakfast sets you up for the day, starting your work day with a complete plan can set you and your team up to accomplish great things. Ideally, most days you start with a plan.

But when demands are at their peak, people often convince themselves to skip the plan and just dive in.

That got me thinking, what if there was a recipe – a fast and easy to remember checklist – of the leadership ingredients you fundamentally need to best serve your team; a Leadership Smoothie if you will.
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Don’t let the good ones get away

Last month, a colleague came to me with a sad, but all too common story.

A senior member of his team was under-performing and putting a wrench in the works for everyone. My friend was so focused on dealing with the fallout and figuring out how to handle the senior player that he dropped the ball on checking-in with the rest of his team.

Then whamo! During a real week from hell, one of his solid performers – a woman who did a GOOD job and operated quietly under the radar – up and quit, leaving a serious gap in his team. Not surprising. Continue reading…

Enterprise: The Dreaded Performance Review

Chris Obst is interviewed for the Enterprise magazine article The Dreaded Performance Review. It is posted here with the permission of the publisher.

In the article Chris explains how both the employer and employee should approach performance reviews.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

The title for this article is also the new tag line for my company. It came out of an “ah ha” moment that a lot of managers have.

In management, you are always moving, stretching, balancing and rebalancing – it is pretty rare that anyone feels totally comfortable because nothing stays still for very long.

3 reasons you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

  1. Change is constant. And change makes everyone of us more or less uncomfortable.I’m coaching a new VP who confided in me, “This is a really hard job! I feel like I never have things under control.” In her pre-management role, she was able to get things set up and let them operate on cruise control. That just doesn’t happen in management. Continue reading…

Management and energy insights from the slopes

I spent last week skiing with my family at Whistler, and the holiday inspired me to write something a little different this month!

1. Try an idea out. Push it a few times, if it still isn’t working try another idea.

chris-and-kidsOur trip started with a plan. My wife and I wanted to take the kids on a spring break ski week at one of the family-friendly resorts in the Okanagan. Our friends had raved about them.

But when I started calling around to make reservations (a few months ago) every place I called had problems. They were booked, or they didn’t get back to us. Continue reading…

Train to be a gold medal leader

I have to say, ever since the Olympic torch relay ran past my house, I’ve been stoked about the games. (I hope my American and European readers willThe torch indulge me if a little Canadian pride sneaks into this email).

Did you see Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada’s first home-gold in the men’s moguls on Sunday? Can I tell you why I found it so exciting?

As Stephen Brunt wrote in his Globe and Mail article, “That great moment didn’t happen by accident.”

Bilodeau won because he trained hard. He won because he took risks no one else took. He saw opportunities no one else saw. One commentator said, “In his gold medal run, Bilodeau skied hard, fast, and on edge, walking the thin line between greatness and disaster.”

Great leaders also have to ride that edge. We also have to train. We also have to focus. We also have to get comfortable being uncomfortable walking the line between greatness and disaster. Continue reading…

Give your people what they want: one-on-one’s

Give your people what they want.

Following on from my last article about one-on-ones, there is a really easy way for you to give your people what they want this holiday, and throughout the year. Ask them.

Now is a great time to connect with your team and talk to them about their futures and where they see themselves headed.

People want to be empowered to good work, and they want to be seen and respected for who they are and the talents they offer. We aren’t that mysterious. Continue reading…

Brand yourself as a great leader

When I coach, I have a number tools that I use to assess clients. I use different tools for different reasons. But I’m excited about a new Personal Brand Assessment that I’m using to help people:

1) see what impression you leave with people

2) look at what you are doing in your career to consciously cultivate your brand or unconsciously sabotage it Continue reading…

The biggest mistake managers make

The biggest mistake I see managers make is that they repeatedly bail on one-on-ones with direct reports. They set up the meetings, then a big clients comes in from out of town, or someone from head office calls, or the project is behind schedule and… I’ve heard all the excuses. They don’t fly.

It’s a mistake to ditch one-on-ones because:

1. When you bail on one-on-ones you send a message.You inadvertently tell people that they are unimportant, unseen, and unappreciated. 

Don’t think it’s all that bad? Think about how you feel when your boss sets up a meeting with you to talk about your progress and then pushes it because something else came up. That feeling right there is the same feeling that your team members feel every time you bail on them. 

And if you repeat the mistakes of your managers, your employees will repeat them too. Now we are talking about more than one disappointed employee, we are talking about a corporate culture that disrespects employees and stifles potential. It’s serious. Continue reading…

Workshop: Overcome the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

A lot of people have read Patrick Lencioni’s classic, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.

You know the model. But the power to change requires people taking action.

5 dysfunctions of a teamIn this program, Chris teaches the foundational 5 Dysfunctions of a Team model. He then applies it to the real dynamics of the of the people in the room. You aren’t learning theory here. You jump some very real hurdles and everyone stretches themselves to take the team to the next level.

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Prepare yourself for stress

Layoffs and cutbacks take their toll on us emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. There’s no point pretending otherwise.

I’m not going to tell you that eating nuts and apples between meals will make you feel better about some of the repercussions of this economic downturn.

What I do want to make abundantly clear is that you will benefit by training for the marathon of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual stress ahead. No more excuses. Continue reading…

No More Workarounds

Recently, a very good client asked me “does everyone know about workarounds?”

Workarounds are the extra steps you, or your staff, take because something, or more likely someone, is getting in the way of the ideal work flow in your department.

Here are some examples:

The report should go to Ned for review, but he holds everything up. Everybody knows the report will sit on his desk forever and when he Workaroundsfinally gets to it, he’ll miss things. You give it to your superstar to check over, even though it isn’t her job. WORKAROUND

My secret recipe for managing in mayhem

Serves you and everyone at your table.

ingredients.jpgGather your ingredients
Gather your data. When instability becomes tangible, it can be really tempting to go searching through volumes and volumes of data – data that will change everything. But your goal is to do more than collect data, your goal is to manage in mayhem. This is only the first step, so don’t get stuck here.

Keep Moving. Make sure you understand the data. Share it with your team. Get their input. Make some decisions. You’ve got more to do though so don’t get paralyzed here either. Continue reading…

Get perspective and get control

People keep asking me how this economic mayhem is impacting me. Do you want to know what I’m doing to steer through?

I coach myself and I coach others to focus on things we can control – our own mindset and our own performance, which by the way can be more reliable than our GIC and stock performance any day of the week. Continue reading…

Manage your energy: for everyone’s sake

Energy is contagious. If you come to work in a funk, your team can’t help but feel it. If you come in with positive, forward-looking energy, and you demonstrate that zeal all day long, your team will start to ride that wave with you.

Check CheckCheck, check, is this thing on?

Get in the habit of doing an energy check before work, before meetings, before big events and even before you head home.

Take a minute to think about your physical energy, your emotional energy, and your mental energy. Continue reading…

Work to your ideal: Marc Allen’s Visioning exercise

Visioning isn’t just for business owners, executives, creatives or mystics.

This kind of work can be used to chart a course for your personal success, the success of your team, or even a specific project.

Marc Allen’s Visioning Exercise

  1. Turn off your inner critic, just for a moment. Go with your gut and give your creative self the floor – it’s just a moment.
  2. Write a description of your ideal scene. Imagine yourself 1 to 3 years down the road and see yourself living your ideal scene. (Careful you aren’t writing someone else’s picture of success. This is about success on your terms.) Continue reading…

Take a Vacation – for the good of the team

Me at the lakeI had a client tell me recently that since being in management, he hasn’t felt able to take his whole annual vacation. I told him that he seriously needs to get out. Do you?

In case you know someone like that, I thought I’d share some things that came out of our conversation. Continue reading…

Face Conflict Head On

Conflict is a constant in management, so get used to it.

Last month we started to look at Patrick Lenconi’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team model. My article Build From Trust tackled the first dysfunction that comes up in the model – absence of trust.

The second dysfunction is fear of conflict.

According to Lenconi, fear of conflict inhibits teams from engaging in “unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues.” Continue reading…

Build from trust

I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni’s book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. Its dysfuctions model is very strong. At the base level, team dysfunction comes  down to trust. “And when it comes to teams,” says Lencioni, “trust is all about vulnerability.”

It’s kind of obvious right? Logic says:

Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Your team needs to have a good working relationship to work effectively. They can’t do that if they can’t trust each other. Simple. Continue reading…