Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How To Establish A High Performing Team



A high performing team is one where the output or performance of the team at least equates to the output that you would expect from the collective talent of all the teams members. This statement is easy to say, but hard to achieve. In fact, 93% of my clients report that from a professional perspective they have never worked in a truly high performing team. They have worked in good teams, but not high performing ones. 

The Teams That Matter® model for creating high performing teams includes seven key elements. Most teams naturally do three or four of the seven elements. But it is the three or four that they aren’t doing that stops them from being a high performing team. The main reason for not doing three to four of the key elements is that they don’t know about them and they haven’t seen them modelled in the past.

1. Decide
If you intend to create a high performing team, then you must make a conscious decision to become one. Why? The three to four elements of the Teams That Matter® model that you haven’t completed in the past will require some getting used to. Your team members won’t be used to them either. Having a conversation as a team about what you would look like if you were a high performing team will help your team to clarify exactly what this statement means for them. It will then act as a catalyst for you to complete all the seven key elements of the Teams That Matter® model.

2. Purpose and Goals
Why does your team exist? The answer to this question highlights the purpose for your team. Your goals reflect the specific outcomes that you are striving to achieve. Your goals should reflect your ‘purpose in action’. Have you even been in a team where you have discussed your team’s purpose?
What if you discover that your team doesn’t have a purpose? Well, thank everybody and close the team down. Clearly time spent with this team would be a waste of time and who wants to do that in this time poor world that we live in.

3. Skills and Composition
Most teams have completed an assessment of the experience and skills of the members of their team. No doubt you have done that too.

I bet you haven’t taken steps to better understand the personality profiles of the members of your team. Or if you have, you haven’t done it in a way that has enabled you to use that information to improve communication on a daily basis among team members.

I use the What Makes People Tick tool, not because it is the most scientific, but because it is a tool that participants can use on a day to day basis beyond the introductory workshop. I find that other tools are too complex and require you to become an expert on the tool for it to be useful. Most people are too busy being experts in their own field of work to also have to become an expert on a personality profiling tool!

The benefit of understanding how each of your team members ‘tick’, is that you can modify how you communicate to ensure that your message is being delivered effectively. Effective communication is essential if you wish to become a high performing team.

4. Agreed Behaviours
Do high performing teams accept or reject unacceptable behaviour? 

I understand the answer to this question is a ‘no brainer!’. Yet, are you and your team members clear about what behaviours are acceptable or not for your team? Or do you assume that ‘everyone knows how to behave properly’? I’m telling you, they don’t know! Which is why you and your team need to make those behaviours explicit. Three questions is all it takes (I’ll share them in another post).

5. Plan and Measure
This is one of the elements that most team do. Although be careful with your measurements. Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus at the Wharton Business School said,
It’s better to do the right thing wrong, than the wrong thing right. If you do the wrong thing right you just get wronger and wronger.
Make sure that your measurements are measuring the ‘right’ things.

6. Perform
This means that you ‘do’ all seven elements in the model. It also means that you never, ever forget that if your team changes only by one person, it is a brand new team. You need to quickly review all seven elements and make any necessary adjustments. This is a critical lesson that most teams don’t know exists.

7. Monitor and Review
No doubt you monitor your progress toward your goals. Do you monitor your agreed behaviours? It’s hard to do if you haven’t made them explicit! This key element works hand in glove with the Agreed Behaviours and Plan and Measure elements.

In addition, when you complete a milestone or achieve a goal, the following four 
After Action Review questions are very powerful.
  • What did we plan?
  • What actually happened?
  • What did we learn?
  • What will we do next time?
Now you know how to create a high performing team. Give it a go!

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Better Way To Manage Your Task List

Most effective people who I know use a task list to help them to stay focused throughout the day. Some randomly work their way through their list, while others start at the top and work their way down.
Gary Ryan 
A better way to manage your task list and to improve your daily effectiveness is to follow these simple steps.

1. Prepare your list
This is a classic brainstorm of all the tasks that you need to complete today. Given it is a brainstorm your list will be in a random order in terms of priority.

2. Identify your high value tasks
Rate each task in the context of value that you receive from completing the task. A ‘High’ rating means that the completed task gives you a lot of value in the context of what your role requires you to do, a ‘Medium’ rating gives you medium value and a ‘Low’ rating gives you low value.

3. Identify your hard-to-do tasks
Rate each task for how hard you find it to complete the task. A ‘High’ rating means that you find this task difficult to do (such as having that ‘important’ conversation with your colleague about her ability to meet deadlines). A ‘Medium’ rating is a task that is moderately difficult for you to do and a ‘Low’ rating is a task that you find relatively easy to do.

4. Identify how long it takes you to complete each task
Rate each task in terms of how long it will take you to complete the task. a ‘High’ rating means that the task will take you a long time to complete (you decide your time scale for yourself as it will depend on the type of work that you do), a ‘Medium’ rating means that it will take a reasonable amount of time, and a ‘Low’ rating means that you can complete the task quickly.

5. Complete your tasks in the following order
A. High Value, Hard To Do Tasks That Can Be Done Quickly (H/H/L Task Rating)
In his book Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy refers to these tasks as your frog. If you were to eat a frog at the start of each day, nothing you do for the rest of the day will be as bad as eating that frog! In this context, your High Leverage, Hard-To-Do Tasks that can be done relatively quickly are your ‘frogs’. When you do these tasks first, you clear your mind for the rest of the day. This is a terrific habit to form. When you know that at some stage during the day you are going to have to eat a frog, it clouds your mind until you do it. So you might as well get it over and done with at the start of the day! You won’t regret it!

B. High Value, Easy To Do Tasks That Can Be Done Quickly (H/L/L Task Rating)
Getting these tasks completed creates a sense of accomplishment and shortens your to-do list in the process!

C. High Value, Easy To Do Tasks That Have a Medium and/or High Time Rating
These tasks take longer for your to complete them, but they provide high value in the context of your role.

D. High Value, Hard To Do Tasks That Take a Long Time To Complete (H/H/H Task Rating)

In my world these are my proposals. Each one needs to be tailored to my clients specific needs, so they tend to take a fair amount of time to create. I require decent chunks of dedicated time to complete this task. Knowing that I have already completed other high value tasks before getting to these provides me with the clear ‘mental space‘ that I need to get on with completing this task.

E. Everything else on your list
All these tasks are the things that provide a level of value but aren’t the most important tasks that you need to get done. Sometimes you may find that these tasks can change in value if they are time related. As a deadline nears the value in completing the task may rise. If you find yourself moving these tasks across to your new task list each day (because they aren’t being completed), make sure that you continue to rate them just in case their value has changed. 

Another option is to set aside an hour or two every week that is dedicated to completing these tasks.

If you follow the five steps that I have outlined above you will discover that you get more high value work done than you do today. Give it a try and let me know how you go!

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.