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Notes from the Field –Building My Team As I Transition into a New Job

Team RolesWelcome to the Notes from the Field Series! In this series of posts, Alice will talk about how she used the five elements of innovative leadership and steps from the leadership development process to select a new job and effectively transition into her new role. She will explore each element and provide examples of how she applied them.

Onboarding to a new position in new field and new organization has inevitably demanded that I explore areas of personal growth. There are new processes, guidelines, time management hindrances, focuses to build organizational habits, and, of course, new people to communicate with. Such new challenges also bring the opportunity for much development and growth, both personal and professional.

Building a Professional Team

Selecting a support team or a team of trusted advisors is a great way to develop and navigate the onboarding process and support my ongoing growth goals. This team will encourage accountability and, ideally, will be mutually beneficial. Different strengths and resources on one side may bridge a gap to the other, and vice versa.

1. Define Vision and Measurable Objectives

Before beginning to assemble a professional support network that can function as an advisory board and building a well-balanced team, I must reflect on personal goals and values. Knowing which direction I’m headed helps define who will be beneficial in helping me succeed. A helpful guide through this reflection and selection of a support team can be found in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer.

As a refresher – this is MY PERSONAL VISION link.

Onboarding to a new position has shed light on my knowledge-gap within my industry. I’m eagerly learning about our business drivers as well as the drivers for our partners and clients; however, there is still a great deal to learn. My focus has been to understand the business processes of each so that I can effectively communicate to the individuals I connect with, gain an understanding of what is important to them and what is motivating to them. To achieve this, my boss has invested in an industry expert to coach me on a weekly basis to bring me up to speed quickly.

Understanding where I want to go, and what I want to improve on, has been very beneficial and crucial in planning who I want to be part of my professional team.

In building a strong team for onboarding, I decided that I would like input from multiple levels within the organization:

  • boss to clarify my goals and direction and provide ongoing feedback
  • peers to help me understand how we interact and how my work impacts them
  • three junior staff members from other departments to give me valuable insight into the organization from their perspectives in exchange for mentoring

2. Carefully Select a Trustworthy Team

My team represents various individuals who have mastered an area that I am seeking to develop. It’s also important to have a symbiotic relationship with the team to increase the longevity of the agreement. In these examples, our relationship will be mutually beneficial and of value that, does not necessarily have to be a paid arrangement. Following is a summary of the value my support team will get from our arrangement: I

  • my coach is paid
  • my boss gets great results
  • my peers benefit from my understanding how we can most effectively work together
  • junior staff will benefit from having a strong mentor.

3. Plan a Communication Arrangement

Creating a structured and successful onboarding plan requires a defined agreement between me and my support team. This includes my plan and communication of what I am looking to change so they know how to help and encourage growth. This step has been very successful because, in addition to communicating what I am looking to do, it clarifies what I am asking of them. We also had to define how much and what form of communication is mutually beneficial for the relationship. I am meeting:

  • the industry coach weekly via video conference.
  • my boss bi-weekly during the first six months
  • my peers in bi-weekly staff meetings and monthly one-on-one meetings monthly for the first six months
  • the junior staff  meetings will be monthly with three female team members

Overall, my focus is to create a support team that is authentic and diverse, and will allow me to quickly get familiar with the company and build the working relationships as well as the business skills necessary to achieve initial success and continued growth. In return, I look forward to the opportunity to help others as I continue to grow, and to be able to impact further positive change in the organization and in the lives of my colleagues and clients.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

photo credit: www.flickr.com airwolfhound

What Do Your Relationships Say About You?

Who to partner with is a critical decision. The pilots of these planes put their lives on the line based on the people they fly with.  While most of us do not face these consequences, our choices still have an impact. Chose poorly and you could invite serious damage to your reputation and your ability to succeed going forward.  Choose well and you could greatly enhance your organization’s ability to meets its goals and serve its constituents.

Many people look good on a first meeting yet   without serious consideration, can quickly become frustrating while also undermining your ability to meet your strategic goals.

I recently attended a board meeting where the Board needed to evaluate if it was in their interest to partner with an organization that is leading the charge on an issue they care about.  The board wanted to uphold stakeholder interests as they clearly understood that should they not, there was potential to do serious damage to key partnerships and risk ongoing donor relationships.

Within 5 minutes of watching this partner speak at a leadership summit, I was personally offended and saw many others respond the same way.  When discussing non-profit board member who need to raise money, he reprimanded donors for taking the easy way out and “just donating”.  He continued to speak in a confrontational manner and alienated a variety of attendees.   Moreover,   He minimized a very complex issue related to changing laws that are highly emotional and “simplified” them to the point that he appeared naïve at best.

How could this Board have been better prepared? We will talk about six important questions to ask when considering a partnership or alliance.

What questions help you decide if a partner is a good fit?

  1. What are my values?  How is the partner aligned with my values?
  2. What behavioral ground rules do I expect for how we work together ex. open communicate?  Does the partner have similar expectations about how we will work together?
  3. What is our culture?  Are our cultures aligned enough that we can have a productive working relationship?
  4. Do our systems and processes align and support an efficient relationship?
  5. What will this relationship cost me if it goes poorly?  What are the risks?
  6. What do we get if we succeed?  How likely is it that we will succeed (give a percentage)?

Now, as you step back and carefully consider these six questions, how does this relationship look?  If it is not attractive, what other options will meet your objectives?

The people you associate with reflect on your judgment – and your organization.  Highly competent leaders tend to work together as do mediocre leaders.  If you are evaluated by the company you keep, it is important to develop the skill of discernment with regard to identifying and selecting talent.  How can you use these questions to improve success by doing a comprehensive evaluation of your potential partners?

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

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Photo credit:  flickr: Armchair Aviator

10 Steps to Building and Leading High Performance Teams

One of the key skills referenced in the Execunet 2011 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report is the Ability to build and lead high performance teams.  Since this is a one of the top five areas in both hardest to find qualities and most sought after, we wanted to share a high level look at key factors that drive team success.

I have worked with a range of teams.  I have seen those that are far less effective when working together, where individuals will not share their input and insight with others for fear of being criticized or disregarded.  These teams demoralize most of the participants and drain productivity from the organization.  I have also worked with teams where the team leader gave attention to team process, dynamics and results in the appropriate balance.  These teams delivered results far beyond expected, team members were engaged and worked together to overcome challenges.  The difference is a combination of the team leader and the team process. Both are important for team success.

We draw extensively from the Drexeler Sibbet model and augment it with our own thinking, tools, and other sources.  The following bullets are key elements in building high performance teams from scratch.  If you have a team that is not performing well, you may want to use these steps as a diagnostic to identify the root issue.  We offer a wide range of team development solutions based in part on the following team development model.

  1. Establish purpose FIRST – determine why we are working together – since many people are motivated by making an impact consider stating the purpose in a way that they will understand and be proud to tell others about.
  2. Charter the team and establish goals and vision – clarify what success looks like in the form of specific goals with timeframes and resources requirements.  Ensure the appropriate level of money and staffing is identified early and available.
  3. Build trust among members – the amount of time and money wasted covering our backs and protecting ourselves can be as much as 50% when working with people we do not trust.  Unless you want to increase your resource requirements by 50% and extend your timeline – investment in trust starts to look like a good idea.
  4. Act with grace – own our mistakes and be kind to others – we only succeed if we can work together.  We work in a world that is increasingly complicated and things will fall through the cracks.  It is unavoidable so learn to accept this in yourself and others and minimize the mistakes while being kind to yourself and others.  This does not mean tolerate non-performers, it just means we make mistakes, emails go to spam, calls get dropped, and family members get sick.
  5. Establish processes, rules of engagement and decision responsibility and processes – knowing how decisions are made is critical to progress and minimizing confusion and hard feelings.  Be clear early who is responsible for which actions and decisions as well as how do we treat one another.
  6. Plan the work – establish a work plan in sufficient detail to know what resources are required and when each task should be complete including interdependencies.  Manage to the plan with the assumption that it will need to change based on changes in conditions in the environment.  Something will go wrong; part of the secret sauce is how the team responds to the normal ebbs and flows of business. When in question, act with grace.
  7. Do the work – follow the plan and accomplish the work on time, with the quality expected, using the resources expected.  When deviations happen, be proactive and discuss with the team to allow adjustments as quickly as possible.
  8. Measure progress and success – measures should have been established early in the process.  Collect the data, analyze, and adjust.  Remember this is where we learn what went wrong and get to learn and correct.
  9. Recognize others – celebrate success when it happens.  Life is way too short to skip over the small wins.  Make a point of recognizing the people around you when they do something well.
  10. Learn and improve – at appropriate steps in the process stop and reflect on what you accomplished and what you can learn, from success and challenges.

For most of us, these principles are not new and yet, as leaders, we often allow the culture of results drive us to skip over the very important steps in the process that ensure our teams will be successful.  By taking the time and focusing on building the team foundation, we improve our success rate.

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.