Archive for Team Building

When employees care – office politics

Change Mangement is all about people strategy, from sponsor to front lines. Because of this, we get to meet many caring people who want nothing more than to do a great job and help the team find success.

One piece of advice for senior management teams and sponsors is to allow us to help you identify these people because regardless of scope, budget, or schedule, they are the ones who will make a difference for your projects.

There are many different reasons people walk into your company’s door and why they stay and do their job. Some of them are passionate about the work, some want to expand their career, some are motivated by salary or path, and for some, it doesn’t matter where they land so long as they are able to do what they do best, and with great quality.

The employee that truly cares about the people, the work, the outcome – these people will make a difference to leaders and their organizations. You, as a leader, need to know who they are and let them do it. Why? Because they will make you and your project shine!

Office politics exist in every company or organization where people are gathered to get a job done. Senior managers who focus on their own motivation or agenda and fail to see those who truly care are actually doing themselves a disservice. Their KPI’s (key performance indicators) are definitely important, but if meeting those KPIs are at the cost of the growth and quality of the work, success will come slower.

BUT, leaders still have a silver bullet – and it lives with the people who care. True leaders know that even though they have to meet specific criteria set forth by the people above them, that it’s the people reporting to them who make them successful. And this kind of success happens when the leader’s agenda doesn’t get in the way! Tricky work, but worth the effort in the long run.

Why don’t some leaders do this?

  • Some feel threatened by people who outshine them.
  • Some are so driven to meet their agenda, they barely notice the people.
  • Some just aren’t good at seeing anything other than their own needs/wants.
  • Many assume everyone else is motivated by the same things they are.

If you are in management, think about your agenda and find the people who care, then let them use their strengths.

If you are an employee and caring about your work is perceived as a threat, consider where your strengths can be applied. Begin your plan to find a leadership team that wants you to contribute to their success. Find a leader whose agenda doesn’t stop you from being a terrific employee contributor.


What’s the Protocol?

What the Show ‘Covert Affairs’ Can Teach Leaders. 

Covert affairCovert Affairss is a spy show about CIA operatives. A few years ago I learned a hard lesson when I failed to ask a very important question while media were gathered around a significant event; “What’s the protocol?” This question appears a lot in Covert Affairs.


Let me explain. As the Chair Person of a Board of Directors of a not-for-profit, I was given the honour of leading a ground-breaking ceremony for a new school being erected that served preschool children with disabilities and their families. I will admit, it was a great feather in my cap personally, and I was extremely proud to see the model moving to the building of a school, when all previous expansion had been through purchase of an existing building or rental. I had spent almost 10 years with this organization and saw it grow from one building serving 173 children to the building of a 6th school that would eventually assist over 900 Children with disabilities. I was very proud of that growth, especially since during that time the organization successfully maintained the importance of focus on the child with an 83+ percentage of outcomes reached.

The Protocol

As a leader intent on supporting the good work of the team, I don’t particularly care for the focus on me, but as an ambassador of the organization it was occasionally my job to showcase the organization to groups. What I had never done before was a ground breaking ceremony. I worked hard in preparation, the Development team had prepared a schedule, a script, reviewed my speech, and I’d practiced until I was blue in the face. They had a wonderful child there who would be helping with the ground-breaking and many community individuals, dignitaries and media had been invited. The event had been very well organized and I was amazed at all that went into it. I just had to show up and be the spokesperson.

What I forgot to ask about the dignitaries and their respective roles, was; “What’s the Protocol?”

My role had always been to highlight the organization and its history, to use real and compelling examples of children and their progress, the heart-strings would always find themselves drawn into the story. I loved it being about the kids, about success and about the way kids overcome adversity. I was on a role, and my young 5 year old helper was a smashing hit, I made sure of it.

Sadly, I was completely unaccustomed to the importance of political dignitaries. Basically, I failed to understand the significance of their presence as it related to the funding, publicity and importance their role plays in the ongoing workings of a non-profit school. Their presence was about future dollars!

Basically, they were ignored. Ground-Breaking

And the Crowd Dispersed

Yes, there were photos with them at either side of my little pal and I holding the golden shovel, but they were just a stand in presence to what should have been a more significant role. What a wonderful media gift it would have been had I known the best part would have been giving those politicians the shovel and asking them to take the first dirt with their new little 5 year old friend and stepping back to let them!

Then I forgot to properly thank them, I took my little 5 year old over to the play area the event team had set up and I talked about the kids, with my little friend sharing his laughter and heart with the crowd. Oh the media loved the little guy – and I was asked for interviews later (which I never do well as cameras intimidate me) and those politicians went on with their busy day, wondering why they’d been called to attend in the first place. Talk about poor political moves!

In the end, the Development Team deemed the event a success, as they did get some much needed media attention, the cameras moving to the main school to shoot additional footage. They never once commented on my faux paus or political immaturity, but I am sure words unsaid were thought. Conversations around, “how do we keep MLA so-and-so here for a bit?” and other comments I heard as the crowd milled about in smaller groups made it obvious, and I grew increasingly aware of what I’d just done.

What’s the Desired Outcome?

Leaders, managers, employees all function under a layer of expectation and understanding. Some of the expectations may seem obvious to their bosses, but not to them. By asking the question, “What’s the protocol here?” gives them an opportunity to truly understand the expectations being placed upon them.

Basically, all meetings, all gatherings and all activity needs to lead to a desired outcome or outcomes. Some of those will be assumed. Some of us will be so entrenched in our duties we will fail to see the importance outside of our typical actions. We need to always be asking – what is the desired outcome, what is my protocol in this situation. Many a problem could be avoided, especially in terms of media communication of we knew that.

Change Management includes a strong definition of desired state for a reason, we want all activities to lead to the desired outcomes we are trying to achieve. Without a clear understanding we will be involved in changes that will be less than successful than we had planned.


Are You A Team Player?


In his blog titled, “We Don’t Need To Make it Better” on February 5, Seth Godin says this about improvements.

“Just because it is uphill doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though. One of the most essential tasks a leader faces is understanding just how much the team is afraid of making things better (because it usually means making things worse—for some people).

Change is scary for most people, and risky change that might adversely affect someone or cause a wave, even scarier! The thing is, it is important to do what is RIGHT instead of working in fear.

Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference

Cooperation and conciliation and compromise and teamwork are all arts, and like all arts they require practice and commitment. In a complex world, success is not possible without teamwork.”

Let me put it this way, if you are a member of a team or a ‘Tribe’, as Seth Godin calls them, you have a responsibility to that team; not only to each other, but to the overall mission (or company) as well. If you have been hired in a role and you work with other people to accomplish that role, you are being paid to work with them and help develop plans for reaching the BIG PICTURE. Not sure what that is? As a team, ask these questions:

  • What is our collective why?
  • What exactly does success look like, what are we trying to accomplish overall?
  • Who is needed to accomplish that goal?
  • What do I have to do in my specific role to make it an amazing success and who do I need to collaborate with in order to reach success for the BIG PICTURE?

Now bump it up…..

  • How can I bring the very best of myself to that role and help everyone else shine so they too can accomplish our BIG PICTURE Mission?

Ultimately, it is not about you. If your loyalty is only to yourself and not with the team and the company who is paying you, you are in the wrong job or at the very least not giving your best to the job you have.

Here are a few great actions of a team-player.

  • They keep professional confidences and do not put the company or their team mates at risk for selfish gain.
  • They see and recognize the strengths that EVERY member of the team brings to the table and are willing to work WITH those people for the BIG PICTURE success.
  • They are both transparent and honest, protecting the path to the BIG PICTURE along-side their team members.
  • They deal directly with the individual they have a qualm with and do not drag clients or outside individuals into their emotional dramas or insecurities. (P.S. that is called gossip)
  • They do not disparage other team members to each other (or anyone else for that matter), but rather find ways to turn the other team member’s poor performance or lack of success into a coaching opportunity before writing them off.
  • They are loyal to the BIG PICTURE realizing the people or organization paying their salary are where their loyalty lies, and they work together to meet that big picture.

Getting the drift? If you are a member of a team within which you can take these actions, then you are on the right team.

If you cannot find yourself loyal to the team or play well in the sandbox with the people you are supposed to be reaching the collective goal with, united for a common cause, (or you don’t believe in the cause), it is time to find a different place to work.

Why? Your heart is with you, not the team or the goal.

Go do something GRAND, something you can be passionate about in reaching a common BIG PICTURE goal WITH people you can respect – or – find a way to be a solid member of your existing team, unite and build a plan together so that you can again be passionate about what you do and who you work with. Stop waiting for your company to change so you can make this happen – you have much more power than you think.