Here I will briefly leave quotes, reflections and experiences that I find useful to share, about work teams in the company context, from my personal point of view.
15/02/2019 Post # 7 - Why it is difficult to work (well) as a team
Reading the post of January it might seem that coaches are like a kind of "wizards" that make everything possible, and that all, absolutely all teams can achieve what they propose.
In fact, one of the basic principles of team coaching is "Teams are wise and creative, and they find their own solutions". So it's true - and I've seen it with my eyes - that all teams can achieve what they set out to do.
And then, why is it difficult for a team to work perfectly on its own?
As children, at school, we carry out work and activities with other people. It also happens later in the university, and later on in our jobs at companies or in other institutions. However, at no time is the development of the systemic vision taught or treated explicitly (as far as I know).
The systemic vision is the awareness that one is part of something greater than him or herself: that one is part of a system (hence the term "systemic"). When you have this awareness, it is easier to keep the focus on the objective of the team, move to a common position that is above the individual positions or make decisions with awareness of the impact they will have on the team, for example.
I'm reading "Sapiens", by Yuval Noah Harari, and when I read the photo page I found a parallel between how we have organized as civilizations throughout history, and my work with teams: the systemic coaching tools facilitate the reflection and the sharing of the principles that the people in the team have, developing their own systemic vision. In addition to the objective and the action plan, the team's ability to understand and observe itself is exercised, so that it analyzes its functioning as a team and is able to adapt to its circumstances from a global perspective.
The people and teams that develop their systemic vision become tremendously efficient, because they understand the principles that govern the systems in which they are integrated, and act accordingly, taking into account the impact that all their actions have on the system of that they are part of. It is something that I have also experienced in my personal and professional environment, after integrating a systemic vision into my thinking.
And you, do you dare to wear the "systemic vision glasses"? Tell me!
Extract from the book "Sapiens", from Yuval Noah Harari
01/01/2019 Post # 6 - What is coaching and why is it so popular right now? Is it really that powerful?
One of my resolutions for this year 2019 is to bring coaching to more teams, providing that it is a very useful tool to optimize many aspects of team work. I will start by addressing some questions that I have encountered lately:
What is coaching and what can it do for your company?
Coaching is a work methodology, basically consisting of:
- Define a SMART objective (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and delimited in Time)
- Design an action plan that leads from the current point to the point defined in the objective
- Start the action plan (without a doubt, my favorite part)
- Monitor if the actions of the plan are effectively bringing the team closer to the objective, and if the objective is still desired.
My favorite part is to 'Start', not only because I like the action, but because that's where limiting and empowering beliefs, fears, judgments and prejudices begin to emerge ... and whose existance we probably were not aware of.
Who has not heard or enunciated, at the kick-off meeting of a project: "That is impossible" or "By that date, it is impossible" and then it turned out that it was possible?
The value proposition of a good coach is to facilitate the team to go through the previous four steps, and above all, to accompany it in the conscious discovery of beliefs, fears and / or judgments (among other things) that limit the achievement of its objective, so that the team is able to transcend them, and thus, achieve their goal in the period of time established.
I emphasize "a good coach", because in order to be able to facilitate this exercise of consciousness one must be trained in this methodology and also have trained his or her mind. As a spanish saying goes, and as a very good coach with whom I had the privilege of coinciding a long time ago told me, "One must sweep his house very well before going to sweep anyone else's". When working with people one must be respectful, careful and know very well what he/she is doing, specially when treating something as sensitive as their beliefs (in the context of team coaching, always referred to the team and the workplace).
And what benefits does this exercise of conscience bring, or what is the same, a coaching process to my team or company?
Limiting beliefs, fears, judgments as well as empowering beliefs, motivation and strengths are like our operating system: they largely determine what we are or are not able to do in our lives. And they are unconscious. Also in the work teams.
By being aware of them, we can use them: understand what information they bring us, discard what moves us away from the defined goal and enhance everything that brings us closer to it. That's what I mean by transcending: it's like "hacking" the program that operates your mind, leaving your "autopilot" and really feeling that you are taking charge of your life.
A team or person who has experienced a coaching process knows this process of transcendence and the power it gives. That's why we speak of empowerment in this context: being much more aware of your abilities and your potential, and knowing how to work with them to achieve your goals is very high. I know it from my own experience. I suppose that is why coaching is confused with exercises to "come up", motivational lectures and things like that.
In addition to empowerment, other benefits of a team coaching process are:
- Reinforcement of communication between team members: The coaching environment is a protected and learning environment, in which communication and listening are exercised in body, language and emotion, so communication is strengthened in these three axes.
- Increased empathy among team members: Team coaching gives voice to all team members to express themselves, emphasizing active listening, so that the environment is enriched with different contributions, and grows in understanding .
- Improvement of productivity: It is a process where every minute is focused on the defined objective. In addition, by enabling people to understand and communicate better, unnecessary misunderstandings and entanglements are minimized. In a small team, the process could be solved in four sessions, for example.
I could continue citing many more benefits, but I'm already exceeding my pill format. I will continue developing it in following post. Although if you want to know more, you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year!
15/01/2019 Monthly quote
"The best way to predict the future is to create it." Peter Drucker
13/12/2018. Post #5 - End of the year conclusions
The year ends and it is time to reflect on what has been harvested and planted, in order to determine the strategy for the next year. In this post I bring you the most important learnings I had in 2018:
I started this blog using the metaphor of the machine to analyze the functioning of a work team, in order to point out that the elements of interaction between the team members can be designed, installed and improved, as if they were the chains that join the gears of a machine. However, this metaphor is somewhat limited to reflect the human nature of the components of a team. The book by Frederic Laloux (Reinventing organizations), which I continue reading, has made me open my mind about it.
I’ll explain myself: although it is true that a gear has characteristics that make it suitable to perform its function, someone chose the material, designed it and installed it in its place, not himself. And although its characteristics will vary over time, there is no will, desire for fulfillment or boredom that could produce changes in its activity.
In the work teams, the will, the talents and other characteristics of the people of the team shape the interactions between them, with the contribution of other elements external to the team or even external to the company. This makes that people tend to place themselves where they feel most comfortable (in terms of roles and functions, for example), raise the level of energy or regulate it depending on their mood, and ultimately, reach or not their proposed objectives. These are the reason that pushed me towards the adoption of the metaphor of the team as an ecosystem, because I think it describes better the set of interactions and interdependencies between the members of a team.
The ecosystems (or teams) in which I have had the pleasure of working this year have brought me many learnings, and I consider myself very lucky for it. I share with you below the three that have had the most impact on me:
- It is VERY powerful in terms of alignment around the proposed goals, the generation of trust, empathy and knowledge, that all team members have a regular occasion (monthly, weekly ...) to meet and discuss aspects of work they are worried about. Obviously, taking care that this space-time is productive.
- From the perspective of the leader or boss, and even more for the coach or consultant, it is crucial for the achievement of objectives to ask and listen to all team members, giving everyone the same opportunities to express themselves and be heard by all members.
- For a healthy and fluid communication within the team, it is so important to create a space where it is possible to say the positive things as to say things "uncomfortable".
They may seem simple and obvious at first glance, but I have seen that in practice, they are harder to carry through than it seems. I feel satisfied because my work in the companies has contributed to these actions in 2018. I feel fullfilled when accompanying teams towards their commitment, alignment, and motivation.
But, attention! Accompaniment and team coaching are not aimed only to “motivate people" or “have fun", as some might think. It is to accompany the team to find solutions to everything that concerns them, asking, analyzing and building solutions together with the people of the team, focused on achieving a pleasant, fluid and effective work environment.
One of my goals for 2019 is to help more team leaders, entrepreneurs and employees to find solutions for their day to day, in terms of the operation of their team(s). I already have some ideas, but:
¿What would you like me to deal with in my 2019 posts?
I will greatly appreciate suggestions by email (email@example.com) or through my Twitter and Instagram profiles (@teamfullness).
Thanks for reading me!
I wish you can reach all your proposed goals during 2019... with teamwork!
01/12/2018. Monthly quote
"The true profession of man is to find the way to himself." Herman Hesse.
15/11/2018. Post #4 - The human factor in YOUR team
In the last month I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with people who work in companies in the Valencian Community, from very varied sectors. When explaining my work as a team engineer, some say that "this kind of thing is only done by large companies" or that "they are a team too small for this". To which I usually respond, are not all the teams formed by people?
It is true that, as a team / company grows, the exercises for the generation of conversations become more necessary, because it is easier for daily conversations to take place among all the members of the team if it is two people, than if it is of 10, 15 or 20 people.
Regardless of the size of the team, and despite how much we like talking, there are conversations that rarely emerge naturally in the company, and that have to do with what the team members feel in terms of motivation, satisfaction or discomfort in the functions or in the roles they play in the team, hidden under a climate of apparent normality.
But, why try to talk about this?
For example, knowing the 'why' of our actions gives meaning to our daily work. This is one of the keys to motivation: no one can be passionate about something whose meaning is unknown. On the other hand, sharing information about the level of energy available in the team is also vital for motivation: no matter how much you are passionate about something, if there is another thing that absorbs all your energy, you can not develop your passion. This type of conversations makes visible the obstacles that steal energy, such as an improvable relationship between some members of the team, the presence of toxins in communication or simply, the lack of connection with the purpose of the work. Making the obstacles visible allows to work on how to overcome them. And this is something that anyone can do, at any team.
For example: this month I developed a workshop in the Alumni Association of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (see images below), in which attendees could experiment and learn basic tools for analysis and work about the available energy and the balance of the roles in a team, based on the tejeRedes methodology, which they are applying from now on in their work teams.
And you, would you want to know tools to make visible the gears of a work team, and therefore, be able to improve its operation? Contact me for a Powerful Meeting!
10/15/2018. Post # 3 - The human factor of any project
We are in October, taking full advantage of the renewed energy after the holidays to undertake new projects, both personally and in our work teams. We establish objectives, assign deadlines, define intermediate milestones, design responsible people to the tasks and we give way to the execution of the project, during which we monitor these tasks, milestones and deadlines.
So far everything is ideal, but in practice, as the execution of the project begins, there are differences between the planned and the actually executed. In part, this may be due to characteristics of the project environment that are not in our hands, such as unforeseen events that cause delays or changing characteristics in the target market.
And what other things ARE in our hands?
For example, what I call the 'human factor' of the project, which is the state of the people in charge of executing it; and which is almost always taken for granted. That is, it is expected that all people are motivated, aligned towards the achievement of the objective and maintain a healthy and productive work environment, communication and relationships, before and during the execution of the project. Without dedicating attention, effort or resources to it.
Literally, this is like NOT doing any marketing or sales plan, and expecting a product to "sell itself", without commercial effort.
It would not occur to you, would it?
Working on the human factor means, for example, that in the definition, planning and monitoring meetings of the project, aspects such as the following ones are discussed:
- What is the purpose of the execution of the project, both for the team and for the company.
- How motivating is the project for the work team.
- What obstacles the team sees in their way to achieve the milestones of the project.
- What resources does the team need to overcome these obstacles? Do they feel prepared and supported by the company and colleagues?
The simple fact of articulating conversations around these aspects generates confidence, empathy and support, and builds healthy communication and relationships in the team, which enable it to overcome any obstacles that could naturally arise in the execution of any project.
But are all the teams ready to have this kind of conversations? The answer is absolutely YES. And how is it done? I will give some clues in the following posts.
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
01/10/2018. Monthly quote
"Most organizations are inert and can not see beyond their "inertia" because they do not see how all their parts are interconnected - how they participate in a single system.." (Translated)
Consulting mastery, Keith Merron
01/09/2018. Monthly quote
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." Attributed to Albert Einstein, although it can be a misattribution.
14/08/2018. Post #2 - Connected team
The Teamfullness philosophy begins with the step "stay tuned to yourself". In the last 3 years of my life, creating a space to connect with my needs and dreams led me to a profound change. This space allowed me to orient my actions towards goals that make me me feel fulfilled and satisfied, functioning in a more efficient and effective way both personally and professionally.
These spaces of connection and reflection, applied to a team, have an even greater power, because everything is intensified when counting on the energy of many people Nevertheless,
How much attention do we dedicate to knowing and designing how we want to function and what goals do we want to achieve as a team?
I agree that it is difficult to take time out on a day-to-day basis to do this. The same difficulty I had when applying it on a personal level. But I did not need great efforts, nor large investments of time or money. Little by little, I integrated it organically as something everyday, and seeing the results, I would not dare to stop "sharpening the saw", according to the metaphor used by Stephen Covey in his book 'The 7 habits of highly effective people'.
But what does "sharpen the saw" in a team mean?
From the Teamfulness point of view, it means having a space for the entire team to meet -including the leaders- and review their objectives, their status, their needs ... And to talk about and work on everything that helps the team to design their actions and to create and maintain a healthy work environment, guaranteeing efficient and effective team functioning.
In my next posts I will develop the essential elements for these spaces of connection and reflection.
If you feel like it, send your comments to email@example.com.
04/08/2018. Monthly quote
“Seeking greatness in the profession, the greatest discovery of my generation is that a man can alter his life simply by altering his mental attitude." (Translation)
15/07/2018 Inaugural post - The engineering metaphor of work teams
Today I invite you to reflect on the word "team".
My concept of equipment resembles a machine, such as a combustion engine. Each piece of the engine has its own job within a common purpose, the work of none of them makes sense without the work of the others, and all pieces must be well geared, synchronized and greased so that the engine works well and gives its maximum performance. However, in this metaphor the distribution belts, the lubricant and the synchrony of the pieces come to be aspects such as commitment, trust and communication.
You may think that a person is much more complex than a mechanical piece. I do not discuss it, but where I direct the reflection today is to how we work together: the interaction between us in a work team context, rather than how we function as individuals.
Commonly I have seen that work teams in the companies share department, tasks or office, regardless of whether they have any common goal or objective, of whether they feel part of something shared or even whether or not they talk to each other.
How much attention do we dedicate to reviewing the state of our work team? And how much effort do we invest in create and sustain commitment, trust and communication? In many cases, this is not done until a serious "failure" occurs, equivalent to when the engine stops working. However, how many "serious failures" could we avoid doing a good "maintenance" of this engine?
And you, are you part of a well-oiled and synchronized engine?
In my next posts I reflect on aspects related to the fuel that moves the engine, equivalent in my engineering simile to the motivation that moves teams, .... and other current issues that give me an opportunity to reflect.
If you feel like it, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
03/07/2018. Monthly quote
“Building a better collective brain isn’t just about involving more people. It can also be about developing the creative skills of people who become involved.(...) You have to increase (and improve) connections between people to build a bigger (better) brain.(...) Purpose pulls people together..“
Dr. Max McKeown , The innovation book