Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

Why Your Team-Building Events Aren’t Working

By Leadership Resources 11/18/2019
people doing a puzzle

At the core of every successful enterprise is a strong sense of teamwork. Tight-knit teams help boost a business’ productivity and spark innovation at rates no individual could possibly achieve. However, it takes a lot of work to cultivate this durable cooperation. 

Bonds are often formed naturally over time as people work with one another and share experiences, but these factors only account for part of the picture. Leaders must also take an active role in establishing solid teams. To do so, they might organize and initiate team building events. These exercises can strengthen teams and yield several additional benefits, but they don’t simply work by default. If your team building events aren’t producing the results you expected, here are some possible causes.

Common Mistakes in Team-Building Events

A Lack of Leadership

Team building events are all about collaboration, so no one person’s participation should outweigh that of another. That said, without a leader or group of leaders guiding the activity, you might find it difficult to get these events off the ground at all. Team leaders play an important role in both coordinating team building exercises and keeping them on track. A good leader will clearly outline the task at hand and offer a demonstration as a jumping-off point. They will then back off when it’s time for team members to interact with one another and jump back in if things hit a snag or go too far off course.

Forced Engagement

Generally speaking, people are more likely to partake in an activity if they feel empowered to do so. Team building events are only effective when members participate willingly and with enthusiasm. When engagement is forced, participants may close up and feel insecure or irritated, which negatively tinges the exercise. Of course, team management leaders may struggle to cultivate this enthusiasm. While not every team member will always be on board, there are ways to reduce this friction and encourage greater participation. Leaders might organically weave team building events into the workday so employees don’t feel forced to act a certain way or abandon their duties. Additionally, all team members should feel that their input adds value to the organization so they’re more willing to speak out and engage.

The Message is Unclear

Team building events won’t amount to anything if those involved don’t know what’s at stake. For every exercise, there needs to be a clear “why” to the “what.” When formulating ideas of team activities, leaders must ask themselves questions like: Why should team members care? What goal (or goals) is the team and organization working toward? How will this particular exercise bring the team together and move everyone closer to the goal? How can the company’s team culture be improved as a whole, and how will that positively affect the organization? Having answers to these questions will help leaders create these events as well as give team members a reason to truly care about them.

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Timing is All Off

Whether they’re during the workday or after hours, team building events can interfere with regular productivity and team members’ personal lives. If you’re not mindful of everyone’s time, your events might foster resentment and induce undue stress. Conversely, coordinating team building events to fit everyone’s unique schedules and needs goes a long way toward building a positive team culture. Take the time to properly schedule these activities so the maximum amount of people can participate with minimal conflict.

Neglecting Feedback

Accepting and delivering constructive criticism are major parts of both team building and leadership training. Without this communication, you can’t fully know if your team building events are going well. Actively welcome feedback before, during, and after these exercises, so you can adjust and improve them accordingly. Otherwise, these activities will just waste everyone’s time and make for a more toxic work environment.

A team building exercise should never be by the numbers. These events must be relevant to the current work at hand and re-establish a shared purpose. This requires leadership, engagement, tact, and communication. With more effort in these areas, your team building events won’t just work, they’ll seriously pay off.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Is Your Team Unclear on Your Message? Know the Signs of Disconnect

By Leadership Resources 03/13/2019

Communication is one of the most powerful aspects of an organization. Strong communication keeps staff members accountable and helps maintain clarity. Poor communication can muddy the waters on every level. Without good leadership communication skills, your team might not know what to do next, or why they should do it. And if they fail to give you honest feedback, you might not even know that your message is unclear. This is a negative feedback loop that stifles productivity.

To get ahead of this potential confusion, it’s important to know some of the warning signs that suggest a disconnect in understanding. Here we’ll take a look at some of these signs and outline a few ways to course correct.

How to Tell Your Team Isn’t Getting Your Message

Lack of Engagement

We’ve all been told that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Still, most of us don’t like being the first or only one to ask for clarification on something. If a team member isn’t grasping a message or a concept, they might hold still and wait for someone else to do it instead. The problem here is that this sometimes results in no one asking common questions at all. The leader in charge of team management is then unaware of the confusion that several team members might be feeling.

If your team isn’t super responsive or seems hesitant to ask questions, take this as a sign that something is unclear. To remedy this disengagement, try asking specific team members what they think the goal or task is about. If they can’t do this, they’ll most likely ask for further instruction rather than pretend to know the answer.

Repeated Questions

On the opposite end of this spectrum, you may receive too many questions, some of which echo questions you’ve already answered. This is a big red flag for team culture, too, as it suggests that team members aren’t listening well to each other and that they’re having a hard time grasping your message.

Repeated questions may derive from a flaw in your communication, however. Perhaps similar questions keep popping up because your answers lack clarity. Take these repetitive questions as a sign that you need to step back and explain yourself more clearly.

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Overlapping Tasks

Once a project is in motion, there are a number of signs that indicate team members aren’t fully clear on the task at hand. The most glaring of these is when staff members assigned distinct tasks end up overlapping. For instance, one team member may be in charge of taking research notes while another is tasked with reaching out to contacts. If either person ends up doing something that’s in the others’ jurisdiction, there is probably need for better communication and performance management.

If you notice this happening, go back to the drawing board and reassign clearly distinguished tasks to your team members. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing, how to report on it, etc.

Goals Aren’t Being Met and Productivity is Suffering

This final warning sign stems from the previous one. When team members fail to do their job or accidentally do someone else’s, productivity suffers. Failing to meet goals and deadlines can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s most commonly from miscommunication and lack of understanding. People struggle to achieve goals if they’re not sure what those goals are, or why they matter. One of the most important leadership qualities is knowing how to set and frame goals so that every team member can get on board.

Knowing how to manage communication in teams is easier said than done. For one thing, every team is different, and within each team are unique individuals with various strengths and weaknesses. It takes time to learn the subtle cues of each team member and recognize when your team is veering off course. Leadership Resources provides tools for leadership development that can help better equip you to handle these situations and get your team back on track. For instance, our team includes certified implementers of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)®, a system which promotes clarity and cohesion in organizations.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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3 Innovative Ways Your Team Can Test a New Product Idea

By Leadership Resources 03/11/2019

If you’re in the business of developing new products, it’s not always easy to know if an idea will be a winner. In fact, you can’t really know if a new product will sell until it’s out in the market and the numbers start rolling in. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly test an idea before sending it out into the world for public consumption. After all, you wouldn’t drive or walk across a bridge that hadn’t been stress tested beforehand.

But how exactly should you go about testing an idea? Let’s look at 3 innovative ways you and your team can test a new product idea.

How to Test a Product Idea

1. Ask Your Team: What Problem is Being Solved?

A successful product tends to solve a common problem, no matter how small. Therefore, this should be the starting point of your discussion with your project management team. Hold a brainstorming session where each team member individually writes down what problem they think the product will solve. Then, discuss each team member’s answers to see if there are any glaring differences. If one or more team members can’t come up with an answer, there may be a problem with the product idea itself.

Running this team management exercise will help foster a productive discussion that can help hone in on the product’s main function and trim its fat. A product may, in fact, be useful for solving multiple problems. But it’s important to know this beforehand so the marketing team can craft a strategy that touches on all of these aspects.

2. Hire a Focus Group

Ultimately, you want your product to appeal to a wide group of people once it’s on the market. Holding several meetings with your team is great for cultivating a team culture, but it’s not enough to get a sense of how consumers will feel about your product. Hiring a focus group can be a powerful way to get objective, external feedback on your new product idea.

Focus groups come in all shapes and sizes. They might be made up of a random selection of people, or they might be a more targeted group based on the product’s ideal market demographic. Those in the group can learn about the product, test it out, and give direct feedback to a moderator. Participants are also often encouraged to speak with one another about their experience. These conversations can reveal powerful insights into a product’s shortcomings and strong points.

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3. Test it in the Field

Focus groups provide one way to let several people try out your new product idea in a controlled setting. But why not also take your product out of the office and out into the world? Nothing is stopping you from going up to people and asking them if they’d like to try a sample of something or play around with a product for a little bit. You can even incentivize them with discounts or other offers. This is also a good exercise in sales leadership training.

If a product hasn’t been built yet and is still in the design phase, you can still test the idea by asking people if they would be interested in such a product. If enough people show interest, it’s a good indicator that the idea has value. You might then move forward with an online presale campaign that allows consumers to invest in the idea and receive the product once completed.

If you’re not around enough people to test out your product or answer your questions, try calling and emailing potential leads, asking them if they would be interested in receiving a product from you free of charge. In exchange, you can ask them to send back their thoughts on the product. Combining this feedback with your focus group results will give you the optimal pool of data to improve or change your product idea.

New product ideas are improved over time with the help of many people, both internally and externally. A large part of leadership development is understanding the importance of this additional input. Even if you’re in charge of overseeing the new product idea, it takes more than one person to bring that idea to its fullest potential.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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