Brian Kathenes Becoming An Effective Manager

When Training Your Team, Choose a Style

November 10, 2006

By Brian Kathenes

What’s the difference between a facilitator and trainer? A simple question, but one with strong ramifications for the attendees involved in a meeting session.

The facilitator will ask you a question, while the trainer will tell you the answer. The facilitator uses a Socratic approach to learning, while the trainer typically disseminates information. To be sure, both are very effective, and each has its place in a learning organization.

Facilitation can take a longer time to get to an answer, since it involves the collective response of a group. On the other hand, a trainer might well choose to state the answer and then explain the reasoning behind it. So when it's time to decide how you want your people to interact and learn via training and teambuilding sessions--do attendees have the answers within them, or does an outside expert have the answers for them?--the choice between trainer and facilitator is what you need to consider.

Tips for Team Success

November 09, 2006

By Brian Kathenes

Here’s the “Reader’s Digest” version of 11 critical elements of developing a high-performance work team in your organization.    Drop me a comment on this blog and we’ll expand on each element.   Best, Brian Kathenes

• Define the objective   
• Agree on the objective
• Generate a plan   
• Establish a system for meeting objectives and priorities
• Assign and agree on roles and responsibilities
• Determine how you can support the team and the project
• Consider the Big Picture   
• Create a time table and monitor your progress
• Expect the best --- prepare for the worst
• Deliver on time with high quality and outstanding service
• Hold a post-project meeting to discuss what went right and what can be improved next time.  Focus on systems, team work, and the process -- then move to logistics and specific elements of the project. 

True Teams Must Be Built the Right Way

November 08, 2006

By Brian Kathenes

You can't pick up a business magazine today without reading an article about team building. But most of these articles oversimplify the team approach and the effort required to build successful business teams. So keep the following in mind:

Manage Expectations: A team concept generally takes about two years to implement and have it stick. Changing the corporate culture does not happen overnight. You and those you report to must be willing to look long-range. There are no "quick fix" teambuilding programs that will produce instant, documented results.

Develop a Complete Plan: There's no point in tacking up the first "Go Team" poster on the bulletin board until you have a complete plan. Changing the course of your teambuilding ship is very difficult and potentally expensive--so make sure you truly know where you want to go before you leave the dock.

Insist on integrity and mutual respect in all your meetings and interactions: One critical key to successful teams is developing trust and respect in the workplace. As the "coach," you must set the example. Write less CYA (cover your tail) memos. Make more commitments verbally, and make sure you keep them. Empower your subordinates to make more decisions.

Share Your Vision: Let the team know where you want the organization to be five years from now. Let them be a part of the change. Most importantly, let them take an active role in the process. You will find that most of the answers to your problems and questions are in the heads of your employees. All you need to do is ask--and listen. That is one of the cornerstones when building a team.

By actively setting the example, you accomplish two things. 1) You let the rest of the crew know what the new "appropriate" behavior is. 2) You begin the process of change subtly, but solidly.

All successful teambuilding programs start with senior management commitment. Your staff will look to you from the outset to see if this "new concept" is a passing fad or the new way of doing business. Let them see from you the power of the team, so they can decide to commit themselves.

Six Ways For Meeting Planners To Avoid the Most Common Teambuilding Traps

November 07, 2006

By Brian Kathenes

Understand that the concept of ‘team’ is different for everyone.  This will save you many hours of aggravation and frustration.  Find out what the perception of “team” is in your organization.

Think objectively. You’re the manager!  What you do you want the people in your organization to know or discover about the power of ‘team?”

Plan!Plan! Plan!  Know where you want it to go.  Develop the entire program before you tack up the first “go Team” poster on the bulletin board. Changing the course of you team building ship once has sailed very difficult and expensive.

Do your homework.  Become a team development expert (or find someone who is).   Read the books.  Cut out the articles. Understand the process.

Separate stuff from fluff.  Check the credentials and experience of all your outside trainers and consultants. Many have never held a position in industry and do not have the slightest idea of the problems and challenges of corporate politics.

Set up a program that rewards the ‘team’ approach.  Your firm’s bonus, compensation, and perk system must reward the right results and reinforce positive team behaviors.

Stop Solving Their Problems!

November 06, 2006

By  Brian Kathenes

Want to develop your direct reports, and even your supervisors? 1: Stop answering their questions. 2: Stop solving their problems.

Sound like a crazy idea? Sure it does--but the concept will help your people begin the process of independent thinking. When a member of your team comes to you with a problem, first ask them how they would solve it. When someone asks you to make a decision, ask them what they would decide if you were not there. Then, discuss their answer and use it as a learning opportunity.

Too many times, we managers instantly answer questions, offer solutions, and give specific direction. Although our experience and knowledge have helped us lead our organization, using it that way often does not help us to develop our staffs as effectively as possible, garner their respect and trust, or make our own jobs more fulfilling over time.

Remember, you can’t move up in the organization until there is someone who can fill your spot when you move up. Develop your employees and you will create more opportunity for your own career.

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