Articles categorized as:

Best Practices in Team Effectiveness

  • August 8, 2019When Teams are in Triage Mode

    Crisis has a way of bringing teams together. The urgency of the moment defines roles and creates a common objective. The medical profession treats a crisis as a normal event by moving into triage mode. More than just setting priorities, triaging assumes the problem is bigger than the resources. Waste and politics are subtracted from the process. It doesn’t have to be an emergency to enter this mode. Consider these five ground rules.

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  • February 7, 2019Wasting Team Energy on Office Politics

    Zero-error is the goal in many industries. Transportation companies have mastered the skills of full disclosure, root cause analysis, and proactive risk reduction to keep people safe in the air on the rails. Healthcare attempts to apply the same principles yet continues to hurt people at surprising frequency in clinics and hospitals. In businesses where the stakes aren’t quite as high, it becomes a matter of efficiency and productivity.

    You have to know where the source of waste or error is before you can make the world a better place. Often, the greatest misallocation of resources is the energy spent on managing team politics. Team dysfunction takes many forms and depletes the system. Assess and solve every disruption. Below are the symptoms of broken culture and suggestions for corrective actions.

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  • July 23, 2018Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

    The rookies bring energy and the veterans bring wisdom. Those in the middle provide the network of connections. These are among the stereotypes of teammates in early, mid, and late stages of their careers. Let’s look at a lifespan model of professional development.

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  • October 31, 2017The “Chemistry” Factor in Teams

    What’s the secret sauce? On paper, it’s easy to assemble the right mix of talent to predict team success. Just stock the team with leadership, deep skills in the specialization area of the project, a diligent group of worker bees, and reliable administrative support. The rest will take care of itself, right? Unfortunately, not. Once you blend in the human element, most teams find ways to struggle as conflict, mistrust, fear, and resistance to change impact the group’s direction. So, where does positive team “chemistry” come from?

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  • August 24, 2017Ten Advantages of Face-to-Face Exchange

    It’s easier than ever to conduct business without ever coming face-to-face with another human being. Smartphones, video conferences, texts, emails, and any number of social media platforms have made it possible to communicate from afar. There’s safety in not having to worry about pace, tone, mood, posture, body language, and eye contact.

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  • April 4, 2017We’re Stuck. What Do We Do?

    Ask three simple questions and then choose a course of action:

    1. Where is our team in its lifecycle?
    2. Why are we in this stage?
    3. What should we do to move our team forward?

    All teams travel through predictable cycles of investment, trust, innovation, and change. Knowing where you are validates the emotional reaction to current challenges. Understanding why the team is experiencing any obstacle is the key to getting unstuck. A diagnosis ignites an action plan. Consider this simple model:

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  • October 24, 201610,000 Repetitions

    What competency do you wish to master? Life is short. It takes a significant commitment to specialize. Beyond baseline talent and the gift of opportunity, mastery requires repetition. By most standards, practicing a skill 10,000 times elevates it to a new level. Martial artists know this as they deliver dozens of kicks, punches, and self-defense maneuvers to their daily workout routines. Musicians know this as they pound out scales in every key signature. Writers only get better by writing. So what about mastering relationships? Perhaps every organization should have a team expert. How might this happen?

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  • July 28, 2016Lessons from the Team that Created Pokémon Go

    These days, you don’t have to travel very far to run into someone playing Pokémon Go. They have a unique appearance. They’re wandering outdoor spaces holding their smartphones at arm’s length with simultaneous telephoto and wide-angle vision. Their posture is slightly more upright than the stereotypical smartphone addict since they are searching the universe. The creative team responsible for this phenomenon achieved their augmented-reality goal: the gamification of daily life. How did they do it?

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  • April 11, 2016Team Behavior Checklist

    Many organizations are stratified in ways that makes teamwork difficult. Whether a silo or a hierarchy, collaboration has a secret set of rules when boundaries are in play. Whatever the structure, second-class citizens have a lesser voice at the team table. How might this play out in your workplace?

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  • November 3, 2015Teamwork Made Simple

    As complex as the dynamics of most teams may seem, the basics of effective collaboration are not mysterious. Investment builds the team. Trust ties it together. Innovation grows the team. Distancing evolves it. Wherever your team many be in the cycle, there is action to take.  If nothing else, do this:

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  • April 10, 2015Sample This Recipe

    Recently, the founders of the Team Clock Institute met to discuss the resources that brought the greatest value to our clients. Some communicate an appreciation for the online assessment application while others like the benefits derived from the training. The majority of the feedback that comes from business partners, however, points to the worth of the action planning. Learning how to elevate the team is more important than understanding why it is stuck. This was the impetus for the development of The Team Manual.  A proven solution to any team challenge is now only a click away.

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  • December 2, 2014The 3 Anchors of Team Growth

    1. Learn
    2. Assess
    3. Evolve

    Whether you are managing a championship caliber sports team, a global law firm, or a local school district, the recipe for healthy growth is the same. First, do your homework. Next, identify your strengths and vulnerabilities. Then, push or pull your team to the next level. First learn, next assess, and then evolve. Here’s how:

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  • December 30, 20132013 in the Rearview Mirror

    This year’s discoveries were unexpected. The common theme was courage. Each of the teams highlighted in this retrospective were elevated by the bravery to abandon comfort and ignite change. They didn’t wait for the business landscape to demand a reaction. They listened to their clients, anticipated the future, and created solutions. Please enjoy a sampling of excellence.

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  • December 5, 2013We Have a Winner!

    Congratulations to Laura Gettinger, a Chicago-based professional wellness consultant, for winning the 2013 Team Clock Institute Holiday Matching Game. Laura correctly matched all five team challenges with the outcomes resulting from their struggles. Below are brief summaries of each resolution.

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  • November 27, 2013Holiday Matching Game

    Let’s kick off the holiday season with a game. Below are five team challenges observed in 2013. Following the challenges are five outcomes. Can you match the challenge with the outcome?

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  • August 21, 2013Organizational Nirvana

    Gallup’s recent employee engagement data paints a pessimistic picture of the modern workplace with more than seven out of ten workers either disengaged (“sleepwalking”) or actively disengaged (“toxic”). That leaves a courageous minority of passionate talent who would run through a wall for your organization. Lost in the metrics are the rare organizations that have devoted themselves to a culture of 100% engagement – no sleepwalkers or poison.

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  • July 1, 201377 Meetings

    Four families. Four cities. Seventy-seven gatherings. Nobody imagined the depth of bond that would unfold when the original commitment to meet three times per year was made over twenty-five years ago.Yet, year after year, without exception, participants rotated from Chicago to Detroit to Cincinnati to Indianapolis to enjoy each new chapter of the group’s evolution. What began as an assembly of eight young adults grew to three generations of thirty-four people spanning nearly sixty years in age.

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  • May 13, 2013Thousands of Lives

    Although they impact thousands of lives, you’re unlikely to meet them face to face. Most of their waking hours are spent developing others who become your most trusted partners. Like your physician, minister, and attorney, your financial adviser is selected with care. The relationship is anchored in trust, accountability, talent, and character. Recently, thirty-six of the nation’s top financial advisers gathered in Milwaukee to strengthen their teams. Each leader represented a team of about twenty specialists whose group owns stewardship over the financial stability of thousands of lives.

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  • February 6, 2013Equifinality

    A widely respected Fortune 500 company has decided to sponsor a race. It’s a race to high performance. Although the winners will be judged by achieving common business goals, the route each team takes to get there is up to them. Each of the forty teams in the race will have a different starting point.

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  • December 27, 20122012 Year in Review

    Slowing down to savor the year’s highlights brings a blend of satisfaction and anticipation. From team to team, the stories of courage, innovation, and transformation have a unifying theme: harnessing adversity to fuel growth and change. Consider a few examples.

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  • October 1, 2012The Best Job in the World

    In the morning, the organization’s Chief Innovation Officer laughed as she detailed the creative tasks that filled her typical day. At lunch, another company’s Controller described how good it felt when the books balance. In the afternoon, a school teacher lit up as he told the story of one of his students’ “aha!” moments. At dinner, the real estate agent described the perfect fit between the family and the home they had located together.

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  • November 29, 2011Tolerance For Error in Today’s Economy

    In today’s economy, there’s no longer any tolerance for error. The airline industry figured this out a long time ago since the consequences of a glitch are grave. The health care industry isn’t far behind. For some teams, absolute interdependence is non-negotiable.

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