Articles categorized as:

Change, Growth, and Succession

  • October 21, 2019When Change Isn’t Managed

    When we are able to be our best selves, we manage change with maturity. We acknowledge what has been lost and wrap our brains around the new conditions. We take some time to lick our wounds and then figure out what to do about the transition. We bring our best coping skills to the team and try our best to do nothing that might get us stuck or set us back. In a perfect world, the stress of the change doesn’t turn us into a child. Occasionally, these best intentions break down. Here’s what that looks like.

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  • March 21, 2019The “We” and the “Me” on Teams

    Two things happen on teams after a significant change. First, teammates feel depleted as the energy of the team is consumed in managing the emotional impact of the transition. Second, teammates find a way to embrace the new circumstances. As a team, everyone must answer the question, “What does this mean for us?” Privately, most teammates are wondering, “What does this mean for me?” Fortunately, you can’t answer one question without answering the other. With this, the exercise of coping effectively begins.

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  • January 9, 2019Strengthen One Relationship

    Time is precious. The team’s highest priorities get attention and less important things get neglected. Unfortunately, the subjects of neglect are often people. When someone feels like a low priority, engagement suffers. These teammates come to work, do their job, go home, and collect their paychecks. Why would they go the extra mile? Yet, when we invest in people, they grow. Sleepwalkers become evangelists. Look at your team roster. Identify the teammate most likely to thrive if fed. Sponsor his or her development. Here’s how.

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  • November 21, 2018The Consequences of Growth: 3 Vulnerabilities

    Like the sprinter who discovers his shoelaces untied in the middle of a race, sometimes we’re moving too fast to fix a critical problem. Such is the challenge of rapid growth. The demand for our services outpaces our ability to add resources. We enter triage mode. Everyone focuses on the highest priorities and agrees to neglect less important needs. Over time, this takes its toll on a team. What would happen if the sprinter stopped to tie his shoes?

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  • September 18, 2018Why Teams Need Loss

    The first reaction to a loss is usually disappointment. Something has changed. Things aren’t the way they used to be. When a team is in transition, it’s difficult to see the benefits. When you add stress to the situation, it’s even harder to appreciate the value of the loss. Energy gets depleted and hope is diminished. So, why do we need to lose something to gain something?

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  • July 11, 2018Changing at Lightning Speed

    Sometimes change happens faster than humans can cope. Despite our best intentions to adapt with maturity, the pace of change surpasses our stress threshold. Most teammates want to be their best selves during transitions. Unfortunately, rapid and unexpected transitions have a way of bringing out the child in some of us. What kind of teammate do you become when the pressure is intense?

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  • June 28, 2018Your Team’s Stage of Development

    Every team has a lifespan. The building blocks of development are constructed during the team’s infancy and tested throughout its childhood and adolescence. Once the team has matured into adulthood, performance is measured and remeasured as teammates manage obstacles, challenges, and changes through many cycles of growth. With each round, a new opportunity to thrive is welcomed. In what stage is your team today?

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  • March 6, 2018The Path from Vision to Execution

    Another change has been announced. The team is still reeling from the last transition. The new future, while visionary, may not have factored in the view from the ground level. The team will be asked to achieve ambitious goals crafted by colleagues in a boardroom. How do we make it real? Everyone has a role.

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  • July 18, 2017Crisis to Opportunity: The Best Time to Reboot a Culture

    It ends with a mass exodus. It begins with key talent frustrated with lack of support being lured to greener pastures. The mounting turnover consumes too much of leadership’s time and attention. The team soon spirals to survival mode where tasks related to mission and vision become low priorities. All effort is focused on urgent recruitment, just-in-time training, and plugging holes. Although painful, it’s perfect timing to reboot the culture.

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  • May 16, 2017Current State and Desired State

    Every relationship, team, and organization can become more effective. Few, however, are ready to take on the burden of evolving. Living, breathing ecosystems are always in a temporary stage of development. Teams, therefore, are constantly faced with a choice about attending to or ignoring the symptoms indicating the need to adapt. Most opt for the comfort and consequences of staying the same. Consider these six motives for embracing the discomfort of growth and moving your team forward:

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  • February 21, 2017Mentorship or Sponsorship?

    Team succession happens formally and informally. When formal, high potential talent is promoted to greater responsibility under the mentorship of someone above them on the organizational chart. Often, a new title gets printed on a business card. When informal, the daily delivery of skill, initiative, and engagement creates opportunities that can’t help but get noticed. While there may not be a new title on the business card, these teammates end up under someone’s wing where resources and support can have immediate bearing. Because they’ve been sponsored, every day is a job interview. So, what’s the difference between mentorship and sponsorship?

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  • December 19, 2016Mastering Transitions

    As much a sameness brings comfort, the constant nature of change forces us to become experts at managing transitions. Changing jobs. Changing seasons. Changing teammates. Changing leadership. Changing health. Changing direction. Changing priorities. Regardless of what event defines the transition, adapting has two vital components: mourning loss and refocusing on new circumstances. Name the pain and then work the problem. Consider these case examples:

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  • June 14, 2016How to Restart a New Team

    Whenever you add or subtract a member, you have a new team. Depending on the role and profile of the transition, the change can be significant. To minimize the impact, most teams try to keep as much the same as possible. Let the new members join the old club. The healthiest teams recognize the window of opportunity to re-anchor mission, values, and engagement. Here’s how:

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  • March 8, 2016When Leaders See the Future

    Unfortunately for most teams, succession decisions are reactive. A valuable talent got hit by the proverbial bus and the scramble ensued. A top performer was lured away by a shiny opportunity taking her client list with her. Leadership neglected to read the tea leaves of dissatisfaction and had to devote costly energy and attention to recruitment rather than retention. What might happen if the future was predictable? How might an organization approach succession planning?

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  • January 30, 2015Author Your Legacy

    We are about five years away from the boomer generation becoming a minority in the workforce. The change in demographics has businesses dusting off succession planning documents and asking increasingly urgent questions about strategic direction, talent quality, bench strength, and legacy. Leaders face a critical choice to begin the process: set the table for my successor or leave a mess for someone else to clean up?

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  • August 20, 2014Everyone is Traumatized

    We all perform well under normal circumstances. Poise stands out under stress. When the heat is turned up, look for the teammate with the best coping skills to lead the way. That’s not always the designated leader. It’s usually whoever has the most relevant experience with managing crisis effectively. Often, it’s the teammate with a trauma history. Do you know anyone who has been through a traumatic event?

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  • June 30, 2014World Cup Succession Planning

    One of the pleasant surprises of the 2014 World Cup is the artistry coming from unexpected teams and unheralded talent. Odds-makers and media experts have been forced to recalibrate their predictions. Savvy veterans are welcoming their youthful successors with appreciative celebration. The professional sports industry seems to embrace the seasonality of teams more effectively than other business sectors. Perhaps we should take a lesson.

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  • May 23, 2013The Generational Transmission of Wealth

    The rising star was humbled by receiving an award named for a former rising star that had forged a legacy in the organization. Who knows, someday an award might be christened in her honor and bestowed upon one of her children’s peers. Succession moves in dynamic cycles as the wealth of knowledge is passed on and new leaders are created.

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  • December 12, 2012This is Not Set in Stone

    Sitting in the lobby waiting to be greeted by the company’s chief human resources officer, I took in the decor. Workspace design is often the first clue to an organization’s mission. This particular organization was the parent company for over a dozen global businesses. Each business logo was proudly displayed on a sign attached to a post embedded deeply into a massive foundation of granite. The message was clear.

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  • October 23, 2012Respect and Resilience

    An international gathering of small business owners attracted a diverse crowd at this year’s ISSA North America 2012 convention in Chicago’s McCormick Place. The convention floor was crawling with entrepreneurs in search of innovative products and methods. When I arrived at the podium to deliver my keynote address, “Building Great Teams,” the audience was already energized. I began my presentation with a story.

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  • June 26, 2012The New Golden Rule

    Tom sat at his desk with his head in his hands, frustrated about the challenge his boss had just laid in his lap. The report, the one that takes a week to complete, had to be turned in three days early. He knew the team would balk. He could picture Andrea’s reaction as she considered the extra time she’d have to take away from her kids to meet the deadline. He knew Jim would stomp around, angry that he was going to miss the big game. Gloria would deal with it without complaining because she’s motivated by getting the job done on time and well.

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  • March 27, 2012Flip the Snake

    Sometimes it takes a unique perspective to find a solution. We can work as hard as we like, but the answer remains hidden until perspective is adjusted. Sometimes that perspective has to come from outside ourselves, and accepting it becomes the challenge.

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  • August 26, 2011Can a Zebra Change its Stripes?

    We’re all wired with indelible traits and talents. What happens when new requirements of a team mandate a change in core character? Are humans truly capable of transforming?

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  • July 6, 2011The Rules Have Changed

    The band has been together for 25 years through various changes in personnel. Add a bass player…find a new drummer…introduce a talented new lead guitarist…stumble upon a vocalist. Through all the transformations, the band adapted and kept generating good music. That is, until recently, when the rules changed.

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  • May 4, 2011Embracing Change

    What are the fundamental principles of effective change management?

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  • April 25, 2011Why Are My Friends Leaving Me?

    One of the greatest gifts of change is new talent. While some teammates get mired in mourning who they’ve lost, others reinvest in who they’ve gained. How does a team best leverage this change for success?

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  • December 3, 2010The Band Played On

    Twenty-five years after the original formation of the band, the music continues to evolve despite numerous changes in membership.

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  • September 1, 2010Is Growth A Good Problem to Have?

    Welcome back to the Team Clock Institute’s monthly newsletter. Each month, Breakthrough Teams will invite readers to participate in an Ask/Apply/Act model:
    Ask: this month’s team challenge
    Apply: example story
    Act: action steps for consideration

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