Leadership Partners Blog

Belbin Team Roles and You

Do you have a close group of friends?  I would bet each of us does. Of those friends, one is outspoken, one is quiet, one knows the best caterer in the city, one organizes everyone when necessary, one is who you call in a crisis, one is who you call to laugh.  You respect each of them for the talent and ability, each fills a role.

Work teams are the same, each person fills a role.  In both your personal life and work life it is important to fill all the roles to maximize the impact of the team.  A team without a detailed, analytical mind who enjoys the details of monitoring the progress is a boat without a rudder.  A team without a person who never met a stranger and flushes out new contacts will not expand.  A team without a person at the helm just floats in a circle.  Team building is an essential part of leadership.

But how do I know there are roles left unfilled?  If the team is all working hard, but progress is slow despite good ideas, you are probably missing something.  We use analytical tools and determine which of the roles are missing.  We believe that Belbin team roles are the measure for a complete team.  Belbin team roles are positions required on teams to maximize both productivity and effectiveness.  That rudder I mentioned above is a Monitor Evaluator, very necessary part of the team.  Without a ME, the team can get lost in it’s own interest.  On the flip side of that, a team with three rudders is in trouble too.  The friendly one, that’s the Resource Investigator… someone has to beat the bushes.

I hope you are thinking about the people on your work team.  Do you see 8 distinct types of people?  If not, someone is missing.

Call us for a consultation.


Questions are Contagious: Organization Culture

Who?  What?  Where?  When?  How?  Why?

Questions from our youth.  Remember in elementary school where we learned that when writing you should answer as many of these questions as possible?  I remember.

We face these questions as grown-ups in every corner of our life.  Who will pick up the kids?  What day is baseball practice?  Where is the field?  How will I find the time?  Why did I let them do this to me again?!

What about at work?  How is this method better?  Why did we choose that instead of this?  When will it ever end (you know, the meeting)?  Questions are the lifeblood of productivity.  If we start following and stop asking, we are affecting our future.  By playing a passive role in the events surrounding us we say, “You pick, I don’t want to.”  Then, when time comes to put the nose to the grindstone, we can’t say, “NO!  Wait!  There is a better way!”  Why?  Because the opportunity has passed.  You squandered it.

Participation is funny.  It is contagious… just like the flu.  If you are walking through the aisles at a home and garden show, how likely are you to stop at a booth where there are no customers?  What about one with a crowd?  Odds are you wonder what you are missing and stop with the crowd and probably don’t even look at the booth with no customers.  The crowd started with one customer.  Then another and another and another… contagious.  Same principle applies at work.  Ask a question.  Another might follow, then another and another.  What you find is that more ideas surface.  More resources are utilized, better work is the result.

Organization culture is a funny phrase.  It’s the way we work together.  I want to work in an organization culture where questions are celebrated and recognized.  Questions bring answers, answers bring solutions, solutions bring productivity.

So I say, ask, question, inquire, probe, examine, test, assess, experiment and investigate.  You will like what you find!

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Going my way? Organization Culture Change Management

Organization Culture Change Management sounds hard.  What does it really mean?  Let’s break it down.

Organizations = business, charity, sports team, group with structure

Management = control, study, oversee, regulation, administration

Change = to make different, transform, convert, transfer

Culture = A HA, this is the tough one.  Culture is a quality within a person, developing the mind, behaviors and beliefs, cultivation of a living thing.

So how to you control a quality within a person?  You can’t tell them what to do, you can’t expect them to know what to do, you can’t ignore the need.

To oversee a conversion of the belief system of a group is to guide that group, to find common ground, to establish guidelines that all agree to as being solid, sound and noble.  A leader who can guide the process rather than dictate the solution is a leader who will meet goals set by him/her self and by the people the leader serves.

We often define culture as “the way we do things around here” but it is also the way we get YOU to do the things we do around here when you join us.  We KNOW that individuals conform to a culture shortly after joining.  Because we get you to do things the way that we do upon joining us, we know that people can change.  We simply guide the change to increase productivity, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Change is possible, every new hire proves it.  Let’s get the change going where we want, not just all willy-nilly.

Hey, did you know we are conducting a survey?  we need your help, let us know how you do things.  CLICK HERE!

Big or Small, Make the Effort to Change: Organization Culture Change

So often I talk about organization culture change.  Let’s broaden the lens here.  Culture change refers to more than just a team or organization, it refers to communities and cities.

What about when organizations commit to making changes?  Microsoft has always had a culture of giving, but last year was incredible!  The company participates in more than 15,000 different community organizations.  Last year (2010), they raised over $96 million.  Microsoft matches dollars raised by employees.  This matching program is a fantastic tool as it gets people out of their chairs and into the community.  Being an active part of the community raises the commitment level and therefore the effectiveness of the work.

When the mayor of New Jersey’s Newark took the lead, the city began a slow, steady change.  His actions changed the way the citizens value themselves and their city. This shift in value has raised the commitment of the residents, the police and fire departments.  Crime is down, education is up, people are living a better and more productive life by taking responsibility for themselves.  Is the job done? NO, but it’s better everyday.

Can you make a change?  Sure, evaluate your values and then do something, anything that communicated that commitment to people around you.  When their values match yours, join together.  Keep up the effort until you have made a difference.  It’s possible, just keep pushing.  From Where We Stand (sign up for our newsletter), anything is possible!

Hey, I need more to do… could you fill out our survey on 3rd Party Critique so that I can crunch some more numbers?  THANKS!

Organization Culture Solutions: Who Do You Want to Be?

Imagine these two employees.

Employee #1:

This place is ok.  I get paid and have vacation time but there is so much that frustrates me.  I see the same two guys sitting in the break room all day long, everyday.  My co-workers do what they have to do to get by, nothing more.  My boss seems clueless about the fact that Monday morning meetings are a waste of time.  We accomplish nothing.

Employee #2:

This place is ok.  I get paid and have vacation time and there is so much to do.  My boss not only wants my opinion, but requests it when I don’t just offer an opinion freely.  The first time he asked, I mentioned the guys in the break room and suddenly those guys are at their post, working.  In our Monday morning meeting the boss asked if we had suggestions to raise productivity levels.  No one answered.  He asked me directly.  Because he listened when I mentioned the break room guys, I took a chance.  “These meetings are unorganized.  If someone would take the initiative to gather the information we need prior to the meeting, we would have the information we need to make decisions.  We could do this while we are still in the meeting instead of dragging it out all week.”  The boss implemented a program with roatating responsibilities regarding information gathering.  Now our meetings are much more productive and shorter… and everyone is happier and more engaged.  We get so much done!

Now, I ask you, who do you want to be?  I would rather be Employee #2 where accountability, engagement and productivity are valued.

It has been said that people don’t mind attending meetings.  What people don’t like is attending ineffective and inefficient meetings, a function of culture and expectations.  All people hav ethe ability to improve the process, not all people have the courage and respect to step forward and do it.  At Leadership Partners we can lead the transformation of your organization culture in a way that opens the door to greater effectiveness and efficiency.

How?  Culture is the invisible force, the unspoken rules and the overall “feeling” within an organizaiton.  Culture can be oppressive or liberating.  Organization culture solutions can begin with Leadership Partners.  Once executives understand the dynamics of organization culture development, they can transform the company.  Culture change is a big deal and, we believe, the single greatest step toward overall organization success.

Check back soon!  You know “Who” let’s talk about the “How.”

describe  the imageOdd, I know, but I love to collect data.  Help me out and fill out our survey regarding 3rd Party Critique at work. In addition to releasing our book later this year, The Brutus Dilemma, we are collecting inforamtion for future writings.

Questions?  Contact us! 205-870-0031

Bob, You Aren’t Worthy of the Truth: Corporate Culture

How do you obtain effective feedback about your performance?  Those under you are reluctant to be completely honest, those beside you are your “friends,” and those above you… well, you are afraid of them.  Though you shouldn’t be.

Often, companies defer to a secretive 360 evaluation when evaluating individuals or corporate culture.  Employees log on to a site and complete a survey or fill out a piece of paper about “Bob.”  The information is then tallied and provided to Bob.  These are generally multiple choice, or rate on a scale style questions.  These leave little “gray” area, and as I have mentioned before, the best information is in the “gray area.”  We advocate a different method.

While 360 serve a purpose, it is not the best way to evaluate Bob. Anonymity gives those answering questions the opportunity to vent, exaggerate. The best way to truly determine the impact of Bob’s behaviors on those around him is to engage everyone in a forum utilizing courage and respect that provides for direct, candid feedback with the intention to help. Once issues have been surfaced, working through them is much easier.

We conduct sessions where Bob’s team would determine an ideal corporate culture and then discuss the current culture culture. In the current discussion, you surface the positives and all underlying issues. Then, develop a plan for addressing any barriers and move forward.

This type of feedback not only addresses Bob, but his impact, the group behaviors, the barriers they all face and provides an action plan for improvement. Couple this with an executive assessment and coaching and you have a tool that will increase effectiveness, productivity, and profitability while reducing disagreement.

Not engaging Bob in discussions (not yelling and blame, but discussions) about the impact of his behaviors communicated an unspoken message that you do not value him or his development.  It doesn’t matter that the truth is you are protecting yourself from the uncomfortable situation, the impact is that he isn’t worthy.

Tell me, what do you think?

Profiling and Assessment, Executive and Leadership Coaching

We find ourselves talking about profiling and assessments, coaching

and potential every day.  Itoccurred to me that everyone has a different definition of this in mind when listening.  I sat down with Dr. Herring and asked him to explain it to me, as if I had never before heard the term and did not have anything already in mind.  He did, so here it is in a nutshell.  Nancy has just been hired by Widget’s Inc.  Steve, the VP of Sales wants an idea of what to expect in the future from his newest team member and hires Leadership Partners.

Profiling is the process of assessing the relative level of vital success characteristics possessed by Nancy.  Understanding 1.) what these characteristics are and 2.) the present levels gives us a unique vision of the potential waiting to be utilized in Nancy.  We quantify what she can be expected to accomplish, how she will handle projects, how she will interact with her teammates and boss, where her natural strengths lie, what her natural barriers are and how to overcome these barriers.

See, I just talked about potential again.  So, potential.  People are more or less suited for certain jobs than for others.  When well suited, adjustment is easy, it takes less work for more success.  If Nancy is less suited for a particular part of the job, it will take more work but it is likely that she will succeed, with a longer adjustment period.

In situations that require adjustment, we would engage Nancy in Coaching.  Let’s assume Nancy has been on the job for awhile now and the VP of Sales splits his department into two smaller departments.  Steve asks Nancy to run one of these newly formed departments.  Nancy’s background is in sales, not management, but Steve believes she can do it.  We would meet with Nancy on a number of occasions and use her profile to develop the skills she needs in the new position.  We create an action plan with specific steps, checkpoints and time estimates that allow Nancy to track her progress.  She can call on us as often as necessary, even after completing the process.  Our previous clients often call on us for advice as they are promoted or change from one company to another.  Having a clear idea of what she is capable of, where her strengths lie, how to work with her natural barriers allows Nancy to confidently lead her team/department/organization to success.

It is rare that a person is perfectly suited to the demands of any job, but through team building a perfectly suited team can be constructed. Ideally, Steve will call us before constructing the teams so that we can help him match the people with necessary skills and talents with the correct positions.  If not, we can help Nancy adapt to the position as she has strong skills for the overall position but might be missing one of the secondary skills critical to the job.  This can be compensated for by working from under developed skills or by adding people to the team who are well developed in that area.

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Steve and John Are Yelling Again: Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

Imagine you are walking down the hall at work and you hear two voices in the conference room. Steve is telling John that he will NOT do “that.” It won’t work and he refuses to do it.

“You will do it!”


The door opens and slams, Steve storms down the hall.

We know Steve isn’t happy about the work, we know John wants it done and it must be important.  These two have a history of standoffs. They yell, but the work gets done.

How could this be productive.  How?  When we are witness or party to such exchanges we can’t see that his is ever beneficial.  Well, THIS particular behavior isn’t, but what can be learned is beneficial.  If each would commit to working together, John would ask Steve why it won’t work.  This would give Steve the opportunity to explain that the current building regulations specify how this is installed and that they won’t pass inspection doing it John’s way.

Instead, Steve storms down the hall calculating a way to get the inspections done before and then after the install so that they don’t hit a delay.  Also, Steve knows an innovative method to approach the installation of the chiller that is cheaper, faster and less dangerous. Steve saw it done earlier in the year on another project but can’t tell John about it before the blow up begins.

Disagreement doesn’t have to mean there is a winner and a loser. Often it means that together you can find a better answer than either of you had individually. Talking about issues and exploring the options without a power struggle or anger is the key to Productive Disagreement.

Try asking questions and letting the situation play out with an open mind. See what you learn and what changes come from this new mindset.  Having trouble seeing that this is possible, call us.  We can help!  Conflict Resolution in the workplace doesn’t have to be hard.

Family Christmas Is a Lot Like Work: Culture Change

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to work. We hope you have enjoyed the season and are ready to move ahead.

Maybe you noticed the different dynamics between your family and your spouse’s family. This is a culture.

Your wife’s family is loud and happy and always quick to point out when mistakes have been made. Teasing each other and making a fuss.

Your family is quiet, enjoys a nice bottle of wine by the fire. You let each other make mistakes and learn from those (or not) with no input from the rest of the bunch.

Neither family is better, they are just different. You and your spouse have adjusted to each other’s families and know how to blend in and behave in an acceptable way.

This is true of work environments as well. You learn how to adapt and blend. When the environment or culture leads to fighting and anger, or patronizing,  blending isn’t so much fun.  You learn to keep your head down or to only offer suggestions when asked or maybe you learn to yell the loudest or maybe you learn to suck up to the boss. None of these is very desirable.

What would happen if you (as a collective team) attempt to change the culture? Could you change the culture?  Yes, culture change is possible!  Without a long hard road.  A commitment by all to the kind of culture you desire (the ideal) followed by a thorough examination of the kind of culture you have (the current culture) CLEARLY displays a GAP between the two.  Closing the gap is the next step.

How you ask?  Call us!  We have over 50 years of collective experience with this very project.

The Cost of Leadership & Organization Culture Change (Success)

Most leaders believe they can will organizations to grow and change.  Gerstner, of IBM, publically debunked this notion.  He observed that a culture based on the courage to do the difficult things balanced with the respect to do these things in a way that wins the commitment of all involved is the only way to achieve real organization success and change.  Since that time, many have learned that culture trumps both strategy and structure.  To create organizations that achieve true excellence, leadership must join together with people at all levels.  All who will be affected by the proposed change must be informed and involved in the process.  This is necessary to win the levels of commitment that yield organization wide change.  People intuitively know how organizations need to operate.  Giving them the opportunity to work with others in creating a road map for moving forward is the key.  This has to be done in a series of fundamental steps.

  1. People at all levels must agree on a platform for leadership and organization conduct, or the way they will resolve conflict, make decisions, etc…  Sharing this common framework aligns everyone and gives them the strength and freedom to think and pursue ideas and reach their own personal potential rather than just being told what to do.
  2. This framework must be transported into the operation of key intact teams.  Intact teams that function effectively together set the tone for the entire organization.  As the number of teams that operate in an excellent/extraordinarily productive way increases, the culture within the organization moves in that direction.
  3. This same framework can also be applied to the disruptive conflicts across departments and silos.  Often times these conflicts drain the organization of the energy to serve its clients, produce its products, etc…  As was the case for teams, a number of organizations working effectively together is another indication of an organization culture moving to excellence.

Numbers of teams and cross silo departments/teams who effectively work together and are focused on the essentials of success for the company, become the soul of the company or the company’s culture.  Achieving this sort of balance within teams and across departments is easier than most people think but is not easy.  Difficult issues must be addressed.  People must speak out rather than being limited by politics and status.  People and teams must be confronted and confront themselves regarding the necessary changes for excellence both personally and collectively.

One of the greatest barriers to organization success is overcoming the irrational fear associated with change.  Another is failing to understand that conflict can be a positive source of energy for better understanding the critical issues.  A full understanding of critical issues provides for overcoming the barriers which limit personal and/or organization success.  Confronting conflict can create discomfort.  Developing a model for doing so effectively allows people and teams to fully understand the issues they face and enables them to create the best informed and fully committed solutions.  Doing this is potentially painful, especially in the beginning.  However, this is the price for success.  People ultimately realize that the discomfort they experience in raising and resolving these difficult issues is far less than what they had anticipated.  To experience this realization, people must first engage in the behaviors they fear.  This is the primary responsibility of leadership.  They must manage and teach others to effectively manage these potentially difficult situations so that people learn from them rather than continuing to avoid them.  It is not until such issues are surfaced and resolved that organization and leaders can reach their full potential.