Make Your Team Winner of the Year

Change.ResultsDid you know that less than a third of all projects are completed on time and within budget? Here in the U.S., $122 million is wasted every year due to poor project performance, according to Capterra Project Management Blog.

Many blame project failures on lack of resources, ongoing conflicts, poor facilitation, wrong team members, no one doing the work, etc.

What is the secret to making your team winner of the year?  Accountability. Projects excel when teams are accountable for their results.

As the facilitator, being a sounding board and checking on progress weekly, monthly and quarterly is required for success! And, to ensure accountability.

Many facilitators would respond, “What?! I don’t have the time and I shouldn’t have to babysit!”

Many would further blame their team members, “They should know when to come to me and ask questions.”

However, learning how to be a sounding board while checking on progress isn’t hard. It keeps everyone accountable.

How to Ensure Accountability

  1. Distribute minutes for each group team meeting. This reminds everyone what they agreed to do.
  2. Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings. Check in to determine the status and progress being made between group meetings. This prevents any surprises and helps you uncover any brewing problems.
  3. Expect great results. Be clear you are checking in to ensure great results with no surprises.
  4. Listen for progress. Listen and acknowledge progress, initiatives and other steps forward. As the sounding board for the team, allow them to vent. Make sure these sessions end on a positive note so actions will be taken to move project forward.
  5. Brainstorm to find resources. When the “I’m too busy” excuse erupts, ask them for ideas on how to move forward or delegate tasks. (Remember, you are a sounding board.) Encourage them to take initiatives to find the money, materials and people.
  6. Pay attention to what is working and what is not working. When checking in, don’t micro-manage their work efforts or working relationships. Instead, expect each person to handle these challenges on their own. Step in only when their excuses jeopardize the project’s progress.
  7. Stay focused. When a task isn’t done, stay focused on why. Determine if the problem is due to lack of skills, or inability to focus on the current challenge. Partner the person with an experienced team member for training. This will prevent future issues.
  8. Remind them of the big picture. When you are checking in, repeat the purpose of the project, the goal, and current milestones.
  9. Acknowledgement works wonders. Always say please and thank you. These simple phrases make a profound difference. Acknowledge them for their efforts, no matter how small. Share progress and don’t forget to brag!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2018

Jeannette Seibly has been recognized as a catalyst and leadership expert for the past 25 years. As an executive coach, speaker and author, she provides straight talk with dynamic results. Are you a good sounding board? Do you hold your team members accountable? Don’t wait or it might too late. Contact Jeannette now for a preliminary confidential conversation.

How to Get Positive Results from Tough Conversations

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No matter how you define them, tough conversations, conflicts and confrontations are all one in the same. And, most people will avoid them at all cost.

A top sales rep failed to take care of a customer’s request. Instead of her manager reminding her that clients’ emails needed to be handled immediately, he took care of the request himself. He dreaded any type of tough conversation and rationalized it was easier to do it himself. He feared he would upset her and didn’t want to listen to her excuses. But, when it happened again, the manager’s upset was apparent when he told her he shouldn’t need to do her job for her. The problem was, he forgot this was their first conversation about it. The result? She quit and took several clients with her.

Usually when we have a conversation that is not going well or need to have one that we anticipate will go badly, we feel anxious and tense.  Just the thought of having one of these conversations changes our breathing and heart rate … signally to our bodies that something doesn’t feel right!

To add to these feelings of dread, our memories are not infallible. Many studies have shown that our minds begin to distort the past almost immediately.

So, we wait and hope problems will magically disappear (and, they rarely do). Or, we jump right in without preparing ourselves to create a positive result. Gossip and finger-pointing grow, creating a mountain out of a molehill! All because you felt it would be easier to avoid having a tough conversation.

A manager hated his job, but, needed the paycheck. His boss would remind him periodically that he needed to listen more, instead of coming across as a know-it-all bully in meetings. Nothing changed and several employees quit. Why? His boss didn’t know how to talk straight, which left the manager unclear of what needed to change and how to do it. The manager’s career was derailed.

It’s critical today, more so than ever due to the difficulty of attracting and keeping great employees, that bosses and business leaders learn how to get positive results from having tough conversations.

8 Ways to Handle Tough Conversations

  1. Create the Intended Outcome Before the Meeting. This is multi-step process. First, write out what worked and what didn’t work … focus on the facts of what happened. This exercise gets you to the heart of the upset or conflict based on your POV. Second, look at the problem from both sides to help clarify for you what is in the best interests of the aggrieved person … and, the company, employees, vendors, and customers. Third, review company policy and have copies available, if needed. Then, and only then, determine your intended outcome.
  2. Set Up a Specific Time to Meet. Schedule a time that is mutually convenient to begin and end the meeting. Ensure there is enough time so no one feels rushed.
  3. Make it Private. Provide a confidential one-on-one setting and include others directly involved. This is important since you want people to speak freely to fully resolve the issue.
  4. Talk Straight. Saying what you mean in a manner that others can readily understand is important. Don’t let your feelings about who is right or wrong take over the meeting, or it will sabotage your results. It’s beneficial to role play your conversation with your coach or mentor before the meeting to build your confidence.
  5. Ask for Their Perspective First! Asking them to go first serves three purposes. First, it allows them to vent or share what the problem is based on their perceptions. Second, you can see what the real issue(s) is from their POV. Third, they are more likely to listen to you if they have a chance to talk first.
  6. Use Persuasive Listening Skills. Repeat back to them what you heard them say to their satisfaction, using the same words. Do not assume you know how someone is feeling. Because, if you do, you may be wrong and it will spark additional upset. When you are sure they are done talking, then, share your POV. Give opportunities for each person to contribute to building a solution.
  7. Keep Your Ego at Bay. Dial down your ego and dial up your humility. Remember, being right will not get the issue resolved. Use “I” phrases when talking. Don’t disrespect anyone by saying, “These things should never happen.” or “Everyone believes I’m right.”
  8. Focus on Win-Win-Win Outcomes. Everyone wants to feel that they’ve won. Be open and willing to table the final outcome if further information is required. Schedule the next meeting. Follow-up. Stay in communication. Don’t wait!

Bosses and business leaders must learn how to have tough conversations that make a positive difference. These 8 ways provided above will improve your results with employees, clients and vendors, while improving your business reputation. An added bonus in having tough conversations is that these will dramatically improve your ability to hire, coach, manage, and train your teams to produce intended results.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2018

Jeannette Seibly has been recognized as a catalyst and leadership expert for the past 25 years. As an executive coach, speaker and author, she provides straight talk with dynamic results. What’s in the way of you and your team members having tough conversations? Persuasive listening training is critical and will help you and your teams overcome underlying fears. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact Jeannette now for a preliminary confidential conversation.

How to Improve Team Accountability and Business Growth

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Want to improve your business growth? Hold your team (and yourself) accountable!

Many times we play the blame-game when we don’t achieve our intended results. We blame the economy, lack of resources, our boss, and each other. This no-win blame-game hinders your business growth (and your career too).

A key employee took over facilitating a project after the former facilitator received a promotion. The former facilitator had done an excellent job of holding team members accountable for their results and setting up the required systems. The key employee ignored the established systems since she was “not a detail person.” After two team members complained, she stopped holding team members accountable because she wanted to be liked. When chaos erupted after failing to meet a client’s deadline, she blamed the team and said, “It’s not my fault!” Her boss fired her.

Team accountability is required to produce intended results. If you don’t have the skills to hold your team accountable, it’s critical that you take responsibility for learning them now!

It’s Never Too Late to Hold Your Team Accountable

11 Key Skills:

  1. Start with a Positive Attitude. No matter where you are in the project or what mischief has already happened, be respectful and speak positively about each and every team member. Vent your frustrations privately. Otherwise, team members will not don’t feel their efforts matter.
  2. Clarify the Team’s Natural Strengths and Weaknesses. When you use a qualified assessment tool, the objective data will address “why” some members naturally excel, while others need additional encouragement to succeed. Share this data appropriately with team members to build a “can do” attitude and team comradery.
  3. Participate in Team and Facilitator Training. Many facilitators don’t know how to conduct an effective meeting, and don’t have team and project management skills. (Often they don’t know that they don’t know!) Attend workshops to gain these skills, especially if you’re in the middle of a project. Additional training can uncover issues lurking in the background and missed opportunities.
  4. Check on Progress. Too often we believe everything has been handled after each meeting. However, we fail to conduct interim check-ins and follow-up with each person one-on-one to make sure there are no surprises. These check-ins uncover inactivity, nips in the bud brewing resentments, and helps discover additional resources required.
  5. Listen As Though Your Results Depend On It. Listen for: what’s working and what’s not working. Your ability to truly listen sets the tone for others to pay attention too! Often you can prevent future issues by also hearing what others are not saying!
  6. Keep the Goal. If you’re not hitting your milestones, changing your goal to support the team’s efforts may feel good. However, it’s only momentary and will diminish the team’s satisfaction, credibility and future career opportunities. Instead, work with an executive/business coach to discover why and get back on track.
  7. Distribute Minutes from Each and Every Meeting. This traditional idea is still very important today … it keeps everyone accountable. Only keep track of what has been agreed on and who is responsible for completing a task or spearheading a study, etc. Distribute minutes within 24 to 48 hours after the meeting.
  8. Be a Parrot. At the beginning of each meeting, remind members of the goal, purpose, company values, and company or client mandates. This will set the context for the meeting. Then, conduct a review of team progress.
  9. Handle Tough Conversations Quickly. Holding people accountable won’t initially win you any popularity contests if it hasn’t been done previously. But, over time, people will change their opinions based on how well you handle tough conversations. Here’s how … Handle disagreements quickly before they escalate. Ask questions to clarify and understand their concerns. Repeat what they said before offering your own opinions. Remain neutral.
  10. Let Them Go. Holding people accountable will uncover team members who are not willing to do the work. Give them the choice of staying or leaving. Don’t humiliate them with snide comments; these don’t motivate any one!
  11. Celebrate Every Success. Host a small celebration and use the Brag! exercises to help everyone be fully acknowledged.

Remember, it’s never too late to take responsibility for training your team (and you) to be accountable. Use these 11 key skills to ensure success of your project and grow your business (and your future career options too).

©Jeannette Seibly, 2018

Jeannette Seibly has been recognized as a catalyst and leadership expert for the past 25 years. As an executive coach, speaker and author, she provides straight talk with dynamic results. What’s in the way of holding your team members accountable? Don’t wait or it might too late. Contact Jeannette now for a preliminary confidential conversation.