Monday, July 24, 2017

Accentuate the Positive

Over the course of my career, I have been a part of some highly-effective and highly-productive teams. Working on these teams made me excited to come to work every day. It also enabled me and my fellow team members to be creative and motivated, and to accomplish a tremendous amount. What did these teams have in common? They were comprised of positive individuals working as a healthy, happy group toward a common goal.

It all starts at the top. Positive teams are led by positive leaders, so start with yourself. Invest in your own health and happiness as well as your professional and personal growth. Your positive attitude will inspire and motivate others to work hard and embrace their own positivity.

Before you can encourage positivity in your team, you need to remove any barriers to it. First, understand what causes dissatisfaction at work, and then do your best to remove the sources of frustration. Maybe there are policies that your team finds dispiriting, or perhaps they are interested in greater professional development or flexible schedule opportunities. Often these are things that cost (financially or emotionally) you very little to address, but the solution means a tremendous amount to your team. Second - and this is what is really crucial - determine what provides them satisfaction in their jobs and add more of that into the mix. Finally, if you have a negative personality on the team that is bringing the rest of the group down, you need to address it. Through coaching, positive reinforcement and effective listening, hopefully you can turn that bad attitude into a positive one.

Now that you have removed the obstacles that could derail positivity in your team, you can start managing for positivity. Here’s how:

  • Articulate your goals for the team and your vision for the organization. If team members have a clear idea where they are headed and why, they are more likely to embrace the task at hand.
  • Make sure each team member knows his or her role and understands his or her specific responsibilities. This will enable them to feel comfortable and confident in what they are doing.
  • Keep an open line of communication with your team. And make sure they are informed on developments within your organization so they feel included, valued and trusted.
  • Provide your team with a level of autonomy and independence as well as offer opportunities for growth and professional development.
  • Give your team members the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
  • Remember that positivity starts with you and that team members’ behavior is deeply affected by their interactions with you. Continue to evaluate and tweak how you communicate with them.

Cultivating a positive team is not a finite process nor does it happen overnight. To achieve long-term positivity, you have to work at it every day. But that work that will pay off in meaningful and significant ways. In addition to the suggestions above, I recommend that you continue to build up your team members’ self-esteem and self-confidence. This is done through ongoing communication, coaching and positive affirmations of your team’s work and progress.

Life is too short for work not to be enjoyable. By cultivating a sense of positivity in those around you, your team will not only become more productive and creative, but you can also enjoy the process.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Candid Conversations

I am often asked for advice on how to manage conflict in the work place. No one likes conflict and managing difficult situations not only takes a great deal of time and energy but it diverts focus away from what is really important—fulfilling the mission of your organization.

Before I share with folks my thoughts on managing conflict, I always like to offer advice on how to positively work with team members in order to create an environment built on mutual trust and respect where conflict is the exception not the norm.

To get the best out of your team, you must work to build team members up rather than break them down. You lead through inspiration and empowerment.  By encouraging their work, celebrating their successes, coaching them to do more, rewarding their accomplishments and tweaking the small things that are not working, you build a sense of trust and commitment. And at the end of the day, you have a team that works as a unit, has everyone’s back, will follow you anywhere and is fairly conflict free.

There are times, however, when conflicts arise that must be tackled. For me, there is no deep wisdom when it comes to dealing with a sticky situation. My advice is simple: address the problem head on and with honesty. There is no benefit to letting problems fester or sidestepping the truth when managing conflict in the workplace. One, nothing good ever comes from avoiding a problem; and two, honesty is always the best policy.

Whether it is managing a conflict between two team members or dealing with an outside vendor or client, getting to the root of the problem and developing an effective solution is the only real path to success. Even if your intentions are well-meaning and you think you are sparing feelings, you are not doing anyone any favors. By being upfront you are actually saying, “I respect you enough to tell you the truth. Let’s resolve this issue and move forward.”

Unfortunately, there are times when managing a difficult situation is not possible. My friend Jack Welch gave me some great advice, “when it’s time, it’s time.” After you have given people the opportunity to grow and flourish in the organization and do their best and it’s still not working, then it’s time to let them go. Be as honest and open as you can with your team about what was not working. If you are leading your team effectively, this will not be an issue.

Whether you are leading a team or managing conflict, it all comes down to fostering an honest work environment that inspires trust, respect and communication amongst all members of the organization. By leading and managing with straight-forward positive talk, you can handle conflicts as they arise and focus your time on the work at hand.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

You Say Goodbye and You Say Hello

As I prepare to leave my position as Jupiter Medical Center and transition into my new role at Tampa General Hospital, I have been thinking about best practices when it comes to exiting one organization and moving to another.

I think the true testament of any leader is if they can look around on their last day and know that they have left the organization in a better and stronger place than when they found it. And as a leader, your primary responsibility is to do your best to ensure that your organization is on solid ground with things running as smoothly as possible.

First, you need to put together a strong transition team. You want to assign key strategic efforts that you have been leading to specific members of the team. Armed with your initial input and the institutional knowledge you pass along, they will be responsible for championing and ensuring these programs continue to run smoothly and achieve the objectives that had been set.

You also need to encourage your team to stay the course, remain focused on the goals and strategies that you have all put in place and not do anything radically different in the short term. A calm and steady operation will help soothe the potential concerns of stakeholders and team members that naturally come with a change in leadership.

Finally, you need to work as hard as you possibly can every moment until your walk out the door for the last time. There is no room for short-timer syndrome and you must remain dedicated and focused until the end.

When entering a new organization, as corny as it sounds, you need to spend a majority of your time on a listening tour. By that I mean meeting with all those associated with the organization, from team members to stakeholders, and hear (not only listen but really hear) their concerns, thoughts and ideas. This will allow you to begin to form connections with your fellow team members as well as begin to understand and get a feel for the organizational culture.

Immersing yourself in the organizational culture is the most critical thing you can do when assuming a new role. You never want to walk into a new organization and announce all of your immediate plans and ideas for changes to the place. You want to jump in to the “organizational pond” and swim with the team. You need to work from within and in a collaborative way in order to learn and become part of the fabric of the organization. This will allow you to demonstrate your value—what you will add to an already strong team—to build trust, to begin to make a positive impact and help to initiate transformation and create success.

Leaving one role and moving to another is a time of mixed emotions and can understandably be overwhelming. By helping to ensure a smooth transition and thoughtfully preparing for the future, you can look forward to all the good things to come.