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An interview with Gregg Gregory discussing teams, teambuilding, and leadership. Gregg’s great insights into the workings of teams can help us all increase our potential for success as teams take a more prominent place in our new ways of working.
HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and support insights. For Episode 6, What follows here is excerpted; for the full impact, I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast.
RA: Gregg, HDI’s annual research has identified relationships within the team as a key factor in employee satisfaction. How do team leads and managers help foster those relationships?
GG: Roy, as teams leaders and managers take on their jobs, part of that is about nurturing and developing employees. And it’s not just the leader with Employee 1, Employee 2, but it’s about nurturing and basically building the team all the way through. So, the relationships are one aspect of how that team has to come together, and a good leader is all about that. A good leader knows how to lead the people. The challenge is, most leaders get their first job as a leader because they did the function, the task, well. Just not necessarily sure they know how to lead people. So, relationships within the team are one aspect of leading individuals and leading the team itself.
RA: An awful lot of people in this industry especially come up as analysts or agents and then are promoted into a manager slot because they did a great job.
GG: Absolutely. I came out of the mortgage banking industry on the sales side, and it was the same thing for me. I knew how to do the job very well, but my first leadership job, I failed at miserably because I didn’t know how to lead others to do it.
RA: There’s a saying in the industry that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, or they leave their leaders. What are some of the effects of managers and leaders not knowing what to do?
GG: Let’s attack this from to different directions here. You’re absolutely right. People leave because of relationships. Study after study from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that money’s not always the number one factor; the tasks aren’t. It’s about the relationships people have within their teams, and so often that includes the relationship they have with their manager. And the number one thing that managers do [wrong] is they breach trust. Time and time again. And, in my workshops, I’m always talking about trust being the foundation within the team. It is so important as leaders they build trust—and then the two types of trust.
There is, first, the most common type of trust…called predictive trust. Now, predictive trust is where, if I say to Roy, “This is what I’m looking for you to take care of by Friday at 3 o’clock,” well, I have a certain level of trust that you will do that. So, let’s go back and define trust. It’s “one in which confidence is placed” according to Webster’s dictionary.
The challenge is that most leaders fail to go forward and build vulnerability trust. And consequently, that happens more times than not today because so many people are coming up from so many different directions that it is quite possible for even an analyst at times to know more about something than a leader might know…and so what happens is leaders are sometimes too afraid to admit they don’t know something. And when they do that, and when they get caught making something up…then all of a sudden, the level of trust is breached. And once that is breached, it’s very, very difficult to build it back up. And that’s when people start going, “Nah—I don’t like my boss.” They don’t know why. They just say, “I don’t like my boss.” And then, they start looking.
One of the things I ask people to do in vulnerability trust exercises is to really get to know each other on your team on a personal basis and get to know…things about them from their personal lives, from their childhood, what they’ve learned from that. And the more we know about each other, the more we understand how they process, how they make decisions. And guess what? If I know how you make a decision, I might present something to you…a little differently than if I don’t. And I’m not trying to manipulate you, I’m just coming at you giving you what you really like to have to help you make that decision.
RA: So, those two types of trust [predictive trust and vulnerability trust] are essential to the relationship between a team member and a manager; also, I would guess, among the members of the team?
GG: Absolutely. I call it the foundation….Trust is the foundation for everything. It’s that core of the foundation of every team, of every leader, of every relationship.
RA: In discussing that foundation, we often hear the term “team-building.” Team-building as an exercise, or as a method, or something that happens along the way. What is it, really, and how can it be done to pave the way for success?
GG: Team building is not an event. It is an ongoing process with every team. I like to say that becoming an effective team is not hard; it’s just time consuming and ongoing. And if you’re not practicing it on a regular basis, there’s going to be chinks in the armor, if you will. You really need to have a team building program, so that something is structured and going. That’s what the great teams do.
RA: Team feedback, as we know, goes in both directions—from a leader to a member of the team, and from the members of the team to the team leader. What are some types of positive and negative feedback, and what are some ways to gather that feedback?
GG: We’ve got to give feedback. We’ve got to tell people they’ve done a good job. There’s no doubt about that…. A more participative leader will recognize participation, recognize and tell people what they’re doing, praise them, and then, when there’s challenges, they’re just not going to say, “You messed up,” they’re going to give feedback about how to get better. And that’s the key thing…. There’s so many ways to give feedback of a positive nature….
Now let’s look at the other side. Whenever there has to be the less-than-desirable feedback—somebody has messed up something. Number 1 rule—and you’d be surprised at how often I’ve seen this rule broken—Number 1 rule: Always (bold-faced, all caps, underlined, in red), always in private. Always. If you can’t do it in private, if it’s a public setting, then hold off, and do it a little bit later.
RA: Is conflict within the team always a bad thing? Does it sometimes generate good things? What are some positive effects that conflict on the team could have?
GG: This is one of my favorite topics, because people think immediately that conflict on the team is bad, and nothing could be further from the truth…. With no conflict, that’s a problem. The other side, I think we already know. If you’re calling somebody a moronic idiot, that just doesn’t work…. Conflict must be around ideas. “I don’t think that idea will work. Here’s why I don’t think that idea will work.” Trust has to happen first. If there’s no trust, you will never have this kind of conflict.
Then, once you have good conflict, and everybody feels that they have been heard—the key word is there, they feel they have been heard…. If they felt their idea was at least heard, then they will get onboard…. The conflict has to happen before you can gain true commitment on that team. Here’s what’s interesting: If the conflict does not occur, or if I feel my voice was not heard, I may feign commitment…. You’ve got to have it: Trust, conflict, commitment. Those three, they build on top of each other all the way through.
RA: It seems that more organizations are realizing that dynamic teams—teams that come together for a specific project or initiative might be more effective than a static, hierarchical team that sits in the same place every day and does the same job. Why can teams be so effective, and what consequences does a team approach have for say, a traditional department manager who is used to having the same staff working with them day after day?
GG: I want to preface this by saying, teamwork is the single greatest advantage any organization can have in today’s competitive workplace…. Dynamic teams, the project teams, have really been evolving for probably the last twenty years, it’s just nobody’s really realized it yet. More and more, we don’t have the hierarchical flow of management. People are working on multiple teams. Whether I’m reporting to two different managers on a regular basis…people are coming together and reporting in so many different directions. I’ve had some folks that are actually on five different teams at one time.
There’s the old adage of the forming, the storming, the norming, and the performing…well, the challenge is with project teams—specifically the project teams or the dynamic teams—what happens is there’s a fifth stage that people are failing to recognize today. And that fifth phase is called the adjourning phase. Once the team comes together, and you’ve got a group of people, they need to come together, go through the process, get to performing, and then they need to adjourn.
A great leader is one who understands his or her ability to be adaptable to the situations at hand. The old hierarchical methods aren’t going to last…. If they try to lead that way, they’re going to breach trust.
RA: If we’re putting together a new team, whether for a specific project or long term…what are some of the ways we can make sure we have the right people on the team? Are there maybe some specific traits or qualities we want to look for in those potential team members?
GG: That’s one of the most $64,000 great questions of all time…how do we choose the right people? Let’s face it—Major League Baseball, NFL’s been trying to do that for years. Realistically, there’s a couple of things…. What is essential are the dimensions that people may play. Now there’s no direct correlation between a person’s team dimension role and a DISC® behavior style . There are some indirect correlations, but there are four basic team dimensions. There’s a Creator, an Advancer, a Refiner, and an Executor. And I do not care what your task or project is that you’re working on…. Everything goes through Create, Advance, Refine, Execute. It happens.
Creators are those people who just come up with an idea a minute. Advancers are those folks who may not come up with ideas per se, yet, when they hear an idea, they have a thought about it because they have done something similar in the past, and they can take that idea and run with it, get the rest of the group excited about it. Then it gets turned over and handed off to the Refiner. Now, the Refiner really gets a bad rap here. The Refiner is someone who finds holes, pokes holes, finds the challenges. The problem is Creators and Advancers see them as naysayers, Debbie Downers…. They’re not; they just get viewed that way. Now you back and forth from the Refiner to the Advancer a few times ‘til the process gets refined, and then it can be given to the Executor…. If you don’t have a Refiner on your team or an Executor on your team—lots of ideas but you’re never going to do anything new…. If you don’t have any Creators, and you only have Refiners and Executors, you’re going to be very stagnant.
About Gregg Gregory:
Gregg Gregory is America's teambuilding mastermind, specializing in building winning cultures at every organizational level. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 35 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg has delivered more than 2,000 keynotes and teambuilding trainings to more than 500 companies in the past 20 years. Named an HDI Top 25 Thought Leader in 2017, his expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including SellingPower.com, Boardroom Magazine, and Drake Business Review. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.
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