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Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Search results: "collaboration" Page 1 of 18

Teamwork, Collaboration and Engagement – A tool for motivation and leadership

We continue to be impressed and rewarded by the impacts of our exercise on the issues of people and performance in the workplace. As more and more users experience this teambuilding exercise, it continues to confirm that the intended messages from our business simulation are being received and that participants become more aware of the available choices the have for motivating their people.

Solomon Salvis of SimuRise continues to capture these impacts in the videos taken at his development sessions. This 2-minute video is from DBS Bank and you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKjRDzHeSG4

A video of Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine in play at DBS Bank in India

Involving and engaging managers in ideas for workplace improvement is an essential part of any leadership development program and Lost Dutchman does a great job at generating more openness to the issues and opportunities around collaboration. Competition is the norm in so many workplaces and this exercise opens up communications about what can be done differently to impact performance.

Dutchman is unusual as a teambuilding exercise because so much about the exercise is measurable. People can make choices which optimize overall results and the impacts of choosing to compete or win demonstrates the downside when viewed overall.

You can reach Solomon by clicking on his image below:

Solomon Salvis at Simurise Learning Solutions in Singapore

 

 

 

We are in our 25th year of supporting this exercise globally and just completed a full edit and revision of the training and delivery and support materials that come with the purchase of this exercise. Find out more at:

https://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/online-store/Team-Building-Games-c21200522

And if you have any questions at all, we would love your comments.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Connect with Scott on Google+

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

The Contagion of Desired Behaviors – Some thoughts on Collaboration and Leadership

Workplace behaviors can be contagious, which can be a highly useful thing as we try to change organizational cultures. And this can be directly emphasized and supported when the leadership aligns those desired behaviors to the organization’s goals and objectives in an exercise such as The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.


A survey of 2000 employees by ILM revealed that nearly three-quarters of U.K. professionals emulate attributes seen in their colleagues, with roughly 20% improving communications and 10% on problem solving, both behaviors that align nicely with improving teamwork and collaboration.

If we can generate improved leadership and collaborative behaviors within a workshop setting and anchor those behaviors to organizational expectations, we are more likely to change those behaviors over time in the workplace, especially if those desired behaviors occur more frequently among the leadership team. If we can get increased collaboration, and discuss why such behavior is a contributor to an improved organizational culture, we are more likely to generate changes in behavior that are congruent with those discussions.

Surprisingly, the researchers reported that people are not influenced by traditional hierarchies when it comes to who they emulate, with almost half (49%) of respondents revealed they replicate behaviors from people across their organization. And a similar number (46%) say they copy behaviors from people of all levels of seniority, even their peers. So, building a cross-functional and more collaborative team and leadership structure can contribute to this modeling.

“One of the key things we found from the research is that employees don’t just copy senior people, they copy their colleagues,” remarked John Williams, director of digital strategy for ILM. “We recognize that leadership doesn’t just happen at the top of the organization. It permeates throughout an organization. If people are learning behaviors from colleagues and seeing their colleagues getting ahead and those behaviors aren’t great, then they will copy those behaviors.”

John Yates, Group Director at ILM, commented: “People are looking to their colleagues to demonstrate how they can work effectively, particularly when it comes to facing up to challenges in the workplace. Whilst it’s inspiring to see that professionals are motivated by those around them, it can also be dangerous, as people indiscriminately adopt the behaviors of others regardless of experience or expertise.”

Despite the prevalence of U.K. workers learning by example from their colleagues, the research found that most employees (58%) would prefer more formal training and development when it comes to acquiring new skills and capabilities. Driving such desired collaborative and motivational behaviors from a team building workshop like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine simply makes good sense when it comes to generating improved teamwork and optimizing results. It is also something that can be run inexpensively at all levels of an organization to communicate missions, goals and expectations.

ILM researchers also noted that bad behaviors can also be emulated and spread within an organization, which is why an effective workshop focused on organizational improvement simply makes good sense. You can define desired goals and objectives and clearly discuss and support the desired behaviors that will lead toward those goals. You can refine expectations and develop peer support for the changes. You can focus on implementing change and improvement.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is about team building and collaboration

We are in our 25th year of selling and supporting Dutchman and we encourage you to reach out to us should an exercise such as this could support your organizational development initiatives.


For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Connect with Scott on Google+

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

 (from Forbes Magazine article by Karen Higgeinbottom: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2017/10/03/the-dangers-of-contagious-leadership-behaviors/ )

 

Collaboration. Team Building. Competition. Empowerment. Servant Leadership.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a team building exercise where tabletops of people should align to the shared goal of optimization of results and mining as much gold as we can. And we are now focusing on how to more tightly link the play of the game with the teaching and implementation of a Servant Leadership type of collaborative supportive leadership model.

Teambuilding and Servant Leadership training

The idea is to be able to disrupt the normal behavioral patterns of individuals and teams to allow them some coachable moments in which to be more involved and engaged and allowing of the support of the leadership team. The norm seems to be that people resist active support, which we also hear in anecdotal comments about the implementation of a Servant Leadership Model within organizations. Building up trust and openness is a difficult endeavor and the exercise helps address that issue.

The basic Dutchman game design allows teams to make choices, define strategies, and collaborate with other teams to share information and resources. Each tabletop makes its own decisions and tends to focus on its own situation, rather than take the bigger picture of how the group can benefit. The sharing tends to be quite restrained.

Generally, we see some collaboration between tabletops but good teamwork within each team. And some tabletops do collaborate while others are focused on that competition and winning, even though that is never a defined outcome for play and those choices sub-optimize results.

Minimized competition directly relates to improved overall outcomes. It is that way in this exercise and in corporate reality. Few corporations excel when internal competition is the reality.

But occasionally, we see a group surprise “The Expedition Leader” and collaborate way more than normal. In that situation and the debriefing, the role of the EL is to capture the positive aspects and quickly spin that into what the group could choose to do differently when back in the workplace.

We are currently focusing on the theme of Servant Leadership as we construct some new spins on the delivery of Lost Dutchman. The tabletop team focus tends to create an us / them (situation, culture, expectancy) whereby the team isolates itself from leadership. There seems to be a desire to operate independently, and that sometimes feels like an adversarial situation where the team will actually ask the leadership to leave them alone!

This framework is for teaching leaders more about the skills, but we will be testing it with actual leaders working with their teams in a real-world mining scenario. The idea is simple:

Get everyone to make better choices and access support to help optimize results.

If you have some ideas for how you would like to see us consider or if you would like more information about how we are approaching this issue through the design of the delivery, please email me,

 

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman 2016Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.

Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com
Twitter @scottsimmerman and @dutchmangame

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Collaboration – Abstracts of Blog Posts of Scott Simmerman

Collaboration offers big benefits to organizations. It directly impacts motivation and engagement and innovation. Yet teams will often not collaborate, and often simply because they choose not to. The reality (and most people’s experience) shows there is more competition than collaboration in most organizations, which is a double edge sword.

What I wanted to do herein is share some of my thinking about these issues, to share a resource to stimulate your choices about these issues. My tools address these opportunities for improvement pretty elegantly.

Why do teams compete? Collaboration offers more positive benefits?

People continually make choices, selecting responses from their existing set of “behavioral alternatives” and often simply choosing to do what they have done before. The book, Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman does an excellent job of sharing the research on decision making and thinking and I expand on his thoughts in this blog.

This post focuses on some common reasons why teams compete and frames up some of the key learning points derived from session debriefings of our teambuilding simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. We find that a better understanding about their choice and choices, generated from their own behavior, generates powerful impetus to make changes in how things work.

Sabotage, Defense, Engagement and Workplace Collaboration

Disengagement is but one of the stages of disgruntled employee attitudes, and active disengagement can often generate actual workplace sabotage. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from encouraging other people to mis-align with corporate values to actual adversarial behavior. It can generate work slowdowns, increase sick days or even sick-outs, theft, poor customer service and other negatives. Some general frameworks for solving these issues are discussed.

Interdepartmental Collaboration’s Vital Link to Organizational Profitability

This overviews and connects to an article I published in HR Management Magazine that frames up issues of interdepartmental collaboration and the impacts on organizations. You can download and distribute the article, if that is of interest.

Collaboration and Teamwork and dealing with Mud

I use the metaphor of mud in both my Square Wheels toolkits as well as my Lost Dutchman team building game. Mud is the glop that most workers and most managers need to get a grip on, since it generally appears everywhere and it tends to simply bog you down and make even simple things more difficult. Some managers are better “mud managers” than others simply because they choose to do things differently. These best practices can be shared.

On Collaboration and Decision-Making

This focuses on the general idea of US and THEM, and that the reality is that they are us! It shares some simple thoughts on alignment and the benefits of having a diversity of opinion on things. The reality is that ALL of us know more than ANY of us and that collaboration greatly benefits the quality of our decision making. Involvement also generates ownership, which is important to implementation.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company

Teambuilding and Schools – Issues of Design, Alignment and Collaboration

One of my newer customers just asked me to send him, “the debriefing that works with schools,” since my writings in the support materials for our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, has been used very successfully in that context over the years.

But, THE debriefing does not exist in my materials in any real sense, nor is it in my head. Let me explain…

I have personally delivered programs to colleges as well as organizations like the Singapore Ministry of Education (a purchaser of the exercise), the Hong Kong Education Ministry, and with senior teaching faculty in Trinidad and Tobago (man, that was a fun trip!). We have a bunch of colleges using this with students, too. And, we have run the exercise for a number of public schools (faculty, staff and parents) with excellent outcomes, commitments for change, and impacts on alignment and teamwork. I also formally suggest that any owner of the game consider using this program with schools in their area, pro bono.

Our schools need all the help they can get to develop a collaborative, motivated staff with parental support.

But all we can do with the exercise is set the stage for people to change their own behavior or support the behavior of others on their team. And this obviously works best when the discussions in the debriefing tie in tightly to the desired overall behaviors and outcomes.

So, there is no canned “debriefing for schools,” even though they are all pretty similar to each other and to business organizations. (Apparently, I did say that there was such a powerpoint file in some of my writings, but I looked and found that it was last updated in 2006!) But, these days, I do NOT boilerplate any of my debriefings, preferring to use a process like this for their development from my master file of debriefing questions and images:

I follow and anchor to their overall framework for their specific desired outcomes:

  • What do the leadership of the organization want to accomplish from this session? What changes would they like to see, and what behaviors might be different?
  • What existing frameworks should be anchored to? What things have been done successfully in the past that are viewed as positive? What other training or discussions have they had around these issues that we need to use within our followup?

And from that thinking and related discussions with the leadership of the school (including, if possible, both parents and administration and teachers), we can build an effective program. The goal is to generate change and improvement.

One session I did (from that 2006 powerpoint series) had me construct slides focused on a leadership model that the school’s District leadership were using and talking about. It started with these keys to success:

ideas around The Search for the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding

…and it had these individual components involved:

ideas around The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding

So we had the tabletops discuss these kinds of frameworks for implementing, with tables sharing their key discussion ideas and the group forming up into some implementation teams for scheduled followup meetings with the school leadership. We tried to keep things within the normal scheme of how they operated, instead of adding some additional mechanisms that would probably fail to be sustainable over time.

ideas around The Search for the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding

As you would do for the development of any solid debriefing for an organization, you would first want to clearly define those issues that you needed tabletops to talk about, those issues that could be resolved if people made different choices. In so many organizations, and especially our schools, the factions of teachers, administration and parents are generally not on the same page; each has different interests when you get into specific desired outcomes. Only through alignment to some shared vision of the future can you pull things together.

To expect collaboration in an environment with different groups of people each desiring different outcomes is simply silly and bordering on malfeasance. What you will see is competition for perceived (and actual) scarce resources, which will not invite teamwork or organizational excellence. What you need to do is have people make different choices focused on shared goals.

In business, you tend to have financial and service goals driving behavior. Those are often clearly defined and it is only the operational goals between departments that generate competition and sub-optimization. In schools, the measurements tend NOT to be nearly as clear, even though there is so much measurement and testing going on. The measures do not generate collaboration about the factions and are used more like hammers than glue. Collaboration among the teachers is more the exception than a shared organizational reality.

This teambuilding simulation is simply a great tool to generate a lot of behavior that can then be discussed in connection to the desired outcomes of the school and the players. It provides a useful context to talk about the optimizing effects of collaboration versus the often sub-optimizing and debilitating impacts of competition. Our world tends to set people against each other to see who succeeds, a behavior that makes less and less sense when the sharing of best practices and the mutual peer support can be so motivational and impactful.

We need to create more of a focus on a learning organization, one that openly shares ideas and discusses possibilities.

If you are interested in talking more about these ideas, give me a call,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of
Performance Management Company

KISS – Keeping It Stupidly Simple – A Square Wheels Poster on Collaboration

Complex, convoluted and risky. That is today’s workplace for most people.

Nothing seems simple today and, frankly, the more complex and detailed the design, the more opportunities there are for failure and non-compliance, two words not totally appreciated in the workspace of today’s managers. Avoiding risk is a key issue and many a good training program is being met with a lot of talk but not a lot of change or improvement.

Engagement continues to be a main theme of workplace improvement and the reality is that few people are all that engaged. Those that are feel a strong sense of ownership and involvement, feel appreciated and supported, and will often generate those higher levels of performance that are so desired.

As it is my intention to put up a number of posts and illustrations and posters reinforcing the theme that we need to start looking for some SIMPLE solutions instead of increasing the increasingly complex. I wanted to add this simple notion of collaboration. The Big Idea is that we need to START working on trying to collaborate, take a simple look around to see if any new ideas or improvements might exist, and then implement those ideas.

LEGO POSTER - COLLABORATION really working together

Looking at the above as a representation of how a group of people is working together to make progress, doesn’t it seem obvious that some solutions are at hand and that the situation simply needs conversation and agreement about issues and opportunities? And doesn’t the above illustration really represent how things work in most organizations?

————–

I added another related cartoon to my poems blog – you can see the text of ideas if you click on the image of it below:

SWs LEGO Boss Gang with Skis and RWs 2 90How hard would it be to really generate some collaboration?

————–

If you want to  gain some simple ideas and access some bombproof simple tools for improving intrinsic motivation and involving and engaging people for collaborative workplace improvement, clicking below will share some of my posts on stupidly simple themes of COLLABORATION and TEAMWORK:

•Posssible Sideways GAMES link for homepage

At Performance Management Company, we sell simple tools and recommend simple approaches to generating collaboration, involvement and motivation for continuous workplace improvement,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

Optimizing Profit through Collaboration – Ideas for Lost Dutchman Deliveries

We designed and sell The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a team building exercise focused on planning and collaboration, among other key outcomes. A recent purchaser sent me an email this morning with a simple question but one that I thought merited some elaboration, since there are any number of design features and delivery spins that impact the desired outcomes of the client.

Hello Scott,

I am thoroughly enjoying facilitating the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine team building.  🙂

So far I have had groups between 40 – 50.  Next week I have a smaller one (4 teams).  How many videos do you suggest I have on hand of each?  

Thanks so much!

Warmly,

First, it is nice to get the positive feedback (testimonials) and to know that she is making money from her investment in purchasing the exercise. Secondly, it is a very good question that I somewhat address in the training materials included with the exercise, but something that obviously could use some additional explanation and some awareness as to issues and opportunities.

So, I sent her a brief overview of my thoughts and promised that her questions would generate a more complete blog post from me today, one that expands on a number of ideas around this simple question. Like my post yesterday, where I discuss the philosophy around the game board design as it relates to my goals of generating more planning and  collaboration (found here), this post also discusses themes of how the available resources can link tightly to desired outcomes.

The Videos are a metaphor and game accessory that ties to strategic planning and best practices. The Mine Video is about the gold mine and contains Cave Cards that teams find useful. Getting that Video costs one day of time and the team getting it leaves on Day Two of the 20 day exercise instead of Day One. (See more on this on the other blog post if that is of interest.)

Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine Video Covers

The second video, on Tortilla Flats, contains best practices resources and one video can actually support three teams if the resources are shared across tabletops. I choose not to expand on that here.

So if there are four tabletops playing, her question is how many Videos should she make available for play?

The answer is that it depends on the desired outcomes for the session. Allowing the teams to all get both videos would mean that there are wasted planning days and a bit of analysis paralysis… They do not NEED to spend that much time gaining information and they are losing days of Mining Gold because of it. Plus, with all that information available to every team, it takes away some of the excitement and risk and all that.

Having too many resources is NOT motivating. Having sufficient but not excessive resources to accomplish something adds more challenge. People are not motivated climbing stairs but they are when using ropes and climbing gear to make that ascent!

Having only ONE of each Video available is a scarcity model. The Mine Video resources and information are not as available to the others and there would be little incentive for a team that acquires that to share it — the competitive aspect of it would play in. Having one Tortilla Flat Video would enable 3 of the 4 teams to optimize their performance if – and only if – those resources were shared. If one team got both videos, they would see all the teams leave on Day One and they would leave on Day Three. They would also mine more gold than any of the other teams and they would have an easier time of it, overall.

So, one needs to balance resource availability.

Generally, for a group of 4 tabletops, I might play with three Mine Videos and two of Tortilla Flat so that resources could be shared with all teams.

But there is another option that I really like to do with smaller groups and one that emphasizes the issues around inter-team collaboration even more than the regular design. That involves what we refer to as the Optimizing Profit Performance Option or what I refer to as The Assay Office Version, since that was what it was originally called. There is a long history as to how it evolved but here is what it is and how it works:

Assay Office Mine Video Cover IconThis Assay Office version of The Mine Video contains extra Cave Cards, more than one team could possibly use. So, the design is that the team acquiring this Video would absolutely know that they have extras that they could share with another tabletop. And, this Video also contains information that by using a Cave Card, a team could acquire an extra ounce of Gold each day, 11 ounces rather than 10.

We tell the teams getting this “new edition” of the video that it is different than the old ones — we generally use only ONE of them in a delivery. We tell other teams getting the “old editions” that they should check with that other team to understand the changes that were made in the new edition. WE TELL THEM TO CHECK; WE TELL THEM TO SHARE; WE GIVE THEM EXTRA CARDS!

If a team reaching the mine uses a Cave Card, they can ask for an extra ounce. ANY team using a Cave Card can ask for an extra ounce. Thus, if they got the Assay Video, they should remember to get the extra gold and if they heard about the Assay Video and used Cave Cards given to them (or if they got their own Mine Video with cards), they could also get the extra ounce.

We now simply use a spreadsheet to track when the team asked for the extra ounce and we know which team got the Assay version and which teams could have benefited.

Assay Office spreadsheet

In the above example, the Yellow Team got there a day later (staying home and getting both Videos) and they got the Assay Office version of the Mine Video. We know this because of the day they arrived plus the reality that they used the information to acquire the extra ounce the first day of mining. We know that they got the Tortilla Flat Video because they did not leave on Day 14. (this is information that only game owners would understand!) The Yellow team optimized their results and mined the most gold, contributing the most to the overall gold mined. Remember:

The Goal - Gold Hand gold

You might guess that the Red team got an older version of the Mine Video and spent that extra day at Apache Junction and never did find out about the extra gold. They left on Day 14.

The Blue team got there on Day 7 so they did not spend a day planning — they acquired Cave Cards (or at least started using them on Day 9) and someone shared the Assay Office information with them. Only on Day 13, the day  before they left the Mine, did the Purple team actually use a Cave Card.

(These are actual game results, by the way. This version is harder to administrate than our regular one because there is more tracking. I also think it would be really confusing in a large group environment and harder to debrief.)

If the different teams would all share information and collaborate, they mine more gold and the goal of the game is to mine as much gold as we can, not to compete and win as your own team! If the teams asked the Expedition Leader for advice or assistance, we would also help them to understand how this works. We explain this only to the team getting the first Mine Video, the Assay Office one.

This blog is written for users or those about to facilitate and support a delivery of the exercise so apologies if you got this far and remain a bit confused. For those of you familiar with the normal delivery, I trust that this will make some elegant sense. If you click on either of the two icons above, you can go to the order page for the exercise to add this to your toolkit. It comes free in our Professional Version of the Lost Dutchman game.

You can read more of my thinking on collaboration versus competition at this blog post of mine – click here

You can find a nice screenshare overview of the complete exercise by clicking on the image below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Team Building and Poems on Performance – Cute Visuals on Collaboration and Goal Setting

Teambuilding is about generating alignment to shared goals and visions and also about involving and engaging people in collaborating for optimized results. The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is our tool to teach along the lines of competition and collaboration as well as planning and doing. Basic to its unique design is that sharing information and resources helps tabletops to optimize overall results for the group.

To set the stage, understand that the goal is to mine as much as WE can and optimize the Expedition Leader’s Return on Investment (ROI). The role of the Expedition Leader is to help teams be successful. We feel that these two factors model the desired outcomes of most leaders operating in most organizations. The reality is that teams more often choose to compete rather than collaborate and that they seldom ask the leadership for help, advice or even resources to generate maximum results.

LD 2 slides - We Can and Help teams

So, with this as a basic entry point, here are some poems and illustrations that help to illustrate the issues and opportunities. Teams can make better choices in a variety of different ways. So, here goes…

1

expedition leaders lead expeditions

collaboration is a key to decision making

So, the planning now completed, teams begin to play the game and see the results of their planning and their choices. The goal is to mine as much gold as we can.

strategic planning lends itself to performance

teamwork is essential to optimized results

teamwork policies and procedures

Now, the play is almost done and teams are looking about and making comparisons about their performance to the performance of other tabletops. Some chose to collaborate, some chose to get advice from that Expedition Leader and some might have even asked for some resources to help optimize ROI for the table and for the group.

intrinsic motivation is about succeeding

my team, my team, my team

LD Celebration is key poem

So, now we can take the time to reflect on things and turn the game into a powerful learning event where we discuss past choices for the game and future choices for the organization. It lends itself to reflect on things that are done well and things that need to be improved. It is a chance to reaffirm the goals and directions, share the visions and to pull things together.

reflection on choices

challenge is to mine gold

what did you learn from your experience

Have FUN out There!

celebrating success and results

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

Sabotage, Defense, Engagement and Workplace Collaboration

Here are some issues and statistics and framework around the issue of employee workplace sabotage, which can take many forms, and some relatively straightforward solutions. Overall, the issues of teamwork and peer pressure can work for you, ideally, or can work against you as we frame up below.

The Situation:

Research says people are uninvolved and dis-engaged. Numbers show people are unappreciated and not motivated by extrinsic rewards. Many feel ignored and stagnant, not getting training or feeling that anyone cares. Writers talk about people whining (which I think is because they are not focused on doing anything they think is important) and that they won’t even take all their scheduled vacation days because of job security issues (other post on that here).

Yeah, it sure must be fun to work in a lot of places these days. Plus, we are seeing a lot fewer full time jobs and jobs with benefits and a lot more part-time jobs with no benefits and with variable hours… More and more people are working part-time — Between 2007 and May of this year, the number of part-timers jumped from 24.7 million to 27.5 million. A 2013 Gallup poll shows that one in every 5 workers is now part-time. For many, less than full-time work is creating conflict and all kinds of issues. According to the US Labor Department, as many as 1/3 of all part-timers are involuntary ones.

Reasons are many, but one seems to be “ObamaDodge,” whereby big employers avoid having to give healthcare to people who work less than 30 hours a week to bypass the Affordable Care Act.

Large employers like Regal Entertainment Group (franchise owners of Five Guys, Applebee’s and Denny’s), and the owner of Papa John’s pizza chain and a few other chains have announced plans to side-step new requirements that businesses with over 50 full-time-equivalent employees offer their full-time workers access to a qualified healthcare plan or pay a penalty. (There has been a lot of media and general public pushback, too.)

The healthcare law defines a full-time employee as anyone working more than 30 hours a week, so the boss simply cuts workers’ hours and hires additional part-time staff to make up the difference. Stafford notes that as many as 2.3 million workers across the country are at high risk of having their hours slashed to below the 30-hour mark. Half of retail workers in New York City were part-time, and only 10 percent of part-timers had a set schedule week to week and part-time workers are far more likely to be paid minimum wage (13%) than full-time workers (2%)

When I started a turnaround in my new job as Senior Vice President for a retail company, we had all kinds of issues to deal with, including store manager turnover of about 250% — we did not bother to measure salesperson TO because too many of them were quickly being promoted to store managers. AND, we had millions of dollars in “inventory losses.” Some of that was caused by the chaos and confusion in the stores, and some of it was most certainly THEFT by Employees. They were simply getting even, was the reason most of them gave…

If people feel attacked, we know from history that they will band together to fight back. The reaction of being pushed is to push back and the pin will eventually touch the balloon and things will pop. That is expected.

Pin Hits Balloon red color

The American Psychological Association reports a variety of ailments associated with underemployment, including depression, anxiety, psychosomatic disorders, low subjective well-being and poor self-esteem. There are workplace impacts for those kinds of feelings as they relate to customer service and teamwork with others. Researchers have found that full-time work is critical not only to the mental well-being of workers, but to their physical health as well. A decrease in physical health is another way that forced part-time workers suffer.

Once the group feels like it is being attacked (instead of supported and involved and engaged and compensated fairly), one can often expect that they will circle the wagons and try to defend themselves from the attackers. That is also a signal that all is not well in the workplace and that they are not completely convinced that pulling and pushing the wagon efficiently and effectively is in their best interests. If they run out of bullets, they will head for the hills!

Defense wagon yellow 70

But, if they feel pretty solidly supportive of each other, a slightly different scenario is possible, one that we are seeing in a few large companies. That one looks like this:

FortVanderWeilen th

Here, they start taking the wagons apart to use the wood for the walls and the wheels for barricades. They may demonstrate a sense of solidarity, and create a more permanent adversarial structure and culture. It is somewhat predictable — and look at the news about striking workers at WalMart – On May 28, around 100 workers in FL, MA and CA walked off their jobs for a series of “prolonged strikes.” Many of the striking workers traveled to Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas last week. (article)

But it gets bigger than this. Just as my store managers did things to their company, workers everywhere have ways of “getting even.” Let me excerpt from my blog on  “Thoughts on Management,” which is basically about sabotage and comes from a manual produced by the US Army back in the 1940s, with this part talking about what employees can do to sabotage companies:

(1) Work slowly. Think out ways to in­ crease the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed, and so on.

(2) Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: (with examples)

(4) Pretend that instructions are hard to understand, and ask to have them repeated more than once. Or pretend that you are particularly anxious to do your work, and pester the foreman with unnecessary questions.

(6) Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker.

(8) If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management  See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.

There are SO MANY ways to cost companies money and increase your pay per unit of time worked. You can also be indifferent and unresponsive to customers or not fix things such as misplaced stock items on shelves or all kinds of things.

The solution:

You are probably going to be unable to fix a lot of the structural issues that companies have, but you can sure document the local impacts they have and push for improvement. You may not be able to reduce employee turnover, but you can certainly track the actual issues caused by new people on the job. Some of your analysis should include:

  • The cost of advertising for new people
  • The cost of initial paperwork and screening
  • The costs of interviewing  – costs of time spent doing that and costs of time not available for doing other important things
  • The costs of on-boarding or initial job training on systems and processes
  • The potential increased costs for job-related injuries or accidents
  • The costs of coaching and on-the-job training time
  • The costs of errors of new employees, including customer satisfaction issues, slower response times, mistakes and materials waste, misplaced inventory, and all sorts of innocent things that people do when new on a job
  • The costs of management supervisory time (yours)
  • The costs of advanced skills training — sometimes there are 6-week courses on learning how to process transactions and work computer systems correctly
  • The costs of NOT working the above computer systems correctly

There are many other similar kinds of costs incurred by organizations. Some of these also involve inter-departmental kinds of problems and you might also include theft or other kinds of negative impacts from the disgruntled as well as the new.

And, as result of all this training, there is also the eventual statistical likelihood and reality that this New Hire will simply be an average employee. Down the road, you may be looking to replace them!

Often the better and more skilled employees choose to go elsewhere for employment (and the below average ones are not actively looking) and you may be losing talent on a net overall basis. The best ones may also go to one of your competitors…

Sometimes, newer previously skilled employees will demand a higher wage and benefits than the “normal employee” and that is guaranteed to cause problems down the road.  Paying new employees wages equal to long-term employees is also problematic.

So what do you do?

You probably need to make the case, or at least support the existing case that things need to be improved, that doing the same thing will generate the same results. And you can choose to do things differently, yourself.

Nearly every research study shows that an involved and engaged workforce shows fewer negative issues with the above and shows lots of positive impacts on numbers like profitability and reduced customer turnover. If employees are presently un-engaged or at least not actively engaged, you have about 70% of your workforce that you can address and encourage.

Extrinsic motivators do not work. They possibly might have short-term positive impacts on some people, but they always have negative long-term impacts on everyone. Compensate them fairly on an overall basis.

Allow people to solve roadblocks and make improvements to systems and processes. Give them the tools and resources.

Allow them to address interdepartmental issues that impact their performance results.

Improve the performance feedback so that they have a better idea as to how they are performing in comparison to their own goals and your expectations. You can find a simple analysis checklist here. PMC sells simple toolkits for improving communications and engagement.

Provide some team building activities and build a sense of group (remembering all the stuff at the top of the article, be sure to have a fairly solid environment before forming, “The Collective” — remember the Borg?). PMC sells some great, inexpensive and bombproof team building simulations.

Have engaging and informative meetings and discussions, as groups and a one-on-one coaching and mentoring discussions.

Be there and supportive, not away and adversarial.

There is no silver bullet for any of this. Understanding the problem is a first step toward designing YOUR solutions. There is no one else who can really help you, when push comes to shove. HR cannot do it, senior managers cannot do it, consultants (certainly) cannot do it —

If it is to be words

and

If not you who words

If you are looking for some tools for improving engagement or for improving involvement and motivation to make workplace improvements, we sell some simple tools. Our specialties are in the areas of employee involvement and team building, but with a focus on performance improvement.

Square Wheels are simply great tools

Have Fun out there!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+
Reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com and 864-292-8700

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

 

Note: some of the basic statistics taken from
http://www.alternet.org/labor/part-time-jobs-and-economy

Lessons from The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a game on teamwork and collaboration

There are many lessons that can be learned from playing team building games, and we feel that our products generate more than their share of great learning opportunities. Reactions are as varied as the groups of people that play and the kinds of cultures they represent. It works for very large groups as well as really small ones. Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is quite flexible in how it is delivered.

Microsoft WordScreenSnapz001

One neat thing about Dutchman is that the organizational culture will show itself measurably and clearly — if people are highly competitive with each other, we see it in the dynamics of play and the lack of measured collaboration. If the culture is analytical, we see that in the inventory numbers at the end. If there is distrust among people, that shows itself clearly in that people will resist the help of other teams or even the game leadership. It is easily discussed in the debriefing and those issues can be challenged and alternatives discussed for implementation.

My Team, My Team color

If you are interested in the possibility of using Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine as a team building or motivational exercise for a retreat, large event or even purchasing it for use within a training program, I can help you make a good decision in a few-minute conversation about your group, your goals, and your desired outcomes. If Dutchman is not a good fit, I would certainly offer other recommendations that might mesh with your goals with some other vendors and consultants. There are many good options for corporate team building events and workshops out there.

These are some of the most common and important issues and outcomes from the play of The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine:

Collaboration, even when it is encouraged, can be difficult to actually achieve, much less implement:

  1. There is a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. Safety does not generate good results and it can measurably sub-optimize results
  2. Many people will choose competition rather than collaboration as a strategy and a few of those on a team will make the team less collaborative
  3. Openly encountering and assessing the risks involved and seeing a clear benefit is vital to generating collaboration in both the game and in the workplace
  4. Making these issues visible and somewhat uncomfortable is a good first step in generating the cognitive dissonance that is important for behavioral change and choice

There are three “Most Important Resources”: Time, Information and Each Other

Time:

  • Decisions made up front often have the greatest impact on final results. Planning time is often time well spent; do-overs in business are often fairly costly and sometimes decrease the likelihood of change
  • Strategies and plans are often forgotten when in the midst of pressures for results – “plans often do not survive the first contact with the enemy”

Information:

  • We must understand the challenge, plan for necessary resources, prioritize our activities and value our resources in order to optimize results
  • Decisions, no matter how good, are made based on considered alternatives; if little or no information is available, good decisions are impossible.
  • Alternative choices and analysis of cognitive biases can often lead to improved decision-making

Each Other:

  • Activity is no replacement for productivity and accomplishment; Peer support is often an essential component of critical thinking and action
  • People can add better perspective to risks and barriers to performance; shared risk is more easily endured
  • Alternative choices often come from people with different views and viewpoints. Perspective is a valuable tool for performance improvement

Decision-making, combined with clear understanding of the goals and objectives, will often help to optimize performance, productivity and results.

  • Team consensus generally leads to better decisions if it is focused on clear goals and desired outcomes and results; unfocused consensus leads to mediocrity and compromise
  • Your past experiences will color your decision-making and risk taking and teams will often take more considered risks than an individual. Confirmation bias can be a real sub-optimizer of future results
  • The best goals are  specific, attainable and realistic, measurable, clear and agreed-upon by your teammates

In the Lost Dutchman exercise, the goal is clearly presented: “…to mine as much gold as WE can.” It is common, though, based on the above factors, that tabletops will often frame “we” as “My Team, My Team, My Team” because that is commonly how things work in their workplaces. Each team is often designed to be an independent one, and thus collaboration is not actively encouraged nor managed.

My Team, My Team color

In the game, as well as in most workplaces, performance is optimized when cross-functional and interdepartmental teamwork is the norm. The exercise reinforces that, clearly showing the costs of competition.

My Team needs to be OUR Team,
and “ALL of us” is much more impactful than “most of us.”

This is delivered elegantly well with Dutchman, since this team building exercise so clearly and measurably rewards collaboration and communications with leadership and with other teams. Collaboration was a main design feature in how the game was constructed. We can neatly measure collaboration in different ways.

Many of our users tell us that  Dutchman is the best team building exercise in the world, and we have a lot of testimonials that support that conclusion. It will soon be 20 years that this game has been in play (and in continuous continuous improvement).

Frankly, talking about Lost Dutchman with prospects and users is one of the best things that I can do in a day. I feel really fortunate that we could put all this together into such a well-playing team building simulation that fits worldwide. It generates clean results and very actionable ideas for implementation. And users have told me that the, “ah ha’s!” continue to happen long after the session.

You can find out more by clicking on this link or on the game board below:

LDGM 1 80

If we can help you with anything about this exercise, let us know,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful learning tools.

See another great teambuilding game: The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

 

On Performance, Teamwork, Millennials and Collaboration

I got an email flyer on workforce development from ASTD this afternoon and thought to paste a reaction to some of their thinking, which I think tracks reality pretty well in this case.

The point that they made was that there are these Millennials in the workforce and they should be getting a lot of attention in regards to how we accomplish training and development and build teams and all that. They do tend to have different styles and different values. The social connections and use of technology are different and do represent some opportunities.

On the other hand, we see that Millennials as well as most other workers are also somewhat un-engaged and not greatly aligned and motivated in many workplaces. They are likely to get trained and then jump ship. There was an article online about Apple and how they are burning people out and the shift is to simply work there to get that on the resume instead of looking at them for “lifetime employment.”

(Boy is “lifetime employment” an oxymoron these days, or what!?)

You can see some ideas about involving and engaging people in my article called, “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…” on my articles page by clicking this link.

The thing that what caught my eye was this comment:

Despite these younger employees in the workforce, the workforce actually isn’t getting younger.  It’s moving in the opposite direction — the workplace is getting OLDER. Because of recent economic crisis, many workers have delayed their retirement plans and continue to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of those 55 and older that remain in the workforce rose to over 68%. (In 1987, that number was 54%.)

Yes, the number of people over 55 working in organizations is 7 in 10.

And. according to a new survey by the Conference Board, two-thirds of workers between the ages of 45 and 60 are now planning to DELAY their retirement and work longer. That’s a 20-point jump from 2010 – when only 42% of workers had plans to put off their retirement. Job losses, low salaries, and declining home values are some of the main reason why Americans can no longer stick to their retirement plans and plan to keep working.

Thus, you have the “young guns” of eager, networked creatives entering in the workplace and you also have the established, grizzled (in my case!) people who have their ways of doing things, who have a great deal of tacit knowledge about how to make things work and get things done, and who might be somewhat resistant to change. How do you identify and resolve some of the conflicts? How do you build alignment and collaboration? How to you increase engagement?

How do you manage both groups, who are quite different? The answer is simple: Involve and engage and form teams and allow them to work together to strategize, design and implement new ideas and new innovations.

We have great team building programs that are designed to involve and engage people and generate momentum for improvement. Our flagship team building game, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, is the best exercise in the world — from what our extensive user base keeps telling us — for generating inter-organizational alignment and collaboration.

And our various Square Wheels toolkits and games like Innovate & Implement all work to generate a shared language of continuous continuous improvement in how things work and can be used to generate alignment and improve readiness to change.

Your managers should be your motivators.
Your people should be involved and engaged.

You can read a lot about our approaches to organization improvement, dis-un-engagement and engagimentation, and our general thoughts on innovation in the many different blog posts. At last count, there were nearly 200 posts on a wide variety of topics around people and performance in here.

If your organization can meet the challenges of this workplace environment, it should give you a significant advantage over the companies that will be stuck in the mud of performance and change.

Mud color yellow

We know that both groups can be highly productive and impactful — why not work to make them ONE coherent team aligned to your missions, visions and goals.

The skills needed by your management team, at every level, are those of facilitation and engagement. Good feedback and measurement systems can improve your likelihood of success with behavioral change. Doing things the same way will give you the same results.

For less than $50, you can have a tool to get started.
Check out our facilitation toolkit here.

P.S. – It is also true that 69%t of employed respondents are considered job seekers—meaning they’re actively seeking a new job or open to the idea. (See the Forbes article here)

Lastly, have some BIG FUN out there, yourself!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Two Miles of Ditch for Every Mile of Road – Thoughts on Teamwork and Collaboration

There is that old joke about when you are up to your axles in alligators, it is hard to remember that your job was to drain the swamp. Sometimes the tasks at hand simply overwhelm the possible improvements. Organizational improvement is a lot like that, it seems.

Mud has been a most useful metaphor for me around the concept of dealing with Square Wheels when the cargo are round ones. Mud represents the organizational glop, or as I define it, “the stuff that is hard to get a grip on.”

Mud is the goo, the cement, the grinding paste — basically the stuff that is hard to deal with but that directly slows performance. It might be the culture of the organization or the tendency to not reward improvement / punishing failure. It is often the bureaucracy that gets in the way of generating change. It could be one person who tends to simply make everything more difficult for any number of reasons. If organizations had personalities, it could be that, too.

Dealing with the mud of team building

My comments tend to be around choice and choices and defining possibilities. Often, people simply choose to keep muddling along like they always have and not much will change. You just keep plugging away, hoping to make progress.

But it is often useful just to step back from the wagon and look for some ways to “Get out of the ditch and up on the road!” Doing the same thing will generate the same results. And, understanding that there are a lot of miles of ditch to deal with in most organizations is just a thought on reality. Nothing makes sense, and neither does anything else so much of the time. Knowing what needs to be changed and even building a good case for it does not necessarily translate into an organizational improvement initiative.

These situations take group engagement and a sense of shared focus and teamwork in order to generate the energy to change the course of what is happening. One person, no matter how powerful or skilled, will find it very difficult to deal with the glop and get things moving more effectively. There is just too much to deal with, most of the time. Change is difficult. And peer support and teamwork and collaboration are helpful.

Me, I just got up on the road, I think, by doing these little ditty things using the cartoons and illustrating the issues with Haiku and poems and maybe some limericks on occasion. I have a bunch of clients and friends sending me their poems and word changes and the like, so I think I will keep going down this path and see what results.

YOUR thoughts and words would be appreciated, and if you want a couple of cartoons on which to permanently and forever post up your thoughts (attributed to you, of course), pop me a note. I can assist and you can be the poet or wordsmith forever anchored to one of the themes of improving organizations.

Remember:

Caterpillars can fly lighten up round

Or, from The Waterboy:  “You can do it!”

Have fun out there, too. Have a most wonderful New Year!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Collaboration and Teamwork and dealing with Mud

People and Performance — Here are some simple poems and frameworks to get people thinking about issues and opportunities. The goal is to generate one good thought or insight into doing things differently.

Let’s start this with a simple poem to embellish the theme with a bit of my thinking about how things often work. So, here is an image / poem which stimulated the overall design of an illustrated article. Isn’t that how innovation really works for all of us? Anyway, here we go:

Mud Jeep yellow poemThis cartoon image comes from our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and is an integral part of our debriefing package. Players must deal with all sorts of mud to generate their successes.

In the game, mud on one of the selected routes to the mine causes teams to use extra resources and energy, just as it does in the real world. They know that it will cost that extra Fuel, but they are surprised by that nevertheless. Mud is the glop that people have to deal with so often in the workplace, taking the form of bureaucracy, politics, culture and the other things that do not support innovation and improvement. Mud simply bogs one down and costs extra energy to deal with it.

Mud also occurs when people choose to compete rather than collaborate, since one group will often create problems for another group that shares the same overall goal. This happens clearly in the Dutchman game. It also happens all the time in organizations — we call it Interdepartmental Collaboration! Mud is a pain to deal with — some might find it to be cement while others find it to work more like grinding paste, that grit that wears things out.

So, that first poem then got me working on the next few little ditties:

Alligators and sharks totally wired poem

They are out there too, like Spectator Sheep:

Spectator Sheep poem

So, things can then look something like this when it all comes together:

Mud Jeep RWs Alligator Sheep poemWe can make improvements. We must make improvements. Solutions abound. Ideas are everywhere. We just need people to consider other alternatives and choose to collaborate and cooperate and look to do things differently.

But progress forward requires employee engagement and involvement, leadership perspective and a team effort. We simply have to get the conversation rolling forward smoothly, along with shared goals and teamwork:

Spring of improvement and change poem

(Yeah, I do have fun with this stuff!)

For the FUN of It!

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ –

You can reach Scott easily at scott@squarewheels.com

US and THEM – a poem about teamwork and collaboration

US and THEM - a poem about teamwork and collaboration

The lyrics of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” are somewhat about teamwork and leadership — I love the tune (still humming it!). And I have used this cartoon of US being built up full of THEM for 20 years. In Lost Dutchman, a tabletop of people will choose to work together on the shared goal of, “Mining as much gold as we can,” and miss the them of “Mining as much gold as WE can,” which is the purpose of the game from the standpoint of the Expedition Leader. Each team’s success is important, but the overall success is more important, right?

That first lyric talkes about “US” being ordinary people. Ordinary men can do extraordinary things and it is all about the choice and choices people make. But we need to understand that Us is We and that They is Us. We’re all in this together and need to be more aligned, with better leadership.

They - 4 people Pointing

The song lyrics are below, and you can listen to it on YouTube here

Microsoft PowerPoint001

I think we need to remember that our workplaces are full of such “ordinary men” and that each of us has the potential to perform at high levels. What we need are good “Generals” who lead us boldly forward toward a shared vision of the future, but who also engage us and have a real sense of what is happening. After all, as I have written before,

Desk is danger red quote round

and what we need is something that looks like this from the back of the wagon:

View Front at Back with Mission

Have fun out there, and remember to involve and engage.

Muscles slide in backgroundDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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New Square Wheels tools for improvement are on the way, focused on building teams and increasing employee engagement.

Thoughts on Organizational Improvement, Teamwork, Collaboration and Decision Making

We often think of disagreement as negative, which it can sometimes be. On the other hand, having some good discussions because we cannot agree can be quite useful, since the issues raised can be important ones that have not been considered. If we’re not talking about “issues,” how can we discuss “opportunities?” Plus, research shows that an optimal ratio of positive supportive comments to criticisms is 5.6:1 for motivating performance; some negative comments are useful to help balance overall context of performance improvement. I can do another blog on that if you want to see more…

Let me use, for example, my concept of Spectator Sheep as it relates to discussions and communications:

spectator sheep overlay color small

You know them because they are seen “standing around not contributing and voicing their opinions.” Naaaaaaaaa. Baaaaaaaaaa. We hear that kind of complaining all the time…

Well, in a way, good that you do. Because it simply represents people who are dissatisfied with the way things are now, which is one of the pre-requisites for change. If people were okay, they would be unlikely to do anything differently. Motivation comes from the desire to close the gap between the way things are and the way things could be. (See Leon Festinger’s easily accessed work on Cognitive Dissonance in Wikipedia or elsewhere. Here is my blog post on stress as a motivator.)

When we deliver our team building games, like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, we very often see the “forming, storming, norming and performing” stages happen quite quickly. Teams will reach a consensus and shared goal within the first 20 minutes, along with doing the risk management assessment, the provision planning, and developing their overall strategy for success.

But the reality is that teams NEED dissension to reach an optimum decision. If they are all in agreement at the start, or if one person dominates and simply drives their personal plan, the planning will be less good and the teamwork does not form and ownership of results will not occur. We must have some disagreement to optimize the decision quality. And we also need to reach a consensus before moving forward…

non-agreement bliss poem

So, our Spectator Sheep might take on a slightly more beneficial spin:

Spectator Sheep poem SWs One

Actually, I see Spectator Sheep more like this and have a very positive working experience base of engaging these people in performance improvement initiatives:

Spectator Sheep are Motivated Tigers if we get them going the right way

Spectator Sheep can be motivated tigers if we get them going the right way. Ideas that are against the norm are often very good ways to generate alternative perspectives and thus considered alternatives in our choices. And, in a number of organizational leadership development and thinking effectiveness programs, the concept of assigning one person to the role of Devil’s Advocate is often suggested. Those people are supposed to challenge ideas and take alternative, non-consensual viewpoints with the simple goal of improving the overall decisions.

Scott on CoachingYou can find some ideas in a 3-minute video about coaching for improved workplace performance and about involving and engaging the middle of the organizational curve into moving forward on my YouTube page. The link for this particular video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cohrhcYpDCk but we also share a variety of other short pieces on different aspects of overall performance improvement.

Me, I like to refocus Spectator Sheep toward our mission, visions and goals in order to re-energize them to help me get to my goals. Their ideas are useful and they can be realigned, if only we involve and better motivate them.

I Quit Article IconYou can find more ideas about motivating the average employees in another blog post of mine on Workplace Motivation by clicking on this image:

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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