Getting To Know You

So we recently took on a new function at work.


With that came a new group of employees.


Today, we had a wonderful breakfast as a meet and greet for everyone to get to know each other.


There was a tremendous spread of food laid out everything from bagels and smear, granola and yogurt, free fruit and vegetable salad, donut and muffins, and more.


There was enough food to feed a small army.


Aside from the group joining us, we had people come from other departments that support the process they are involved in–so folks from finance, legal, and even the front office.


The new lead assigned for the group that came over even gave out envelopes to thank their new team and 2 big boxes of gourmet coffee for them to share.


How nice this all was done and the investment that was made to bring the new team on board was really amazing to me.


I saw all the goodwill that was being built up from this event and the niceties put into it to recognize the people and make everyone comfortable together as a team.


I learned that an investment upfront like this in people and function can have tremendous benefits downstream in building a team and performing services that everyone can be proud of who is apart of this.


Invest not only in things, but also most importantly in people and relationships! ๐Ÿ˜‰


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Teambuilding S-Cubed

Awesome day today with my team at work.ย 


We had a half-day team building.ย 


Started off with a Play-Doh exercise where we had to answer things like what we’d like to accomplish as a team in the new year.ย 


This was my representation with a S-cubed for the new program implementing process improvements and enterprise service management using:


–ย Strategy


–ย Structure


– (Customer)ย Service


We followed up with a great team luncheon and then a game of Monster Mini Golf.


We broke into two teams and one team came in “first place” and the other team were the “winners.”


I suppose whenever we genuinely come together as a team to appreciate each other and work collaboratively as a unified whole–greater than the sum of our parts–then we truly all come out as first place winners! ๐Ÿ˜‰


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Have You Been Voluntold?

Have You Been Voluntold?

Voluntold, it’s a funny word.

A combination of volunteer and told, to do something.

I couldn’t believe that this word is actually in the dictionary and means:

“When one has been volunteered for something by another person. Often against their wishes and desires.” (Reference: Unwords)

“The exact opposite of volunteering. Always used in reference to an unpleasant task to which you have been assigned by your boss.”(Reference: Urban Dictionary)

I’ve seen this used when the boss asks for volunteers for a task or special project. If no one volunteers, then the boss volunteers someone–telling them to do it. They have been voluntold!

One time, I remember a very tense meeting where a boss was presenting his vision for the organization, but at the same time putting down the status quo and everyone in it.

As one point, he asks for a volunteer to help with driving his vision forward (note: no one had bought into it), and no one volunteers.

The boss ask for a volunteer once, twice, and three times at the meeting as the tension rises.

Finally, a hand goes up and someone accepts the task.

He is the bosses new favorite and is told publicly at the meeting that he will be rewarded for “stepping up.”

The truth is he didn’t really step up, but rather succumbed to the pressure to do it.

Another victim of being voluntold.

In the end, he really didn’t perform much of what he volunteered for–not a surprise, since he never bought into it to begin with.

Sometimes, we do have to ask people to do things, but it shouldn’t be by force or undue pressure.

A leader builds his vision with his team–not for his team–and they move forward together to achieve their unified goals and objectives.

Telling someone to do something, and pretending that they are really volunteering fools no one and achieves nothing accept maybe calling out some pretend accomplishments to go with the pretend volunteers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Andrew Huff)

Lessons Learned on IT Customer Service and Team Building

Mission_first_people_always

In Public CIO Magazine (12 December 2012) Andy Blumenthal talks about lessons learned as an IT leader.

You’ve got to serve the mission, solve problems, take care of your customers, while at the time forming a cohesive, high performing team.ย 

Read here for the full article.

Hope you enjoy!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Dell Inc.)

Open Doors, Closed Minds

Door_closed

This was a funny photo at the local Pot Belly eatery.ย 

Their side door (right off their main entrance) is wide open, yet they have these two large signs that say “Keep Closed” and “For your safety back door must be locked at all times.”

And inside this guy with a clipboard is schmoozing away–seemingly ignoring everything.

No delivery in sight either–maybe just the morning checkup on things.

So much for safety, following the rules, and probably good common sense.

It reminded me of a couple of things:

One is sort of the opposite of this scenario, where in the office, virtually every manager/leader purports to have an “open door” policy, yet really while their door may be open, their minds are closed.

They don’t really listen to what people are telling them–issues, solutions, new ideas–they have their own ideas about things, how they are and how they ought to be. The others don’t really matter to them, because they are in charge.

In this case emotional intelligence, social/interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and teamwork are all pretty low. Surprisingly or not, this is quite a lot of managers out there, I think.

The other thing this scene brought to mind is a related issue of access. Sometimes, we may try to get a briefing or presentation, or even just a discussion with superiors, but they always seem too busy.

Without acccess, we are limited in pushing new ideas and innovations up and out–it stops with the gatekeepers. With access, we can work together to make great ideas and solutions even better.

It’s interesting that access–such a simple thing you would imagine, is such a big deal. But it is common too that rather than dealing with new ideas or difficult issues, managers may simply find it easier to simply not deal with “the noise.”

This is the equivalent of grade school, where you put the fresh-mouthed student in the corner, facing the wall, with a tall pointy dunce cap on their head–until they and everyone else gets the message that this not someone of significance. See them, laugh at them, then ignore them.

Access is another word for you mean something or you don’t, in your bosses mind, at least, and in how they communicate about you to others.

Lose access and you are in the wilderness and maybe will starve to death and die. Gain access and you have an opportunity to influence things for the positive–live and let others thrive.

Are you relevant or dead–is the door open–really or is it just a show.

Your job as a leader and follower is too figure out how to open doors all around you, to bridge divides, communicate what you really think in a way that can be heard, influence the way forward, and make people feel–really feel–that they are heard, that they do have something important to say and contribute, and that everyone is valuable.

Door open or closed–your mission is the same.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Leadership Lessons In a Pie

There is an interesting exercise that examines and trains leaders on strengths and weaknesses.

In the exercise, there are 8 primary skills written on the floor in a pie shape taped off into slices.

People are instructed to step into the slice where they think they are the strongest.

For example, some stepped into slices labeled visionaries, others into change catalysts, team building, or communication, and so on.

Then the group of people from each slice takes a turn and explains to everyone else how to become good at that particular skill, where they are the experts.

Then the exercise is reversed and the participants are asked to find and step into the slice that is the most challenging for them.

In this second part, the group of people in each slice then explain to the rest of the participants what makes that skill in their slice so challenging for them.

This is a thought-provoking and helpful leadership exercise that gives people an opportunity to examine and discuss their strengths and weakness and learn from each other.

While I wouldn’t say that they all slices had the same number of people–they didn’t, some had more and some less–each slice did some people to represent that skill.

Some thoughts on this pie exercise:

– By having to choose only one key strength (i.e. only one slice to stand in), it is humbling to realize all the other skills where you aren’t as strong, but seeing other people in spread across those slices too–let’s you know that it is possible.

– Also, by having to identify your most challenging leadership skill, the one where you need to focus the most attention on, it is comforting to see other people in the same slice–you are not alone.

– Seeing and hearing about the multiple leadership areas for people–both strengths and weaknesses–points to the importance of diversity of people and skills in the workplace–everyone can do something, but no one can do everything perfect.

– It is healthy to take a self-accounting of your strengths and weaknesses and learn where you can help others and where you can learn from others–thus, teamwork in leadership is just as critical as what is expected in the proverbial “rank and file.”

– Leadership skills are generally not something that you are born mastering–although some are labeled “born leaders” (or maybe “born with a silver spoon in their mouth” in more appropriate)–the vast majority of people learn and grow their leadership skills over a lifetime–and that is a good thing, so stick with it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An Approach To Teamwork That Isn’t Hot Air

Dancing_balloon

The team took a couple of minutes of downtime to rejuvenate.

Ever creative, they drew a smiley face on some celebratory balloons.

Up over the air conditioner, and the balloons danced literally all day long.

One person is waving their arms to show no strings or anything holding it up.

For a terrific team that works really hard, it was nice to see them laugh it off a little.

Cost what–2 cents? And it made everyone happy!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚