Paula is a new manager. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that she was handed a leaky bag. The branch she will now manage has some long-standing norms she sees as unproductive and possibly unethical. Staff members routinely spend working hours on personal projects. Employees neglect customers to take extended lunch breaks. In addition, Paula’s predecessor routinely rated everyone a “5” on a five-point scale, but she was struggling to find a single “5” in the entire group.
As the individual and group performance picture became clear to Paula, she began to pine for the simplicity of her life as an individual contributor.
Most new managers quickly see things they’d like to change. New leaders are advised to take some time to listen and appreciate what is, rather than make their own mark at the risk of appearing self-centered or authoritarian. But what should you do when the need for change is profound and urgent? How can you minimize resistance while honoring your fundamental duty?
There’s a difference between addressing bad behavior and changing bad norms. The first requires confronting the inappropriate meanderings of one or two individuals. The second is about resetting the norms of an entire group. Here are some suggestions for new managers who see the need for quick and fundamental change.
Is it me or is it them? First, get feedback from trusted sources to ensure your concerns are a matter of principle not of taste. For example, Paula should consult HR to ensure her new standards don’t conflict with company policy. She might also tap into colleagues who fit three criteria: (1) having a view of her work group; (2) having a sense of broader company norms; and (3) telling her the truth — even if she doesn’t like it. If the problems are open-and-shut violations of policy, notify HR or other appropriate channels. But if the issues are more in the gray zone, move to the next step.
Establish air cover. The big problem with bad norms is you don’t know how high and wide the acceptance runs. If, for example, your peer managers in this new location give tacit approval to personal indulgences during work hours, it’s much harder to establish new norms. It’ll be even harder if those above you have enabled the behavior. If that is the case, then you’ll need to have a conversation with peer managers and your boss before addressing your work group.
For all who work in the Corporate world, there comes a day when we're in a critical meeting, and someone very powerful points to us and uses this phrase:
"You're not a team player."
While it is never wise to question the motives of others, it is safe (and fair) to consider the impact of the phrase, since it may be one of the most manipulative strings of words in the English language. Here are some of the implications.
The phrase "You're not being a team player" implies:
You're obviously not willing to help us all succeed.
You're obviously in this for your own gain.
You're not thinking of the bigger picture.
You're not interested in our success.
It's that time of year and we need a pick up and go to make these last three months count. Team buildings are great fun, and a cool way to get to know everyone.
They need not be expensive, here are a couple of cheap and fun ones we found (and use), that you can give a go.
1. Two Truths and a Lie
Time Required: 15-30 minutes
Start out by having every team member secretly write down two truths about themselves and one lie on a small piece of paper – Do not reveal to anyone what you wrote down! Once each person has completed this step, allow 10-15 minutes for open conversation – much like a cocktail party – where everyone quizzes each other on their three questions. The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people’s truths/lies by asking them questions. Don’t reveal your truths or lie to anyone – even if the majority of the office already has it figured out! After the conversational period, gather in a circle and one by one repeat each one of your three statements and have the group vote on which one they think is the lie. You can play this game competitively and award points for each lie you guess or for stumping other players on your own lie. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as it lets you get to know your co-workers better.
2. Life Highlights Game
Time Required: 30 minutes
This is an excellent icebreaker activity that’s perfect for small and large groups alike. Begin by asking each participant to close their eyes for one minute and consider the best moments of their lives. This can include moments they’ve had alone, they’ve shared with family or friends; these moments can pertain to professional successes, personal revelations, or exciting life adventures. After the participants have had a moment to run through highlights of their lives, inform them that their search for highlights is about to be narrowed. Keeping their eyes closed, ask each participant to take a moment to decide what 30 seconds of their life they would want to relive if they only had thirty seconds left in their life. The first part of the activity enables participants to reflect back on their lives, while the second part (which we’ll discuss in a moment) enables them to get to know their coworkers on a more intimate level. The second portion of the game is the “review” section. The leader of the activity will ask each and every participant what their 30 seconds entailed and why they chose it, which will allow participants to get a feel for each other’s passions, loves, and personalities.
This is a curated blog filled with great stuff on teams we have found in our wanderings
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