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Is This Relationship Going To Work?

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen, working with people who aren’t our natural soul-mates. Whether the relationship is Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, or two colleagues sharing an office, conflict is probably going to arise at some point in the relationship.

Messrs Clegg and Cameron are both assertive and persuasive individuals who are used to winning the argument. But if they are going to work successfully together they will need to use a range of styles to manage potential conflict between themselves and their party members.

Five Approaches to Managing Conflict

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann describe five approaches we can take to handling any particular conflict:

Compete – we aim to win.

Accommodate – our priority is to keep the other person happy.

Compromise – we do a deal. It’s not perfect but we can both live with it. At least in the short term.

Avoid – we take the view that it’s better not to open the can of worms, so we don’t address the issue.

Collaborate – we look for a solution that fully meets our needs, and also satisfies other person. A true ‘win/win’.

Which One To Use?

Looking at these five styles, you would think that the ‘right’ approach to conflict would always be to collaborate. However, there are a couple of problems with collaboration:

  1. It can take a long time – you have to sit down, explore the other person’s position, analyse the underlying needs and concerns then try to thrash out a resolution. It’s great when you have the time (and the energy) to do this. But sometimes there’s a deadline. Sometimes the markets are showing signs of impatience.
  2. It isn’t always possible. For example, when you and your colleague have fundamentally opposing views or values.

The trick is actually knowing which type of approach is most appropriate in any situation, and consciously adapting your natural preference for one of the five styles.

T-KStyles

So here’s the deal

One of the secrets of handling conflict successfully, whether it’s in a shared office or the House of Commons, is choosing the right strategy.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

TacklingDiffConvsFor more on handling conflict, and coping with difficult conversations generally, take a look at Peter English’s new Pocketbook, The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook.

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Other Pocketbooks you might like include:

You may also be interested to know …

The Thomas-Kilmann model is also available as a self-scoring psychometric instrument. For global sales, check out the CPP website, or for UK sales, check out OPP’s website.

Author: Peter English

This article was written by Peter English, author of:

The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook and

The Succeeding at Interviews Pocketbook.

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Recharge with Watercress

Management Pocketbooks is based in the lovely Hampshire town of Alresford.  The principal claim to fame of Alresford is as the heart of Watercress growing in the UK.  Thanks to the clear, fast moving fresh water that flows through around the town, watercress grows plentifully.

Watercress

Watercress has a peppery taste and is full of good things.  Those of us who live here use it as a salad vegetable and ingredient for most of the year for its taste, but it is one of the foods that can rightly claim the title of “’superfood’.  Let’s look at what’s in it:

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Vitamins:
A and beta carotene, C, B1, B6,
Folate (or folic acid) – a type of B vitamin needed to form new cells,
E, and K

Minerals:
Calcium, Iodine, Iron, Manganese,
Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Magnesium.

Powerful Phytochemicals:
Beta carotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin, Quercetin , Glucosinolate Family

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The Watercress Festival

This Sunday (16 May) sees the annual Watercress Festival.  This has been a consistently great day out, with music, dance and food a-plenty.  You will be amazed at the flexibility of the humble water-weed that is Watercress.

What has this to do with Management?

Managers, leaders, trainers, and educators – indeed everyone in today’s stressful world – needs to know how to take care of their health.  Here are three relevant tips – which you already know:

1.  Eat well
Healthy eating is a pre-requisite for long-term resistance to the effects of a stressful job or lifestyle

2.  Sleep well
Sleep is when your body goes on its full re-charge cycle.  Like the battery in your mobile phone, you do need to drain your body’s energy and re-charge it fully on a regular basis.  Your battery needs this at least once a month: your body is designed to work best with this cycle running once a day

3.  Learn to relax
Days out, relaxing evenings, pursuing interests and time with family and friends will all help you to discharge the stresses and strains of daily life

So here’s the deal

Get along to Alresford this weekend and enjoy the Watercress Festival.  Eat watercress, buy watercress and take it home to eat.  See you there!  Click here for directions.

Management Pocketbooks to help you thrive

EnergyWellBeing

The Energy and Well-Being Pocketbook by Gillian Burn is full of tips and techniques to help you maintain your sense of well-being and boost your energy levels, so you can be at your best.

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You may also enjoy:

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What can Pocketbooks Teach our Politicians?

Thursday is polling day in the UK and on Friday, we’ll get a new Government. It may be a new version of the same one, a combination of the same and something different or some flavour of different perspectives.

Whatever happens, the world won’t change overnight – even for those of us in the UK.  I say this because one of my earliest memories is the terror my parents expressed at the implications of a change of Government when I was a small child.  Yet the next day, everything seemed just the same to me.

What’s new this time?

The big change in this election is the increase in focus on party leaders at the expense of a forensic analysis of their parties and of their parties’ policies.  Like it or loathe it, this change is probably with us to stay.

So we’ve been trawling through our collection of Pocketbooks, looking for wisdom and advice for the party leaders who will compete in the UK’s next General Election (which will be any time between summer 2010 and spring 2015).

Advice for the Leaders from Management Pocketbooks

The Leadership Pocketbook tells us that leaders need:

  1. Enthusiasm – show genuine interest
  2. Energy – be lively
  3. Engagement – make it interesting

The Presentations Pocketbook tells us there are three ways to deflect an unwanted question:

  1. Ask the audience for their views
  2. Pass it to a colleague who is an expert
  3. Ask the questioner their opinion before answering

The Influencing Pocketbook tells us that people will say yes when your ideas meet their view of life in one of three areas:

  1. Principle and values
  2. Beliefs and opinions
  3. Needs and wants

And finally, if our politicians end up having to do deals in a balanced Parliament, The Resolving Conflict Pocketbook tells us three steps towards principled negotiation:

  1. Don’t take a position – it will only lead to an argument, so hear people out and look for a joint solution
  2. Separate the people from the problem – personal style is not the substance of the matter and attacks on it are fruitless
  3. Focus on interests – ‘what do you want to achieve?’, rather than ‘what are your ideological roots?’

… and we have to apologise to one leader for the failure of the Pocketblog to provide all the help he needed.  When, on 13 April, we advised:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

… we should perhaps have added:

….4.   Beware clip-on radio microphones
.…..….Always

So here’s the deal

The real test of how effectively you can communicate your message is: ‘would a small child understand it?’  Politicians have been busy simplifying their message.  You may admire or deprecate this trend.  We’ll see the outcome soon!

And …  Why not share your own favourite advice from one of the Management Pocketbooks in the comments space below.  Feel free to contribute, whether you are a reader or an author.  Finally, any takers for a new PPC – prospective pocketbook candidate? The Politician’s Pocketbook.  Now there’s an idea!

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Are you a Donkey or a Dog?

One of the biggest problems in time management is giving your time to somebody else.  And yet, we all do it.  The consequence is that other people become adept at stealing your time.

Complicity

However, unlike your possessions, I can only steal your time with an accomplice: you!  If you want more of your own time for yourself, one answer is to understand why you sometimes find yourself complicit in giving it away.

Donkey

Donkey

Photo credit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpockele/
/ CC BY 2.0

Some of us behave like donkeys.  We don’t enjoy carrying other people’s loads for them; but we do it.  We do it because it is a habit we have got ourselves into and we have come to see it as our lot in life to be a bearer of burden.  No wonder these people look a little sad for much of the time.

You are not a beast of burden.  It is your privilege in life to make choices for yourself and to reject a burden you do not wish to carry.

Dogcrop

Dog

Photo credit: Atanas Grozdanov, www.ImagesFromBulgaria.com

Some people behave like dogs.  They will do whatever somebody asks of them because they are eager to please.  They act as if the only way to succeed is to win the approval of others.  Often they feel that they are doing everybody else’s bidding because they want to, but the truth is that they are putting their own needs and desires beneath those of the people around them.

Habitual dogs may be liked, but they are rarely respected.  They don’t achieve fulfilment, just a vague sense of having been good to other people.

Your life

You have one life; get the most from the time you have.  Sometimes choose to help out because you feel a sense of duty and not to do so will leave you feeling bad.  Sometimes lend a hand because you want to please other people.  Sometimes say ’no’ and do your own thing, because you can.  It’s your life; your choice.

Manage your time

The Time Management Pocketbook reminds us that:

To manage your time better
you’ve got to start managing yourself

TimeManagement

It is filled with great tips on managing what you do, where you work, communications, working with others and general personal effectiveness.

So here’s the deal

Don’t be a donkey or a dog all of the time.  Make your own choices and be prepared to say ‘no’ sometimes.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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The Pocketblog Guide to Exhibitions and Conferences

On 21 and 22 April 2010, Management Pocketbooks will be on stand 571 at Olympia, for the annual CIPD HRD Conference and Exhibition.

We hope to see you there.  If you are coming to this one or going to another; whether you are attending an exhibition, an exhibition and conference, or are exhibiting, here are our top tips for making the best of your networking and learning opportunities.

Tip 1: Use your time effectively

Exhibitions and conferences are exhausting and time consuming. Your reason for going may be pleasure but for most of us, it is business.  So make sure you plan to capitalise on business opportunities.

  1. Research who will be there. Are there any of your clients, suppliers or prospects? If there are, check where they will be and go prepared.
  2. If you can do so, arrange to meet people at the exhibition. You’ll both be there and both be in need of a cuppa from time to time.
  3. Tour the exhibition hall systematically. Talk to people on stands that interest you – regardless of whether you sense a business opportunity. Let random connections create unexpected opportunities from time to time.
  4. Allow time to stop and have a break. You’ll need it and it will give you the time for an unexpected conversation.
  5. Schedule any conference events into your organiser to ensure you don’t miss them.

Tip 2: Practise the art of influence

A simple way to be more influential is to be seen as an expert. To speak with real authority, find something specific you can really specialise in. Ironically, the narrower your specialism, the more you will be seen as an expert. Try it:

  • ‘I specialise in training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for SMEs’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for high tech SMEs’

While we are on the subject of authority; remember to dress the part. Rightly or wrongly, we judge each other by the clothes we wear. Dress to impress – let your clothes reinforce your authority; not undermine it.  And don’t forget a big stack of business cards – not just for the fishbowl competitions: for doing business too.

Tip 3: Make your exhibit count

Make sure you let people know in advance that you will be there, and where you will be (we’ll be on stand 571).  On your stand, it makes good sense to appoint someone to co-ordinate your activities and also direct good practice.  For example:

  • Take an interest in the people who take an interest in your stand.  Playing it cool and chatting nonchalantly with your colleagues will not impress and may intimidate.
  • Ask people question when they come onto your stand.  If you bombard them with your pitch, you have a one in a thousand chance of saying the right thing.  Questions will help you figure out what they want to know about.
  • Don’t use your mobile on the stand.  If you need to make or take a call, step away from the stand.
  • Don’t put your freebies and brochures on the edge of the stand.  If a delegate is just ‘stamp collecting’ then the give-away has no value to them or you.  If they really want what you have, making them ask will give you a chance to engage with them.

Tip 4: Get the most from the Conference

Three colleagues went to a conference.

  1. Chris thought it was just as expected: all either familiar ideas or irrelevant rubbish
  2. Vic thought it was just as expected: all the talks were interesting and everything was brilliant
  3. Sam thought it was just as expected: a lot of the speakers had one or two real nuggets to take away and think about, with a few surprising insights from unexpected places

Who got the most from the conference?

So here’s the deal

Plan your time, prepare your personal pitch, use your stand well, and tune your radar for unexpected nuggets of insight and opportunity

The Essential Conference-goers Management Pocketbook Collection

There is no Conference-goer’s Pocketbook or Exhibitor’s Pocketbook – yet.  So in the meantime, take a look at the following Pocketbooks to prepare yourself:

  1. The Influencing Pocketbook
  2. The Networking Pocketbook
  3. The Negotiator’s Pocketbook
  4. The Customer Service Pocketbook
  5. The Learner’s Pocketbook

If you don’t own any of these, you can buy them at a £1 discount on stand 571 and, if you buy five Pocketbooks you can get one free.  How about:

….…6.  The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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Come and see us next week

Management Pocketbooks are at the CIPD’s HRD Exhibition on 21 & 22 April, at Olympia.

HRD Excel 09 001571

We’d love to see you – come and visit us on stand 571.

There will be a blog soon on memory, but in the meantime, to help you remember the stand number, you can always picture Delia Smith or Sophie Dahl or Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal (pick your favourite) ‘strive to make a
heavenly
bun
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Buy five get one free

We’ll be selling all pocketbooks at a £1 discount (at £6.99 each) and for every five books you buy, you can pick another one free.  What better time to top up your collection?

What’s New?

If you are wondering how to use this offer, why not top up with new titles that weren’t born before the last HRD:

You might also like to update to a new edition.  In the last year, Pocketbooks authors have been hard at work updating and revising:

e-Pocketbooks

PBK-e-Library DVD (RED)Carry your Pocketbooks around on your phone or iPod Touch, have them on your laptop, or have a full set on disc.  We’ll be happy to talk with you about subscriptions to our whole portfolio of e-books – our e-Library – or buying single Pocketbooks in electronic format.  e-Pocketbooks.

If you cannot wait until 21 April, see our website for more information.

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Pocketbooks Live
‘I want to give you some feedback…..’

Mike Pezet, author of the new Feedback Pocketbook, will be presenting in the Learning Arena on Thursday 22 April from 15.00 to 15:45.  His presentation is: ‘I want to give you some feedback…..’.

Mike’s presentation will demonstrate simple ways to establish effective feedback relationships and encourage acceptance; highlight some basic mistakes; describe how to avoid feedback adding to the blame culture; and show how to avoid negative feedback situations.  All in 45 minutes.

Feedback

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A Strong Authoritative Voice

Having a strong, authoritative voice will win you instant respect.  On the other hand, a weak and feeble piping speech sound will undermine your credibility.  We are programmed to hear deeper, steadier voices as more commanding.

Change your voice

Politicians hire vocal coaches to help slow their speech, lower the pitch of their voice and deal with unwanted regional accents.  Professor Yuki Sato at Hosei University in Japan has a simpler way – use software.  He has found a way to process recorded speech to make it sound different.  It’s not what you would describe as the perfect solution, but try it for yourself.  Here are two voices from his website:

The original sample of Miss Sugimoto

The sample modified to make her sound more ‘manly’

Recordings only

As New Scientist reported in a 2002 article, Sato’s work has so far only been able to modify recordings.  So this is not the solution to boost your performance in your next platform speech at your company’s annual conference.  For that, you will need to work a little harder.

Vocal Skills

An effective voice has three things, says Richard Payne, author of the Vocal Skills Pocketbook:

  1. Vitality
    How to sound really  interesting by using really good words and a varied voice to build rhythms and patterns
  2. Audibility
    Being heard.  Sorry, being heard
  3. Clarity
    Not mmmbblnnng

Hmmm, still much to learn for me then.

VocalSkills

I’ll try again …

  1. Vitality
    A few deep breaths before you start, regular pauses to catch your breath and create emphasis, and a well crafted script can bring your speech to life
  2. Audibility
    Good breathing and posture can help you to project your voice at the right volume.  If the room is too big for you, use a microphone.
  3. Clarity
    Taking your time and rehearsing will help you get your words and your overall message across clearly.  Practicing some of Richards Vocal Exercises will improve the way you pronounce tricky vowel or consonant combinations.

A Pocketful of help

This book really is an excellent help for anyone contemplating public speaking, with 26 speech exercises that will certainly help develop your skills.  But here are three extra tips from my experience sitting in conference rooms at break times:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

So here’s the deal

Public speaking is a challenge, so prepare for it by preparing your most important tool.  Chefs sharpen their knives, carpenters hone their chisels, and engineers calibrate their micrometers.  So too should a speaker rehearse their voice.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17523521.600-get-a-voice-to-rouse-the-masses.html
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Adapting and Innovating

Whether at work or at play, in a social setting or alone, we all have to solve problems.  As soon as we frame something as ‘a problem’ however, we create a barrier for ourselves.

How do you go about solving a problem?

To be successful, we need to remove the barrier.  We’ll look at a simple yet powerful way later.  But let’s start with the question of how you solve a problem.  Dr Michael Kirton identified a continuum of styles that people use, when tackling problems.

Kirton_A-I_Continuum

At one end of the spectrum is an Adaptive Style.  People whose preference is towards this end like a structure within which  to solve their problems.  They will favour a formal problem solving process like the Eight Disciplines, the Simplex Method or DMAIC.

Adaptive Problem Solvers

Discipline and incrementalism characterise these problem solvers.  They like to ‘do it by the book’ and avoid taking risks.  They are less likely to find the radical solution, but also less likely to crash and burn with a way out solution that fails disastrously.

Radical solutions are more likely to be found by people who favour the Innovative end of the spectrum of styles.

Innovative Problem Solvers

Innovative problem solvers like risk, experimentation and radical solutions.  A formal process will leave them feeling constrained and all they will want to do is subvert it.  They will question anything and often do things differently just for the sake of it.  Irreverence is their middle name!

Commonly, Adaptive problem solving goes along with careful attention to detail, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, an Innovative style shuns detail in favour of a wider view.

Creativity

Innovative problem solving often looks like ‘creativity’.  This is perhaps a false equation.  Styles across the whole spectrum can be creative; the continuum helps us understand the conditions that best foster that creativity for each of us.

The Best of Both Worlds

Is there a way of working on problems that can allow people who favour both Adaptive and Innovative styles to work together and thrive.  Jonne Cesarani is an expert on helping stimulate creativity and his Problem Solving Pocketbook, may well hold the answer.

ProblemSolving Throughout the book, Jonne makes good use of a very powerful approach to problem solving, called Synectics.

Developed from observation of what does and does not work in problem-solving groups, Synectics offers a clear nine-step process for solving problems that will certainly appeal to the Adaptive thinker in any of us.

But the way that it does so is to foster stages of controlled challenge and radicalism.  It offers flexibility and a variety of tools that stimulate thinking in metaphorical, absurd and imaginary ways that will also appeal to the Innovative thinker in you.

The Nine Step Model

It is well worth checking out the nine step process, which Jonne sets out and documents extremely clearly.  As a taster, there is Step 1.

Task Headline

This is an astonishingly simple way to overcome that barrier of ‘having a problem’. In Synectics, we start by re-writing our problem in the format:

‘How to …’

What this does is focus you, right from the start, on the solution, rather than the problem.  Brilliant!

So here’s the deal

Don’t force a problem solving process on people with an Innovative style, but do offer one to people who are more Adaptive.  For teams, favour an approach that allows members to combine a clear process with the freedom to subvert it.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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What is Empathy?

Lots of Pocketbooks use the word ‘empathy’.  The problem is that scientists still find it hard to properly characterise.  New Scientist magazine ran a fascinating feature article on 13 March 2010 called ’Empathy Overkill’.  In this article they studied what we can learn when our empathy systems go into overdrive.  There are some people who suffer from forms of extreme empathy, such as:

    unconsciously echoing other people actions
    …..– even inappropriate ones

    feeling the physical sensations they
    …..observe in others

Mirror Neurons

MirrorNeuronsEmpathy appears to be due to some specialised brain cells called mirror neurons that are at the top of our brains.  They activate in the same way, whether we do something or we see someone else do it.  They let us ‘try out’ other people’s movements and gestures.

It seems that some people’s mirror neurons are not inhibited enough, causing them to literally live-out the actions or sensations they observe.

Empathy and Compassion

As well as the medical implications of extreme empathy, scientists are also looking at the link between empathic responses and compassion.  Evidence suggests that an inability physically identify with other people’s pain does correlate with high self-assessed levels of ‘cold-heartedness’.

So, it is your mirror neurons that let you know how other people are feeling.  When a colleague walks into work tomorrow, they will help you know whether that colleague is feeling good or bad.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage

John Mattock is passionate about the value of cross cultural empathy in business.  If you want to work with business people in another culture, being sensitive to their cultural norms and making the effort to understand them will bring you sustainable competitive advantage.  The Cross-Cultural Business Pocketbook is chock-full of great tips to build up your understanding and for how to communicate effectively across cultures.  A series of two-page mini guides to a handful of cultures on their own make this an insightful and valuable book.

CrossCulturalBusiness

So here’s the deal

If you want to read other people’s minds, let your mirror neurons tell you what’s going on.  What you choose to do with that information is up to you. If you work with people from other cultures, then your empathy skills may be stretched to their limits, but if you prime them well and are sympathetic to the emotions your mirror neurons detect, then you may just get better results for your efforts.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

If you have come across from our sister site, the Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog, or are interested in empathy in the classroom, you may like this short post.

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Be West of the Rest

Telephone conference calls are a great way for a geographically dispersed project team to stay in touch.  The biggest problem is timing.  If you are working in Britain, with colleagues in California, what time should you make the call?

A quick look at a map of time-zones reveals the problem.  At noon British Time, it is 4am in California.  Let’s say you are planning a 90 minute call.  Typically, nobody likes getting up in the early hours, so you have to either move the call back to late evening or early morning in California.  Let’s try them out:

Option A: Start at 9pm California; 5am Britain

Option B: Start at 9am California; 5pm Britain

My guess is that both parties will prefer Option B.  The British won’t have to get up unrealistically early and the American’s won’t have to stay at work late.  But this does mean that, while the Californian’s are bright as a button, the British are tired, at the end of the working day, staying on to 6:30.

The Challenges of Virtual Team

This is one tiny example of the challenges facing virtual teams – teams that do not work together physically.  They are an increasing feature of the modern workplace.  Even if your business is not a global or multi-national company, you are not immune.

Many small businesses work in complex global networks contributing products and services to international supply chains.  Even many schools are now linking up across continents to enrich pupils’ learning opportunities.

VirtualTeamsIn his Virtual Teams Pocketbook, Ian Fleming is spot on when he identifies technology as a key enabler, and also crushes the assumption that virtual teams are all about technology. What Ian does do is give practical advice about using a range of technology tools to your advantage.

It is all about Communication

Technology is an enabler for the most important part of team working: communication.  Whether your team is spread around offices across the world, or a series of local organisations, your top priority is to find the best ways to allow team members to stay in touch informally and to exchange formal information reliably.

Swift trust

In his Pocketbook, Ian Fleming describes a great process, called Swift Trust.  The idea was developed by three authors called Meyerson, Weick and Kramer in 1996.  Their thesis is that trust can be built quickly by :

  1. Presuming each team member has earned their place
  2. Trusting other people’s expertise and knowledge
  3. Creating shared goals and a shared recognition/reward scheme
  4. Defining a clear role for each person to play
  5. Focusing on tasks and actions
  6. Taking responsibility and acting responsively

Yes Please

How many groups have you worked in where one or more of these characteristics is missing.  Deep trust comes from the one thing Swift Trust is designed to do without, personal relationships.  However, surely each of the six characteristics above is essential for any team.

So here’s the deal

Whether your team is virtual or sitting around the same table, day after day, tailor your communications to build trust.  Focus on the checklist above, and then look for ways to build personal relationships too.

Other management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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