Friday, October 9, 2009

Trust is a correlate not precondition for an effective team

Lencioni's book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, does an outstanding job of identifying the components needed for an effective team: ability to engage in and resolve conflict, commitment to team decisions, accountability to team members, attention to results, and trust of one another.

However, I disagree when he says that TRUST is the foundation for a successful team and leads to the other results. Instead, I suggest that TRUST is the outcome of the other behaviors that enables the team to excel. Successful experience with conflict, commitment, accountability, and attention to results LEADS TO trust. Only that history will enable trust to grow. In the absence of trust, initial "faith" may be the right word for what is needed. Members must have faith that others will engage in positive practices. If that faith is rewarded with the right behaviors, trust develops. If people see their faith in others violated, trust will not develop and the other components of a good team will not develop. I think that concentrating on the other behaviors will lead to trust, and not vice-versa. When a team lacks trust, the focus should be on one of the other key components and not on trust per se. Trust is the goal, because it implies the presence of all the other pieces. When a team has trust, it is probably an effective team. They go hand-in-hand. Lack of trust is a symptom and the real cause needs to be addressed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Attention Allstate Insurance Agents

I don't typically promote my services quite this blatantly. But I just saw that Allstate Insurance agents are worrying about new sales expectations being forced on them. I can help! Call me and we will schedule a series of workshops just for you to teach you The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP! that will give you the tools to meet those new quotas. is the website, if you want to check it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Performance Evaluation with the Stars

I hate to admit it, but I suffer through Dancing with the Stars. And I recommend it to you, at least the first few shows. Because, in spite of the theatrics and the character roles the judges are expected to play, they model an impressive set of performance feedback behaviors. In the early rounds, several hapless "dancers" are included in the cast for comedy relief or maybe for a touch of the common folk. They cannot dance. But the feedback they are given is supportive and kind as well as instructive. Yes, they are told they are not dancing, but they are given ideas to help them be better the next time. The truth is told but in a truly constructive fashion. Just another reminder: there are lessons we can learn from many different sources.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama's language pattern of persuasion

There is a well-known pattern for persuading an audience. You begin with statements that you know the audience will agree with or will recognize as true. Those statements do not have to have anything to do with the actual question! Then you say what you want to say in such a way that the agreement-pattern has already been established. This reduces the chance that the audience will disagree with you. They will be programmed to agree and to hear what you want them to hear.

Examples from recent Obama press conference:
Q. Congress is trying to figure out how to pay for all of this reform. Have you told House and Senate leaders which of their ideas are acceptable to you? If so, are you willing to share that stand of yours with the American people?
A. (1)Right now premiums for families that have health insurance have doubled over the last 10 years...(ALL AGREE SINCE FACTS CAN'T BE CHECKED)
(2)We also know that with health care inflation on the curve that it's on we are guaranteed to see Medicare and Medicaid basically break the federal budget....(ALL AGREE--SOUNDS REASONABLE BUT FACTS CAN'T BE CHECKED)
(3) ...What I want to do is to see what emerges (FEELS LIKE AN ANSWER WITHOUT BEING ONE)

Q.Do you think -- do you accept the premise that other than some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, the American people are going to have to give anything up in order for this to happen?
A. (1)They're going to have to give up paying for things that don't make them healthier. (WHO CAN ARGUE WITH THAT!)
(2)Look, if right now hospitals and doctors aren't coordinating're wasting money. (WITHOUT LOOKING CLOSELY, SOUNDS REASONABLE AND FACTS CAN'T BE CHECKED)
(3)Now, I want to change that. Every American should want to change that. Why would we want to pay for things that don't work, that aren't making us healthier? (CAN'T ARGUE WITH THAT!)...

And still no answer to the question.

The secret is to make statements that sound like truths as well as statements that the audience will certainly agree with. You can win friends (and elections) and never really answer a question.

It's not just Obama. All politicians do this. Remember the dance scene in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Charles Durning doing the two-step and the press asking, "What did he say?" It's just that Mr. Obama is a master at the craft. Watch and learn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Customer service observation

Too much customer service has lost the "service" element. When a customer is unhappy, too often customer service people will pull out the contract and say, "Let's see what we said we would do." Wouldn't it be better to ask, "What are your expectations and how can we exceed them?"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Passing the torch in business

A friend of mine recently told me that the Chinese encourage the younger generations to run the businesses. However, the young managers seek out their elders for constant advice and suggestions.

I couldn't help but think of this as I watch several family-owned and closely-held companies struggle with succession. The "next" generation is available to help lead, but the current generation is not ready to let go. At the same time, in some cases, the younger generation wants the older generation to "just go away."

Perhaps our senior leaders need to learn some techniques of the Socratic method to learn how to give advice in the form of questions without controlling or suggesting criticism. At the same time, can new young managers be confident enough to ask for advice without fearing that it makes them look inadequate? Can the torch be passed while the elders are still a source of knowledge and looked upon with respect? Or is that just something the Chinese can do?