10 Research-Backed Steps To Building A Great Team

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#PLAN — #PUSH — #PREVAILPointing forward

Blog Content:

  • Quote: By: John Quincy Adams
  • Article: This is from a blog I just started following. Enjoyed Eric Barker’s content (it has many levels of application) and felt it worth sharing. Possibly you will want to follow too. http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2013/07/great-team/ There is a lot of good content and links to “go deeper” on much of the content. ENJOY

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

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10 Research-Backed Steps To Building A Great Team

great-team

How do you build a great team?

A great team is not just a group of great individuals.

Research studies have shown the elements that go into making a productive group aren’t always obvious and often defy conventional wisdom.

1) Don’t just look for smarts, look for social skills

What makes for smart teams? It’s not average IQ; it’s team social skills:

The three factors are: the average social sensitivity of the members of the group, the extent to which the group’s conversations weren’t dominated by a few members, and the percentage of women in the group.  (The women in the study tended to score higher on social sensitivity than the men.) In other words, groups perform better on tasks if the members have strong social skills, if there are some women in the group, and if the conversation reflects more group members’ ideas. 

2) The best predictor of team success is if they like one another

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

…a study of over 350 employees in 60 business units at a financial services company found that the greatest predictor of a team’s achievement was how the members felt about one another.

How well do they need to get along? Remember the 5 to 1 ratio.

From The Ape in the Corner Office: How to Make Friends, Win Fights and Work Smarter by Understanding Human Nature:

It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…

Is your team fist bumping, high-fiving and hugging? “The teams that touched the most cooperated the most, and won the most.”

Via Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior:

So are touchy-feely people more successful at getting things done? There is no data on whether bosses who dole out the occasional pat on the head run a smoother operation, but a 2010 study by a group of researchers in Berkeley found a case in which a habit of congratulatory slaps to the skull really is associated with successful group interactions. The Berkeley researchers studied the sport of basketball, which both requires extensive second-by-second teamwork and is known for its elaborate language of touching. They found that the number of “fist bumps, high fives, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, chest punches, head slaps, head grabs, low fives, high tens, half hugs, and team huddles” correlated significantly with the degree of cooperation among teammates, such as passing to those who are less closely defended, helping others escape defensive pressure by setting what are called “screens,” and otherwise displaying a reliance on a teammate at the expense of one’s own individual performance. The teams that touched the most cooperated the most, and won the most.

3) The most creative teams are a mix of old friends and strangers

Via Imagine: How Creativity Works:

“The best Broadway teams, by far, were those with a mix of relationships,” Uzzi says. “These teams had some old friends, but they also had newbies. This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently— they had a familiar structure to fall back on— but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas. They were comfortable with each other, but they weren’t too comfortable.”

4) Team morale is about good storytelling

What inspires team morale? Great stories:

Institutions that can communicate a compelling historical narrative often inspire a special kind of commitment among employees. It is this dedication that directly affects a company’s success and is critical to creating a strong corporate legacy,” said author Adam Galinsky, Morris and Alice Kaplan professor of ethics and decision in management.

5) Effective team performance requires clear goals

Via Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration:

One study of more than five hundred professionals and managers in thirty companies found that unclear objectives became the biggest barrier to effective team performance.

6) After goals, define roles

Via Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing

Clarifying who is going to do what— identifying distinct roles— is one of the most proven ways to increase the quality of teamwork. The egalitarian notion that team members should be equal in status and interchangeable in their roles is erroneous. Teams work best when participants know their roles, but not every role needs to be equal. Dr. Eduardo Salas, at the University of Central Florida, is one of the most widely cited scholars studying team efficiency. He has devoted his life to understanding the vast sea of team-building and team-training processes— analyzing teams used in the military, law enforcement, NASA, and numerous corporate settings. The only strategies that consistently deliver results are those that focus on role clarification: who’s going to do what when the pressure gets intense.

7) Want fast teamwork? Then focus on being smooth

Via The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking:

the Formula One pit crew with whom he worked, whose members were told that they would no longer be assessed on the basis of speed targets; they would be rated on style instead. Instructed to focus on acting “smoothly”, rather than on beating their current record time, they wound up performing faster.

8) It’s okay to treat stars differently

Via Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing

Doesn’t giving stars special treatment undermine the motivation of the rest of the team? Researchers have looked at the pay of NBA stars, compared with that of their lesser-famous teammates. On average, if certain teammates are getting what is perceived to be an unjustified windfall, that hurts performance: team members won’t work as hard to grab what they see as the short end of the stick. But as long the star treatment is warranted, it doesn’t hurt performance… Stars aren’t the same. Stars face elevated levels of scrutiny: the expectations for their performances are much higher.

9) Have men and women on your team

Teams with men and women performed better:

For MBAs, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision-making. We observe that three women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.

10) Research shows a team really is only as strong as its weakest link.

Team trust is not determined by an average of the members, it’s at the level of the least trusted member:

Findings from two studies demonstrate that perceptions of team trust are indeed lower than the average ratings of individual trust and are statistically equivalent to the least trusted member. In addition, compared with average individual trust levels, perceptions of collective team trust were found to be more predictive of (a) impasse rates in distributive negotiations and (b) the level of joint gain in integrative negotiations.

Want to build trust? Make sure your team jokes around together.

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Jeff

Advance always, retreat never!

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5 Leadership Skills We Can Learn From Ants

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#PLAN — #PUSH — #PREVAIL

Blog Content:Magic Spot

  • Quote: By: Lao Tzu

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A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

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5 Leadership Skills We Can Learn From Ants

Ant Leadership SkillsAnts and leadership skills?

OK… I’m about to ask you a weird question but please indulge me just this once. Have you ever tried looking at things from an ant’s perspective? I mean, have you ever tried to view the world as if you were an ant? If you answered yes, then that’s great, but I might add that it’s a bit weird as well.

I haven’t really tried it myself, but I think I’m about to. Why you might ask? While I was at Starbucks devouring my favorite Chicken BLT Sandwich, I can’t help but notice how an ant (yes I’m talking about just one ant!) lifted a crumb that looked like 4 times its size. It’s amazing how the ant took on the task no matter how big and intimidating it might look like.

That observation got me thinking, if I were the ant, would I have lifted the huge crumb or would I just back away and give all sorts of reason like “It’s way too heavy” or “I don’t want to dirty my ant hands” just so I won’t have to carry it?

I have to say that I can’t really tell (which is why I was contemplating on seeing things from an ant’s perspective). In any case, what became clear to me is that there are a lot of things that we can learn from ants. Ants have a lot of traits that when we apply to our business and leadership skills, will surely yield dramatic results.

What kind of traits am I talking about? Let me share a few of them:

1. Ants aren’t Intimidated by the Size of Their Workload

  • Ants aren’t intimidated by the sheer size of the objects that they need to carry, so why should we?
  • Most of us have goals that we’d like to achieve (If you don’t, then you’re in trouble). These goals can be very huge and may seem way bigger than what we can handle.
  • It’s in situations like these when people tend to shy away from what their real goal is and try to map out goals which are way easier to achieve. I mean, being realistic is important. If you set goals that aren’t attainable, you’ll only end-up frustrated and demotivated in the end. But what you should think about is the real reason why you made your goal easier. Is it because it isn’t really attainable, or are you intimidated by it?
  • Remember that the human potential cannot be taken lightly. No matter how seemingly impossible your business goals are, I want to remind you of the saying “When there’s a will, there’s a way”. Think about how ants tackle their seemingly impossible tasks and made it possible.
  • Having a mindset like that will get you business success that you’ll surely be proud of!

2. Ants Value Teamwork

  • A single ant can only do so much, but when they work as a team, they are able to achieve greater heights!
  • Ants don’t just leave their “fellow ants“ alone when carrying huge objects, they help each other making it possible for them to achieve their goals.
  • This kind of leadership and teamwork, when applied to your business, will make your business process work like clockwork! If you aren’t sold on the idea of how valuable teamwork is, then think about Kobe Bryant playing against the entire Chicago Bulls team alone, Kobe may be the best, but against 5 players with cohesive teamwork, his skill won’t amount to anything.That said, if you want quality results, then starting with quality teamwork is definitely the way to go!

Ant Teamwork

3. Ants are Organized

  • Isn’t it amazing how even when there are so many ants carrying a single object, they seem to be moving the same direction?
  • They are so organized in how they carry out their tasks that they are able to accomplish it no matter how big the task is.
  • Can you image your business processes having the same level of organization? Can you imagine how much your business can accomplish if your employees are working towards the same goal?
  • Ants are awesome creatures as they are, but when humans get organized and work towards achieving one goal, they can move mountains!
  • That said, if you’re a business leader or owner, you should make it a point to get your team organized and working towards the same goals. If you can make this happen, it’ll just be a matter of time before you’ll start experiencing the success that you’ve been yearning for!

4. Ants Save for Rainy Days

  • I’m sure that even you’ve seen it yourself. Ants don’t just eat on the spot even when they see a HUGE Chicken BLT Sandwich (I find it miraculous for anyone to resist it! Even if we’re talking about ants!), they try to carry the food to their ant colony and save-up for the rainy days (at least that’s how it looks like to me)!
  • When applying this to your business, it isn’t wise to keep on spending the moment you see the slightest available cash you can spend. Remember that you can never really tell what might happen in the future. That said, having your reserves-up will surely help you cope with unforeseen things.

5. Ants get the Job Done

  • I’ve never seen a group of ants leave what they’re carrying and just call it a day! They persevere and make sure that they get the job done!
  • Whether they work in shifts or they have some magical way of transporting huge objects, that’s just minor details. The main point is they get the job done in the end. Period!
  • Can you imagine what your business would be like if you have employees with that kind of commitment? Can you imagine just how much your business as a whole can accomplish if you all have the same mindset as the ants have towards finishing their job?
  • That right there is a golden nugget that everyone should pick-up. The more things we finish, the faster we can move on to other things that will help you advance your business.

Ant Leadership

Isn’t it amazing how these ants have the blueprint to a business’s success?

If they were businessmen they’d probably own everything on the planet. The good thing is we are able to observe them and learn from them. We can break down their traits bit by bit and try to integrate these traits on our business process making our businesses more productive.

I urge you to take the time and reflect about the traits that these ants have, and how you can apply them to your business.

I’m sure you’ll have tons of million dollar ideas that you can take away from it. As an important note, you should remember that reflecting and learning the concept behind it is one thing, but actually applying it is another.

Do not leave this on your thinking pad but start doing the necessary steps to have the traits implemented. It is only when you start applying these concepts that you’ll start seeing results.

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GUEST BLOGS WELCOME!

Jeff

Advance always, retreat never!

Why Productive People Take Better Notes

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BALANCE FIRST

BALANCE FIRST

Blog Content:

  • Quote: By: Jay Kay
  • Article: From Fast Company’s newsletter (http://www.fastcompany.com/3014646/leadership-now/why-productive-people-take-better-notes?partner=newsletter) Typically my notes were on a paper tablet then filed never to be seen again. About a year ago I bought a Livescribe product which creates a PDF of the notes which I can upload to Evernote — I now find note taking more relevant because I can later quickly access what I wrote. If the content is  worth writing down it is worth reviewing – just make the review process easy, especially when, possibly a year or more later, you want to find it without wasting a day at a paper chase.

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I learn fast and I take note of what I’ve been told.

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Why Productive People Take Better Notes

If you can’t recall what you had for lunch, why do you think you’ll remember what your mentor just said?


In a recent blog post, entrepreneur-author Ben Casnocha relayed this reality check: that as Mark Zuckerberg was sharing lessons from Facebook’s rise to a room full of hard-hustling Silicon Valley folk, only two at the event were taking notes.

They were John Doerr and Ron Conway–guys synonymous with money and power in Silicon Valley.

So why would the two most successful people in the room, Zuck aside, be the ones taking notes? Casnocha has a theory: Experts take notes, while novices don’t see the point.

So what’s the point?

To understand deeply, which is the foundation of effective thinking. In another blog post Casnocha contends that experts are constantly seeking to deepen the understanding of their core subject.

When we talk about core skills–the kind that you can build an adaptive career around–we mean that they are core because they lie at the foundation, at the center, at the antecedent of work that we do. Casnocha pulls from Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird’s 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, which we’ll blockquote here:

Professional tennis players watch the ball; mathematicians understand a nuanced notion of number; successful students continue to improve their mastery of the concepts from previous chapters and courses as they move toward the more advanced material on the horizon; successful people regularly focus on the core purpose of their profession or life.

Taking notes helps us gain a better understanding

As we’ve discussed before, your mind can only handle so great of a cognitive load–people can only hold so many items in their working memory before they start to fall out. Active listening–that is, attending to the speaker and jotting down the things that catch your attention–lets us invest our working memory in paying attention to the new thing the Facebook founder just said rather than trying to remember that joke he made five minutes ago.

But it’s not just about the initial notetaking: The idea is to create your own repository of knowledge. With luck, you’ll continue to be awesome into your 80s–and if you’re recording and organizing your knowledge from now until then, you’ll have a mighty base of understanding.

This is a practice that badass learners systematize: Tim Ferriss, who is impeccable about his use of time, shows devotion to his notetaking, quipping that he takes notes “like some people take drugs” and that he trusts the weakest pen more than the strongest memory.

Casnocha has a lighter system, one that we ourselves wish we were already implementing:

I take lots of notes in paper mole skin notebooks; every week or so I go back with a different color pen and circle the key sentences; I then transfer these ideas to Evernote files on my computer; and finally, I blog/tweet/publish/email out the crispest, most important ideas or quotes.

That’s a nice analog-to-digital workflow–one that can help us to attach our experiences to the mental latticework we call knowledge and thus recall info quickly. In this way, we can be productive for the long haul.

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GUEST BLOGS WELCOME!

Jeff

Advance always, retreat never!

Productive People Get Up Insanely Early

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Blog Content:Magic Spot

  • Quote: By: Paul DeJoe (Author of the article and an excerpted quote)

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“…And by 6:45, I’m working on the biggest items on my plate that I can focus on without the threat of new stimuli for the next couple of hours…”

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Why Productive People Get Up Insanely Early

If you want to do your best work, distraction is your enemy. So wake before it rises.


I am not a successful entrepreneur. I do not know the secret to life. I know that I love what I do but struggle with feeling content and balanced.

I’d ask other entrepreneurs about their advice and they would say within seconds you need to unplug or take a vacation, but applying that is difficult for me–I don’t want to figure out the right way to take a break, I want to figure out how to appreciate the present moment.

I’m not an aspiring buddhist or a zen master either. I want to win, I want to be the best, I want to make some people feel stupid for not believing in us, and I love being at the front of the eternal fight that is a startup. But the counterbalance of the fight was difficult to find.

For me, 4 a.m. yielded reprieve.

Why?

From all the research done about suicide and depression, the greatest predictor may be one simple thing: weather. There are higher suicide rates in places that have the least sunlight. So getting the most sunlight possible seemed like an optimal step for increasing my daily happiness.

The first time I woke up at 4 a.m. to try this, my mind was in a completely different place with a completely foreign feeling. I had a completely different initiative: To make the World’s Best Omelette. Like actually take my time with it and take pride in it. This was something I could have never done before.

If I had to boil this down to why I felt focused and unhurried at this time: Not one person is expecting anything from you in the next 4 hours. So the ability to appreciate the task at hand and thinking creatively seemed natural.

A fun surprise: discovering your deprivation

What I was depriving myself from was time in the day where there was no pressure and no expectations. For the same reasons that I felt most creative on Saturday mornings and on planes, 4 a.m. has become a place of productive peace. That feeling is why I love what I do. I don’t need a vacation. I don’t need to step away. I just need a couple hours a day before anyone else is up.

I can’t quantify this feeling. Ben Huh of Cheezeburger.com openly talks about his suicidal thoughts when his first startup didn’t work from the pressure he put on himself. When I asked him about what makes him happy now, he cited a book called Flow: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to the “optimal experience” and what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of skill-expanding consciousness appropriately enough called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.

And when I asked our Philosophy PhD-turned-VC why I felt most productive on a plane, he opened his Moleskine to the opening cover where he had this quote from Pascal pasted: “The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” In other words, not being able to go anywhere cuts away the need to think about new stimuli–and finally allows us to focus.

Making an omelette, coffee, playing guitar, exercising, listening to the Dan Patrick Show, learning a language, and getting some exercise all felt like optimal experiences when not in completion for mental bandwidth slated for the company. And by 6:45, I’m working on the biggest items on my plate that I can focus on without the threat of new stimuli for the next couple of hours. The second you check email or LinkedIn, an internal clock of new items immediately starts in our minds–a vicious cycle. Planning your day the night before allows you to feel on top of your day and even look forward to it. Attacking the hardest thing first and all the stuff I didn’t want to do before 9 a.m. leaves the rest of the day to be very fulfilling.

I can only point to a book written by someone else and a quote from a philosopher to explain why a 4 a.m. start time has allowed me to enjoy each day to the fullest. In a competitive landscape where being relentlessly proactive and creative each day are minimum standards, the biggest threat to your business is if you stop loving what you do. Whether by waking up before dawn or truly vacating your vacation, building a schedule that protects your love for what you do is critical to optimizing the quality of your life–and your work.

Paul DeJoe is cofounder of Ecquire, a sales productivity tool, based in Vancouver. Check out their blog or follow them on Twitter at @ecquire.

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minion call to actionThanks and please follow via Email, comment, tweet, re-post, or like via Facebook pages (Jeff Halloran, WYROC, and/or Linking Charities)

 GUEST BLOGS WELCOME!

 

     Jeff

      Advance always, retreat never!