1 Simple Trick for Hiring and Onboarding Great New Team Members

A very wise college basketball coach once said, “If I recruit a great kid, and he goes to play for another team, he might beat us once or twice a year.  But if I recruit a bad kid, he might beat us every day!” As someone who leads a team of employees, the decisions you make in terms of hiring new staff can have an incredible impact on your team culture. Bad hires can be painful… and hiring mistakes can be costly… But bad hires (or bad onboarding experiences) only occur because you rush to accept someone who seems okay instead of ensuring that he or she is a great FIT for your team. It is better to slow down the process and make the right decision than to rush the process and make a wrong decision that becomes destructive to your team’s performance or profits.   So how do you get to know someone and ENSURE that they fit your culture and share the values that you want your organization to be known for? Here’s ONE simple trick to hiring (and successfully onboarding) someone with a positive attitude and an awareness of how to work effectively with others…   Use a book as part of your hiring process!   Find a book that represents one or more of the core values that you want your people to live by as part of your workplace culture. Yes, it should be relatively short and easy to read so it doesn’t take too long and isn’t too difficult to comprehend (Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment would not be a good choice) But there...

A Quick and Easy Ice Breaker Activity for Your Next Meeting

The name for this fun five-ten minute ice breaker activity is taken from a commercial that everyone on your team has probably seen at least a dozen times… It’s the “Capitol One Challenge…” But you don’t have to give me credit for the idea! (so punny!)   Okay – enough with the bad jokes. Here’s your easy ice breaker: Plan on investing just a few minutes at the beginning of your next weekly or monthly meeting to inspire a little laughter and enjoy a really quick and easy opportunity to build stronger bonds and relationships among your teammates.   Actually, the real name of this easy ice breaker activity is “What’s in your wallet?”  As you have likely read in one of my previous blogs (or heard in one of my conference teamwork keynotes), the two things that create team unity are:   Connecting to a compelling common goal, and   Connecting to the people on your team   This ice breaker activity works with new and established teams, because it allows them to share something that thy feel is important to them. That sharing – along with the conversations and future questions / interest and awareness that it will create – is a powerful catalyst for connection on your team.   Here’s how “What’s in Your Wallet?” works:   Have your people arrange themselves into groups of two or three. Partners is fun, but groups of three can sometimes make it an even more fun experience, as people learn and share more tan with just one person…   After they are in those groups, simply say the following:   “Your...

How Many Mission Statements Does Your Team Have?

The importance of mission statements struck me when I was still a coach and teacher, because I worked at five different high schools in my career.  That wasn’t because I couldn’t keep a teaching job… The moves happened because of coaching positions that came open.  Often it was just a better situation, and once it was just closer to home… honest ; ) But one of the curious things I noticed after working at that many different schools is that they were all very unique…   The principals had different personalities.  The students came from different backgrounds.  The architectural layouts were diverse… But there was ONE thing that was oddly similar at every school – and I’m guessing that it is the same wherever you currently work. Every school I worked at had a mission statement posted in the main office and also around the building on hallway walls. You know what I’m talking about… “We will inspire life-long learners who are responsible citizens in the global community.” or “Through combined effort of staff, parents, students, and community, we will provide students with a foundation in basic skills, to provide an introduction to the arts, to foster a positive work ethic, to create an environment that harbors tolerance and respect” Having a mission statement on the walls is OK   The problem was that those mission statements stayed on the walls – and never made it into the hearts and minds of teachers or students or curriculum… The problem was that – even though every school I worked at (and likely every company you have worked at) spent time and resources...

How an Escape Room Event Can Inspire Teambuilding

Escape rooms have become a popular and entertaining experience in a number of cities, and here in Atlanta there have been a few of them that opened their doors for business. My wife and I have visited a couple, and enjoyed ourselves on both occasions. But as a team leader, you are likely asking yourself if the investment of TIME and MONEY is worth it.   Let me answer your question with a confident reply. It depends!   It depends on the OUTCOME you are interested in achieving… If you are interested in outcomes-based experiences, where your people enjoy a fun interactive event that delivers actionable and memorable take-aways that are relevant and positively impact your group interactions, then a full or half-day of facilitated team building is definitely what you should seek… If you are interested in an entertainment-based experience, where your people enjoy a few laughs and work through a unique challenge that will give them something to talk about and help to strengthen a few co-worker relationships, then an escape game event might be something to consider! And if you are thinking of scheduling a day when your group could visit an escape room in Atlanta, I know a great place. Having met and spent time with the owner, Time to Escape is an impressive location – and I am excited to have partnered with them as a professional facilitator for clients who seek to give their people an Atlanta escape room experience that can also offer additional team building activities.   Time to Escape is Atlanta’s “most immersive” Escape Room location, and they offer three tiers...

Cure Frozen Dinner Syndrome by Setting Clear Expectations

We’ve all been there… And it’s usually not a proud moment. Something inside you gave in, and you brought home a frozen dinner from the grocery store.  Then, refusing to order pizza or Chinese again, you actually cooked it…  And a few minutes later, as you pulled it out of the microwave, you probably experienced FDS.   FDS has become an epidemic… Today though, Frozen Dinner Syndrome is not only affecting kitchens across America (and Canada, eh!), but the businesses and organizations where you work.   Frozen Dinner Syndrome is the result of flawed expectations.   Remember looking at the box there in the freezer aisle, and convincing yourself that it looked appetizing… even desirable? Those expectations from the picture on the box are the reason for your disappointment when you pulled the serving tray out of the microwave! The two did not look the same.  They seldom do. That is because Frozen Dinner Marketers are liars.  The make bold promises and set our expectations high, and then deliver less than we had hoped to enjoy. In your kitchen, that is one thing.  But in your business, on your team, that can be more than unappetizing – it can be dangerous and costly…  So how do you cure FDS? I’m glad you asked!   1. Realize that Everything starts with Awareness.   FDS is caused by faulty expectations.  When you expect too much from a Lean Cuisine box, you are often disappointed and frustrated. But in your business, when you expect too much from your people, the frustration and disappointment can lead to lost clients or poor performance.  And...

“The Way” to Build Team Trust

(Thanks to Dave Blum for sharing this guest article)   A few days back I watched a fascinating movie, called The Way.  Have you seen it?   One of my go-to online resources, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), describes the film’s plot as follows:  “A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El Camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.” Although the description makes the story sound dry and depressing, the movie is anything but.  Taken as a travel log alone, The Way is a wonderfully entertaining story.  While walking the 400-mile path to Spain’s famous pilgrimage center, Santiago de Compostela, the grieving father, Tom (Martin Sheen) encounters all manner of lovely scenery and awe-inspiring, historical, Iberian locales.  What interested me most about the movie, however, is not the just the father’s physical odyssey but his emotional journey as well.   At the beginning of his trek, Tom is self-contained in his bereavement, determined to scatter his son’s ashes along the trail while shunning as much contact with his fellow pilgrims as possible.  Nevertheless, as all travelers know, it’s mightily difficult to avoid all human contact when on the road.    By hook or by crook, Tom picks up a coterie of colorful companions along the way, including: Yoost:  A Dutchman with hopes of losing weight  Jack:  An Irish journalist endeavoring to overcome writer’s block Sarah:  A Canadian woman trying to quit smoking Like Tom, each traveler possesses a “professed” goal and a deeper, inner hurt motivating his/her actions.  Yoost, for example, binges on food and drugs as a way...

Make Team Feedback More Effective With COIN Conversations!

One of the most difficult parts of any team leader’s job is to have positive and effective feedback conversations.   Whether you are a coach, a sales manager, a school administrator, or a medical staff supervisor, The COIN model provides you a template for having feedback conversations that work and include 4 essential elements of effective feedback. But before you attempt to apply the model to your situation, be reminded that feedback is something that is best delivered in a timely fashion, and should be intended to help your team members grow. Feedback is not punishment, it is information and encouragement to improve… (focus on the next play!) And ANY tough conversation topic will be easier to navigate if you have invested time in building a relationship beforehand (here is a ten-cent secret to doing exactly that!)  People are much less defensive and are much more coachable when they know that you are aware of their challenges, interested in their growth, and appreciative of their efforts.      So… here is the COIN feedback conversation model:   C = CONNECTION First, connect with them personally and connect to the issue or project that you would like to discuss.  Provide context for the conversation and an emotional link to the topic.   O = OBSERVATION Second, share factual descriptions of their behavior.  It is important to be as specific as you can and to the point.  DO not waste time with dancing… just give them the numbers.   I = IMPACT ON TEAM Third, you must clarify the impact that their actions had on the team or business to inspire...

A Team Performance Chart to Improve Your Organization

If you are looking for a team performance chart to identify where your people are in terms of productivity or cohesiveness, the one below could truly help improve your organization. Team productivity is a measure of how successful your people are in terms of project completion or work efficiency.  Team cohesiveness is a measure of how well your people interact with each other and collaborate to accomplish team goals.  But not every team that displays productivity enjoys cohesiveness, just as not every team that enjoys cohesiveness displays productivity.   This team performance chart shows the four types of teams: The first and perhaps most disappointing team type you may have seen or been a part of is the team who displays poor productivity and lacks cohesiveness. These teams are identified as “Dysfunctional,” and they are often toxic mix of poor results and negative attitudes.   The second type of team we’ll discuss is one that may meet expectations or successfully complete a project, but has done so without much group interaction. These “High Stress” groups are not really teams at all, as they do not usually take advantage of other’s skills or insights, and are driven by pride or ego to do it their way.  This requires much more time and energy, though, and often becomes an environment of petty turf wars and personal conflicts.   The third type of team on the team performance chart can be frustrating to managers because they get along well and seem to be collaborating and sharing, but those collegial interactions simply fail to produce acceptable results. This group has built strong relationships, but...

Does Your Conference Need a Networking Facilitator?

So, now you are asking yourself… what the heck is a networking facilitator? I would have asked the same question 10 years ago. But modern conference goals and a good bit of research suggest that one of the most impactful parts of your conference may be the choice to add a networking facilitator to your schedule.   Quality speakers and relevant breakout sessions are important – they provide the valuable information and inspiration you want attendees to take away from the event… But, increasingly, conference attendees are showing up more for the hallways connections and conversations than the opening or closing keynote!   As a meeting planner, are you intentionally building things into your schedule that help your attendees to build and develop the relationships that will become a foundation for profitable collaboration after they leave the conference? As a meeting organizer, there are many ways you can help to encourage useful connections. – One idea is to pair up first-time attendees with more experienced community members, and to create a mentor / mentee relationship that offers an immediate relationship.  – Another possibility is to ask a few questions as part of the registration process, and then print a couple of interesting personal facts on the nametags that are provided.  Nametags should emphasize first names, hometowns, and business affiliation… but can also include information about the attendees’ favorite candy, or movie, or television show.  These are natural conversation starters, and offer a simple and fun opportunity for connection during your event. – The people at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting have suggested that another way to encourage networking is by posting a...

Chick-fil-A and Delta and Three Leadership Lessons

My daughter plays beach volleyball. So she was very excited when she learned about a week-long camp at Hermosa Beach, in California, that would be run by college coaches.  And she and my wife both think this is a great opportunity for her to get better and build relationships… But it was expensive.  And it involved travel.  And when I explained this to her and her mother, I was very clear that I didn’t think it would be a good idea. So, you can guess what happened. That night I registered her for the camp. I got her airplane tickets so she was on the same flight as a couple of her friends, and for the next two weeks she couldn’t think about anything else. My wife and the other moms arranged the transportation, and I was chosen to pick the girls up at the end of the camp when they got back to Atlanta. Another girl’s mom volunteered to take the girls to the airport – and their flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20 am on a Saturday morning. So Emily is up and packed and ready to go at 4:30 am. She can’t wait.  This is a kid that you have to wake up 3 times and drag out of bed to go to school – who was up and alert at 4:00 am completely on her own. So a couple hours later I leave, because I have an event that day, and I am presenting at a conference.  Twenty minutes before I am supposed to present to the audience, I get a call from my wife....