Creating Team Agreements

April 18, 2016

Effective teams (from small teams to entire companies) establish, abide by, and hold each other accountable to rules of engagement and expected behaviors. These may be referred to as Team Agreements. There is not a high performing team that works without Team Agreements. Here we talk about the importance of team agreement, provide examples, suggest ways to develop your own, and offer a case study demonstrating their importance.

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What should the Leadership Team look like?

How clear is your company on: 1) how decisions get made, 2) how input is provided to affect those decisions, and 3) how decisions are communicated, cascaded, and made to ‘stick’? All too often these very different responsibilities are folded into a singular process: “The Leadership Team,” which is often open to anyone who would be grumpy not being included; throwing in the proverbial and unworkable kitchen sink. Here we describe the purpose of the Leadership Team, and how it differs from the Core Team (CEO + small group of decision makers).

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Creating Meeting Norms and the Importance of Standardization

The cost of ‘re-inventing’ the wheel each time you face common issues is wasted time and energy. Standardize your approach to repeated processes and issues. The result is improved consistency, effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of your leadership. Here we talk about how to standardize meetings, and provide examples of team meeting norms and communication agreements.

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Setting Leadership Expectations

Setting leadership expectations for your team members is an essential component of being a motivating and effective leader.  Agreeing on a core set of values and expectations limits miscommunication and unproductive behaviors down the road. Additionally, having an open conversation and ongoing dialogue around leadership expectations allows for honest communication and room for giving feedback when expectations are not being met. Here we present a template for crafting your own leadership expectations. We see this as especially key for CEOs to create for their senior leaders.

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Entrepreneurship vs. Professional Management: What’s the Difference?

Successfully moving from a small to large(r) organization does not happen automatically as sales grow and employees are hired. At each stage of growth, a thoughtful look at where your company is, and where it needs to go, is essential for rapid scale and successful execution. Here we briefly discuss key differences between a start-up and a professionally managed company.

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Getting Your Team Good at Decision Making

Making and communicating decisions is essential to effective leadership, and a defining characteristic of highly performing teams. As companies grow in size of employees, the need for clarity around how decisions are made and communicated becomes even more important, as missteps here can have big consequences. We urge the leaders and teams we work with to have conversations within their teams about how decisions are made, and to have clearly defined ways that decisions are communicated all the way down to the factory floor. An essential piece of that plan is the discussion around what to do when a previously made decision is altered. Being good at this means you run a sophisticated, efficient, highly productive organization. We provided a suggested framework here.

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Developing Your Leadership Game Plan: A Framework for CEOs

In our work with CEOs, we see consistent themes across those who are successful, impactful leaders. These themes include: knowing where you are going; getting everyone working towards that vision and on the same page with what the priorities are; and implementing the right leadership team, processes, and culture achieve the vision. This is hard work. Most of the coaching with do with CEOs centers around the first and second topics (vision and alignment), and once we nail that, we begin working throughout the organization on the third (processes and culture. Here is a framework we’ve developed in thinking about how leaders can make their biggest impact.

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Impactful 1:1 Meetings

April 15, 2016

One key message we communicate to the leaders we work with is that effective 1:1s are essential to leading high performing teams. The misconception is that 1:1’s are a chance for the manager to tell the direct report what to work on next. This is burdensome and often ends in skipped weekly meetings. To have impactful 1:1s, we advise that these meetings should be the employee’s meeting. The direct report should use them as an opportunity to share  what they are working on, and where they are stumbling or envision stumbling. The manager in return should answer questions, brainstorm/ advise, applaud a team member, and connect authentically. The job of the manager is primarily to listen. Your employee should walk away feeling heard, appreciated, and connected – the key to maintaining engaged and productive team members. Here we’ve compiled three tools to get you on a path to holding impactful 1:1 meetings.

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9-Box Talent Assessment for Team Leads

A routine and clear process for evaluating team members is essential for having highly performing teams, and for retaining and growing top talent. This is especially important in companies that are rapidly scaling or going through a major transition as the criteria by which employees are evaluated sends a clear signal to all of what is valued, and how to be successful here. We often hear complaints about how ‘unfairly’ individuals are promoted OR that ‘there is no room for me to grow here.’ This stems from a lack of transparency around what it means to excel in your current role. Without clarity around the evaluation process, promotions can feel ‘unfair’ instead of something to celebrate, and an opportunity to recognize the values you want leaders within your organization to display. Here we provide a commonly used tool, the ‘9-box for potential and performance’ to help you create a process for evaluating your team’s talent and creating an action plan from that assessment.

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Hiring Executives

March 28, 2016

Building a powerful leadership team is often where we find CEOs need tremendous help. Hiring, building, and managing a sophisticated leadership team is essential for running and growing a successful company, but few have done it before. Ben Horowitz has put together a compelling guide to hiring executives that is counterintuitive, and worth considering as you begin the process of building your own team.

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