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March 2005

Is Your Team Stuck? How to Re-focus and
Re-Charge Your Team For Success!

Spring is in the air and so are baseballs. As I've been reading the spring training camp news reports for our two New York hometown teams, I've been interested in watching the team dynamics and curious about how Joe Torre, the Yankees manager and Willie Randolph, the new Mets manager will lead these teams into their new seasons.

The Yankees are coming off another devastating season, they haven't won a World Series since 2000, and their once “cursed” Boston Red Sox competitors are now the World Series champions. And the question, hanging over their heads: Is the dynasty over?

The Mets have been stuck down in the basement since 1986, coming out of it for a short period of time between 1999 and 2000 when they played the Yankees in the World Series and lost. Ultimately, the question for them is: Will they regain their confidence and motivation to play like an A-team? Will Willie Randolph be able to turn The Mets attitude from we are going to lose anyway — and who cares to a winning, we-can-do-it-as-a-team attitude?

For those of us who lead teams, work on teams, or coach teams, we know that some teams cannot always sustain their high performance and some teams can't get out of a slump. They are what we call “unstuck”.

One team we recently worked with had guided their new product towards steady revenue growth over a 5 year period. In the last 1 1/2 years, though, the marketplace began to shift with the entry of very competitive new products. The first time the team's product lost market share we were called in to do a “team diagnostic”. What we found is that this team was stuck and needed to re-focus its efforts and re-motivate themselves.

Anne Mulcahy, Chairman and CEO, of the Xerox Corporation, took over the company when it was in shambles, its core copier business decimated. It was her job to make the tough decisions and get everyone from her top executives to the technical reps unstuck. They were in all seven states of stuck! (see Book Review below). Mulcahy told her senior people that “there's not a lot of room anymore for you to be managers. You have to be leaders — get aligned — get passionate — get really inspired about delivering results.”

What these team leaders knew, like great managers as Joe Torre and Willie Randolph know, is that the same strategies that enable a team to achieve growth at one point in time, will not be the same strategies that will help them sustain that growth in an increasingly changing and competitive marketplace.

Joe Torre told the Bronx Bombers, at their first training camp team meeting this Spring, “Don't focus on the fans, the media or comments from 'idiots'; focus, instead, on meeting Yankee expectations.” “The Yankees set their own bar”, he told them.

What is your team's bar of expectations? What do you want your team paying real attention to, while ignoring the rest of the noise in the background? What are you doing to help your team avoid becoming stuck?

As Darwin might have argued: If you remain stuck, you may end up dead.

Unstuck: A Tool for Yourself, Your Team and Your World
By Keith Yanashita and Sandra Spataro

This quirky and thought-provoking book provides practical and inspirational solutions for how to get yourself or your team (or your relationship or your family) moving toward positive action.

It is an interactive book, with a great design. First of all, it helps you identify which of the Seven States of “stuck” you or your team is in:

• Overwhelmed
• Exhausted
• Directionless
• Hopeless
• Battle-torn
• Worthless
• Alone

Then it leads you to tools and techniques for changing your strategies and motivating yourself and your team to move in a more productive direction.

For example, if your team is overwhelmed, you are directed to several pages of suggestions for activities you might want to use to help the team to re-focus or re-prioritize, e.g. create a North Star chart that reminds people of the team's true purpose and draw a path to that Star that includes only mission-critical activities. The team, then, names the unnecessary activities as meteors that are thrown out into space.

The book is a quick read and can be used not only for self-help, but has several simple teambuilding activities (like the one described above) that can be used to help you get your team from here (a moment of being stuck) to there (being and feeling successful).

EquiPro Solutions and Learning Products

If you need some help in getting you or your team “unstuck” you may want to learn more about how we have helped team leaders and teams at companies such as Hearst Magazines, Pfizer and PricewaterhouseCoopers, critically examine their team's: people, processes, rewards and skills. The result has been teams that are more productive, more collaborative and more confident in their ability to succeed. We want to hear from you — whether it is a question or a suggestion!

Actions for Results:
Tips and Tools for Helping Your Team Get “Unstuck”

It is the beginning of baseball season, but whether or not you're a fan, now might be a good time to assess “The State of Your Team”:

Is your team excited about “their season”?

Are there new and challenging projects awaiting them or do they feel directionless? Are they feeling hopeful or are they overwhelmed/exhausted?

If you are not sure about the answers to these questions, try this exercise out at your next team meeting: Ask each member to answer these three questions:

What is our driving goal for 2005?

What are the forces that keep us stuck — or not achieving our goal? What are the forces pushing us toward achieving that goal?

Conduct a discussion around each of these questions and develop a Plan of Action to strengthen the positive forces and reduce or eliminate the negative forces.

“We were all inspired by your presentation on 'The Leader's Legacy.' If you don't mind, I'd like to pass on some of your thoughts to the rest of the organization.”

Bonnie Lieberman
Senior Vice President
& General Manager
John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Ask or Tell
the EquiPro Coach

We want to hear from you- whether it is a question or a suggestion!

Are you or your organization facing a particular performance challenge? Leadership issues? Turf wars instead of teamwork? Struggling with a major change? Expanding globally, but not collaborating across borders? Frustrated with lack of business growth?

Lynda McDermott

Lynda is honored to be one of over 570
Certified Speaking Professionals
in the United States

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