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Entries in Teams (3)

Thursday
Jul142011

How to Fail at Assessing People

Assessment tools that help us assess our people’s strengths and weaknesses can be helpful. They help us gain valuable insights about the people we lead, work with and report to. Such insights can lead to better relationships, higher productivity and happier workplace. But when they are not used properly, they can lead to misunderstanding, frayed relationships and a demoralizing work environment.

In 15 years of working with businesses, I have witnessed many assessment initiatives, many of them quite successful but quite a few of them that were not so successful. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to spot, right at the beginning, which ones would succeed at getting the desired results, and which ones would fail.  Following are some ways in which assessment initiatives fail with some ideas on how to correct them.

1) Address only one or two of the human dimensions.

Human beings are fascinating creatures. They have many facets. One could argue that they have infinite number of facets. I believe that people are impossible to “figure out” with computer based tools. And yet, I also believe that such tools can be enormously helpful in effectively working with them.

As far as assessments are concerned, human development consists of three phases: 1) Nature, 2) Nurture and 3) Applied.

The Nature dimension addresses those traits that we are born with or genetically predisposed to at birth. The Nurture dimension addresses traits that are a result of our social and parental conditioning, most of which happens after birth through our formative years. The Applied dimension is what’s consciously developed by a person on her own volition.

Most assessments address only one of these three primary dimensions and do not tell a full story. In my observation, most assessments in the marketplace address only the first and the third dimensions, Nature and Applied, largely ignoring the second dimension, Nurture, which has tremendous impact on the behaviors of a person. Such fragmented assessments lead to improper labeling, poor judgements and incorrect use of people’s skills, gifts and talents.

Awayre’s assessment tools cover the full gamut of these three phases of human development. That way, you are assured that you are not using fragmented, incomplete or one- or two-dimensional data in assessing your people. Visit us at http://www.awayre.com for more information.

Sunday
Oct212007

Want to Jump Start Your Productivity? First Give Up "Teamwork!" Part II of III

Let’s face it, “teamwork” does not work in today’s workplace, despite all the hype surrounding the term. Why? Because today’s work is not “work” in traditional sense. It’s not physical work; it’s intellectual, emotional work.

Why then do we keep buying into the false promises of teamwork? Perhaps because much of popular press on teamwork comes from the world of sports. And those touting “teamwork” are our favorite retired sports celebrities, who now have lucrative careers in business management. It’s hard to not get enamored by them.

There’s another problem, when we try to treat today’s work teams like sports teams, we literally “box-in” their true productivity potential.

When work is physical, it can be divided up in nice little chunks. When it’s not, it can’t be done. In the end, we lose productivity and profits. Worse, people who are boxed-in don’t enjoy their work. They feel trapped. They find other “creative channels” to express their frustrations: backbiting, complaining, politicking, backstabbing, sabotaging and on and on it goes.

Of course, a few decades ago, teamwork was a concept that worked. In the 1930’s, in the industrial age, our work was physical. Much of it happened on the assembly line. There were clear boundaries as to where one’s work started and where it ended.

That’s why the management theories of those days were based on drawing boxes around people. And it worked. All we had to do was divide up our work in little compartments and assign each chunk to a human being.

This is also the time when we were in love with Machines. We saw them as solutions to all our problems. Machines were predictable. They did not complain. And they did not ask for a pay raise.

That’s why, we built our businesses like we built machines. We categorized “functions” of a business into machine parts. Nice little parts that worked with other parts. That’s why we drew boxes around people. And that’s how we “boxed people in” to their “positions.”

Very little has changed since then. The nature of our work has dramatically changed around us, but our management practices have not. We still try to categorize our work into little machine parts. We still try to run our business like a machine, with people as individual parts.

The result is locked up productivity of people that, by many measures, range from 67% to 95%.

But if we get our people out of their boxes, wouldn’t we create chaos and disorder? How do we harness the true productivity of our people without losing control of the organization? That’s what we will address in the next article.

Until then, this Bhavesh Naik, wishing you a Happy Success.

 

Sunday
Oct212007

Want to Jump Start Your Productivity? First Give Up "Teamwork!" Part I of III

You just can’t take your eyes off that poster on the wall. Your heart is pounding. The hairs on your arms are standing on their heads. Your breathing has stopped.

A team of rowers is rowing a boat in harmony. The sun is setting on the horizon, the waters reflecting the beautiful golden glow. Far off in the distance, a pack of birds are making their way back home.

You feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So inspiring!

Then the reality hits you. This is not quite how it works in your office. Harmony is a beautiful concept. It works in the world of sports so beautifully. But it does not work in today’s workplace. Why?

Because our work is not really “work” in traditional sense. The word “work” implies some physical activity. But most of today’s work is more about using our brain than the brawn. Our work today is more mental than physical.

Don’t believe it? Just think about the last time you had to lift anything heavy at work. The heaviest object that you lifted was probably a pen or a pencil. The longest you had to walk was from the parking lot to the office building. The only part of your body that really hurts from “work” is your fingers and wrists from typing.

Sports teams and work teams are different in a very fundamental way. Sports is about physical teamwork; our work today is mostly about intellectual teamwork. Physical teamwork gives us immediate feedback as to what’s going on. Intellectual teamwork does not.

That’s why most work teams, despite the all the hype surrounding it, are nothing more than a bunch of people trying to do their best through trial and error.

If traditional concepts of teamwork do not work in today’s workplace, why is it that we keep buying in to them? What does an ideal team look and behave like in today’s workplace? These are the questions we will address in the next two issues.

This is Bhavesh Naik, wishing you a Happy Success…