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Harder Than It Looks

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

After three days of intensive training, the attendees felt ready to tackle the world. Debbie’s team was elated. They could hardly wait for the pilot teams to report improved results.

At their next meeting, the agenda was focused on debriefing the event. However, during their opening community-building time, something amazing happened: Steve gave a report on what was happening in his life outside work.

“I told you a few meetings ago that things were not good at home,” Steve began. “Since you guys were willing to help me expand my role on the team, I guess I’ve been easier to get along with. My wife had moved out….” he stopped. The team seemed to be holding their breath wondering what he was about to say. “But, like I said, I guess I’m a little easier to get along with now, so yesterday, she moved back in. I’ve agreed to go with her to see a counselor. I just wanted to say thanks again for not firing me.” He tried to smile but couldn’t. “That would have been too much.”

Debbie and the entire team were delighted that Steve seemed to be getting back on track at home. They also believed it was a really good sign that he would trust the team enough to share this type of information. A major contributor to genuine community is knowing one another and allowing others to know you. It felt great to know that Steve was willing to take this critical step as he moved closer to joining their community.

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Study the Best

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Debbie was discouraged. Her new team was proving to be more of a challenge than she had bargained for. Up to this point in her career, she had enjoyed success after success. Most noteworthy, she had led her previous dysfunctional team “from worst to first.” This feat had not gone unnoticed by management. In fact, Jeff, the CEO, had given Debbie her recent promotion in part due to her success and in part because he saw tremendous potential in her.

However, in her new role, nothing seemed to be going her way. With her former team, she had looked forward to every new day, but now she went to work only to be confronted by a team with real issues. Not only that, Debbie was feeling the stress and strain of trying to do more and more, often with less resources. Beyond her team issues, she was faced with a growing mountain of e-mail; there seemed to be more meetings than ever; and if there was any time left, she still had customers to serve. She was tired. The pace of her life was out of control, and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.

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Medium 9781626561984

What Is Success?

Blanchard, Ken Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Back in the office, it was apparent from the smiles, laughter, and banter that morale was on the upswing. Debbie was hopeful that performance would follow. She was still listening as much as possible. She was still actively looking for little ways to serve her team. She was delegating more often, and that allowed her more time to think about the future. She was scouting for talent, rather than just waiting for HR to send her warm bodies. She was investing more time in the interview process, and she was working purposefully to engage the hearts and heads of her people.

At times, it all seemed overwhelming. But in her heart Debbie knew that she was just laying the foundation for bigger and better things. As she prepared for the upcoming team meeting, she really wanted to engage the team in Reinventing Continuously. So she sent an e-mail.

Send to:

Team 7




Upcoming Meeting


March 1




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Medium 9781609940935

The Goal: Results

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“Okay, what’s next?” Jo was always interested in moving things along.

“We’ve done a great job deciphering what great teams do; now let’s figure out how we help our teams become great,” Debbie said. “Anyone have any thoughts on where we should begin?”

“Well, I guess we could share what we’ve learned with some people around the business and get their reaction,” Javier said.

“Or,” Sally added, “we could just start teaching our point of view on this … now that we’ve got one.”

“What do you think the main challenge is going to be as we move forward?” Debbie asked the group.

There was silence in the room. It was a thought-provoking question.

“It may be budget,” said Tom.

“Budget will certainly be an issue. But I’m not sure it’s going to be the biggest challenge,” Bob said.

“So, what will it be?” Debbie probed.

Bob added, “This is going to be a huge training effort.”

“It sure is,” Jo chimed in. “We have hundreds of teams around the world.”

“Yes,” Debbie said, “but we’ve done large-scale training campaigns before. I think we’re going to have an even bigger hurdle to jump.”

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The Journey Continues

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The team developed two comprehensive plans: one for the pilot leaders and another for a systemwide introduction of the high-performance team concepts.

Debbie met with Jeff and reviewed the plans. He liked them both. He also decided to speak to the pilot team leaders when they returned for their second session. He wanted them to hear directly from him how important this work was to the long-term health and vitality of the organization.

He also agreed to talk to as many of the other groups as possible when the systemwide launch began. When he couldn’t be present, he volunteered members of the Executive Team to be there. He understood that ongoing leadership support would be vital.

The team reconvened the original pilot leaders and opened with a session in which the attendees were invited to share their questions and issues regarding the project.

This was followed with a session entitled “Lessons Learned from the Field,” presented by Debbie’s team. The short list of critical roles the leader must play in talent, skills, and community was extremely well received.

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