Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tom Peters: Get to Know Your Team

From Tom Peters' 100 Ways to Succeed (Part II), by way of Change This (a site I really like). If you haven't read anything from Tom Peters, he's a well-regarded business thinker and consultant. His "thing" is to challenge the norm (which you can definitely tell from his writing and presentation style) and he gets paid bank to give keynote speeches and chat with CEOs.

From his PDF, slide 16:
100 Ways to succeed #77: in the moment

Your workteam today is not your workteam yesterday. Take a quiet moment or two or three BEFORE you go to work (not in the middle of your commute) to go through your up-to-date mental file on each person, where they are personally, where they are professionally, etc.

Among other things, this might result in a 90-second stop at two or three workstations to talk about what’s up with a kid’s school problem, etc. Or ask about an online course that so-and-so is taking, or why (women do this sooooo much better—and if that’s sexist, so be it) “you seem to be a bit gloomy lately”—whatever. Maybe it means quick lunch plans. A 10-minute walk in the park mid-morning. Whatever. I’m hardly suggesting that you be a snoop—just that you are, after all, trying to work with your team to get something done and help each one develop and contribute in the process.

Think like Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K): Each practice-game-day is different. Act accordingly.
What I like about this is that it reminds us that managers are incredibly important because they provide the human element in business. They are the ones that can make a difference for their employees - creating a supportive environment, forging a team-based culture, encouraging personal development, etc. Part of doing this well is really getting to know the people on your workteam and figure out what they're feeling and what they're up to in the other areas of life.

I know, personally, I'm usually busy running here and there, trying to take care of business and getting things done that I sometimes forget to connect with people I'm working with. Even just a sincere "How ya doin?" is good to get the conversation started. It makes a huge difference.

Tom Peters has also written a number of books, including The Pursuit of Wow! that has been popular among businesses (I know that Commerce Bank has adopted the Wow! approach, among others).

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