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Time Management (not)…

25 March 2012 Leave a comment

Live & Learn

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Categories: General

Life’s Lessons

14 March 2012 Leave a comment

Friends

13 March 2012 Leave a comment

ImageI’m not sure who said it. “When a friend does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.”

I know all about emotional bank accounts and how they work–they work nothing like monetary bank accounts. If I take $5 out of my account and deposit $5 in to my account, I’m right back where I started. However, if I withdraw one mistake from someone’s emotional bank account, I have to deposit several (six?) kind deeds to balance the books.

Often times it feels like our friends (and coworkers) have quite a positive balance in our accounts, but we let one mistake overdraw them. Be more patient, more understanding, and more forgiving.

Categories: General

I Can’t Take the Stress!

After a particularly stressful and arduous 36 hours, I’m reminded of a quote:

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

Thank you Peter Marshall for keeping my life in perspective.

 

Wednesday, Hump Day. Let’s hope your day is…

7 March 2012 1 comment

Live & Learn

As beautiful as this day…but less steep!

My youth hockey coach used to say: “You’ve got to keep your feet moving” when they clutch and grab you to slow you down.  (Implying that you will get free and be able to press and attack or they will get a penalty if they pull you down.)

In many ways, life is no different.

Keep moving forward – One foot in front of the other – Grind it out – Persevere, even when headwinds are stiff…

Thank you slumscape

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Categories: General

I Voted….At The Caucus

7 March 2012 2 comments
I am not known for my political prowess. I research candidates and issues and propositions. I vote in every election. However, I am not loud with my opinions or vocal with my views. And then, last night, I went public and it reminded me of this quote by one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson.
We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.

I had the opportunity of participating last night in Idaho’s first Republican Caucus. I stood (and waited for a long time) with my fellow citizens to cast my vote for the republican candidate. There were so many people at the venue (~3000) that they had to turn people away because they ran out of ballets. Still, there was less pomp than I expected. Only two candidates were represented, Paul and Romney. You would think the candidates would be a little more selective about who represents them. Romney’s representative read his entire speech, head down, barely understandable. Paul’s did better, but this was the first caucus he’d ever attended. With Idaho being an all-or-nothing state and 32 delegates…I expected better representation.

Notwithstanding the quality of the speeches, it was a fascinating process, and a great opportunity to rub shoulders for a few hours with neighbors, friends, and others that believe the way I do.

Thomas Jefferson had it right. The monument that stands in his honor in Washington D.C. is my favorite. He stands in the center of the rotunda surrounded by the quotes of his past. You can almost hear them echoing across the centuries. He was a man of honor and a man of God. He knew that this country needed the people and he knew that the people needed God. He knew that the people needed to be involved to make a difference.

So, get involved; make a difference; be excellent.

Elements of Effective Teams

5 March 2012 3 comments

Promotial photo of the original Star Trek cast, season three.A team isn’t a team just because you call a group of people a team. Instead of calling people “my staff” or “the department”, managers are referring to their subordinates as “a team”. However, Shakespeare’s quips don’t apply here: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Just because you call it a team doesn’t make it smell any sweeter.

 

Regardless of what it’s called, if you want to develop a team you have to include a few key elements.

1. Commitment

Each member of the team must be committed to achieving the team’s mission. One bad apple spoils the barrel. Each member of the team must be devoted and driven to the end goal. If one person drags her feet or misses meetings or doesn’t follow through on assignments because of lack of enthusiasm or other commitments, the success of the team is as risk. This is especially true of small teams. This doesn’t mean that membership on this team is the only commitment or even the most important commitment. I am committed to my family, but that doesn’t mean I spend 24-7 with them. I am, however, there when they need me. The same should be true for team members.

 

2. Communication

Communication among the team members must be open and clear. Sometimes one member of the team may dominate the communication. This can be detrimental to understanding, cohesiveness, and collaboration. Everyone needs to feel comfortable sharing opinions and ideas without the fear of retribution.

 

3. Diverse Skills

When Star Trek’s Captain Kirk sent an away team to the surface of a planet, he didn’t just send a team of doctors. He sent a representative from key departments: medical, security, science, and administration. Besides the varied skills, diverse teams bring different perspectives and experience to the table. A programmer looks at a problem much differently than a school teacher. Teams need the broad range of expertise and perspective to tackle problems from every angle.

 

4. Flexible

There always seems to be a great deal of unknowns in the world. Even with the most extensive planning, there is always a curve ball. Teams that can adapt in changing environments will thrive and succeed. Part of being flexible means the team attacks problems head-on and not procrastinating or ignoring the problem altogether. Adapt, attack, advance.

 

5. Autonomy

Effective teams need the freedom to be creative. If a leader micro-manages the team, then the team is reduced to mere acolytes attending to the whims of the manager. The goal and constraints need to be clearly communicated to the team. Then stand back and let them solve the problem. Let their diversity and creativity reach a resolution.

 

Teams can be difficult to manage, both for managers and for team members. Some managers feel they need to be in control and that control stifles the productivity of the team. Some team members lack the social skills to function effectively in collaborative environments. These weaknesses can be overcome with education and practice. By practicing these principles you can bring yourself and your team one step closer to excellence.

 

What qualities or principles have you experienced in team settings that seem to work well? What have not?