Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

“Our People Matter”

January 4th, 2018

That’s a line you’ll find on the website of almost any company. It’s part of the standard template. But that won’t tell you if their actions match their words. I’m blessed to work with companies of all different sizes, cultures, and industries,  where their people do matter, and it shows. Here are three very different businesses whose actions match their words:

TRU-CO is a dynamic company with a unique vision on how to do business. Their view is that, if people are happy, they will be productive and conscientious. The by-product of this is a world class product out the door. This concept carries through to relationships with their customers, vendors, competitors and charitable organizations that we are affiliated with. If you give people what they want, they give back (or forward) more than ever expected.

Chinese internet giant Alibaba (their equivalent of Amazon) became a publicly traded company two years ago and instantly became one of the largest companies in the world. But to quote CEO Jack Mah: We put customers first, employees second, and shareholders last. It’s the opposite of most North American companies and what they teach in business schools. But Mah made that clear before shares went on sale to the public. ‘If you don’t like it – do not buy the company stock.’

An even bigger proponent was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. In an interview with his biographer he was asked what his biggest accomplishment was. It wasn’t the Iphone, Apple computer, or any actual product. It was building the Apple team. His answer shouldn’t be a surprise, because, without a team and the people, the products wouldn’t have been developed.

Can Golds Make Orange Dreams Come True?

January 4th, 2018

Behind every Orange U.S. President was a high Gold chief of staff. None of the last three started with them, but, according to most experts, their administration did much better after they took over. The definition of “much better” is different for different Orange Presidents. For some it may have been removing some of the Orange chaos. That’s fun for them, but not in the White House. For others it was the impetus for getting their agenda moving, or greatly changing the dynamics with Congress. For President Regan it was Jim Baker, for President Clinton, it was Leon Panettta, and for President Trump it was most noticeable when John Kelly became his chief of staff last summer.

Those might not have been the people an Orange wanted running their campaign, but it’s definitely who they need (initially against their wishes to some degree) once they were in office.

That isn’t any different on your team, or in your department. How another Color does things, sees things, or makes things happen, is very different than a Gold would do it. But many times it isn’t the job of the Gold to slow things down, change directions, or get judgmental that it ought to be done “their way.” But, more times than I can count, after the fundraising idea is set, after the client is retained or saved, it’s Golds that step up (or need to, or should). At that point, it’s to make the promises come true, or to pro-actively manage the hundreds of critical details.  It’s the reason that many successful sales teams have more Oranges in the outside (client) sales and the Golds in the inside sales positions.

We can’t be good at everything – but every Color is really good, and incredibly valuable, at different stages of our work life and on our team.

Putting the “I” Back Into Teamwork

January 8th, 2015

A recent story in Fortune magazine was entitled Teamwork! Secrets of Greatness. It started by suggesting all those posters and definitions of team players get dumped and that there is an “I” in teamwork.

The article argued that teamwork is an individual skill, implies a shared responsibility and that we cannot ever control the behavior of others, but only our own. Or in the words of Robert Frost: “Men work together, whether they work together or apart.”

But just putting together a number of people certainly doesn’t make a team. The best sports example is probably the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team, which consisted of huge NBA stars with tens of millions of income who lost to the “no-name” team from Lithuania. Yet the 1980 U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets against all odds with players assembled by coach Herb Brooks that nobody had ever heard of. The movie Miracle has some great lessons on building teams, which started when the coaching staff refused to take the best college players. Said Brooks: “I’m not looking for the best players – I’m looking for the right players.”

Any team, social or safety committee, or even department (if the numbers are large enough) should include the special skills of every Color. We have very different strengths and contributions that others don’t share. If you want the group, meeting, fundraiser, or whatever to be a successful, it takes all four of our Colors! That’ll include the solo stars that get going, the team builders who assure everyone is included and on the same page. It’ll need the air traffic controllers that keep track of everybody and everything, and the people who actually think ahead before jumping or committing.

On our team:
Orange supplies the energy
Gold supplies the practicality
Blue provides the heart
Green provides the quality

Five Quick Insights

November 15th, 2012

You may want to shave your head! According to a new study by the Wharton School of Business, men with shaved heads appear younger and more confident. They may also have greater leadership potential. Sorry ladies, I double checked: MEN ONLY! And here I kept thinking it was based on talents…

A Green gets lots of green: George Lucas sold his Star Wars franchise to Disney for more than $4 billion last month. More Green good news is that Disney committed to a new movie every two years. But George Lucas took forever and was the consummate perfectionist… and that still didn’t satisfy a ton of his fans. Time will tell if Disney feels the same.

Stand up meetings? According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, a recent trend in some industries is to have stand-up meetings. Of course, it started with technology companies, who are usually at the leading edge of anything innovative.

But it’s Oranges and Golds who love it. Oranges don’t believe any meeting should ever last longer than 15-minutes. Golds share the Orange impatience, and also want to focus on the subject at hand, deal with an issue, and move on. The general feedback in the story was that people love it – although some think their meetings still last too long…

Orange teamwork – sort of: Recently an Orange group at a seminar wrote that they like the concept of teamwork. What? Not teamwork, but the concept of teamwork?
Let them explain: Teamwork is a preference for Oranges, but only with others who are quick on their feet and can keep up. It needs to be with people who challenge and motivate them, share a mindset of being winners and wanting to succeed, and where Oranges can delegate some of the mundane tasks… if that happens, they do love teamwork!

Don’t misinterpret Blue niceness: Blues are often judged as being timid or meek. That’s generally defined as shy or powerless. But that is not the original meaning of the word at all. It was a great compliment when the word meek was first used in defining someone. These were people who used their power for a purpose. That’s so true for all Blues.

When Opposite Colors Work Together

January 4th, 2012

Spin Master, headquartered in Toronto, is the third-largest toy manufacturer in the world. Its partner and senior executive definitely prove that opposite personalities can work together very well, even in business.

According to a story in Canadian Business, Ian Kennedy is the chief operating offer. His office is all charts, graphs, and product development to-do lists. On the other extreme is one of the founding partners, Ben Varadi, whose title is vice-president of product development. Varadi’s office consists of giant fish aquariums and resembles a playpen.

One partner is all about data analysis and crunching the numbers, while the other confesses he operates on gut feelings and instinct.

The company re-vamp began in 2006 when Kennedy joined the company. What the Orange founder realized was that real-time information, systems of checks and balances, a finely tuned IT department, and a proper on-time delivery system (from 67% to over 90% now) were needed just as much as the Orange drive, marketing skills, and creativity.

In relationships, opposites attract. That’s something most people already know. But in business, in your department, in any branch or company, when opposites attract at work, incredible things will happen when our Colors work as a team, and actually utilize (and value) each others’ strengths and talents.

We Showed Our Colors!

July 6th, 2011

So how tricky is it to convince all the Colors that a project to build a quilt with staff decorating a square of their Color, and placing it on the wall in a quilt shape, is a fantastic idea?

Well, it did take some discussions and planning. Way too much for the Orange who came up with the idea! But gather some Golds to make a detailed list of supplies, some Blue to calm the waters, and some Greens to think through the plans, and the ball gets rolling.

Interesting what happens when you hand someone a square with their background Color on it, and ask them to decorate it, adding at least their name! Of course, to add to the fun we set a deadline of when the squares would be placed on the quilt.

Fast forward to the night before when our trusty Gold needed to prepare a border of colors to ensure some order, and a place to start. But…

 Gold: “The bulletin board is upside down! Look at the little sticker in the corner”

 Gold: “It’s crooked”

 Green: “You don’t even have the correct number of squares as I have calculated based on…”

 Orange: “ I LOVE the bright colors”

 Green: “ The green and the orange are too bright”

 Blue: “ Why are you putting up the blank squares”

 Gold: “ I have permanent eye damage from cutting out those bright ones”

 Blue: “I haven’t got mine done… what will I do? Could I go last?”

Now in order to keep the flow (for the Golds and Oranges that have other stuff to do) and fair (Blues need consideration too) we will draw names in groups of five (Greens preferred an exact calculation of number of people divided by…) of who will place their square, and then the next group will come up. What color do you suppose suggested that? Let the actual quilt building begin:

 “Sorry for the delay some extensive re-pinning has ensued, are they Gold?”

 “Check out the quilt with the shirt built from play money! Is that money laundering?”

 A Blue wanted a hug once her square is placed

 That Gold is still rearranging everyone’s squares… call Security – they’re loitering

 A hint for the poor Gold souls: The squares aren’t square!

 Orange casually finishing their square the morning of the quilt building

 A Green/Gold did three squares before choosing the worthy one to display

 A Gold/Green admires our vibrant Orange leader who dresses up like they would NEVER do

 Green who planned in her head what it would look like, but then waited to do the square until the last day

 Another Gold that needs to rearrange and align the squares…again…

 Blue who wanted her square to be accepted and beautiful, and who spent $30 on stickers and scrapbook supplies, then two hours assembling it all

 An Orange made the Gold cringe when they placed their square on an angle

 Blues gathered and stayed to find out all they could about everyone

 Orange placed staples down the side of their square with a message “ just to bug you gold ones”

 Gold who fixed that sideways Orange square immediately

 Gold who spent forever getting her square right with assistance, only to have some rowdy Blues say maybe it’s still a little crooked on the one side. Then quickly say “we were just joking…”…and feeling bad…

 Gold placed an extra item (wine bottle) on another’s square and once discovered much laughter was enjoyed. Of note: “ the wine is the wrong kind”

 Blue had to take care of everyone (by moving the Orange square to a less prominent position) when an Orange broke the rules and went out of turn!

Everyone was so proud of their square, and much discussion was shared about why people’s squares were decorated that way. Every little or big item on every square has great meaning and significance. All agreed we had a great time expressing ourselves and our Colors, laughing at ourselves, and watching our Colors and the quilt unfold. C.C. from SCU