Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 8th 2015 Contents done well and what we could have done
better, 2) Discuss current opportunities and
challenges, and 3) Create strategic plans for
• Set ground rules. People should be able
to speak up and constructively challenge
one another without any fear of reprisal.
• Plan activities that actually build the
team. Cooking a meal together, for example,
genuinely builds a sense of interdependence
and collaboration, as does public service
and volunteer projects.
• Schedule follow-up. A subsequent off-
site or check-in meeting can help ensure
that the team stays focused on making
progress and sustaining positive change.
(Adapted from "How to Plan a Team Off-
Site That Actually Works," by Ben Dattner.)
One of the top complaints we have about
executives is that they don t recognise our
achievements. Leaders have to actively build
a sense of connectedness with their employ-
ees, and this starts with expressing appre-
• Notice employees unique contributions.
Say something that highlights something
specific: "I appreciate the way you pull in
people from other departments to reach
your team goals; you re a connector."
• Thank people personally and publicly.
Daily interactions---from the elevator to the
parking lot---are opportunities to show
appreciation for your employees efforts.
Public recognition at a staff meeting, or a
thoughtful "thank you" in a newsletter or
email, are also meaningful.
• Ask, "What do you think?" Give people
the opportunity to express themselves and
be recognised for their ideas. Proactively
ask employees, "How do you think we could
improve?" and "What is keeping us stuck?"
(Adapted from "The Top Complaints From
Employees About Their Leaders," by Lou
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 8 • 2015
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
To get more done,
let your mind wander
Thanks to our smartphones, tablets and laptops,
it s easy to be working all the time. But our devices
can actually make us less productive by interfering
with an important mental process: daydreaming. To
be effective, our brains need opportunities to be "off,"
which is hard when we re constantly taking in new
information through our devices. And research has
found that letting our minds wander facilitates cre-
ativity and long-term thinking. If we re facing a chal-
lenge that needs new ideas, we re more likely to find
some if our minds drift away from the problem for
a while. So the next time your mind starts to wander,
let it. Don t check your favourite Web site or your
email. Instead, walk to a window and think about
the people and cars going by, close your eyes and
notice the sounds around you, or go for a short walk.
And remember: Leave your device behind.
(Adapted from "Zoning Out Can Make You More
Productive," by Josh Davis.)
Know how to tell a good
failure from a bad one
Not all failures are bad---some of them are actually
good because of the valuable learning opportunities
they present. Dividing your organisation s failures
into three categories will help you distinguish the
good, useful failures from the bad, useless ones:
• Preventable failures in predictable operations.
These are caused by inadequate training, inattention
or lack of ability. They re easy to diagnose and fix---
by using a checklist, for example---but they re not
• Unavoidable failures in complex systems. Small
process setbacks are inevitable, so considering them
failures is counterproductive. They can usually be
averted by following best practices for safety and
• Intelligent failures at the frontier. These good
failures happen as a result of forward-thinking inno-
vation. They provide valuable knowledge that can
help you get ahead of the competition. But they can
become bad failures if your organisation starts working
at a larger scale than is necessary.
(Adapted from the video "Distinguish Good Failures
From Bad Ones," by Amy Edmondson).
Become a better
learner at work
Research has found that learning agility---the ability
to grow and to use new strategies---is a good indicator
of whether someone can be a high performer. Learn-
ing-agile employees are able to jettison skills and
ideas that are no longer relevant and learn new ones
that are. To cultivate learning agility in yourself, try:
• Innovating. Seek out new solutions. Repeatedly
ask yourself "What else?" and "What are more ways
I could approach this?"
• Performing. When faced with complex situations,
look for similarities to your past projects. Practice
calming techniques, and listen instead of simply
• Reflecting. Seek out input from others. Ask col-
leagues what you could have done better.
• Risking. Look for "stretch assignments" where
success isn t a given.
• Avoid defending. Acknowledge your failures and
capture the lessons you ve learned.
(Adapted from "Improve Your Ability to Learn," by
JP Flaum and Becky Winkler.)
Plan a more effective
A successful team-building off-site can help
employees develop new ways of communicating and
collaborating. But many of these meetings are inef-
fective. To create an off-site that will have positive,
• Create an agenda. For example, 1) We ll reflect
on past performance to consider what the team has
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