Building and Managing a Successful Team


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This workshop discusses many aspects of leadership and management, from building a strong team through team/career and project management. In the beginning we discuss various leadership topics, such as team dynamics and decision types.

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Building and Managing a Successful Team

  1. 1. Building and Managing Successful Teams Paul Mueller (@Paul_UserAid) Alyssa Fox (@afox98) 1
  2. 2. What Are We Going to Discuss? Leadership Considerations Building a Successful Team Team and Career Management Project Management 2
  3. 3. Leadership Considerations3
  4. 4. Leadership Considerations Leaders provide the vision & direction for the team Team refines the plans & delivers Keys to leadership  North star – everyone knows the goal/direction  Tent - invite people into your office for discussions  4 min – listen for 4 minutes, don’t interrupt, listen twice as much as you talk  Give an ‘A’ – don’t hold past perceptions against people  More than 1 – there are many ways to solve an issue. Listen to all perspectives and support alternative solutions  Don’t take self so seriously – we don’t know it all, and everyone makes mistakes. © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 4
  5. 5. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamPositive teamwork experience  Team trusts each other  Team engages in healthy, unfiltered discussion of ideas  Members commit to decisions and plans for action  Members hold each other accountable for deliverables & actions  Team stays focused on achieving collective goals & results © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 5
  6. 6. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamAbsence of trustFear of conflictLack of commitmentAvoidance of accountabilityInattention to results © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 6
  7. 7. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamAbsence of trust (invulnerability)  Not honest about own strengths, weaknesses, & mistakes  Don’t ask for help when needed  Can’t build a solid foundation to build on & move forward © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 7
  8. 8. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamFear of conflict (artificial harmony)  Without trust, no open/honest communication  Afraid to tell the truth (don’t be negative, he/she may not support you later)  No honest discussion & passionate debate to find the best solutions  Controlled feedback limits possibilities  Guarded comments leads to “yes people” and “group think” © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 8
  9. 9. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamLack of commitment (ambiguity)  Without discussion, limited buy-in  I didn’t like that idea anyway.  I told you so. (without actually telling you)  False, passive agreement without support (talking behind backs, through the grape vine)  Members don’t give 100% effort  Flip flop decisions & rehashing ideas  No clear plan of attack (avoid action items)  Few volunteers, no one is passionate about the solution © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 9
  10. 10. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamAvoidance of accountability (low standards)  “It wasn’t my idea, so who cares if it fails.”  “It’s not my fault.” (no support for each other)  Members don’t hold each other accountable when deliverables are late or incomplete  Members don’t point out counterproductive actions of others © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 10
  11. 11. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamInattention to results (status and ego)  Individual needs put ahead of collective goals  Ego  Career  Awards and Recognition  Motivated by individual growth rather than team achievement  Wordsmithing results for positive spin  Don’t achieve the initial goals and objectives © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 11
  12. 12. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamWays to improve trust  Brown-bag lunch - 3 things others don’t know about you  Who am I discussions – 5 minute overviews  Learn how others communicate & resolve conflict (Strength Deployment Inventory – Red/Blue/Green)  Docquementation Brick – self-awarded when make a mistake…share mistakes to learn from each other  Leaders willing to say:  I’m wrong…I made a mistake.  I’m sorry.  I don’t know, do you?  Maxim: Don’t take yourself so seriously © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 12
  13. 13. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamWays to encourage healthy conflict  Focus discussion on ideas, not people  Support discussion & encourage disagreement, without repercussions  Have more assertive team members say, “I don’t agree.”  Lead by example, both within and outside the team  Refer to previous decision & don’t rehash without significant change in conditions  Close back-door avenues, bring everyone together for the discussion  Maxim: Listen for 4 minutes. Give everyone an A. © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 13
  14. 14. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamWays to improve commitment  Decision types: Tell, Sell, Test, Consult, Joint  Team discussions & smaller group discussions to get folks to open up & share  Consider cultural differences & create environments to share ideas & gain commitment  Get groups of folks who disagree together to define alternative solution  Develop & communicate a clear plan of action  Support final decision even though disagreed  Assess during execution, learn from mistakes, adjust plan  Maxim: More than 1 right answer © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 14
  15. 15. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamWays to improve accountability  Support team members to discuss & resolve issues directly with each other  Support the team when you talk with other teams across the company  Establish clear job criteria & hold everyone accountable.  Consistent, annual job reviews & semi-annual discussions about progress & goals.  Tell each other the truth & manage team members up/out  Do not accept bad behavior against teamwork  Respect each other (I need…)  Maxim: Invite others into your office to discuss actions © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 15
  16. 16. Leadership Considerations5 Dysfunctions of a TeamWays to improve results  Give credit to team, not yourself (not “my team”)  Reward members based on group goals & objectives (less individual), & celebrate as team (lunch, mini golf, …)  Recognize teamwork & groups who exhibit characteristics you want all to have  Focus on clear objectives  Honestly track, communicate, & assess results  Recognize failures as a team (post mortem)  Learn from mistakes & don’t be afraid to make some  Maxim: Provide north star, so everyone knows goals © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 16
  17. 17. Leadership Considerations Decision types  Tell (Inform) – least time & least buy-in; no feedback; giving assignments, emergencies,  Sell (Persuade) – more buy-in; answer questions; use honesty; help team accept compromise/decision  Test (Run it by) – often used between leaders; validate ideas; minimal feedback requested  Consult (Request feedback) – trust & honesty; input is valued; need enough time to address feedback  Join (Group decision) – most time & most buy-in; well- defined problem; clear decision boundaries; willing to accept group decision; confident in group abilities © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 17
  18. 18. Leadership Considerations What decision type would you use?  Layoffs  Mandatory overtime  Team reorganization  Team motto/logo/tagline © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 18
  19. 19. Leadership Considerations Personality types & how people communicate, work, and resolve conflict Strength Deployment Inventory  Red – goal-oriented and focused  Blue – people-oriented and focused  Green – numbers/facts-oriented and focused Myers-Briggs  Introverted / Extroverted  Sensing / Intuition  Thinking / Feeling  Judging / Perceiving © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 19
  20. 20. Building a Successful Team20
  21. 21. Building a Successful Team Why people stay (unknown resource)  Respect  Impact  Listen  Increasing responsibility  Money Why people leave (  Unrecognized or unappreciated  No hope for career growth or advancement  Position doesn’t match what they were hired to do  Overworked and overstressed  Lack of coaching or mentoring © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 21
  22. 22. Building a Successful Team Interviewing  Bad hire can cost 40 times annual salary in lost productivity and related fire/rehire/retrain expenses  Hiring well takes time  Involve multiple team members  Talk with HR about Dos and Don’ts Process  Define the position (skills & experience needed)  Collect and identify candidates (resumes, referrals, …)  Phone screen (meet position definition?)  Writing samples  In-person interview (looking for strengths; why not hire?)  Candidate review with interview team  Offer or decline © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 22
  23. 23. Building a Successful Team Intangibles of a strong team (interview for them)  Personality (positive attitude, initiative, …)  Skills, knowledge, approaches (problem-solving)  Ability and motivation to learn  Open to constructive criticism, multiple solutions  Open to change  Roles within your team What characteristics are important in your environment? How do you interview? © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 23
  24. 24. Building a Successful Team Sample phone screen questions (open ended)  Describe your ideal job (what you would love to do)?  Describe writing process you like to use  Describe info dev & design experience  What are your salary requirements (range)? Sample interview questions (open ended)  Most proud accomplishment / Biggest mistakes  Characteristics of supervisors you liked most/least  Characteristics of team members you liked most/least  What if you found someone sleeping at desk?  We teach you about a product (you teach someone later)  Explore writing maxims and editing of samples More questions are in additional resources © 2012 UserAid, all rights reserved. 24
  25. 25. Team and Career Management25
  26. 26. Team and Career Management Job ladder – clear expectations, multiple levels  Functional expertise  Technical expertise and product usability  Quality  Communication and teamwork  Leadership Management and individual contributor tracks © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 26
  27. 27. Team and Career Management How would you define four levels of proficiency in an area or skill important in your environment? © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 27
  28. 28. Team and Career Management Feedback  Should be continuous – no one should be surprised in an annual review.  Managing up or out  Performance improvement plans Annual reviews  Fast, easy, standard  Pros: thorough, get feedback from managers and peers  Cons: can be demoralizing, “once-a-year” feedback Goal-setting  Continuous review  Tie in with team/organization/business unit/company goals © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 28
  29. 29. Team and Career Management Budgeting by numbers Budgeting by items Remember these items:  Staff  Tools  Software  Hardware and equipment  Travel  Training – conferences, webinars, books  Professional organization dues  Morale-building activities © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 29
  30. 30. Team and Career Management Training  Include in budget.  Consider the message.  Determine who decides who gets what training.  Kinds of training – tools, soft skills, writing, project management, people management, process. Training opportunities  Online webinars  Brown bags/lunch and learns  Local classes  Books  Program meetings for various organizations, including STC  User groups  Local/regional conferences  National/international conferences “Train the trainer” © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 30
  31. 31. Team and Career Management Changes for your team or organization  Additional responsibilities for team members (usability testing, UI review, content strategy, web design, marketing documentation)  Team mergers  Documentation structure  Development methodology (agile)  The role of your team members on project teams  Resource numbers  Reporting structure for your team (new boss or new division) © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 31
  32. 32. Team and Career Management Change management  Need for change  Guiding coalition  Vision  Empowerment and action  Short-term wins  Culture shift  Change perpetuation © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 32
  33. 33. Team and Career Management What is a change you need or that is happening in your organization? What is the vision you’ll communicate for what things will look like when that change is implemented? How will you communicate that change? © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 33
  34. 34. Team and Career Management Managing distributed teams  Co-locate where possible.  Over-communicate!  Have frequent check-ins in various ways. Meeting tips:  Include time for small talk.  Share the scheduling pain.  Make sure everyone knows who is talking. © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 34
  35. 35. Project Management35
  36. 36. Project Management How does project management change as roles change?  Individual contributor – it’s all about you.  Team lead – estimate your work, help others estimate their work, manage your work and sometimes others’ work.  Team manager – team members provide estimates, you help them refine, resource balancing with small set of team members, manage others’ work as needed.  Team group manager – team members provide estimates, you help them refine as needed, resource balancing across multiple teams, multiple business lines, multiple locations, build in buffer where appropriate, rarely manage others’ work unless there’s an issue. © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 36
  37. 37. Project Management Estimating  With reliable estimates, you can make good business decisions about resource planning, budgets, and commitments.  Consistent metrics let you reproduce estimates and more easily train team members to estimate projects.  Consistent metrics help establish milestones and deadlines and defend your estimates to project stakeholders. © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 37
  38. 38. Project Management Process for estimating 1. Identify common units of work. 2. Find starting metrics for each unit of work (adjust as you learn). 3. List tasks based on work unit and estimate. Adjust as needed  Experience of team members  Number/level of reviews  Deliverable formats  Level of source material  Efficiency of project team  Distributed team over multiple time zones  Processes used © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 38
  39. 39. Project Management Review cycle  Types of reviews – organization, content, copyedit  Number of drafts  Reviews and process  Editing levels  Quality levels © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 39
  40. 40. Project Management Agile and the whole team approach Gaining clout on your project team  Get involved in ALL parts of the product development.  Attend scrum meetings for your projects.  Be detailed and specific when asking questions or giving information to others.  Pave the way for other writers that join the team later.  Show an interest in the requirements, design, and thought behind the design of the product.  Attend all release and iteration planning meetings.  Offer to help however you can.  Be a usability advocate.  Install and maintain your own builds of the product.  Gain your team’s trust by having a solid understanding of the product.  Make informed suggestions for change. © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 40
  41. 41. Project Management Adjusting scope and metrics for agile  Reviewing UI and documentation within sprints  Estimating topics within sprints vs. larger chunks of deliverables for whole project  Estimating for an individual vs. average estimate for any team member  Estimating tasks vs. entire project deliverables © 2012 Alyssa Fox, all rights reserved. 41
  42. 42. Additional Resources42
  43. 43. Books of Interest The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni It’s Your Ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff Managing Writers by Richard L. Hamilton Leading Change by John Kotter Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute Topgrading by Bradford D. Smart Think Big, Act Small by Jason Jennings 43