To Build Your Team, First Build Trust by Brad Smith


Team-building activities create close-knit, happy and productive workers who function efficiently. Engaged teams are more motivated and reliable. They are supportive of the objectives of the team and there is greater alignment through the organization.

The result is that high-functioning teams are focused on improving job performance and the organization’s competitive position because they have a stake in the company’s success. Team-building initiatives improve workplace morale and reduce employee turnover.

Team-building as a cornerstone of corporate culture

Effective team-building begins with employee allegiance to corporate values, as well as immediate team objectives. It develops a service community within the organizational culture, one dedicated to optimal performance.

Coaching and otherwise facilitating teams to this level of achievement adds value to your organization, particularly as it relates to engagement with corporate strategies and goals. The team’s goals and the company’s goals are aligned, enhancing the communication between different levels of the firm. Teams are more inclined to achieve stated objectives.

Employees’ perception of personal and team value improves, boosting their confidence in their ability to complete their responsibilities within the team. Evidence suggests efficient teams finish their work 20 percent faster, with worker-satisfaction improving by 10 percent.

In addition, team-building exercises help develop workers and have a significant impact on employee performance. 45 percent are more likely to stay with their employer, 32 percent saw improved team productivity and 82 percent are less likely to use sick days.

The enhanced attendance and corporate loyalty engendered by team building further develops a team-centric corporate culture.

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How will they evaluate you? It’s largely in your hands By Naphtali Hoff


Recently I had the pleasure of going on a fishing trip on Lake Michigan with three of my sons. This was our first such fishing charter, and it turned out to be a great experience all around.

Clearly, one of the most common words on a shipping boat is “catch,” as in the fish that is brought in during the trip. When used in the workplace, the term can be used to reference a great new resource, such as a new hire or tool that has the potential of adding value to the workforce and its efforts. Proactive managers and employers can also catch their workers doing something right and praise such conduct as a form of reinforcement.

On the negative side, the term “catch” can refer to the way in which employees are oftentimes evaluated, as in being caught off-guard with critiques (or worse) that stem from unstated or unclear expectations. For many leaders, this can come from multiple sources and stakeholders, each of which has its own conception of what needs to be done and how the job is actually being fulfilled.

How can leaders ensure the formation of a proper set of expectations — and one that focuses them on a clear set of goals and ensures a fair assessment of their work?

First, leaders need to be clear on who is doing the assessing. This may be a direct supervisor, the board of directors, a board subcommittee or another party. Whoever it is, make sure to meet with them early on to discuss the evaluation process.

In that discussion, a number of areas need to be covered. These include: frequency of assessment, the assessment tool and whether there will be a particular set of priorities that will take precedence and carry disproportionate value.


Naturally, frequent feedback is preferable. This gives leaders the opportunity to make adjustments as needed, well before things go sideways in a serious way. It also allows for modifications of goals if that is required. While each situation may dictate its own feedback frequency, there is no question that a once-annual review is not sufficient, especially for millennial workers who expect regular feedback

The tool makes all the difference: 

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10 Good Communication Skills You Absolutely Must Know by Barrie Davenport

Communication.  Most companies and managers fall short in this area of business. Our teams and clients need us to become better communicators. Here is a straight forward article full of great advice.


Every relationship you have is impacted by your ability — or inability — to communicate well.

Whether at work, in your love life, or with friends and family, good communication fosters better understanding, helps us resolve differences, promotes mutual trust and respect, and allows creative ideas to flourish.

Although communication seems fairly simple and straightforward, so much of our communication is misunderstood or misinterpreted. Of course, this can cause conflict and wounded feelings in personal and professional relationships.

Think about the times you’ve said something to your spouse or a friend, and your meaning was entirely misconstrued. Or consider an occasion when someone said something that hurt your feelings, only to learn later they had no idea how their words wounded you. In my own life, I’ve seen how the power of words can sow the seeds of trust and love — and how they can be divisive, hurtful, or misunderstood.

Learning effective communication is a skill set that should be part of every school curriculum, beginning in elementary school. Knowing these skills can make the difference in the quality of your personal relationships, your potential career success, and your own self-esteem and social confidence.

Here are 10 good communication skills you absolutely must know:

1. Body language

Your body language speaks volumes before you ever open your mouth. How you stand, your facial expression, and your eyes tell a story and create the very first impression others have of you. It doesn’t matter how powerful your words, if you don’t appear confident and friendly, people will assume you aren’t.

Become aware of your body language, and begin to make changes. Look others in the eye when you speak. Smile frequently (and appropriately). Offer a firm handshake or a warm hug (with friends and family). Stand up straight and hold your head high with your shoulders back. Don’t cross your arms or legs in a defensive posture.

2. Active listening

Good communication isn’t just about talking or using body language. It’s about listening well to others. By becoming a better listener, you can improve your relationships and social interactions, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate.

Active listening involves consciously hearing beyond just the words spoken. It’s mindfully paying attention to the complete message being sent. Focus intently on the speaker, and try not to get distracted. Notice the speaker’s body language. Use your own body language to show you’re listening by nodding and smiling appropriately. Offer feedback and thoughtful comments.

3. Conflict resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, and learning how to handle conflict in healthy ways is essential to making a relationship work. Many people choose to avoid conflict altogether because they don’t want to deal with the discomfort and pain. This only causes resentment and misunderstandings. When conflict triggers strong emotions, often a deep-felt unmet need is at the root of the problem. The needs and feelings of both parties must be respected and considered.

The ability to resolve conflict healthily requires you respond in a calm, non-defensive, and respectful manner. When you’re in control of your emotions, you can communicate your opinions and needs without threatening, wounding, or punishing others. Conflict resolution also means you can forgive and forget quickly, and that you have the ability to compromise for the sake of the relationship.

4. Authenticity

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Power Follow-Ups for Leaders & Their Teams by Jim Johnson

From an earlier post…


Observation coaching involves something called “power follow ups”. If you see or hear something that is not the standard you set for your staff member, try the following:

You observe an employee, Joe, waiting on a member. During the interaction, the employee rarely made eye contact and he did not use the customer’s name (both standards for your company). As soon as the customer walks away from the transaction, turn to Joe and say (quietly to them directly), “Joe, I noticed that while that customer was here, you hardly made eye contact with them. You also did not use their name. We’ve been trained that those 2 simple interaction skills make a big difference in how we build important relationships with our customers. I’ll be here observing the next several transactions. I need you to work on those 2 skills. In a while, I’ll give you my feedback on how you did. I know you can do this.”

Do you think Joe will make the changes? You bet! He knows that you know how he is interacting. You just witnessed it. He also knows that you are intentionally watching him and that he now has his marching orders. After several more interactions with customers, watch what happens in the following interactions:

Joe begins to make eye contact, intentionally uses the customer’s name and even smiles.Here’s your power follow-up, “I knew you could do it, Joe! That was great. Did you see how Mrs. Jones responded to you? She even asked you some additional questions that allowed you to talk about that new product. You’ve proven you can do this. Remember, our commitment is to do this at every encounter every day. It will become habit. Super job, Joe. I appreciate your concentration on this.”

You have just provided immediate, specific feedback on your employee’s performance.

He performed + you observed + you praised = a power follow-up

Chances are he will become more consistent with his customer interactions. By the way, don’t make this the last time you ever observe this employee on this issue.

Observing coupled with a power follow-up also works with negative behavior. The secret here is to give your power follow-up in a more private environment such as your office or a side room away from other employees. You never want to embarrass a team member in front of others on the team. It will only demotivate or anger that person.

As someone once said, “you have to inspect what you expect” and that means getting out and observing.

17 Things Every Successful Leader Says Every Day BY PETER ECONOMY


Successful leaders get that way because they have a positive attitude, and they know how to build strong and enduring relationships with their employees. Instead of becoming adversaries, they become partners with their employees–earning their respect, their trust, and their loyalty.

They don’t do this, however, by keeping their opinions to themselves. They really connect with their people–involving them, engaging them, and letting them know that they are valued and respected members of the team.

Go from being a good leader to a great leader by saying these things every successful leader says every day:

1. What do you think?

Your employees are a never-ending source of ideas, many of which you may have never thought of or considered. When you ask them what they think, you’re letting them know that you want and value their ideas.

2. I trust you.

Every employee wants to feel that he or she has earned the boss’s trust. When your employees know that you trust them, they will repay you with their good work, their loyalty, and their trust.

3. I know you can do it.

When employees know that you are confident in their abilities, their own self-confidence will increase–improving the probability that they will accomplish their goals.

4. It’s not your fault.

Sometimes problems occur and there’s nothing your employees could have done to prevent them. Be quick to recognize when these situations occur, and let your employees know you understand that they are not to blame for them.

5. I’m proud of you.

Who doesn’t like to know that his or her parents–or boss–is proud of his or her work and accomplishments? Don’t hesitate to let your employees know that you are proud of what they’ve done.

6. Please.

No employee wants to be ordered or bossed around. While you may be the boss, you can and should be polite when asking an employee to do something for you.

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The Power of Praise by Jim Johnson

In my experience as a manager/leader of people for the past 30 years and in observing leaders I’ve led, a key behavior is too often missed.  Sure, we’re all good at pointing out areas of improvement.  We follow-up on the progress of a project.  We question our team member on an expenditure.

But we miss something.  Something that is powerful.  Something that is impactful.  Something that can help turn an indifferent team member into a passionate player.


Why is it we overlook this crucial part of leadership?  When a team member has done something great, overcome a hurdle, landed a significant sale, helped move the company forward, or shown initiative beyond their position, we might give a nod.  But so often we skirt by that and move on to “our” agenda.

The Results of Not Praising

What happens when we don’t verbally (or even in writing) praise a team member?

* We show our ignorance.  That’s right.  If our team member has done something significant and we don’t acknowledge it, they most likely will think “he/she has no clue what I do or how hard I work to make an impact here.”  And that is true.

* We exchange price tags.  What we focus on demonstrates what we value.  If we continually focus on what has gone wrong (according to our perspective), we show our team members what we value.  When they have really hit a significant goal or company metric and we basically ignore it, we have taken the “price tag” off that achievement and placed it on “well, we need to talk about how you…”  Where does that leave the team member?  Frustrated.  They just accomplished something that they are required to do – and exceeded expectations.  And what do we as leaders do?  Place value on something else with barely a recognition of their work.  Don’t ever let a team member feel “well, I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t”.

How to Praise

*Be specific.  It may seem like this is out of the “Mr. Obvious” playbook, but praise them specifically for what they have done.  Document this achievement and put it in their quarterly/annual reviews.  I’ve never had a team member be unhappy to review once again a major accomplishment.  They loved seeing it again.

* Make eye contact.  Look them in the eye when you are praise them specifically.  I’m bad at this.  But when I do it, it positively impacts me AND the team member.  It gets all of the focus on what you’re saying.

* Smile.  Again, I’ve got work to do here.  But if you are saying something positive, look positive.

* Remind them of their accomplishment.  Weeks or months down the road, you may be in a coaching session with this team member and they are not having a good stretch.  Remind them of what they can accomplish.  Remind them of what they did “back then”.  They can do it again.  Encourage them.

I just had a coaching session with one of my leaders yesterday.  I was so encouraged to hear how an online class had gone for her.  She took the lead in the class and was recognized for it by her professor.  I was able to put into my own words why this experience is true at her work, too.  She is very passionate about her job, her team, and her impact.  I was able to speak encouragement to her.

A few weeks ago, I sat in on an interview with the leader of my call center.  We were meeting a young lady who was hoping to get our part-time position.  She said at the beginning on the interview that she was nervous and not very experienced in interviewing.

But as my team leader worked her way through the conversation, this young lady spoke clearly, specifically, and confidently of her experiences and what she would bring to the table.  At the end, I said I had something to say.  I asked the young lady to look at me and I said, “you did an excellent job in this interview.  You did not come across nervous.  You gave specific examples of how you handled various work scenarios.  You demonstrated confidence in you as a person and your abilities.  You interviewed very well.”

The young lady almost cried.  She then said that she so needed to hear that.  She told me how much that meant to her.

Oh, yes, we hired her and she started this past Monday in training.

Don’t underestimate praise.  Don’t forget it.  As a leader, you probably don’t know how much your words of praise means to a team member.  The benefits for them, for your team, and for your company are endless.