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Una’s Spotlight: You never listen! Why ignoring your team could land you in trouble…

Have you ever felt that your boss didn’t listen to you, or has your team ever accused you of not listening to them?

Research now demonstrates that this indeed can be the case and that there are several significant factors as to why leaders may not listen:

  • Increased power
  • Overconfidence
  • Repeating what worked in the past

The research showed that the more power a manager had the less likely they were to take advice from others. Probably part of what got them promoted in the first place is the fact that they were decisive and got things done, right? The whole team wasn’t promoted after all, they were.

Overconfidence led to poor results

However this experience could lead to them becoming overconfident about their decision-making. The researchers found that even when making decisions in area where they had little or no expertise, some leaders would go ahead anyway because they overestimated the value of their general decision-making experience.

The study showed this often generated poor and inaccurate results compared to the leaders and managers who consulted others.

What is the impact of all this? Firstly, not listening to and taking advice from your team is likely to land you in trouble because you probably won’t achieve the same level of outcomes.

Secondly, how engaged is your team likely to be implementing decisions that they had no input in? Not very! Trust me that will impact on how your decisions and strategies are implemented.

Learn to Be Vulnerable

From a Talent Dynamics perspective, different profiles can really add value especially when it comes to more complex decisions and strategies.

A big problem in leaders looking to make decisions on their own is that they’re not benefitting from other’s different perspectives, let alone specific expertise that they may lack.

A key lesson for all is that many of the best leaders like to surround themselves with people who will challenge them and sometimes even change their mind. They don’t see this as a weakness. They know that power doesn’t really come from being a know-all. It comes from getting the best results. As we say at Talent Dynamics:

It’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right!“

For instance:

  • An Accumulator can add great insight to a Creator about what could go wrong on a project.
  • A Star can help a Mechanic to engage others regarding their new and improved systems.
  • A Trader can help a Star to launch that new product at the right time and right price.
  • A Lord can help improve cashflow to provide the resources for further growth. (In fact, one of our Performance Consultants capitalised on their Lord team member to recover AUS $100k of outstanding debt in one only one month!)

People have been talking ‘team‘ for generations. How many are really living it though? And if you are, then you won’t mind asking your team how you could utilise their advice even more…




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Una’s spotlight: Smarter smart goals!

As you are well aware, many people set goals and New Year’s resolutions every year and few achieve them. While you may have come across copious advice on goal setting, read on for something with a different perspective…

“Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.”
Aldous Huxley

There are books galore on setting smart goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Frankly, I’d be amazed if most people reading this article hadn’t heard of them. That’s not what I mean by truly smart goals though.

I’d like you to put all that to one side for a while and instead focus on the following steps. Once you’ve decided what you want (the topic of at least one other article I’m sure!) you simply need to do two things:

1. Decide where you add the most value to achieving your smart goals

Look at the different ways that you (and your team) can add the most value. Consider strengths and weaknesses, skills, experience, what you actually want to spend your time doing. Ask yourself the question, how can I help others be most effective that will result in me achieving my smart goal?

Where can we add value by being innovative using Dynamo talents? Where can we add value through timing, through the where and the when with people who have Tempo profiles? What are the products and services that will make the most difference to those you serve?

What structures are already in place that will make this easier to achieve? What structures could you put in place if they’re not there? A structure could be a rhythm and routine of meetings, tapping into people’s talents, using the resources that you already have and/or simply believing that the smart goals are achievable.

This is all about you discovering your path of least resistance.

2. Leverage this value effectively

How can you then leverage this value through systems and processes? Get those more data and detail oriented Steel energy people on the case. For example, this could be mapping out effective processes to get repetitive tasks done or it could be using websites for distribution.

How could you leverage this value through people bringing Blaze energy into play? Think about your team, communication within the team and just as importantly with others. Who can sell the idea? Who can be your advocates or affiliates? Who else could you deliver this value to so that you’re not constantly reinventing the wheel?

Write down the activities that need to take place for these two steps and you have the outline of a plan to achieve what you want.

A final word on smart goals

In some instances you may wish to do the two steps above and let the smart goals fall out of that process… This is because this approach allows you to look at truly creating what you want and what you will be great at creating. You may well find that suddenly what you’re looking to create is much bigger than you have ever done before! Traditional goal setting can be limited at times by past experience and learning.

This knowledge by the way, is incredibly vital for people’s sustainable wellbeing. According to Robert Fritz in ‘The Path of Least Resistance”, being empowered to create often is where humanity rises to the challenge. The fulfillment enjoyed by those who create what they want knows no bounds. When you understand how to add value, and leverage that value effectively, then you’re pretty much giving yourself a get out of jail card for the majority of situations in your life.

Fritz says that where evil and bad things flourish it is always where people don’t feel able to create. Think about areas of poverty where people feel they have no control over what happens. Think about employees who’ve given up from frustration. Increase your levels of creation and help those around you to do the same – you may be amazed at the incredible difference this could make…

Now that’s what I call Smart Goals!

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Unas spotlight: To team or not to team, that is the question…

To team or not to team, that is the question…

I have encountered a lot of ‘teams’ that upon further investigation actually were not teams, they were ‘work groups’. What would I use to distinguish one from the other? People working in a work group may add value to the line manager and the organisation but not to each other. Sometimes it’s perfectly OK for a work group to be a work group and attempting to make them a team is a futile effort and in fact could even be damaging to motivation and performance.

So how do you know whether a team or work group is more appropriate to provide maximum value? Some things to look for are:

A Work Group:

  • Usually is accountable for a very narrow set of tasks and activities that sit within a common set of strengths and talents, e.g. an IT help desk that deals with a particular software.
  • Are rewarded for individual results.

Now the work group mentioned above would be more effective if somebody was reporting back the issues and had one or more people working on fixing bugs in the software. I’m assuming that improving the software is done by a different team or indeed even a different company.

A Team:

  • Can add more value by working together and collaborating to complete different aspects of the team’s key accountabilities, e.g. a marketing team where one person puts together the strategy, another conducts research, another data analysis, someone works on joint ventures, a different person does the public relations, some else does the graphic design, etc.
  • Are rewarded more for team results than indivual results.

Sometimes people are called a team, treated as a team, rewarded as a team yet actually act as if they are a work group. If their accountabilities suit being a work group then apart from the waste of money in being subjected to teamworking days every now again that’s fine. However if their accountabilities and strengths suit being a team (in my experience is most of the time) then they usually won’t be very effective.

I have had several people coming up to me after I’ve given a talk on Talent Dynamics and saying that they wished their boss had heard about people working to their strengths and getting a team in flow. Usually the boss in question believes that for a team to be effective, everybody should always be pitching in and helping each other out so they all need to be able to do all the activities that the team is accountable for and do them on a daily basis. This is bound to have most members of the team out of flow most of the time!

I understand their concern about being left in the lurch in an emergency. You can still have team members prepared for what to do should an emergency happen and they need to temporarily step in for somebody if they’re on holiday or off sick. (Though the chances are that when the team is truly in flow that ‘emergencies‘ will happen less often!) It is entirely possible to have a massive increase in team performance when each person pays attention to adding effective value to each other.

The attitude of the leader of a team in flow is one of creation. Often in the situation described by the frustrated team members the person is coming from a very reactive standpoint, one of lack and limitations. Breaking through those limitations by focusing on building trust and flow is what allows Talent Dynamics clients to double and even tripple their results.

By the way, the persons in question who approached me were nearly always looking for another position. They couldn’t possibly get into flow in their current role so planned to go where they would be allowed to do their best work and really add some value.

Food for thought… Why might people be leaving your organisation? Is your team truly a work group or team and which structure would produce the best results?

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Unas spotlight: Strengths vs Waste Soapbox

Though I’m a very positive person, today I feel the need to get on my soapbox about the money and time that is wasted on training and development trying to fix peoples weaknesses. Why is it that people can know something intellectually and yet not act on it? How many people are out there in organisations that know that it is better to focus on and develop people’s strengths but don’t actually do it?

Research has shown that when people spend too much time working in their areas of weaknesses they are likely to burn out over time. A key source of stress is people not working in their flow. From a Talent Dynamics perspective what I mean by flow is somebody being on their path of least resistance, where they are doing what they are naturally good at and really adding value helping others to be more effective. When people are out of flow they often find the work more challenging, it usually takes them longer to do and is likely to be of a lower quality.

Here in lies what I call ‘the curse of competency’. This is where people have the ability to do an activity, even though it isn’t an area of strength and usually would be done much better by somebody else. Often this task or activity will repeatedly crop up in appraisals as a point to work on.

Yet when training and development budgets are spent on developing people’s strengths and their associated skills then you can anticipate a much higher return on investment. Development doesn’t stop just because you have discovered somebody’s strengths and areas of flow! You can now be much more focused and discriminatory about where you invest.

You can bet that your employees will not want to waste their time acquiring knowledge or learning skills that will take them out of flow either. Being in flow often taps into their inner motivation and means that they have much more fun at work too, which will increase retention of your best performers.

So what can you do today about this? Well if you’re responsible for training and development budgets, see if you can get to the bottom of poor performance. Is it really a lack of skills or knowledge, or is the person out of flow? If they’re out of flow then no amount of development is going to help them very much. You simply can’t develop what isn’t there in the first place…

Instead look to work with them and their line manager to tweak their accountabilities. What do they love doing? Where do they think they can really add value? Sometimes it’s just about letting them do something in the way that suits them and their strengths. Teach them the strategies that work best for their strengths and watch their performance soar.



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Una’s spotlight: Swinging times!

I was at a networking event last week that had a musical session instead of a speaker and it really got me thinking…

Swing singer Richard Daniels was absolutely superb (you can listen to samples here and I had a smile on my face all day! I realised that I had got out of the habit of listening to music. I used to go dancing a lot so that and listening to tunes in the car used to top me up. However these days I haven’t been dancing in quite a while and since I switched to my ipod it was often just too much hassle to connect up in the car.

As a Star Profile, in improving my own performance recently I’ve been getting more focused and measuring more. I’ve been getting in touch with Tempo and Steel energy, not getting out of flow but enough to ensure that my Star energy isn’t whittered away. However what I hadn’t really considered as much is my Spirit energy.

Spirit energy is the space that you step into when considering your purpose as it’s all about the Why? It’s the place great leaders go when working with their teams so they are more open to other’s needs and communication preferences. The Spirit energy is where you find your inner motivation.

As I sat grinning, swaying and tapping along to the music in that networking meeting (yes it probably was a sight!) I realised that music is a great way for me to connect to Spirit energy. I take time each week to meditate a few times – even if it’s down the gym in the Jacuzzi! However with high Dynamo and Blaze energy in my profile make-up something livelier, with great possibilities for variety would also be good.

So with newly synchronised tunes on my iPhone 4s now I have no excuse. (Wow, I just asked Siri to play me something by Robbie Williams music and I’m now listening to Nan’s Song!)

So what do you need to do to connect with you, with your Spirit energy more? Have you got time scheduled every week to do the things that make your heart sing and if not, why not? What are one or two little things that you could do that will fit in with your lifestyle? What will help you to get more in flow?

If you’re worried that doing these things will affect your productivity then please don’t. The chances are that these activities will actually improve your motivation, increase your energy levels and your overall performance. Have fun!

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Unas Spotlight: The success equation

During a recent Talent Dynamics Profile Debrief session, I was explaining a key principle and the client suddenly got it. In fact they gave me a whole new metaphor for it, which I said I would share with you.

We were discussing how this person’s lack of focus is having a real negative impact on their business. Typically when this happens with people their energy is dissipated across too many projects. That will have an impact on the people who they are interacting with as the vibe they give off is likely to be more scattered than focused. Even if they don’t realise why, that scattered approach can stop people buying from you or even wanting to work with you.

At some level they’ll have a gut reaction that you’re not really committed to or perhaps not confident about some aspect of the product or project. Stop for a moment, do you remember ever thinking that something would be very logical to do but for some reason you didn’t because it just didn’t feel right?

Another result of this lack of focus is that often they don’t complete things or see them right through to fruition. It can be a great way to have lots of motion – which feels good – yet little progress.

A key distinction that we use at TDHQ when dealing with this situation is that just because you have a garden full of plants and busy (with weeds in it too) that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have a great garden. Even pretty weeds can have a dramatic negative impact on the flowers. Multiplication is sometimes about division. Remove a large patch of weeds and suddenly a small patch of flowers come into bloom and grow rapidly.

If you think of the word ‘integrity’, one of its meanings is ‘the state of being complete or undivided’. It’s about being whole and complete like the number 1. The point this client made is that if you are less than 1, i.e. divided into fractions then that’s a problem when you attempt to multiply your results. You see, when you multiply a fraction it keeps getting smaller!

Whether you like maths or not I know everybody like’s adding up their profits. If you want the sum of your profits to increase, then increasing your focus is definitely an equation for success.

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Unas Spotlight: Politics versus Performance

Picture this scenario: a group leaves the boardroom, dispersing into twos and threes towards their respective offices. The HR director and Communications Director are complaining about the Finance Director and how he wants to measure everything. “How can we measure happiness?” says one. The sales director goes to meet with his sales manager. “Marketing doesn’t have a clue what we really need. I keep asking for more leads but all she is concerned about is our branding, she says getting leads is our job!” he says with frustration.

Meanwhile, the managing director is having lunch with another business owner. “I don’t get it, we have meeting after meeting. They seem to get along yet if anything, performance is worse than six months ago?” She replies, “Are they actually focused on how they can help each other be more effective?” This stops him dead in his tracks because he knows that even though his team are among the best in their fields individually, they’re each more concerned about their own area, then the company as a whole. 

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you experienced political infighting whether overt or incredibly subtle? It is like a cancer spreading through an organisation. Cropping up in all sorts of ways and motivating decisions that gradually push up operating costs and will ultimately reduce revenue too as customers feel its effects.

How can you prevent this taking hold, or eliminate it if it’s already taken root? The key is not just in having conversations; it’s in the quality of these conversations and if you want to have great quality dialogue, ask great questions! Start off with some discussions with your team members, individually or as a group, and then as you get results and become more confident take it to other teams within your organisation and even to your external stakeholders. Here are some suggestions of questions to get started:

  • How can I help you be more effective?
  • In which ways do I help the team most?
  • In which ways do I help the team least and what could I do/not do instead?
  • Ask yourself, “How much do I trust each individual within the team to deliver?”
  • What needs to happen to improve your trust in others if this score is low?
  • Ask yourself, “How much do I believe each individual within the team trusts me to deliver?”
  • What needs to happen to improve your others’ trust in you if this score is low? If you don’t know, ask them.
  • How do I add value to the company?
  • How do I help you to add value to the company? 

Think about it. If people were constantly focused on how to help each other be more effective, how much complaining are they likely to do? How much time are they likely to spend talking behind each other’s backs when there is a forum and means for this kind of open dialogue? Organisational negative politics is like hope; it is not a course of action. 

You and your team will answer questions that you probably have never been asked before. The true dialogue that this exercise creates can bring about changes in attitude, engagement and performance that thousands spent on trust exercises and teambuilding often fails to deliver. These conversations generate effective actions. This kind of dialogue is what turns soft skills into hard skills that show a genuine financial return. 

Would you like to get a glimpse of what this feels like? Simply book meetings with your team this week, listen and take on board what people tell you and be honest with them too. Work together to come up with the actions that will make a difference and watch the results unfold… 

Please comment or email me directly, to let me know how you get on, or if you would like to receive more information about this, at

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Una’s Spotlight: The Surprising Truth About Employee Engagement

How many people do you know that are miserable in their work? Even when people set up their own business it doesn’t always feel like the vision they created in their head before they made the leap… Its great that these days more and more companies are beginning to consider employee engagement.  However it is often as a nice to have add-on, rather than how they run their business.

Some of the answer to this misery may be what is highlighted by one of my favourite business authors, Patrick Lencioni. He explains that overcoming the ‘Three Signs of a Miserable Job’ may be the answer:

  • Anonymity – I’ve said for years that ‘Business is Personal’. If you manage and work with people then get to know them, take a genuine interest in them as a person, not just as a worker. You don’t have to go out drinking every Friday but at least understand their personal circumstances and acknowledge them as a person as regularly as possible. Those with Blaze energy (Star, Supporter and Deal-Maker) will most likely happily talk about their personal life, yet Steel (Accumulator, Lord, Mechanic) may be a bit more reticent to reveal themselves until they really know and trust you.
  • Irrelevance – think about the rock stars, actors, athletes that often end up on the rocks. Many people think they would love their lives. They are usually doing work they love, getting more money than they can count and often have adoring fans. Could it be because they don’t really feel needed? When people understand the contribution they are making to another person, or group of people that brings immense satisfaction and fulfilment. Often when our clients first do a Talent Dynamics programme some staff who are usually in the background and not very proactive suddenly come alive – they now know where and when they add value.
  • Immeasurement – it is incredibly helpful for people to be able to measure for themselves how good a job they are doing. In many organisations they only find out once a year usually in an (often painful) exercise called an appraisal. Instead you could have team members clear on and owning accountabilities (particularly ones that get and keep them in flow!). Work out with them simply daily/weekly measures that allow them to assess their own progress. (An ongoing measure of the level of trust and flow within and between teams will really help to improve measurement and performance across the board.)

When it comes to measurement, the profiles that are more detail-oriented and systematic (Tempo and Steel energies) are more likely to create measures. However if their work situation doesn’t allow for that they’ll feel the lack of it more. The Dynamo and Blaze energies are less likely to naturally measure anything, however will really benefit from the focus that measurement brings. All profiles will benefit from the daily self-feedback they get from simple meaningful measures.

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Unas Spotlight:A Different Perspective on Problem Solving…

I was ill recently and I woke up one morning with a strong feeling to go to acupuncture, something I haven’t done for years. When the acupuncturist was taking my history I realised with shock that I’ve been experiencing this recurring issue 2-3 times a year for seven years! I had learned how to mitigate it, alleviate it and sometimes stop it happening when I spotted early signs. Quite simply, I had gotten used to it, time passed and I wasn’t thinking about different perspectives on the problem.

In fact the only reason that I started thinking about doing something was because I usually am only off work one or two days when this happens but this time it was the best part of a week and frankly I was fed up of not being my usual high energy, dynamic self.

I wondered, how often does this happen in business where problems become part of the furniture, the way we do things? How often do we just accept somebody’s poor performance in a particular area of their role and we just work our way around it. Yet what about the underlying causes? What if they could be addressed in a different way from a different perspective?

Don’t put up with poor performance. When you establish each person’s strengths and how they add value, then you can help them get into flow and leverage that within the team by allocating accountabilities where they will be most easily met. Why insist that somebody get good at something that they probably will never excel at? It just doesn’t make sense. Instead of having well-rounded individuals, have well-rounded teams and watch your performance, productivity and profits grow.

Don’t put up with other business problems either. One of the benefits of applying Talent Dynamics is that you know who to get involved for their different perspectives. When you bring together different profiles on key business issues, you really see the distinct value that they bring. Each profile will have a different focus; a different way of thinking that adds its own unique value. For instance, if you are a Creator or Star profile you are likely to come up with an idea to solve a problem. Yet especially when you’re in a team or larger organisation it may well be a people or process issue that you can’t innovate your way out of. In this situation a Lord and/or Supporter profile will know what to do.

I’ve heard it said that when you move into a new home, anything you don’t get fixed up in six months probably will never get fixed because you just get used to it. So take a fresh look at your business, your home and your life today with a new pair of eyes and even better, get people with a different perspective from you to also take a look. You may be surprised at what they spot and how easy it is to fix something that – even though it may not have been on your radar – will really add to your bottom line and improve your flow.

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Unas spotlight: Reaping The Rewards After Restructuring, Redeployment And Redundancy

For some people it must seem like a merry-go-round when they experience the upheaval of round after round of restructuring, redeployment and redundancies. Every few years the company is turned upside down and yet often doesn’t seem to gain the benefits. 

This must cause a lot of confusion to those in charge. They do their best to streamline the organisation, to cut costs and to introduce better ways of working. Why is it that their efforts often don’t seem to work as well as they would like? 

Perhaps these changes would work better if talent were at the centre of strategy. If you take somebody who isn’t as highly productive in one area of the organisation there is no guarantee that that they will do better in another. How can you tell if you will ruin somebody’s high-performance by tweaking their responsibilities? How can you tell who to keep and who to let go? 

At Talent Dynamics we’re talking with some public sector organisations, many of which are facing extreme cuts in funding. Like many organisations in recent years they are faced with having to deliver more, with less and less resources. It is simply not possible to do this by cutting costs alone. In my opinion it requires a change of thinking, yet provides an opportunity to come out of this downturn with a much better and stronger organisation. 

When it comes to redeployment, moving people around like pieces on a chessboard may allow you to keep a few pieces in the short term but can cost the game in the longer term. Like any game of chess, a good strategy and thinking ahead will help all concerned. 

For employees being redeployed, getting to understand how to get and stay in flow can be very enlightening and really change their attitudes about their situation. If there is a suitable position then it’s clear to everybody why they are suited – and perhaps were not suited to previous posts! If there are no suitable positions within the organisation they are probably going to want to go and be in flow somewhere else. Where you do have high performers being redeployed then you can ensure that they are not placed somewhere that will take them out of flow and they can continue to add value. 

This is itself is very powerful. The more an organisation can help its staff to be in the right roles with the right accountabilities, then the more they get to keep staff where they can be in flow and really add value. Not only is this likely to reduce the stress of everybody involved, it’s also likely to reduce the cost of redundancies. In addition, you can watch productivity soar, even with people who may have struggled in the past…

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