All posts by prismphilosophy

About prismphilosophy

Anubha is creator of the Prism Philosophy. She is prolific Human Process Interventionist carries 16+ years of rich experience have worked with top of the line blue chip organizations like Honeywell, ICICI Bank, Moody ICL Certification were she was heading ODL, Trainings & Quality verticals . Her areas of expertise include human process intervention, Organization Development, Change engagement Learning, Team building and Instructional Design and Quality implementation. You can contact her at anubhawalia@gmail.com

High Performance Team by PRISM

If your goal is to become a high performing team then this article will help you and see what it is you need to improve.And if you attend #prismphilosophy training  (http://www.prismphilosophy.com) program it would help you to self reflect.

Characteristics of a Pseudo Team

  •  team-evolution-curveThis is a group for which there could be a significant, incremental performance need or opportunity, but it has not focused on collective performance and is not really trying to achieve it.
  •  It has no interest in shaping a common purpose or set of performance goals, even though it may call itself a team.
  •  Pseudo-teams are the weakest of all groups in terms of performance impact.
  •  In pseudo-teams, the sum of the whole is less than the potential of the individual parts.
  •  They almost always contribute less to company performance needs than working groups because their interactions detract from each member’s individual performance without delivering any joint benefits.
  •  For a pseudo-team to have the option of becoming a potential team, the group must define goals so it has something concrete to do as a team that is a valuable contribution to the company.

Characteristics of a Potential Team

  •  There is a significant, incremental performance need, and it really is trying to improve its performance impact.
  •  Typically it requires more clarity about purpose, goals, or work products and more discipline in hammering out a common working approach.
  •  It has not yet established collective accountability.
  •  Potential teams abound in organizations.
  •  When a team (as opposed to a working group) approach makes sense, the performance impact can be high.
  • The steepest performance gain comes between a potential team and a real team; but any movement up the slope is worth pursuing.

Characteristics of a Real Team

  •  This is a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
  •  Real teams are a basic unit of performance.
  •  The possible performance impact for the real team is significantly higher than the working group.

Characteristics of a High Performing Team

  •  This is a group that meets all the conditions of real teams and has members who are also deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success.
  •  That commitment usually transcends the team.
  •  The high performance team significantly outperforms all other like teams, and outperforms all reasonable expectations given its membership.
  •  It is a powerful possibility and an excellent model for all real and potential teams.
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Effective Speaker

IMG_5489Being an effective speaker by using #prismphilosophy http://www.prismphilosophy.com  is considered a key executive competency, but it is also something of a dying art. People are relying more and more on digital communication, and studies show that listeners’ attention spans are getting shorter. Still, speaking is a more effective mode of communication than writing because vocal intonations help clarify meaning that gets lost when a message is written, and people focus their attention on the speaker.

McGowan finds there is a communications gender gap in the corporate world. Women have to walk a fine line between being seen as too empathetic or nice and being seen as bossy or inflexible. Men, on the other hand, do not have to deal with the same kinds of stereotypes. Women tend to back into their messages because they like to establish support for an idea before actually explaining it. Men tend to be less empathetic, so are often not as effective at explaining how an idea might help others.

But not all communication issues are gender based. People can be poor communicators because they focus too much on irrelevant details, make the same point over and over, rely on clichés, or continually edit what they just said, a habit called verbal backspacing. To help speakers overcome any quirks that keep them from being good communicators, McGowan recommends seven principles of persuasion:

1. The headline principle: Speakers should grab their audiences’ attention at the start.

2. The Scorsese principle: Speakers should create imagery with words to hold listeners’ attention

3. The pasta-sauce principle: Speakers should boil down their messages to make them strong and concise.

4. The no-tailgating principle: Speakers should talk slowly while thinking about what to say next.

5. The conviction principle: Speakers can show certainty with their words, tone, and eye contact.

6. The curiosity principle: Good conversationalists are interested in other people and what they have to say.

7. The Draper principle: Speakers should keep the conversation focused on their areas of strength.

To learn these principles and put them into practice, people can focus on learning and using one principle at a time. Individuals can study speakers on television to see how they display various principles, and they can evaluate their own use of the principles by reviewing recordings or videos of themselves speaking.

Contact us at training@prismphilosophy.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/prismworld or https://www.facebook.com/theprismphilosophy/

Active vs Passive Questions by PRISM

For Goal Setting by http://prismphilosophy.com/about/ we need to use active or passive question. Active questions are the possibility of choices to passive questions.

WINNERS WITHINThere is a huge difference between “Do you have clear goals?” and “Did you do your best to set clear goals for yourself?”

If you will observe and read carefully above statement, the former is trying to determine the employee’s state of mind; the latter challenges the employee to describe or defend a course of action. I, #AnubhaMauryaWalia challenge myself every day by answering 32 questions that represent behavior that I know is important, but that is easy for me to neglect given the pressures of daily life. It has helped me alter my behavior for the better in such a dramatic way that I now teach all of my clients /participants/ traines/ professional  and students this method of self-reflection for positive behavioral change. My six active questions are:

  • Did I do my best to increase my happiness?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning?
  • Did I do my best to be engaged?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  • Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?

Happy Reading and Trust me ” SET GOALS and “https://prismphilosophy.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/dreams-goals/

You can reach out to me at anubha@prismphilosophy.com or connect with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/anubha-maurya-walia-12850018/

Using Stories in Public Speaking

Today, we will focus on Story telling in PUBLIC SPEAKING. Here are PRISM way of sharing a great story:

IMG_0689
Prism is a leading training company and provides soft skills, behavioural and quality training

You don’t become great speaker / story teller over-night but have to work on it.Here are PRISM way of sharing a great story:

1. PREPARE with the end in mind. Every story is a journey. Where ? How ? What ? What ? you want to share. Focus on backgrounds, experiences, motivations, and (personal) agendas. Your job is to take audience from here to there – so always know what there is. A masterful storyteller creates a framework that allows the listener to fill in his or her own gaps. The goal is to unlock the leaders’ imaginations and allow them to turn your story into their story – that way each person can relate and engage on their own terms. There are a number of proven structures for stories with PRISM. A classic example is SOAR for business cases: S: Situation and problem O: Objectives A: Actions R: Results and Implications.

RESPECT audience own conclusions. Stories can unleash emotions and perspectives, whereas explaining the story in logical terms (think sharing “the moral of the story”) does the opposite. Leave the listener processing what you said. Then they can draw their own conclusions – and that will help them get a lot more from your stories.Who do people tend to care the most about? Themselves. RESPECT same. You could create instant rapport.

IMPLEMENT emotional roller coaster. Emotion almost always trumps logic. You can designed to take people through emotional sequence. Try telling a story where the main character goes through the some cycle: shock, anger, resistance, awareness,acceptance, action and finally achievement.

SHARE a character that provides a role model. Share the story of a person who has moved forward, sharing the key steps that allowed that person to succeed. That way the story – and the main character – provides a role model everyone can follow without having to ask.

MAINTAIN the power of metaphors. Aristotle saying, “The soul never thinks without a picture.” Using metaphors in stories makes it easier for the listener to grasp the concept of big ideas. Use metaphors to help listeners draw – and remember – those connections. Humour and playfulness increase rapport.

While listeners will take their own messages from your stories, you can still guide the direction. Always remember the context. ENJOY and SHARE with PRISM. Contact us at 919818446562, http://www.prismphilosophy.com, to book session with us.

DREAMS & GOALS

Maxwell describes six characteristics associated with people who experience fulfillment as they pursue their dreams:GOALS 31032018

* Fulfilled people understand the difference between a dream and its realization. The idealized image of a dream that everyone carries in their head is usually not achievable because it depends on everything being perfect. The ideal vision can be helpful for establishing goals and stimulating internal motivation, but it also needs to be tempered with reality.

* Fulfilled people understand that the size of a dream determines the size of the gap. Large dreams are potentially more fulfilling than smaller ones. However, large dreams also come with a big gap between birth and completion.

* Fulfilled people keep dreaming while making the journey. People must continue dreaming in order to maintain inspiration, motivation, and fulfillment.

* Fulfilled people appreciate each step forward in the journey. Most dreams are achieved slowly, and sometimes the results emerge in subdued ways. As a result, it is important to take joy in the journey and find fulfillment in the small steps along the way.

* Fulfilled people make new discoveries while living in the gap. People have the potential to make many great discoveries while pursuing their dreams. Often, the greatest discoveries are the ones people make about themselves while pursuing a dream.

* Fulfilled people buy into the natural law of balance: life is both good and bad. To reach a dream and to find fulfillment in the process, people must be proactive in both good times and bad. Even when individuals do not feel like working toward their dream, they must persevere anyway.

GLOBAL VERSATILITY

Perhaps the most common, and most important, forms of rapid thought we have are the judgments we make about other people. Upon meeting people, wecropped-prism-philosophy1.png make countless conclusions about what they are thinking and feeling, and make predictions about what they will do or say next. This is human nature and universal. However, when interacting cross-culturally, these conclusions can often be misleading and the assumptions we make can be wrong, sometimes with drastic effects. For example, consider the salesperson who misunderstands agreement as a buying signal, only to lose a sale that seemed a sure thing. Or the manager who concludes that he or she has made task objectives clear to an employee and later, after the deadline has passed, finds out that the employee has been waiting for more direction.

Wilson Learning Worldwide has had the great fortune to examine how people around the world make judgments about interpersonal preferences and style. In over 30 countries and cultures, our research shows that people who are skilled at identifying Social Style and adapt their behavior to make others feel more comfortable perform better and are more successful. We call this skill Versatility. For Wilson Learning, and many of our clients, Versatility is one of the key skills for success in business today.

In this report, we examine the similarities and differences across cultures in Social Style and interpersonal Versatility. The results of our research demonstrate that:

  • The four Social Styles exist and can be accurately measured in every country examined.
  • Cross-culturally, the Social Styles are similar in the behaviors and characteristics people use to define them.
  • Versatility, as well as being linked to success within the individual cultures, is also linked to characteristics associated with effective cross-cultural relations.

This report provides convincing evidence that interpersonal Versatility could be a key factor in the development of effective global business alliances, and may in fact be a determinant of the global effectiveness of different cultures.

What Is Social Style and Versatility?

There are two things almost all people know about their relationships with other people:

  • All things being equal, we really only “connect” with about 25% of the people we interact with.
  • It is easier to communicate with those with whom we “connect.”

When people say they “connect” with someone, they are referring to the similarity of their communication preferences and styles. We feel more comfortable with people who like to talk at the same pace we do, who are not too pushy or too pliable, and who want to get to know about us at about the same time we are ready to share that kind of information.

Nearly half a century of research has shown that people are divided equally across four primary communication styles. These four Social Styles are called Driver, Expressive, Amiable, and Analytical. When you find a person is easy to work with, it is often because you share the same Social Style. When a person seems difficult to work with, it is often because your styles are different.

Wilson Learning has also had the opportunity to test the validity of Social Style globally. Sometimes driven by our own desire to share the technology with other cultures and sometimes driven by the needs of our global clients, we have developed and validated the primary tool for measuring Social Style and Versatility, the Social Style Profile, in over 30 different nations on six different continents. Now we feel we have sufficient data in our Social Style Profile database to draw some meaningful conclusions about the global nature of Social Style and Versatility.

What the Social Style Profile Measures

The following is not a full description of the Social Style model; rather, it describes briefly the four dimensions that are measured by the Social Style Profile.

Assertiveness is defined as the way a person attempts to influence others’ actions and decisions. At one end of the scale, people are “Ask Assertive,” tending to use more indirect methods of influencing. At the other end, people are more “Tell Assertive,” preferring more direct methods of influence.

Responsiveness is defined as the way a person demonstrates his or her feelings and emotions when interacting with others. At one end of the scale, people are “Task-Directed Responsive,” tending to control their emotions and focus more on the task at hand. At the other end, people are more “People-Directed Responsive,” preferring to express their feelings and focus attention on relationships that affect the task.

Social Styles MatrixSocial Style is derived from the measures of Assertiveness and Responsiveness. Combining Assertiveness (Ask or Tell) and Responsiveness (Task-Directed or People-Directed) creates a matrix whose parts represent the Social Styles (Driver, Expressive, Amiable, Analytical). Social Style is a relatively stable characteristic of a person, meaning that it does not change much over time.

Versatility is defined as a person’s ability to temporarily modify his or her behaviors to make others feel that their concerns and expectations are being met. Versatility is measured separately from Social Style and, unlike Social Style, is a skill that can be learned. In fact, we have research indicating that learning Versatility will improve individual and organizational performance.

Versatility is the key skill of effective work relationships. People who have learned to recognize when others are uncomfortable or tense in the relationship, and adapt their Assertiveness and Responsiveness to reduce this relationship tension, have more effective interactions with others, resulting in more effective decisions and actions.

All of the dimensions are measured on a continuous scale. That is, no one person is all Ask or all Tell Assertive (or all Task- or People-Directed Responsive). Everyone demonstrates different degrees of Ask and Tell Assertive behaviors. Similarly, while the four Social Styles are a convenient way to describe information about communication patterns, there are varying degrees of style as well.

The Study

Since the inception of Wilson Learning’s Social Style Profiling System in 1975, well over seven million respondents have completed some form of the instrument. For this study, we used a data sample of 165,515 profiles. This sample was chosen to ensure that the analysis represented a relatively equal and unbiased global perspective. While we have profiled participants from over 30 countries, this analysis includes samples from only 20 of those countries because we wanted to ensure that each sample included participants from at least four different companies, that each profile was cross-validated by at least three observers, and that each sample was large enough from which to draw statistical conclusions.

Validity and Reliability

This report focuses on Social Style and Versatility results, not validity and reliability results for this global sample. For more detail on the validation process globally, contact Wilson Learning directly. However, for this report, it is important to address two key points:

Adapted, not Translated: The Social Style Profiles for each country were not literal translations of the U.S. English Profile. Rather, each profile was created to accurately reflect the meaning of Assertiveness, Responsiveness, and Versatility in each culture.

Independently Validated: Before engaging in this global data analysis, each Social Style Profile was validated within each country. That is, a questionnaire was developed, a pilot sample collected, and the data submitted to a range of validation statistics (including factor analysis, internal consistency reliability, inter-rater reliability, factor correlations, and demographic analysis). Finally, after validation, the accuracy of the Social Style Profiles was confirmed against observed behaviors.

Creating the Global Database

Once assured that each country’s profile was accurate and reliable, we were then able to combine the data and create the global Social Style database. This was done by examining each item that measures Assertiveness, Responsiveness, and Versatility across all 20 individual profiles and identifying items that matched in terms of meaning and statistical properties. We then standardized all of the items on a common measurement scale and conducted our analysis.

This part of the process assured us that the Social Style concepts, terminology, and statistical characteristics were consistent across the multiple cultures included in the study. For example, the meaning of a score on Assertiveness in one culture was equivalent to the same score on Assertiveness in another culture.

Findings

When interpreting the findings, it is important to keep in mind that the scores are based upon how others, in their own country, rated each other. This is not a case of “foreigners” responding to stereotypes of people from other countries.

Also, the actual score ranges are narrow because of the large size of each country’s sample. Since each country’s data set consists of more than 1,000 responses, the averages will be close together. This is the nature of averages in large data sets. However, that does not limit the usefulness of the differences we have identified. In all cases, there were statistically significant differences among countries on all of the dimensions measured.

Finally, to simplify interpretation, all of the scores were converted to a 100-point scale. This did not alter the relative scores among countries, but merely kept all of the interpretation across the measures consistent.

Global Social Style

Global Social StylesSocial Style is determined by combining Assertiveness and Responsiveness, so we will examine all of these dimensions together.

The averages for the 20 countries in the study are plotted on the following Social Style matrix. Location on the matrix does not mean that all individuals in that country are that style; however, it does show how people within that country tend to view themselves relative to other countries. For example, while the average score in Japan is classified as the most Ask Assertive and Task-Directed Responsive (that is, most Analytical), still only 28 percent of the individual participants in Japan were classified as Analytical, just slightly higher than the expected value of 25 percent.

While some of the findings of the research fit with common expectations, others might be surprising.

Many of the Asian country averages fall in the Analytical style classification. That means respondents in those countries tend to view one another as more Ask Assertive and more Task-Directed Responsive. In other words, they were more likely to be perceived as detail-oriented, deliberate, and well organized. Analyticals tend to respond to social overtures rather than initiate them and are more focused on task details, at least early in a relationship.

Many of the Western European and Mediterranean country averages fall in the Expressive style quadrant. That is, people in those countries tend to view each other as more Tell Assertive and People-Directed Responsive. Expressives tend to be perceived as fast-paced, outgoing, and enthusiastic in their interactions. Expressives take time to establish a relationship before focusing on the task at hand. Details tend to be less critical than the big picture for the Expressive.

Countries with more Amiable style averages include the United States, Canada, and Australia. This suggests that, on average, these cultures tend to emphasize cooperation and personal relationships. Amiables tend to see strong, trusting relationships as central to effective business interactions.

Finally, no countries tended strongly toward the Driver style, or high Tell Assertiveness and high Task-Directed Responsiveness. Both Sweden’s and Spain’s averages fall in the Driver quadrant but are closer to the center of the distribution and not at the extremes.

Global Versatility
Hofsted’s
Versatility Ranking Country Average Versatility Scores Uncertainty Avoidance Masculinity

Lowest — 1

Puerto Rico 64.9 NA NA

2

Spain 66.1 40 80

3

France 68.4 40 80

4

Japan 69.3 90 75

5

Germany 69.3 60 60

6

Great Britain 69.7 60 30

7

Colombia 70.6 60 75

8

Hong Kong 71.8 50 20

9

Singapore 71.8 45 5

10

Brazil 72.1 45 70

11

USA 72.7 60 40

12

Mexico 72.8 60 75

13

Australia 73.1 55 45

14

Italy 73.2 65 70

15

Thailand 73.2 30 60

16

Canada 73.6 50 45

17

South Africa 73.6 60 40

18

New Zealand 73.7 50 45

19

Finland 74.6 20 50

Highest — 20

Sweden 75.1 5 25

Correlation with Versatility

-.44 -.34

© Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc.

One of the most important findings of this study is how a culture views its own Versatility. Versatility is a person’s ability to temporarily modify his or her style-related behaviors to make others feel that their concerns and expectations are being met. Unlike Social Style, Versatility is an evaluative dimension. That is, being a particular Social Style is not good or bad—no one style is more successful than another, and no one style is better suited for a leadership position than another. In contrast, Versatility is associated with performance. Our research indicates that salespeople with high Versatility out-sell salespeople with low Versatility. Managers with higher Versatility have better performing work groups than managers with lower Versatility.

It is reasonable to think that a nation’s level of Versatility might have an impact on its ability to interact on the world stage and be a factor in how its businesses operate globally. The rank order and average Versatility for the different country samples is shown in the first three columns of the following table. It is important to note that, overall, the range of Versatility scores is fairly narrow. On a 100-point scale, all scores fell within an 11-point range. However, even this narrow range between countries is a statistically significant difference.

Looking just at the average Versatility scores column, the results show that Puerto Rico, Spain, and France had the lowest Versatility ratings. Again, that does not mean that all of the people in those countries have low Versatility. There are highly versatile people in all countries, but the averages reflect that there will be more low versatile people in the countries above the median line than in the countries below that line.

Predicting Global Business Effectiveness

Are countries with lower average Versatility more difficult to do business with globally? Our research indicates that individual people who are lower in Versatility are less effective in business, but can that finding be extended to a country’s average Versatility?

While there is no data of which we are aware that compares how easy countries are to work with globally, some insight on Versatility can be gained by comparing Global Versatility scores to other dimensions that have been known to differentiate cultures. One such set of dimensions are those identified by Gert Hofsted’s research on global values. Hofsted’s research is focused on value systems within countries, not intercultural interactions. However, certain cultural values have an impact on how countries view one another as potential business partners. As a result, some interesting comparisons can be made. These comparisons are shown in the following table.

A correlation statistic was used to assess the degree of association between Versatility and the dimensions of Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance. Correlations measure the strength of association between two dimensions. Correlations can range from -1.00 to +1.00. Correlations close to 0.0 indicate the two dimensions are unrelated. As they get closer to +1.0 or -1.0, the degree of association increases.

The following table also shows Hofsted’s dimensions of Uncertainty Avoidance and Masculinity. Uncertainty Avoidance focuses on the level of tolerance for uncertainty within the society. High Uncertainty Avoidance indicates the country has a low tolerance for uncertainty; low Uncertainty Avoidance indicates the country has less concern about uncertainty and has more tolerance for a variety of opinions. One would expect a country with low Uncertainty Avoidance to have high Versatility, and that is exactly what we found. The correlation between Versatility and Uncertainty Avoidance is in the moderately high range (r = -.44). The negative correlation indicates that low Uncertainty Avoidance is associated with high Versatility.

The second dimension, Masculinity, is defined as the degree to which a society reinforces the traditional masculine work role model of male achievement, control, and power. Again, you would expect a culture that values power and control would tend to have lower Versatility; again, that is what we found. In this case, the correlation between Versatility and Masculinity is moderate to moderately high (r = -.34).

Thus, a country’s low Versatility is associated with characteristics that might make global interactions more difficult—a low tolerance for varied opinions and uncertainty and a high need for control and power. The difference is that Hofsted’s dimensions are considered cultural traits, unlikely to be changed through learning and development. In contract, Versatility is a learnable skill. Companies operating in countries with lower Versatility may want to examine the level of interpersonal friction that occurs, especially cross-culturally, and take steps to increase their Versatility as a way to grow the economy of their countries.

Changing Global Versatility

In our current global environment, effective cross-cultural work relationships are critical. Global work teams have become commonplace, and while language and cultural differences create their own barrier, a potentially greater barrier is differing expectations about interpersonal communication. At a time when world tensions are high, every individual, organization, and country would be well served to seek out any mechanism possible that will ease tensions and create effective communications.

Global Versatility is not a trait or value of a country. Rather, it is a learnable skill. We have found that if people follow a simple process, they can improve their interactions globally, create a more comfortable work environment, and, as a result, conduct business and social interactions more effectively and more productively.

The first step in becoming more Globally Versatile is recognizing that it requires a mindset shift and a skill set shift. Global Versatility starts with the desire to make people from other cultures and countries more comfortable in their interactions with you and a new awareness that what makes you comfortable in interactions may make others uncomfortable.

Following the mindset shift comes the skill set shift. We have found that the primary skill of Global Versatility can be summarized in a four-step process:

  • Anticipate: By knowing the other person’s, and your own, dominant culture, you can anticipate potential barriers to communication, while avoiding the tendency to stereotype. Remember, just because one Social Style might dominate a culture does not mean everyone is that style.
  • Identify: The next step is to clarify whether the anticipated behaviors are real. Observe the other person for indications of his or her style. Is the person’s behavior more Ask or more Tell Assertive? Is the person more People-Directed or Task-Directed?
  • Reflect: After identifying another’s Social Style, reflect on what will make him or her more comfortable and the type of adjustments you need to make to increase the other person’s comfort level. Consider both Social Style-related behaviors and culture-specific behaviors.
  • Modify: Then, make an effort to adjust your Assertiveness and Responsiveness behaviors. Modifying is more than just adjusting; it also requires observing reactions. Did your efforts to modify your behavior have the intended effect? If not, re-examine your behavior. Did you adjust too much or too little? Did you modify the wrong behaviors?
Conclusions

This research suggests that one important mechanism for improving international relationships is Global Versatility. By understanding and identifying the Social Styles of others, learning new behaviors for adjusting Assertiveness and Responsiveness behaviors, and continuously improving Versatility with others, individuals can work more effectively cross-culturally and can improve organizational and individual performance. These findings will enable companies to use the concept and skills of Global Versatility to move across cultural boundaries, work more effectively globally, and better serve customers around the world.

Top 10 Tips for Remote Work Teams

Top 10 Tips for Remote Work Teams

As companies search for more productive and more cost effective ways of getting work accomplished, there has been an explosion of virtual work and project teams. As a result, it has become imperative for people to learn how to work together across boundaries of space, time, and yes, cultures. Driven by the need to leverage expertise located in different parts of the organization, companies are increasingly reliant on geographically dispersed virtual teams to plan, make decisions, and take action on critical business issues.

When such teams function at optimal levels of productivity and efficiency, they are actually a source of competitive advantage for their companies, bringing together a variety of different perspectives and experiences that have high value for innovation and problem solving. On the other hand, teams working remotely face unique challenges in communicating and collaborating efficiently and productively. Research conducted by Wilson Learning a few years ago highlights this problem. Our research showed that the most productive teams are those with a high level of diversity and high levels of communication skills. However, if the communication skills are lacking, the highly diverse teams are the lowest performing teams. Thus effective teamwork and communication skills for virtual teams are even more important than for other teams. You can’t walk down the hall or into the next cubicle to discuss a problem if some people are in New York and others are in Santa Cruz or even Bangladore. As a result, without critical skill sets, virtual teams will fail to fully engage team members, establish clear goals and standards, and establish the processes necessary to get things done.

Here is a “Top Ten” list of strategies that will help your virtual teams perform at the highest possible level and take full advantage of members’ varying skills, knowledge, and capabilities.

TIP 1: BUILD TRUST AND RAPPORT

Team performance depends on a foundation of trust. Without it, team members are reluctant to share information, offer support, and may hesitate to rely on others to keep commitments and follow through on tasks.

To build a sense of trust, virtual teams need opportunities to develop social rapport, especially in the early stages of the team’s work. Creating time for team members to identify common values, establish credibility, and foster a sense of trust is critical for virtual teams. For example, we have seen virtual teams engage in online games together as a way to establish relationships and occasionally hold meetings in “immersive” virtual environments such as Second Life, as a way to establish and build trust. The use of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can also be useful to help team members become familiar with one another in a way that fosters trust and confidence.

TIP 2: CREATE A STRONG TEAM IDENTITY

Even more than co-located teams, virtual teams need a sense of “teamness” based on a strong belief in a shared purpose, common inspiration, and commitment to the team’s goals. In a dispersed team, there may be individuals who are working alone out of a home office or who are otherwise the only member of the team at their location. Under these circumstances, it is easy for them to feel isolated, not part of the team, and “out of the loop.”

The team’s cohesiveness will be greatly enhanced if their purpose and goals are clear and they have frequent reminders of why they are together and what they are working toward. Managers can also help build team identity by providing recognition for team and individual achievements and opportunities for team sharing and celebrating successes.

TIP 3: DEVELOP COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY KNOW-HOW AND SUPPORT

Used correctly, contemporary communications tools can be powerful and effective—offering interactive, engaging ways to share information and stay in touch. Managers of virtual teams need to become familiar with three principle technologies. First, there are online meeting sites (such as GoToMeeting or WebEx) that allow virtual team members to do real face-to-face meetings online. Second, there are online project management sites (such as SharePoint or LiveLink) which allow virtual team members to share and store documents, plans, reports, etc. Third, there are emerging technologies, such as Google Wave, which allows multiple people to work together on presentations and documents simultaneously.

To gain all these benefits, however, team members must be reasonably skilled and comfortable in using the tools, and the technology needs to be readily available and reliable. All team members should have opportunities for training and hands-on practice, and have access to technical support whenever they need help. If there are technophobes in the group, practice and feedback from an experienced mentor will help them develop a greater level of confidence and comfort in using the technology and increasing their efficiency and productivity.

TIP 4: ENGAGE IN SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, CLEAR ACCOUNTABILITY, AND TEAM CELEBRATIONS

Like any other team, virtual teams must develop a feeling that all team members bear equal responsibility for achieving the team’s goals and have clear expectations for accountability for their individual tasks. While this will often come naturally for traditional teams, virtual teams need tools for tracking individual and team accomplishments. Of equal importance are periodic opportunities to celebrate and be recognized for team achievements. Non-virtual teams will often do this informally, in hallway meetings for example, but virtual teams have to build this into their scheduled activities.

TIP 5: ENSURE STRONG TEAM LEADERSHIP

Team members in a virtual team—more than in other teams—need to be able to exercise effective self-leadership, taking responsibility for completing individual work and participating in all activities of the team. Nonetheless, an experienced team leader can be a critical resource in helping the team stay on track and serve as a liaison with the team’s sponsors. This leader can anticipate the challenges of working virtually and help make sure communications are clear and that all members of the team are fully “in the loop” and participating as they should be in team meetings.

TIP 6: PUT TASK-RELATED PROCESSES IN PLACE

Research from the Sloan School of Management demonstrates that virtual teams using well developed task-related processes to increase work coordination and task-related communication tend to outperform those that do not. Processes for tasks such as setting goals, making plans, solving problems, assigning specific work roles, and measuring results help the team function efficiently and effectively.

This can be especially important for crosscultural virtual teams. Different cultures have different expectations concerning processes and procedures. Therefore, it is important that global virtual teams clearly communicate the process being followed and provide training and assistance when team members are new to the process.

TIP 7: BUILD SOCIAL/COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS

Social interactions are the glue that holds the team together as a cohesive unit. Although task-oriented processes are essential to the team’s effectiveness, members of a virtual team need to be highly competent in managing the give and take necessary to exchange information, provide mutual support, and make course corrections when necessary.

When non-virtual teams meet, it is very common that the five to ten minutes before or after the meeting is spent in casual, non-work related conversations that build social relationships in the team. However, this is much rarer in virtual teams. Effective virtual team leaders understand that it is important to build this time into the process, helping team members understand and appreciate diversity in interpersonal style, model versatility in adapting to others’ preferred communications styles, and know how to give and receive feedback. Team leaders and managers should make sure team members have these capabilities and, where needed, help the team build on and enhance their communications skills.

TIP 8: ESTABLISH PROCESSES FOR MAKING GROUP DECISIONS

Every team needs the ability to make decisions and reach agreement as a group. For a virtual team, this is even more critical, as the members may not necessarily share any established common practices and may have very different experiences with decision making. Team members need to understand the different ways that decisions can be made and know how to reach agreements on issues, such as the right solution to a problem and how to break down a task and assign work. An established team decision-making process and tools will help the team avoid getting stuck when a decision needs to be made, and ensure that the decisions made are high quality and represent the best thinking of the entire team. Not every decision is made in the same way; it is important to communicate which decisions are collaborative versus which decisions are leader driven.

TIP 9: CREATE GLOBAL AWARENESS

Increasingly, virtual teams are dispersed not only across geographical boundaries within the U.S.A. or North America, but across international boundaries that span the globe. A lack of global awareness and cultural sensitivity can undermine almost every other aspect of the team’s work, making it difficult to establish trust, make decisions, and carry out tasks in a coordinated, efficient way.

To work productively and cohesively across cultural boundaries requires that team members have some insights into the cultural dimensions that can affect interpersonal behaviors and preferences. This might include awareness of differences in how various cultures perceive business relationships, view power and authority within business organizations, and value the role of the individual versus the community or group.

Team leaders and managers can help by paying special attention to how the team is interacting and providing opportunities for team members to discuss and resolve issues related to different cultural assumptions or values.

TIP 10: BUILD CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS

Regardless of how well the team organizes its work or how well team members communicate, there is a high probability for occasional conflicts, either between individual team members or across the entire group. Conflicts within a virtual team can seem even more intractable and disruptive than they do when people are able to sit down and talk through the issues.

Virtual teams present special concerns regarding conflict. Because much of the communication is through e-mail or over webcast meetings where body language is missing, there is greater chance that information or intention will be misunderstood. We have known cases when a team member wrote an e-mail with the expectation that it would be received positively, only to have other team members see it as negative and potentially offensive.

To make sure conflicts can be recognized early and addressed proactively, team members need to understand what kinds of issues can lead to conflicts and recognize how unresolved conflict can get in the way of achieving their goals. They also need to know how to separate the issues from the people and reach a solution without letting emotional responses become a barrier to mutually agreeable resolutions.

Whether your virtual team is dedicated to customer service or R&D, or whether it is dispersed across the globe or only across a single state, these ten tips can enhance productivity, team member satisfaction, and effectiveness. Even a team that is working remotely out of necessity rather than choice can become a powerful asset if the group has the tools, technology, and skills required to bring their varied experience and knowledge together to achieve outstanding results. By Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., Wilson Learning Worldwide, and Carl Eidson, Ph.D., Wilson Learning Corporation

Social Style Versatile

“The more I learn about myself, the more I am able to understand others, the more I am able to bridge the gap between us.”

How has your organization responded to falling consumer demand and slower sales in the current economic climate? If yours is like most, you’ve probably experienced a variety of cost cutting measures: layoffs, downsizing, restructuring and reorganization, and hiring and pay freezes. While these kinds of changes have been necessary for survival, they can wreak havoc on overall performance in unexpected ways. Why? Because there is an inevitable increase in stress, anxiety, and relationship tensions experienced by employees who must rapidly adapt to changes in reporting relationships, work assignments, and ongoing concerns about job security. Managers suffer from similar stresses as they are asked to fill in gaps left by layoffs, do “more with less” as budgets are slashed, and take on new work teams or individual employees as a result of restructuring and downsizing. These tensions have a direct impact on organizational performance.

Although organizational leaders can do little to control the external economic factors driving the need for these internal changes, something can be done to alleviate at least one of the biggest causes of day-to-day stress in an uncertain and changing work environment—the relationship tensions that result from adapting to restructured work teams and unfamiliar colleagues and managers. This relationship tension, unless addressed, will breed conflicts, misunderstandings, and overall failures to communicate that weaken performance just when the company needs the highest levels of performance to attain the results required to thrive in a down market. Yet, there is a powerful tool available that can reduce these barriers to productivity and therefore profitability—Versatility.

VERSATILITY—THE ANSWER TO PERFORMANCE SAPPING RELATIONSHIP TENSION AND STRESS

Versatility is defined as the ability to understand differences in communication preferences and to adapt to make others more open and receptive—creating more effective and productive relationships. Versatility is a skill that can be learned, and people who have it find it far easier to work together with others toward shared organizational goals.

To understand Versatility and how it can affect relationships, consider people with whom you have regular contact. Do you know someone who is “too reserved” for your taste? Is there a manager, coworker or family member who seems to you to be “too opinionated,” “too emotional,” or “too willing (or unwilling) to compromise?” Chances are your reactions to these people are an indicator of differences in Social Style—how we habitually communicate and interact with others. When you find it easy to communicate and work with someone, there’s a high probability you share the same social style. When your communication is difficult, it is often because of unrecognized social style differences.

SOCIAL STYLES AND THE 75% PROBLEM
The Social Styles Matrix

Wilson Learning’s social style model defines four primary communication styles—Driver, Expressive, Amiable, and Analytical.

As the model shows, the four styles vary in terms of behaviors reflecting the dimensions of Assertiveness (Tell) versus Responsiveness (Ask) and Task versus People orientation. Drivers and Expressives tend to be more Tell oriented, while Amiables and Analyticals are more Ask oriented. Analyticals and Drivers are more Task oriented, while Amiables and Expressives are more People oriented. Because about 25% of people fall into each of these four categories, you likely share a social style with only about 25% of the people you meet. What are the consequences when we can’t adapt to the other 75%?

Consider the communication challenges faced by a non-versatile manager who has a different social style than three-fourths of her employees. An Amiable employee will not be comfortable with a Driver manager who seems too focused on tasks and unconcerned with personal relationships. Analytical employees don’t like to be told things they already know—but at the same time they don’t want gaps in information a manager could have provided. These kinds of misalignments create the potential for friction, misunderstanding, and lowered productivity.

INCREASING VERSATILITY

For most of us, interpersonal behaviors and preferences are habitual and largely out of awareness. Consider this scenario: A Driver, who has a more “tell” oriented style, may want to “cut to the chase” quickly. He may not even realize the source of his impatience with an Analytical who needs to ask more questions and gather more data before taking action. As the situation progresses, the Driver may push harder for action while the Analytical employee goes into “back up” for her style—withdrawing and becoming less and less responsive. The resultant mutual frustration and distrust means that projects take longer and critical information is lost. Or in another example, an Expressive employee may be put off by a manager with a strong task-oriented style who doesn’t show sufficient appreciation of the employee’s wish to explore and discuss a variety of creative options before making a decision. The result—a less creative approach to a critical solution.

Versatility comes with the recognition that people do have different styles and that each has unique strengths. Once people know their own style and understand style differences, they can learn how to modify behaviors to make it easier to exchange information and work together to make decisions in a way that is more effective for the whole team. Suppose a manager has several Amiable employees. The manager can make an effort to show a personal interest in them and offer more guidance, support, and recognition than they might provide to experienced Driver employees, who want the freedom to solve problems themselves. When making decisions, managers can adapt to different expectations and needs based on their recognition of employees’ styles. Expressives want managers to involve them in a decision when it affects the whole group, and Amiables like to have the group involved in brainstorming and problem solving. On the other hand, Analyticals are not as interested in group decision making and typically prefer to be involved only when decisions or actions affect them directly.

Over time, as both managers and employees develop higher levels of Versatility, they can quickly recognize the indicators of different styles and adapting to them becomes an integral part of how they communicate. Our research shows that a highly versatile individual is perceived as an effective communicator—someone who has “good people skills,” a trusted leader, and is a very successful negotiator, salesperson, and manager.

VERSATILITY: KEY TO IMPROVED BUSINESS RESULTS

Companies can experience dramatic, measurable improvements in performance when their people learn how to adapt to others’ social styles. In one study, building versatility skills yielded a 52% improvement in the ability to identify styles and recognize back-up behavior—the “fall back” behavior of each style when the individual is stressed. In the same organization, 46% of employees reported a moderate to large improvement in work productivity. As one manager reported, “I’ve been more sensitive to my driver/driver style and the style of others during [coaching] sessions, and as a result, I believe the sessions have been more productive and conversation/feedback has been freer flowing.”

Depending on your company’s industry, product offering, and market, increased versatility may make different kinds of contributions to the improvement of business results. What are the critical issues that are most important in your organization right now? For companies that have downsized and reorganized, a versatile leadership team can more quickly adapt to the needs of employees who have moved into new roles. Additionally, versatile employees can shorten the time it takes to become productive in reconfigured work teams, whether they are working together virtually or at the same site.

Organizations challenged by price cutting competition can better keep customers and expand their business by building stronger relationships with current customers and developing a wider range of new business partnerships. Companies seeking to increase the satisfaction and loyalty of current customers will find that versatile customer service employees are more effective communicators and problem solvers in their customer interactions. While there are multiple ways to improve communication in a given situation, the single most important factor for enhancing communication effectiveness across the board is Versatility. As more leaders are required to take on greater responsibilities for more employees in today’s business environment, and companies are fighting to retain customers and grow market share in the face of ever tougher competition, building this kind of capability provides a real competitive advantage for the individual and the company as a whole.

Interpersonal Skills

Social Styles Versatility: The Engine of Success

When Interpersonal Skills Take Off, Hard Results Soar

What if your company could learn a skill that will eliminate conflict, miscommunication, and slow decisions? And what if I told you that the mechanics team inside a global air fleet company did just that and saw a 56% boost in productivity? Would I get your attention? Thought so.

That skill is called Versatility, and it is perhaps the most powerful interpersonal skill you can have.

Today’s mandate to “perform well,” on whatever task it may be, is dependent on functionally and culturally diverse people within and outside the organization making high performance happen and happen fast. It is difficult to get good innovative decisions and actions carried out with high energy when people feel there is tension and communication is strained. The good news is we can take responsibility for managing our communication behavior and reducing interpersonal tension, keeping the task focused on solving problems and achieving improvements of productivity, efficiencies, and employee engagement.

VERSATILE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Versatility is the ability to recognize differences in communication preferences and to adapt to make others more open and receptive—creating more effective and productive relationships.

The Social Styles Matrix

The first step is to recognize communication differences, and the Wilson Learning Social Styles model is the tool to help you. Social Style is based on our preferred communication approaches. Your Social Style varies in terms of your actions on the dimensions of Assertiveness and Responsiveness.

Because about 25% of people fall into each of these four categories, you share a Social Style with only about 25% of the people you meet. Just think about the consequences when we can’t or won’t adapt to the other 75%. Do you see an opportunity here?

“The more I know about you, the more I know about me, and the more I can take responsibility for managing the difference between us.”

If you choose to take responsibility and manage the differences between your Social Style preference with the other 75%, you can create more productive relationships and, as a result, maximize your effectiveness on the job.

THE KEY IS VERSATILITY

Social Style helps you recognize communication preferences, and Versatility helps you take responsibility for managing differences. The good news is Versatility is a skill that can be learned and mastered. But Versatility requires effort, requiring you to modify your approach to fit others’ approaches, even when it may not be comfortable. You have to make a conscious choice to be Versatile:

  • Do I need this relationship to work so I can achieve my results?
  • What will be the benefits if I improve this relationship?
  • What will be the risks if I do not improve this relationship?

Having chosen to be Versatile, you then have to act on that choice with a process we call the Versatile Response:

1. IDENTIFY: WHAT IS THE PERSON’S SOCIAL STYLE?

You identify others’ Social Styles by focusing on what they value, the environment in which they work best, and how they like to work.

THE VERSATILE RESPONSE1
IDENTIFY

Identify the person’s Social Style.

“She or he is…”

REFLECT

Based on the person’s Social Style, reflect on and describe her or his expectations for interactions with you.

“So she or he needs…”

MODIFY

Decide how to modify your behaviors to maximize your effectiveness.

“Therefore I will…”

1 Building Relationship Versatility: Social Styles At Work: The Business of Versatility

Analyticals, for example:

  • Value conservative and practical business decisions
  • Rely on structured approach and factual evidence
  • Prefer a systematic approach to coming to a recommendation

Amiables tend to:

  • Value cooperation in business situations
  • Rely on the support of others in shared decision making
  • Prefer an interactive approach to problem solving

Drivers tend to:

  • Be forceful and quick in making decisions
  • Flourish in a goal-oriented environment
  • Expect others to respond in a timely manner

Expressives tend to:

  • Be futuristic in their thinking
  • Attempt to make others enthusiastic about ideas
  • Prefer a collaborative approach to problem solving
2. REFLECT: WHAT DOES THIS PERSON NEED FROM ME INTERPERSONALLY?

How you modify your Social Style depends on both the other’s Social Style and the situation. There is no one straightforward solution. An Analytical (or Driver, Amiable, or Expressive) in one situation may need something different in another situation.

An Analytical, for example, may need a more formal and structured approach, or may just need enough time to think things through. An Amiable may need you to be open and honest about your feelings, or need other people to be involved in the decision. A Driver may need you to get right to the point, or focus a little more on the problem and less on the people involved. And an Expressive may need you to be a little more flexible on time, or to hear your excitement for the issue.

So, before going straight from Identify to Modify, pause a second to reflect: What does this Social Style need? And what is needed now?

3. MODIFY: WHAT CAN I DO TO MODIFY MY BEHAVIOR?

People new to Versatility skills sometimes think you have to make big behavior changes to communicate effectively. But just like the old adage “the best things come in small packages,” little changes in Assertiveness and Responsiveness can have a big impact on the effectiveness of communication. Maybe all you need to do is:

  • Ask for the other person’s opinion first
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Use a slower or faster pace
  • Use more or less gestures and facial expressions

How might this work in the real world? Here are some examples:

A VP of Research and Development (an Analytical) was frustrated because he was not receiving responses from e-mails to the VP of Sales (a Driver). Upon reflection, he realized the VP of Sales needed to get right to the point, and the lengthy explanation of the data and how he reached his conclusion was not helping the VP of Sales. So with the next email, the VP of R&D “flipped” the message; he put the conclusion first, the explanation second. The VP of Sales responded immediately.

The VP of Marketing (a Driver) was having trouble getting the Website Design Manager (an Amiable) to make changes to the corporate website. The VP of Marketing paused for a moment and realized that the Website Design Manager always felt more comfortable when more people were involved in decisions. So the VP of Marketing asked her who else might be able to contribute to this decision and invited them all to a meeting to discuss the changes. After the group made the decisions, the Website Design Manager implemented them almost immediately.

WHEN SOFT SKILLS YIELD HARD RESULTS

Equipping your employees and leaders, in all functions, with Versatility skills enables them to address complex challenges, reduce tension and conflict, and build more collaborative relationships throughout the organization. Without communication obstacles, individuals, teams, and work groups can soar as they are free to focus on the work at hand. Join the ranks of the global air fleet maintenance team and boost your productivity to new altitudes.