Author, Coach, Educator, & Realtor

Archive for the ‘Team Building’ Category

I bet you wouldn’t have guessed !

Recently I heard (or read) the same statement made by three different reliable sources but I was still surprised.

It seems that for every negative thing that is said or done to you it takes five positive things to balance it out! Not one, not two — but five!

That’s a lot to ask.

Apparently it has to do with our brains and how they work. The book “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer was one of the sources of my revelation. It says, “Loss aversion is an innate flaw. It’s part of a larger psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias, which means that for the human mind, bad is stronger than good. This is why in marital interaction it generally takes at least five kind comments to compensate for one critical comment. ………The only way to avoid loss aversion is to know about the concept.”

So what are we do to? This will definitely take a group effort. Since we can’t give ourselves the positive comments in this particular situation we will have to form teams.

I need to form team “Joy“. Just like in kickball we get to pick our players; so I’ll choose my true friends, the family members who like me, the associates who respect me, the acquaintances who don’t know any better, my nailtech, my hairdresser and maybe anyone else I pay because they “should” be nice to me.

Team “Joy” gets points by saying five nice things to me each time I interact with them  in person, in writing or on the phone.  Then I must do the same. The game is won when we are all blissfully walking around and performing to our highest potential in all that we undertake; and no negative comment can undermine our day or our feeling of well-being. (Did I mention they have to be sincere compliments?).

This game however is never-ending. It is a constant give and take (give praise – take praise).

Team Joy also needs to recruit constantly and there is no limit to the number or value of the players we can amass for our team. (Unlike some professional football teams.)

We recruit by complimenting others and one by one we pick up players who are dedicated to winning. Daily they are being a positive force for Joy and recruiting others to join us. They can even be members of as many teams as they choose as long as they are active in all of them and following our basic goal of complimenting as many people as we can in a day, month, year — all while warding off our natural “negativity bias”.

Mission accomplished. We have enough good to outweigh the bad!

Have fun playing — you are welcome on Team Joy anytime!

What Does Your Workspace Say

Have you ever looked around your work environment and seen a lot of  “different environments”?

Some desks are clean surfaces with workable tops. No stacks, no clutter and no paper in sight at the end of the day.

Others are filled with stacks of papers.

And yet others are not only filled with uneven stacks but strewn with clutter on floors, cabinets and any available surface with no apparent place to perform a task.

In this age of  “paperless” communication  there seems to be even less reason for this workspace’s seemingly chaotic environment. However it still exists as it always has perhaps to a lesser degree. (This same philosophy applies to computer files, emails, social media, etc.)

Our professional workspace is a microcosm of how we interact with and manage the “things” in our life and how we “think”.

Consistency and order are reflected in the spotless workspace. There is a sense of having and needing control. Control over our work, its output and how much we accomplish. Structure brings this person gratification. The quality of the output is consistent. Daily processes and procedures are met rigorously. Interruptions to routine are met with resistance. Piles are not required because when work is put in its proper place it will be taken care of in its ordered time.

Spaces where piles reside do not indicate any less desire for control but perhaps a sense of “urgency for all tasks”. All work is considered equal. Everything must be done at once. Decisions about order are not made easily. Things become sorted by: 1) Must do 2) I might be able to do and 3) It might be something extra I will be able to get to later. The daily work is done with skill and pride but there might be more I can do and by having it in sight I’ll remember to “get to it”.

Chronic chaos is just that. Work is done as the need arises. The more urgent work comes to the surface through deadlines (both internal and external). When the work is done it posses exceptional concentration and thoroughness. The person devotes their whole being and brain when performing any task. The work is detailed and insightful but not done in any consistent order or any predetermined schedule. The chaos does lead to things being “forgotten” or not attended to without assistance, but the work is so valuable when done that the aid of an assistant to set priorities can be worthwhile as a tool for this individual.

In all three cases it is always imperative that the person’s work is exceptional and they are the best person to perform certain jobs for the company.

Given that prerequisite, how does a leader (or parent, or teacher, or companion) relate to and embrace these differing styles of work and behavior?

You have the responsibility of bringing the BEST work out of each person and the group as a whole.

Each of these individuals brings different values that combined should bring excellence.

Your goal is to know how to assign jobs, roles, projects and responsibilities. Your job is to put the pieces together in such a way that the outcome  is beyond what any one person could accomplish.

The “organized” worker or “deleter” in computer terms, is excellent at knowing  and meeting their deadlines and the deadlines of others. Use this strength. Work that is repetitious and needed weekly, monthly, etc should become their responsibility. In addition they can be in charge of prompting others for deadlines they need to meet and usually cannot on their own. Their work is communicated well so everyone understands what their part is in order for the deadline to be met.

The “piler” or “file folder winner” in computer terms, is invaluable at seeing a bigger picture, formulating process and procedure, looking for new or better ways to do things or how change can occur. They can see to the end of the puzzle and work backwards to the steps that need to be taken along the way. They are not rigid but more flexible in reorganizing priorities as the need arises. They do adhere to and understand deadlines and are usually willing to help others achieve the results required in the time allotted. Their talent at problem solving can be used throughout the company.

The “chaotic” or “ram user” can bring genius. Innovation is usually more important than following tradition. They can be more “thinkers” than “doers”. They can be invaluable in getting others to see new possibilities. They can help sales by looking at new products or services. They can streamline production. They can use methodology to simplify process. They can assist the company in keeping up with technology.

Of course not all people exhibit their strengths through the state of their workspace or the way they manage their computer files, but when you get to know their work product and their abilities it is always up to you – the leader – to provide them with the opportunities to use their talents to their fullest potential.

Pay attention to your team as a group and as individuals and you will never be disappointed in the outcome.

What does your workplace normally say?

How can you look around and better redistribute duties to strengthen the team? ( Who should really be responsible for that monthly report? Who should be in charge of monthly sales quotas? Who should be responsible for social media? Who should be editing my blog? Just checking you got to the end.)

Love to hear from you!

The Nay-sayers; Don’t listen

A few encounters recently lead me to reflect on how I react when others are negative about an idea or plan I have developed.

A friend of mine Jackie Dishner first pointed out the word “Nay-sayer” in a presentation she gave to a group of business women. (I would highly recommend her as a motivational speaker.) It was the way she said it with so much disdain combined with laughter that first caught my attention.

A Nay-sayer is anyone who does not believe. They don’t believe in you, your ideas, your abilities and most likely don’t believe in change or creativity.

When I encounter a Nay-sayer my first reaction is usually doubt in myself. It takes a lot of work and self-esteem to just let it roll off your back and proceed straight ahead.

I have worked very hard at letting this occur and I have found that each time I regroup, revisit, clarify my goal and plow ahead I come out even more determined to reach my desired outcome.  

Then I share my plan or aspiration with more people and dismiss the Nay-sayers until eventually I find someone willing to give encouragement. The moment I have been waiting for – someone who believes.

Right after the first believer my enthusiasm and determination begin to ascend. I add to my plan. I can envision the outcome. I can get more people to believe and they in turn share their belief – and so the ball starts to roll.

Eventually the ball becomes so big that it takes everyone involved to carry it up the hill to the top of the mountain – where we can all see clearly the final outcome or result. And as a group who have supported and encouraged each other we are very proud of our accomplishment and the result we’ve attained.

This pride both individually and collectively ironically was part of the original plan. Pride in our contributions. Pride in our determination. Pride in our ability to change, to grow and to help each other along the way.

And so the journey begins again. We develop a sustainability plan. We develop the next growth plan. We look around for what we can improve or what gives us more joy and satisfaction.

Then we dismiss the Nay-sayers and find our new group that will help us on our next journey just as we will help them.

I’ll see you along the way in the valley and meet you at the top of the next mountain.


Kate Rakoci

Reference:  Jackie Dishner

Recommended reading: “Our Iceberg Is Melting” by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber


The Wearing of the Green

I know why every year I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It has to do with a mother whose maiden name was O’Connor and was born on the Emerald Island.

I started to wonder why others who may not have the same heritage are always happy to enter into the celebration. Then I came up with my own theory.

In life as in business it takes all different types of personalities, strengths and skill sets to get the best possible results on any task. We more often than not work with others and discuss our differences; different styles, different opinions, different methods. In doing so we have an opportunity to learn and grow from those around us. We can also create the best possible teams getting the best possible results (as illustrated in “Our Iceberg Is Melting” by John Kotter — a good read).

However commonality makes us feel like we belong. When we have something in common with others we create a bond. We feel liked, welcome and safe (a shared vision or goal is the result of working as a diverse team and creating common goals).

Ultimately we need both differsity and commonality to move forward for the desired outcome.

I choose to think of St. Patrick’s day as a display of both. For one day we can all be different and the same. We can wear green and shamrocks, drink green beer, look for leprechauns with pots of gold and have fun regardless of differences and nationalities.  We all have a mutual goal —- to have fun and be with others who want to have fun.

If you have the opportunity to create fun at work even better — we could all use laughter and humor to keep things in perspective. It’s also a great day to show your appreciation for a job well done.

So pass out the shamrocks, dust off the Irish jokes, wear green and tell everyone you meet “May the luck of the Irish be with you!” today and always.