Teamwork in the Workplace.

Is it all in your Head?

Photo: Pixaby Photos by Alexas & Gerd Altmann

A key to any great organization is authentic leadership, great products, services and processes. Unfortunately, the people within an organization can be undervalued; the very people that stand behind your mission and vision.

It goes without saying that every organization is a little different. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re a non- profit versus for profit, small versus large. You might be a small business around the corner or a mammoth like Google or Amazon, but there is one thing all organizations have in common.

That is your people. The people who drive your services. The people who promote and support your products. The people that get things done.

You may have just released new cutting-edge technology, or your new gadget might sell like wildfire. What does it take to get your product or service out to the masses? Stellar marketing? Once you get to market how do you optimize customer acquisition? Once you’ve got new customers, what type of customer journey do you outline? How well does the customer adopt to the new technology, gadget or service? Do you have 100% adoption rates or are your customers experiencing a half-hearted adoption? Once you perfect customer adoption then you need to manage customer retention. After all this cycle is tedious and starting all over requires a lot of effort and resources. The whole process takes a lot of energy and resources.

What’s getting in your way?

Typically, the problems that I’ve seen are not unique to the large or small business. The magnitude of the problem might seem bigger, but the root causes are often the same:

Resources — both financial and human capital.

  • Are they adequate?
  • How do you build in extra resources or talent pools without approved FTEs or budgets for contracted services?

Teamwork — both within your department and inter-departmentally

Is there redundancy across departments? I’m betting your answer is yes or I don’t know.

Strengths — I’m talking about natural strengths. Do you have too many of the same type of employees on one team? Is the team productive? Do they solve the problems given to them or do they cycle through meeting after meeting rehashing the problems? If that’s the case, you need to evaluate a few things:

  • Support from Leadership
  • Team Balance

Teams might want to get things done all day long, but if leadership isn’t backing them, they are forced to stare at the same problems day after day. They want to help the customer. They want to move forward, but they are anchored to the problems. Perhaps the anchor is financial in nature. Perhaps the anchor is a lack of attention to the problem. Maybe it’s an issue of priorities. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have people who show up to do a good job and they can’t do that because they lack the support and leadership required to get it done. That situation must be owned by those making decisions.

Scenario 1: The Warm & Fuzzy Team

Now, let’s talk about team balance. Have you ever been on a committee or sub-committee where you show up and just love being on that team? It’s such a warm and fuzzy feeling. You speak the same lingo and no other department really “gets” you. Now let’s look at your outcomes, your performance. Are you moving forward and finding solutions? Do you find yourself doing more and more research and yet remain uncertain about the solution?

You are at a stalemate. You continue meeting yet you aren’t meeting your objectives. I’m proposing that this team is likely experiencing Conative Clone effect as identified by Kathy Kolbe.

I’ve probably just thrown out a term that most of you are unfamiliar with, and it would be remiss of me not to elaborate. I’ll be succinct. Our brains are essentially made up of 3 domains:

1. Cognitive — our smarts or IQ

2. Affective/Feeling — our emotions/EQ

3. Conative — our will, our volition. Your Conative Mind drives your natural way of solving problems and is linked to your unique Modus Operandi.

Your MO is not just another assessment or quiz. Your MO is based off 4 decades or reliable and validated science. It’s how you get things done. Kathy Kolbe has spent her lifetime working with teams of all sorts. She has coached executive teams, major league athletic teams, sales teams and more. She has developed software to help all of us lean into our natural strengths and solve problems in ways that are natural to us. This is an excerpt from her book description, Pure Instinct. The M.O. of High Performance, People and Things.

“In her groundbreaking book, Kathy Kolbe explores the importance of instincts — the natural advantage used by high performers that has been proven to be the key to job satisfaction and improved productivity.

Based on a fascinating study of high achievers in many diverse fields, Kolbe provides readers with techniques to raise their energy levels to the point where they’ll get more done than ever before. The ideas and methods in Pure Instinct are fast becoming what many Fortune 500 companies are calling their competitive advantage. Understanding instinct — Kolbe’s definition of success, “the freedom to be yourself” — liberates the true talents within every individual.”

Isn’t it liberating to know that you as an individual have natural strengths that give you a competitive advantage? Isn’t it exciting to know that you can balance teams to achieve a competitive advantage by playing into their strengths?

Scenario 2: The Not So Warm & Fuzzy Team

Have you ever been on a not so warm and fuzzy team? There are many of you that butt heads. You may have strong opinions about how to address a problem and you know you are right. There is one way, your way. Does someone on that team challenge you? Does he or she think your solution is an off the wall approach?

You are at a stalemate. You are probably experiencing the impact of Conative Conflict.

Conflict Defined:

As defined by Kathy Kolbe, conative stress that results from natural differences of four units or more in how people function in any one Action Mode. Action Modes fall into 4 key categories, Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quick Start, Implementor.

Personal Example:

While I haven’t delved into the definition of each Action Mode, they are mentioned above. I initiate in Fact Finder and co-act in Follow Thru. What the heck does that mean? I have a strong need to make decisions based off facts and my brain needs to follow through. If I am forced to quick start a lot of projects without enough facts, I experience Conative Stress. I need others on my team that initiate in Quick Start. They need to help me with my potential to over analyze. I, in turn, need to help them from jumping into projects without a second thought. This is snapshot of the beginning efforts in team balance. There are 12 strengths in team behaviors, so this example is just the tip of the iceberg. But you get the gist of it. Too much a good thing is too much of a good thing and all 12 strengths are a good thing. The goal is simple. You do not want too many of the same strengths on any one team.

Conative Stress Defined:

Conative Stress occurs when there is a difference in any Action Mode between the two Indexes. Unlike emotional stress, Conative Stress arises from trying to take action outside of one’s natural strengths.

Conative Cloning Defined:

People whose instinctive way of taking action is so similar that they replicate each other’s performance.

Leadership appoints a committee to solve a software bug issue. Why would they appoint a committee outside of IT specialists/programmers? Well, if they are smart, they want to avoid potential Conative Cloning. If the IT team has similar MO’s (modus operandi) then cloning is to be expected. Taking the Kolbe, A™ assessment would let you know for sure if you are at cloning risk.

Conative Tension Defined:

Per Kathy Kolbe, Conative Tension results from another person’s requirements of how a person will perform.

Scenario 3: Is the Team Synergistic or Missing Methods?

Is Your Team Synergistic? Or is Your Team Missing Methods?

Problems with Teams may be a lack of Synergy or Missing Methods as described below:

While the team consists of individuals, the boss wants a solution from that group. The team is at risk if they don’t deliver a solution. They are working together, and the expectation is that they will produce a solution to a company problem. If the team wasn’t balanced to begin with, they may be lacking enough diversification to decide on a solution (Missing Methods). They may not have anyone strong in Follow Thru. They may be bogged down with too many facts. They may have too many people initiating in Quick Start. If so, they generate one innovative solution one right after the other, but does anyone on the team turn that innovation into reality?

According to Kathy Kolbe, Team Synergy is achieved when:

“An organizations greatest competitive advantage lies in building employee teams that have a synergistic mix of striving instincts.” A distribution of the 12 strengths creates synergy. Teams with a balance of instincts have achieved team synergy. Teams designed for maximum synergy have been as high as 225% more productive.[1]

Who owns outcomes? The team? Leadership? I personally believe both, but one cannot be held accountable for what they do not know. However, if you are reading this article, then you now know that Conative Tension, Stress and Conflict are real problems impeding your success.

What will you do?

I invite you to learn more about Conation. Visit my website and take a look at Kathy Kolbe’s research. There is power in science, but there is more power in your people. Lean into their strengths and optimize your business. Your people are waiting to be the best version of themselves. They want to perform not only for you but for themselves. Give them the freedom to be themselves!

About the Author: Kimberly Sheldahl is a former executive, turned Kolbe Certified ™ Consultant who is also an Integrative Health Coach. She is passionate about the integration of productivity and well-being. She knows that by allowing employees to maximize their natural strengths, they reduce their stress. Working in a healthy work environment lays the foundation for improved well-being. An engaged, healthy and well-rounded employee shows up to work ready to help your company soar.

Contact me today for a free discovery call. Let’s develop your Conative Success Plan today! We can start with a free team collaboration survey.[2]



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