Articles and Resources - Team Building

How to Keep Productivity High When There is No Team Leader

Normally, the manager will set the expectations and deadlines, while the employees do the work.  But what happens when there is no manager or team leader?

Georgina worked in a self-directed team.  As long as everyone on the team participated equally, there were no problems, but the minute a team member did not pull their weight, resentment set in and productivity went down.  She didn’t want to rock the boat, but she was concerned about the team’s reputation.

A group of managers in a training workshop was asked, “What would you do?”

1.  Take on Responsibility

First of all, everyone must be clear on their responsibilities and how the team will work together, given their existing resources and deadlines. 

One person volunteered, “If I was on the team I would say, we have an issue with incomplete orders, how are we going to deal with it?"  Follow with a brainstorming session with the team members, define an action plan with responsibilities and deadlines associated with it.

One team member can take on the lead role for the current problem and others will take turns on handling the lead role for the future ones. Every so often the team will need to go to a higher level for clarification or authority.

2.  Play Your Part on the Team

  • If you are finished your work and see that your team member is bogged down, lend a helping hand.  It is easy to find busy work, but instead look for ways of assisting your team.  They will be very grateful and return the favor in the future.
  • Be a good role model.  Demonstrate what an ideal team member’s contributions should look like.  Watch your team members’ back.  Be there to help them, when they need it.
  • Provide support and encouragement to others.  Everyone will go through difficult times with looming deadlines, difficult clients and a heavy workload.  Acknowledge what is happening with your coworkers and provide assistance when you can.
  • Praise them when it is due.  People want to be noticed for the work that they do.  Provide a compliment for a job that is well done.  Sometimes all it takes is a “thank you.”
  • Avoid negative criticism.  If a task or behavior needs to be improved, use a gentle approach and provide them with a suggestion.  Reinforce the importance of working together.

As a management training skills expert, I advise Managers and Supervisors to empower their self-directed teams and to create the environment which give team members the flexibility to take on responsibility and to play their part on the team.


5 Easy Steps to Use EI (Emotional Intelligence) Rather than IQ For Success

Sammy was a fierce leader in an executive position. He had a clear direction of where he wanted his organization to go and how to get there.  He was surrounded by the best and brightest people. But he had a problem, his staff could not relate to him.  He operated in the old command and control style. Do as I say and do not question anything. Sammy believed that there was no place for emotions in the workplace. He was a "screamer" and it was common to see grown women and men leave his office in tears. It did not take long before his senior managers resigned and it trickled down to his middle and junior staff. The organization was facing a downward spiral and major changes were required to offset a disaster.

Sammy needed to have a close look at himself and his style of leadership to bring this organization back on track. It was essential for him to make some drastic changes to his management style and use emotional intelligence to gain the support of his staff.  But there is help out there ... Enter the world of emotional intelligence (EI).

These are the 5 steps of EI which will have more impact in your personal and professional life.

  1. Self Awareness – This is the foundation in which you listen to your inner dialogue (how you talk to yourself), look for patterns and tune into these patterns. Recognize and be more aware of your physical symptoms. For example, I get a queasy stomach before each Monday morning meeting. Be honest with yourself. Why is my stomach getting upset?  Are you getting the responses that you expect from different interactions? Sammy thought that he was approachable, but most staff members did not feel that way.
  2. Self Regulation – This is about being able to manage your thoughts, assess your response to an action or behavior and act appropriately. For example during a difficult conversation, take a deep breath, take a break or go for a walk, then respond assertively. EI users are able to recognize stressful symptoms and are able to manage properly and "let go" at the right time.
  3. Self Motivation – Set and work towards specific goals. Build a network of supportive friends, family and peers. Have a sense of purpose as to what drives you and work toward these goals.
  4. Empathy – Understand where other people are coming from and put yourself in their place.
  5. People Skills – Strengthen interpersonal skills by using assertive language and "I" statements. Know and respect boundaries of others and handle conflict constructively.

By using the EI approach, rather than only IQ, Sammy will be able to get back on track with his employees, exert his leadership role and meet the goals of his organization. Staff will be more engaged and actually want to be at work.

Do you want to know more about how EI can work for you and organization, contact Helen Dyrkacz for a workshop or coaching program near you.

More details available at Emotional Intelligence at Work.



Did You Know That Managing People Is Like Running A Marathon?

Over the summer, I have run in two half marathons. The first one was the Fargo Rocks Marathon (complete with live bands at every mile) and the second one was in hometown, Winnipeg. We were fortunate to have ideal conditions. The skies were overcast and temperatures were in the mid-teen’s or mid-60’s for our American friends. Each run was fast, flat and friendly. Two years ago, I actually ran (and successfully completed) my first full marathon. But that is a subject for another blog.

As I reflect upon the races, I believe that running is similar to managing people.

In order to complete a marathon in a reasonable time, runners need to get in shape. I remember my first attempt. I ran the distance of 1 street light to the next and then walked to the next one. It took me 3 weeks to run around the block without stopping! When managing, we need to develop the necessary competencies and skills to do the job. It might consist of working with a coach or mentor, taking formal or informal courses or training to bring up our skill level. Even seasoned runners constantly look for ways to improve their times. Personal and professional development is a necessary part of life.

Runners constantly set goals for themselves. The goal might be for an upcoming race, running for charity or running a few minutes longer without stopping for a walk break.  Managers set short and long terms goals for themselves and their staff. The goals could relate to their current position and how they want to strengthen their management style or longer term in their career path or profession. Goals give us a sense of direction and purpose.

When running it is easier to focus on an object and run towards it. It is easier to say, "I need to run to the next street light or the next tree," rather than, "I need to run 10 more miles." They focus on the smaller objects, but every so often they need to look at the horizon. A manager has overall objectives to accomplish which is the broader horizon. Why are we here? What do we need to accomplish? Then they break it down into smaller, manageable chunks.

It takes a team to run a marathon. Thousands of volunteers are along the route, handing out water and cheering the runners. Police make the route safe by blocking traffic. Family and friends provide support so that runners have the time to train, eat properly and rest before the big event. It also takes a team to get our work done. We could try to do everything by ourselves, but many hands make the load easier.

There will be challenges along the way. That’s life. Injuries will happen, shoes will get worn out and temperatures will vary. If we are committed to our goals, we will find a way to deal with the obstacles. Management is not always easy. There will be difficult decisions to make and not everyone will agree with us. But like the runner, focus on what is most important and take one day at a time.

At times training for a marathon may feel like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards. Not every day will be a Personal Record (PR) or Personal Best (PB). As my 91-year old Uncle would say, "The most important thing is to keep moving." One step at a time for a runner or manager. 

We would love to have your feedback! What has been your management (or running) experience? What has worked for you? We would also like to know what have you learned in your journey. Tell us what you have done and the results that were achieved!



Develop Your Management Skills: How to Give Positive Feedback

A question was asked to a group of managers in a training workshop, "In what circumstances should you give positive feedback to your employees, co-workers or clients?" The responses were, "When they have met a major deadline or learned a new task. We also need to provide feedback when a behaviour or positive performance requires reinforcement." Keep mind that we need to recognize the efforts of the hard working, good solid performers. These are the folks that come to work and do their very best, day after day, week after week, and month after month. 

In a coaching role, some people may be uncomfortable with providing feedback, while others are uncomfortable with receiving it.  They just shrug their shoulders and say, “It was part of my job,” and keep their noses to the grindstone.

These are two main steps to follow when giving positive feedback.

1. Statement of Behavior  (What did they do?)

This is an objective, concrete and precise statement of the work done by the person. What did they do that has caught your attention, in a good way?

Impact  (So what?)

This is a brief description of the impact or benefit of their behavior to the other employees, team, organization or client.  


The progress report that you completed was accurate, well presented and completed on time. It made our team look professional and our organization came across as efficient. The client was happy with the results.


Think of one person in your organization that you want to give positive feedback to. Who is the person? What is the behavior statement? What is the impact?

The next step is to share it with the individual. Some people prefer not to say it directly to the person. Here’s a suggestion. Instead, make the object (what they did well) the subject of the positive feedback. Say, "This report is sick, it was very well done, made our team look professional and gave a positive reflection of our unit."

By giving positive feedback, you will be acknowledging the good work performed and motivating them to continue onward. As a management training skills expert, I have experienced many situations in which positive feedback increases job satisfaction and production, and a better use of organizational resources.



7 Ways to Increase Trust in the Workplace

During a management training session, the question was asked, "How important is trust?" Several responses agreed that trust was overwhelming important to the success of an organization. "Without trust, I have nothing. I have complete trust in my employees," said one experienced manager.

Personal experience has shown that trust has a direct relationship to productivity. With high trust, productivity soars, and with a low level of trust, productivity goes down. 

Trust takes time to build, but it can be quickly broken in a matter of minutes. Some indicators of low trust are excessive red tape, extreme bureaucracy, and intense office politics that result in low morale, absenteeism, fraud, disengagement, and staff turnover. So, how do organizations build trust?

Seven ways to increase trust are:

  1. Model Trust - Trust starts at the top with senior leaders and funnels down to managers and supervisors. Senior leaders must have integrity and demonstrate sound values and ethics. They must model trust. Employees will observe and practice the examples set by leaders.
  2. Trust is Reciprocal - In order to build trust, you must trust others. As difficult as it may sound, take a risk (within reason) and place trust in your manager, co-worker or even a teenager! Every time they follow through, your trust will increase. They will take notice and build their level of trust with you. Then the circle of trust will expand.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  This is crucial, especially when units are going through change.  According to most employees, the most important thing that they need is the uncompromised truth. Even if the news is bad – they want to know. Tell others what you know and what you don’t know. People cannot get enough information, especially when change is imminent. Don’t hold back, tell them the way it is and you will build trust.
  4. Follow through – Do what you say that you will do. Every time you have a conversation, it will either build or erode trust. 
  5. Ask for help – Admit it, there are times when you need help from others – so seek it out. Encourage others to share their ideas and experience, remember the saying, two heads are better than one. By placing trust in others, it shows that you trust them.
  6. Support – Provide support to others when they need it, but without taking away responsibility. Step back and watch others learn and grow, but step in and respond to their needs when they need encouragement.
  7. Listen with empathy – Be present when listening. Try to understand their feelings and where they are coming from.  

To see how well your team practices trust behaviors, take the Reina team trust quiz at



The 2 - Minute Briefing

You have spent many hours researching an issue or problem and now it is time to deliver a briefing. You have 15 minutes of information that need to be delivered in 2 minutes.  Properly planning and organizing your approach will give you the results you need.

Determine the purpose of the briefing. Ask yourself, why am I giving this briefing? Is it to make a request, to make a recommendation, to pursuade, or to inform? What do you want the Manager to know, understand, or approve after the meeting? Then determine the type of information you need to supply in order to make this happen.

Consider the Manager's background, experience and context of the information. If they have been updated previously, then you will need less background information and focus more on new details, recommendations and findings. Have an idea of their strategic position, as this will give you an idea of the type of questions they may ask. Consider if they are a big picture or details person. What is your preferred style and how do you adapt your style to meet their needs?

A good verbal briefing is organized into 2 parts: 1) The Request, and 2) The Rationale.

1. The Request
In the first 30 seconds state up front your key point or what you are asking for in the briefing.  Give the importance or relevance of the request.  For example, the purpose of this meeting is to ask for approval to move forward with the expansion plans.

2. The Rationale
The 90 second rationale should include information that is needed for a good quality decision.  Ensure that your background information does not include more than 3 or 4 main points.  Indicate the key points, rationale and justification.  Use signal words such as first, second, next, and the final consideration.  Restate your key point at the ending.

By carefully planning and organizing the briefing, you will be able to state your ideas clearly and concisely, and ultimately achieving the results you desire.

We would love to have your feedback!  Tell us what you have done and the positive results that were achieved!!


Link back from Articles and Resources – Team Building, to more of our Best Articles and Resources page.