Friday, March 20, 2015

Entrepreneurship Development Program, Darjeeling, 11 March 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Groups and Teams

Groups Defined:
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group is formed when two or more people get together and interact with one another out of choice or necessity. These people accept certain rules or norms, rights and duties and give their consent to share responsibility in performing certain tasks or in assuming a common social identity.

Informal groups serve the purpose of satisfying emotional, social or psychological needs of their individual members. They give their members a sense of belonging, an identity, a shared self esteem, validation. The more a group satisfies its members’ needs, the more individual members are likely to let their behavior be controlled by the group.

Task oriented groups reduce stress because members can share a common fate in reaching a common goal. By self defining themselves as a group, members can get recognition by others. The group identity gives them the opportunity to become inter-dependent and join forces in decision-making.

Groups are dynamic. Their roles keep changing from situation to situation just like personalities
Depending on the task or topic, a natural leader may become a facilitator or a disinterested party


I reiterate the old acronym T.E.A.M = Together Each Achieves More

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A group can become an effective team when it has been given a raison d’ĂȘtre or a reason for being from a larger system.

This larger system must also direct the group to a defined path. Also, in order to become a team, a group’s members must have complementary skills and expertise. They must need each other to complete the goal that they have to achieve. Above this, if the group is to become a team, it’s members must actually believe that working together, they would reach the desired goal faster, more efficiently and effectively than they would if they were to work alone. Finally, in order to become a team, a group must have clear and measurable authority and accountability.

A team, then, is a small number of people with complementary skills, committed to a common purpose, a set of performance goals. It has a well-defined path to its desired goals and its members hold themselves jointly, individually and mutually responsible for reaching those goals.

A Group becomes a Team when...

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  • Every sub-task is clearly assigned
  • Final accountability is joint
  • Team member viewpoints are respected and considered
  • Regular meetings are held between team members and progress is monitored
  • All relevant information is passed around
  • A sense of ownership is inculcated in all members

The author, Dr. Ranee Kaur Banerjee, is Managing Partner at Expressions@Worka training, consulting and mentoring studio for the development of communication and soft skills

Friday, February 6, 2015

Meetings Defined: Productive or Waste of Time?

What are meetings?

Here's a popular meeting definition:
"A meeting is an event at which minutes are kept and hours are lost!"
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On a more serious note, however, the most basic definition of a meeting is "an assembly of two or more people for a particular purpose." This coming together of people for a common purpose may be formal or informal, regular or irregular, statutory or at will.

With the all-pervasive power of technology that ensures 24X7 availability of personnel, meetings no longer have to take place in person, face-to-face, in any one physical location. We can assemble our teams and work-forces in virtual space at disparate locations through webinars, conference calls, video-conferencing, document sharing etc.

Most managers rue the fact that they have to spend endless hours of their work life in the act of participating in or conducting meetings. Common wisdom estimates that about half the time spent in a meeting is wasted in non-operational discussions.

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This leads to human resources in organisations becoming frustrated because of the feeling that instead of adding productivity to their day or adding value to the work they perform, meetings take away from their effective time on the job.

So if they're so unproductive and account for such a waste of one of the most precious, non-renewable resources of a business enterprise, why do we have so many meetings? 

What do meetings do?

Notwithstanding the bad press, a meeting--or live, inter-active communication among members of a group--is still the most effective way for people to brainstorm ideas, exchange notes, share information, set the course for a period of time, plan actions, organise events, solve problems, decide important issues, get feedback and so on.

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A meeting develops the social mind of a group of people who have come together for a specific purpose or agenda. It is a great way for a group of co-workers to bond. Time that seems wasted in informal communication and eating and drinking is actually necessary to creating the common ground that will ultimately increase productivity. Meetings play a major part in increasing comfort and familiarity in work relationships among people who must work together in long hours of proximity to achieve a common organisational goal.

Thus, quite apart from fulfilling short-term organisational agenda, meetings also act as bonding mechanisms that help define the team and clarify the collective aim. 

In doing their bit to turn loose groups of disparate individuals into close-knit, inter-dependent teams and task forces that become more than the aggregate of the individual members, meetings create commitment and also serve to boost collective confidence in the team's ability to complete difficult tasks within given deadlines.

With the right hands at the helm, meetings can bring visibility to and give greater authority and sense of accomplishment to junior employees or new entrants as they are encouraged to share their opinions and ideas and add their skills and competencies to those of the established group. In the ideal situation, different organisational strata can interact on an even plane and align their individual activities around the organisation's priorities and objectives.

Effective Tool for Management

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I'm a great believer in the power of regular informal meetings with my co-workers. Even if we get together for just a few minutes every week, meeting with my subordinates and colleagues allows me to touch base with them and gain better insight into their lives and priorities, 

During those short meetings, I can catch up with them on the week that went and plan the week to come with the benefit of their agreement and insight, I see it as an opportunity to make sure my team has equal access to relevant information and ensure that we are all on the same page.

I feel that the time we spend during the meeting re-creates our commitment to each other and to the team as a whole and thus energises us to work better for the collective cause for the rest of the work week.

More, the quick cup of coffee and informal conversation we share after the meeting agenda is exhausted helps realign our comfort levels and de-stresses us as we are get out of our individual boxes of problems and deadlines and try to help others with their issues and problems instead.

The author, Dr. Ranee Kaur Banerjee, is Managing Partner at Expressions@Worka training, consulting and mentoring studio for the development of communication and soft skills