Thursday, February 21, 2013

My 5 success factors for teamwork

Ever since People walk the surface of earth, teamwork has been very important. That is probably one of the reasons why there are soo many books on this topic. As HR manager I was also often developing teams and supporting teamleaders to be solid teams that could achieve goals and deliver results.

Based on my experiences I develop my 5 important succesfactors for effective teamwork. I would like to share them with you.

1.     Be Clear about your expectations. Both as a member or teamleader you need to be clear about what you want to contribute, what other people can expect from you (or not), what are your must have’s and your nice to haves. There should be NO HIDDEN AGENDA in teams. Always be authentic. Hidden agenda’s are like cancer and kill any team over time. Be clear and specific when you give feedback to other teammembers. This will lead to better teamwork.
2.     Be interested. Be interested in others and be interested in what you do. Being interested in other teammembers helps you to get a better understanding of your colleagues. It will also give you more information on what’s going on in the team. When somebody is asking you for information, share it. The more you share, to more you’ll receive. It is a vicious circle that leads to more succes.
3.     Use good manners. Good manners are a sign of respect and make you more honorably. It is about using words like “thank you”, “please”, “sorry”. Sometimes these words seem to be the most difficult words in our language, but when you use them , you’ll get rewarded for it. (if you don’t believe me read “Tom Peters – Little big things”). When somebody says “sorry”, forgive him. But most imporantly, when you use these words, use them sincerely. Don’t fake your regrets !
4.     React in a correct way. Don’t overreact when something happens around you. We all know plenty of situations where people overreacted and said things they regretted afterwards. On the other hand, don’t wait too long with your reaction. The other person is waiting for an answer. Always be assertive. Assertiveness is very different from agressive. Assertiveness is taling with respect for the other one and maintaining respect for yourself. Listen when people talk to you, or you might miss the message.
5.     Be positive. People are more easily attracted to people who live their life. There is a clear correlation between positive leaders and positive teamwork. Remain realistic. Don’t be positive, because I tell you to, be positive because you like what you do. Work in a team you enjoy !

If we would all live by these 5 simple rules, teams would be more succesfull and would deliver better results. There might be other succesfactors, but these are – to my opinion – the most important ones.

Best movie about talent, passion, perfection and drive

Yesterday I watched "Jiro dreams of sushi", a documentary by David Gelb about the life of Jiro, the best sushi maker in the world. (available on internet for free :

The movie is about passion for you work, it is about leaving a legacy, about drive for perfection, about talent development. It is also a movie about customer relationships ... it is a great movie with a huge message behind it. A must see for everybody who is working on these topics.

Jiro is 85 years old, he owns a restaurant in Tokyo with 3 michelin stars and only 10 seats. At the age of 7 he had to leave home and he struggled his way to the top. His drive for perfection is gigantic and he demands this same attitude from everybody he is working with; the tuna dealer, the rice vendor, the people in his kitchen and most of all his sons.

Jiro has 2 sons. The oldest son (Yoshikazu) is working in the same restaurant as the wing man of his father. The youngest son (Takashi) is running his own restaurant and tries to equal his father's restaurant. The movie is about how Jiro tried to bring over his passion for food to his sons and how they coped with it.

This master made a lot sacrifices (like he seldom saw his kids when they were young), but today he sees that it was worth every penny. He is closely collaborating with his sons, who are equally passionated about sushi as their father.

I could continue about this movie for hours, but suggest, you just watch it yourself.

To end up this blogpost, I give one quote of the master himself :

Once you decide on your occupation
You must immerse yourself in your work
You must fall in love with your work
Never complain about your job
You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill
That's the secret of success
and is the key to being regarded honorably


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book review : Tribes by Seth Godin

I have always been a big fan of Seth Godin. He is a master in using the right words to get a message across. Never too many words, just the right words and straight to the heart and the mind.
Tribes is about how we connect with other people and how groups are formed. To create a group we need leaders. These leaders are not necessarily hierarchical leaders, but they need to be inspirational leaders. People we believe in. People with a message that goes straight to the heart.

What are tribes ? 

  • tribes are something to believe in. Do you believe in the organization you are working for ? 
  • tribes are groups of partisans (small or big) gathered around a leader. Without a leader, tribes become a bunch of people
  • tribes have a mutual destiny, believe, purpose, ...
  • Tribes often arise to make a difference. To fill in a gap or need. 
Tribes need leaders, not managers !
Godin makes a clear difference between managers and leaders. 
  • Leaders have followers. Managers have employees.
  • Leaders make a change, they make the difference between status quo and moving forward. Managers make 'things' (products, services, ...)
  • Leaders kick ass. Managers try to control things and remain stability. 
  • Leadership is a natural thing. Management is a job role in which you are appointed.
  • Leaders dare to decide. (see also my previous blogpost on 'no guts no glory - take decisions now)
React - Reply - Initiate
Reacting is a what many politicians do. They say things based on their intuition. Reacting is communication without being constructive.
Replying is getting into dialogue. Based on what has been said, you reply, give your opinion. This is already a level higher than reacting. 
Initiating is the highest level. True leaders initiate. They don't wait until things happen. They take the initiative and bring ideas to the world.  

I love the word sheepwalking. Organizations often hire people who draw between the lines. Nice people who don't get you any problems. People who obey and follow the rules. 
If you want true innovators, don't hire sheepwalkers. Hire people who dare to turn things upside down. People who look at things from a different angle and who dare to speak up about their ideas. 

To conclude 
It is a great book. It took me less than a day to read it and it dazzled my mind. Love it. My advise : Go to the (online) bookstore now and buy it. 

Your personal learning map

Yesterday I attended an interesting seminar about drawing your personal learning map by Jan Weverberg (@janweverbergh) at VOV ( I would like to share some of the ideas, mixed with my own insights.

We learn all the time. We observe, we gather information, we discover, we talk & listen and we learn. I agree, we are not always aware of the fact we are learning, but I believe we always learn from our experiences.

I distinguish 5 groups of learning sources :

  1. Me & the world : we learn by observing what is going on around us. As a toddler this was the most important source of learning. We look at mum & dad, big brother or sister and we try to copy them. As we grow older, we also interact with other people in the world. We contact certain people more easily if we want to know something about a certain topic. 
  2. Seminars : at the age of 5 we go to school and learn what teachers tell us (and try to repeat it, to get good grades). Later on in life we keep on doing this, although we don't need the grades anymore. 
  3. Books and magazines : not everybody, but many people read books and magazines. Depending on the source the quality of the book or magazine might vary. Reading is definitely a good way to learn. I can only recommend it.
  4. e-World : ever since the invention of the internet, a load of information is coming at us. This gigantic maze of information can serve as a good source, but it is a maze. You have to find your way through it. 
  5. Social media : I draw a line between e-world and social media. To me e-Worlds are more static sources like Wikipedia, websites, ... Social media are dynamic sources like blogs, twitter, linked in, ... 
My advise to you :
To be more aware of your learning sources, you can draw your personal learning map. Discover who you contact when you need information on a certain topic, what are the sources you'll search through, who are the twitter-guru's you follow, ... ? Doing this exercise, will help you become more aware of how you learn, which creates more focus and better results. 

Take a piece of paper and write down :

Who you gonna call ? to get information ? 
What were the best seminars ever ? 
Who are the authors / magazines I learn from ?
What are my e-sources ? (websites, ...)
What social media sources do I use (twitter sources, people on linked in, ...)

Have fun !