“Tack Attacks” In Your Workplace

On this morning’s walk with Shady, the Wonder Dog, we two enjoyed watching riders on the Deer Creek Challenge 106-mile bicycle ride. The route took cyclists right past our mountain abode and through our rustic wooded neighborhood. Riders cruised downhill at nearly 45MPH top speeds, negotiating sharp mountain curves as they go.

What made the experience a bit unnerving for us (and likely for the riders) was a recent story in the Denver Post about bike race sabotage. On the morning of the Breckenridge Epic bike race, unknown folks switched signs and route markers to intentionally set riders off course. In addition, Colorado authorities warned cyclists that tacks, box cutters, and broken glass have been found on roads that are hosting rides this coming week, including the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Similar “tack attacks” aimed at stopping bicycle races – or intentionally harming riders – occur too often; one happened in Maryland, USA last year and another in Scotland in 2009. Tensions between bicyclists and motorists – angry at road closures and congestion – are seen as the primary cause of these attacks.

I view the world through a consultant’s eyes; I look at effects (the current reality) and attempt to understand their root cause (the beliefs or mindset that created the effects). I don’t think I can solve the the bicycle race “tack attacks” issue in this post, so let’s look at “tack attacks” in your workplace.

“Tack Attacks” in Your Workplace

Skilled teams that work cooperatively – even under pressure – are teams that exceed standards, that creatively solve problems, and that enjoy working together to reach higher performance.

When team members behavior inhibit the ability of others to meet deadlines, to meet quality standards, to “WOW” customers, then you’ve got “tack attacks” going on. If a team member misses a commitment that causes the team to miss commitments, they all look bad and the “buzz” about the team gets negative (or more negative).

What is the root cause of workplace “tack attacks”? What tensions exist between team members? Causes are as wide-ranging as the number of wildflowers in a Colorado springtime mountain meadow. If a team doesn’t learn how to manage diverse skills, needs, personalities, and opinions, it will never reach it’s performance potential.

Strong leadership can help team members cooperate, create, and contribute. Leaders must map out the rules and the route for the team, including:

  • Vision – where we’re going as a team; what our future will look like when we work together
  • Values – what principles we hold dear; what norms we will adhere to, ensuring cooperative interaction
  • Strategies – what opportunities exist in our marketplace with our customers and how we’ll leverage those opportunities
  • Goals – what specific metrics and targets we set to enable us to make our vision a reality while living our values

Recent talent research highlights the need for strong leadership. Aon Hewitt’s 2011 Talent Survey was released in May 2011. Highlights include:

  • 56% of respondents believe that leaders play a vital role in meeting business goals; only 12% rated their leaders as extremely effective.
  • 56% agree that a leader’s involvement is essential in meeting profitability targets; only 14% believe their leaders are extremely effective in doing so.
  • 56% felt their leader’s involvement was necessary in delivering service, but only 17% felt they were extremely effective.
  • 44% agreed that their leaders play a vital role in retaining talent, but only 7% believe they are extremely effective at it.

What are you doing TODAY to increase your team members’ demonstrated cooperative interaction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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