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Building Effective Teams in Real Time

Now as never before, managers are finding themselves having to create effective cross-functional teams on the fly. New projects emerge that require a diversity of expertise not found within a single department; mergers and strategic partnerships thrust together new groups of people for the first time. Whatever the foundation for their existence, each of these one-off teams shares a common trait: it must begin producing results right away.

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Training Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

In June 2006, fifteen mid-career executive directors completed a yearlong professional development program in Marin County, California, aimed at supporting, strengthening and renewing them in their roles as leaders. Unlike other leadership programs, our aim was not at maintaining leaders in their current positions but rather to teach leaders ways to sustain themselves personally and professionally—building on their passion and commitment to service and leadership. Participant evaluations were overwhelmingly positive and provide valuable insights and recommendations for professionals charged with the creation of future leadership development programs.

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Re-linking Life and Work: Toward a Better Future

A Report to the Ford Foundation based on collaborative research with Xerox Corporation, Tandem Computers, Inc. and Corning, Inc., November 1996. Findings revealed that it is possible to pursue a dual agenda in the workplace—one that considers both the employer’s and the employee’s needs—which not only eases employees’ lives but also leads to enhanced productivity and other tangible business benefits.

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“Ways We Prefer to Work Together”

Examples of Meeting Guidelines Aimed at Boosting Productivity

This list of sample “meeting guidelines” comes from a variety of management teams and departments and represents ways they wish to maximize their meeting productivity. Guidelines can be created at any time and are best “fine tuned” once or twice a year. When the whole team creates and agrees to guidelines, ownership of the meeting and responsibility for outcomes no longer falls to the convener but is shared.

  • It is important to us to start and end meetings on time.
  • The agenda should be posted at least 24 hours before the meeting. Each item should have a recommended allotment of time.
  • It is necessary to identify a “point person” and outcomes for every assignment and project we agree to work on.
  • We honor commitments. If one of us takes on a task, we will do it or tell others why we are not able to do it.
  • During meetings, it is important to listen without interrupting.
  • We want to encourage everyone to have his or her say. And, it is okay to pass, to be silent.
  • During meetings longer than two hours, it is helpful to have food available or to take a 20-minute break.
  • It is very useful to take two minutes at the end of every third meeting to assess “what worked well” and “what needs changing” to keep our productivity up.
  • We want to laugh as much as possible.

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