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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
For the alignment diagnostic tool, how quickly do you utilize it? In the same meeting and address results or roll over results and discussion into the next meeting?

ANSWER:

The diagnosis and the plan to address any misalignment would happen in one meeting, and then the follow up would happen by the next meeting. It’s a good idea to have the discussion of how to address misalignment right away, although you can invite team members to volunteer additional ideas after the initial discussion. Team improvement is also continuous!

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do you deal with a director who is condescending to the team?

ANSWER:

I’m not entirely sure of the impact of the director’s condescension, but you might try using a RACI Matrix to clarify who is responsible/accountable for the various actions. If you can involve this director that might help make it clear where he/she is needed and where his/her help is not needed.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do you handle a team member that continually wants to postpone follow-up meetings (asking to push to next month, etc.)? Is it better to postpone to retain the member or exclude to keep the project on-time?

ANSWER:

I guess it would depend on what that team member was responsible for. If you could get the work done without the team member I would work toward making forward progress. You could use the RACI matrix to clarify whether that person needs to be “consulted” prior to a given decision or action step. If their presence is vital to completing team deliverables you might be in a position to postpone meetings. But if the team can make progress in the meantime they should be sticking to the agreed upon time line.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
What category does poor meeting attendance fall into?

ANSWER:

It sounds as if people are not fulfilling their roles. My assumption is that part of being a team member is showing up for meetings. Do you have the option of replacing them on the team? If they’re not showing up for meetings, my guess is that they’re not doing any project work. If you can replace them I’d start there. If you are getting work done without them, you could ask if they want to be “Stakeholders” instead of team members. You may also ask them individually what’s keeping them from attending the meetings. You may institute team “calls” or change the time/venue if it’s not working for people. At a certain point, if they’re not showing up, they’re not really part of the team.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
What could be the best way to evaluate the success?

ANSWER:

Success is determined by whether or not the team hit their stated goal (i.e. “Reduce overtime from an average of 40 hours to an average of 10 hours per month by the end of the quarter”) within the agreed upon time period.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do you deal with strong personalities in a meeting who have disagreement on processes?

ANSWER:

That’s a case of decision making which is another procedure. If it’s not a big decision, you could vote. If it’s a critical decision you need to consider using consensus decision making (everyone needs to be able to “live with” the decision). Multi-voting or N/3 is another great tool to help a team resolve their disagreements. When there is disagreement it might help to use a Weighted Criteria Matrix to have a structured discussion around the different options.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do we handle someone who has a problem with authority?

ANSWER:

The noted father of Quality, Dr. Edwards Deming, famously said that 95% of problems result from the system but that still leaves 5% resulting from people. There are some people who don’t deal well with authority. This brings up a few questions. Why are they having trouble with authority? Also, what about leadership? Is management playing their role and holding them accountable? This might go further up the chain of the Alignment Model.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
The procedures seem burdensome for small groups. Can you comment on flexibility in those depending on group size?

ANSWER:

Plus/Deltas are truly quick and easy for a small group to stay on track. An Action Plan is also simple but truly necessary for any size group. That could be on the wall, in someone’s notebook or on a laptop. A lot of the tools are low maintenance. You only need the more sophisticated ones when you’re having trouble with team dynamics.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do I properly escalate problems of staff not meeting deadlines when upper management will not discipline those people?

ANSWER:

Much depends on leadership, but have you used some key tools already? Have you created an Action Item List with due dates? Have you published it? Peer pressure is a great motivator. But if it’s truly a leadership issue, it often helps to make it clear to management what the repercussions are of these people doing the work. Does that mean escalating costs? Does it mean increased customer dissatisfaction? What about the project goal? What if the team misses it? Maybe the Champion doesn’t entirely understand their role. You could send them a the roles infographic or the article about the Role of the Champion or you could ask them to spend an hour on White Belt Training. Even better, ask them to take the Yellow Belt Training to get a better sense of the improvement process as a whole.

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Elisabeth Swan
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QUESTION:
How do you handle a team that is not motivated and unwilling to work with the team lead?

ANSWER:

This could be once again, the “Deming 5%” of true people issues, but it may come back to procedures as well. I’d put some energy into finding out what, in particular, they don’t like about working for that particular team lead. It may come back to lack of input or lack of clarity on what they’re doing. That could mean the team lead needs to use an Action Item List, or clarify the Goal. They could use a Plus/Deltas to brainstorm what’s great about the team and what needs to change. Before you give up, see if the tools can help the team leader.

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