Lessons in leadership: “How to build a winning-team” | by:Ilya Bogorad | TechRepublic

Visit the nearest bookstore and you will find uncountable volumes on team building, hiring, and personnel management. Browse the Internet and you will discover scores of articles, blog entries, and other content devoted to the topic. There is a good reason for this amount of attention to the topic. A leader cannot act alone and is only as good as his team. When we talk about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Jack Welch, we mustn’t forget that there are people behind them, a team that supports and enables them.

So, given the abundance of writing on the subject out there, why this article?

The answer is simple: on an average, organizations suck at it — all the books and articles and other knowledge notwithstanding. As a consultant, I see a lot of environments, and the sheer number of teams that have a potential to be absolute stars, but are mediocre at present, is astounding. I would like to inspire the reader and provide some ideas for changing things for the better. I cannot be in every organization all the time to fix the problem, so this is simple way of leveraging the reading audience for maximum result.

What exactly is a winning team ? 

I believe that every leader should strive to build a team that possesses the following three qualities of greatness :

Effectively achieving set objectives – 

This is the most basic requirement — getting the job done. The necessary conditions for this are cohesiveness, competence, and accountability of the team.

  • Cohesiveness is essential for excellent team performance. Let’s say we want to put together a team of 10. What we want to see is that the team results will be much more than simply a sum of individual effort. Cohesive teams achieve that through sharing and building on each other’s strengths. Disjointed teams actually do worse than that because of the costs of coordination (meetings… you can tell how bad things are just by the amount of meetings an organization holds daily).
  • Competence is an obvious point, but it is often confused with narrowly defined criteria for the immediate job at hand, applied to all team members equally.
  • The sense of Accountability motivates and sets an important framework (ethical, financial, strategic, tactical etc), within which the team makes everyday decisions. It is unmatched in power which it exerts on our performance and no coercion, no prospect of profit (material or not) come close in effectiveness.

A leader would be remiss if she relied on these conditions to occur automatically, yet how often do we see exactly that, management lamenting about their staff’s shortcomings without any attempts to rectify them ? Too often…

Innovative – Superb teams develop and prosper through innovation. This is especially important in the era of globalization when the competition is fierce and the pressure to minimize costs is often overwhelming. Why can’t this team’s work be done as well, but cheaper, elsewhere? This question never comes up if your team’s innovative spirit is seen as a great asset, a jewel within the organization.

Enjoyable – We spend perhaps half of our waking hours with our colleagues. If this is unpleasant, so is a half of our life. To me personally, this isn’t an option. As a leader, I also understand that only those teams that are enjoyable to be a part of, are sustainable in the long run.

What to aim for (and why this is not happening) : 

Does my take on winning teams sound reasonable? Many more points can be discussed and added, of course, but the important question I would like to answer at this point is this: what qualities should one look for in people to create a winning team as described above ?

Here are Seven key qualities I look for. I can easily develop everything else, such as technical skills, communication, and domain knowledge. I have little control over these innate virtues.

1. Intelligence: Nothing beats raw intelligence, the ability to think clearly, to frame one’s thoughts, to use appropriate examples, to abstract. Intelligent people create intelligent solutions. Intelligent people are interesting to work with.

The problem with traditional hiring today is that people are pre-selected for interviews based on some arbitrary measure of  experience in the industry (why five years and not three or seven?) or the stated knowledge of a tool or technology (is your resume not full of buzzwords?). But how often do you see the requirement of intelligence?

2. Integrity: As leaders, we put our utmost trust in people. As the experience of many political leaders suggests (President Obama’s effort in putting the Cabinet together is the most recent), integrity is not to be taken for granted and its lack in a subordinate can be very damaging indeed.

3. Enthusiasm: Another powerful internal motivator, it cannot be taught. It is, however, said to be contagious. The upbeat take on life, events, and adversity is essential in today’s environment.

4. Curiosity: The drive to learn, challenge, question, and try to understand is incredibly important if the team’s performance, growth, and the ability to innovate is of any significance at all. I don’t know how to develop it in someone lacking it. Do you?

5. Diversity: One of the fallacies of hiring is approaching it as if people were screws — state the length, the diameter, the head shape, and the type of the thread, and expect them all to be the same for the immediate project at hand.

This approach is demeaning for the candidate and limiting (possibly, damaging) for the organization. Recently, an IT executive lamented on his efforts to find a job after being laid off. It seems, he said, that 20 years of diverse experience, solid leadership, and great results are not as important as whether he managed a particular system. This is the reality.

I look for people with complementary skills and experiences, which not only make the team so much more powerful in terms of the breadth of collective knowledge, it also encourages teamwork and learning (we all need each other), and creates a team that delivers much more than a multiple of the individual effort.

6. Teamwork. There is a small proportion of the population unable to work in a group. They may be great at what they do, highly intelligent, and have solid values, but it’s a team we are building, right ?

7. Sociability: What kind of people do you like to work with? Friendly, helpful, with a sense of humour? So do I.


“ Fabulous”,  you may say………“ now, how do I go about hiring these fine people ? ” ….

Health-Club Operators Beware “Refurb’s 7 Deadly Assumptions” | by: Rory McGown | GYMetrix

GYMetrix has now proved, with hard data,” 7 – Assumptions” many operators use when refurbishing gyms are False ! – ‘Not Fit For Purpose’. 

LA Fitness Weight Machines

1) Equipment Suppliers know what equipment, and in what quantities customers want. They don’t-customers do ! 

When Tesco restocks its shelves it uses information on what customers are buying, restocking more of the popular products so there aren’t shortages, and less of the unpopular products so there isn’t waste. Tesco doesn’t ask their suppliers what they should stock and in what quantities – Why do operators in the fitness industry ?

(Matrix & Life Fitness, are now partnering with GYMetrix to ensure their clients accurately match their equipment capacity with their customers demand.) 

2) There is a ‘one size fits all’ Ideal equipment ratio model. There isn’t one ! 

Each gym has a unique demand pattern. It is produced by the interaction of all of the different influences on Customers, Instructors, Available Equipment, and the layout of the gym floor – the gyms Ecosystem. These influences are different in each gym, producing a unique equipment demand pattern for each gym.

3) The demographics of the population surrounding a gym accurately determine the equipment requirement. They Don’t ! 

GYMetrix has now completed many studies for operators with gyms close to each other and the surrounding demographics being virtually identical. We have found no link between demographics surrounding a gym and its equipment requirements.

4) Refurbishing gyms according to the “Male:Female” membership base. Gym-Floors have more males than females in peak. 

Many women join a gym mainly to use classes; this means that for most gyms, in peak, the gym floor is majority male, unlike the membership base. It has resulted in many men being frustrated by shortages of the equipment they want to use with, across the industry, lower customer satisfaction scores than women.

5) Experienced operators or Instructors “Gut Feel” for equipment requirements is accurate. It isn’t customer equipment usage data is ! 

Sure operators and instructors can observe certain areas are busy and others quiet but their ability to quantify the equipment requirements for these areas, without hard data, have proved to be inaccurate and costly. The lack of objective equipment MEASUREMENT and REVIEW has led to a false confidence in this regard.

6) Experienced operators and Instructors know what equipment is best for customers. 

This may be true, but there is a big difference between what customers ‘should’ want and what they ‘actually’ want. Accurate MEASUREMENT and REVIEW is necessary to identify where instructor intervention is necessary to align the two.

7) Because functional training is the next big trend if operators create space and buy the equipment it will get used. No it won’t ! 

A lot of systematic education is required to create customer demand for functional kit.

“Evaluating Retail Operations”- timely vigil | Retail Ops | Indian Retailer

Along with the product purchased, a customer takes with him the memory of customer service given at that particular store and keeps it on top of his mind recall along with the purchased product’s worth. And since, he is the king; he needs to be treated in a special manner.  So, in keeping with the image of the product he is buying, retail store operations need to be quick, updated and proper in matching. Hence, evaluation of store operations from time to time becomes vital to ensure not only the above but also to improve revenue, profitability, customer loyalty and individual productivity. Below are some areas of concern for a watertight functioning of a store.

Safety :

Creating and maintaining a safe environment for workers and consumers is a primary concern of a retail store operation. Following proper procedures, awareness of hazards and maintenance are some of the key ingredients for achieving this. To take care of personal injury, medical equipment needs to be kept along with safety equipments in case there is a mishap like fire, burglary etc. Also, it is important to adhere to state government guidelines that outline certain requirements, such as material safety data sheets, proper storage of chemicals and related regulations for workplace safety. These safety cover by the employers will instill a confidence in associates as they will work fearlessly and in case there is a catastrophe in the shop during sale time.

Office Business Applications :
Changing market conditions require agility in business applications. Service orientation answers the dispute by centering on XML and Web services standards that transfigure how developers create systems and integrate them over distributed networks.

The technology which is useful in giving stock of  item not found, item recall, item-out-of-stock, promotional item sales data transfer and supply chain etc will ensure a proper flow of value supply chain.

Managing attrition :
Attrition is another area of concern so check that there is less attrition by ensuring facilities to employees and better pay check. Also, since training entails lot of expenditure, it is better to employ for a longer period. An agreement would work fine and so will employee plans and schemes, employee insurance, leaves and a congenial environment.

Promotion works :
Retails today do lot of promotion works for increasing footfalls and give the feeling of belonging to the customers. The retailer’s office must know the trends of promotions. Alongside, it is also imperative that one knows how the particular promotions have fared by taking feedback and assessing the sale during that time. Diwali, Holi, Christmas and other festivals are right time to have these events.

Signages and promotional materials :
It is also important that signages and promotional methods are updated from time to time in keeping with the evolving trend.

Discounts and Sales :
Also check the upshot of sales and applied discounts to know their efficiencies.

Store operations management :
This also includes other things like ensuring that the shop fitting and designs are in keeping with the modern trend and updated as per the drifts.

Customer is the King :
Customer feedback is very important to determine the level of customer service, analyse the business and recognize the area of opportunity for an overall analysis of the performance.

Here is a quick check list of Evaluation of Customer Services :

  • If the shoppers were not properly informed of or did not clearly understand what to look for
  • If the shoppers lacked retail management experience and he was assisted and shown the correct departments, bill counter, and he appreciated the VM which was proper and not over flooded.
  • If the shoppers were just that…a shopper, not persons who were necessarily capable of providing meaningful feedback on the execution of your particular service standards and who is not completely aware of the impact their comments may have.
  • If the shoppers were not able to offer tangible advice on how the experience could have been bettered or improved.
  • If the shoppers were being paid for the report or feedback. Mind you, a shopper is not accountable and responsible to give accurate report. 
  • If Mystery Shopping was applied.
  • If the shoppers have approached the associates and engaged them in meaningful talks. Maybe he did not greet or approach, whether he knows how to sell, whether he is pleasant or helpful.
  • If customer reported of soiled parking area, dirty door, fitting rooms, sitting area, register area etc. The shop is smelling good and the music and lightning is proper and not over bearing.
  • If the shopper was disgruntled and his problem was solved peacefully and he did not return dissatisfied.
  • Whether the shoppers became loyal customers and repeat loyal customers etc. 

For maintaining the above order, inculcate a habit of regular data from the manager. 

Your shop reflects your image to the world. Make sure you don’t give any reason of complain to the customer. Ensure flawless retail store operations through regular evaluation for a good flow of bucks, a big customer base and a thorough goodwill in the market.