These Four Things Lead to Team Success

Publication: Harvard Business Review, 2016
Article: The Secrets of Great Teamwork
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

Great basketball players know that no matter how good a shot they are, they need to pass the ball sometimes to achieve team success. They are not always going to have a clear look at the basket, and at times they may be fully surrounded by members of the opposing team. Rather than risk a failed shot, they would be wise to pass the ball to teammates who can bring home victory.

Work-teams—much like sports teams—are a collection of distinct individuals with a common goal: success. Whether that work-team is a cluster of students working on a class assignment, or a group of c-suite executives supporting their CEO, teammates must be able to trust each other and must be committed to the betterment of the group.

The authors (Haas & Mortensen, 2016) describe today’s work-teams as “4-D” – diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic. Based on their research and experience they offer four enabling conditions that encourage team effectiveness, and will set up your team for success.


Compelling Direction

At the core of every team and collection of people is their shared goal. This is the team’s collective mission and purpose, or the end result its members are trying to achieve. Goals need to be challenging (but attainable) outcomes that team-members care about. They should be objectives that team members can feel energized and motivated to work towards.

Strong Structure

Every good team functions under a set of rules, whether explicitly outlined or implied. For example, a team may create screening criteria, or set a cap on the number of new joiners it will allow at a given time. Team members may be expected to complete assigned tasks, and to treat other teammates respectfully.

Supportive Context

You can’t do your best work if you don’t have access to the information you need, or when you’re working with ineffective tools and technologies. Positive reinforcement and effective training can go a long way to support high performance and inspire dedication.

Shared Mindset

Fostering community and a shared understanding is key. Team members must feel like they are each valued contributors working toward a common goal. A shared mindset encourages members to move past their differences and frustrations, and to see the big picture and end goal.


Team effectiveness can be evaluated in many ways, but the authors suggest rating your team on the following three criteria: output, collaborative ability, and individual development. Are your team’s clients, customers, or stakeholders happy with your output? How well does your team work together? To what extent are team members learning and growing?

Winning teams make full use of the unique talents of each of their members to achieve synergistic ends. You don’t need a referee to make this call. Team for success and set your team up for a slam dunk!

Haas, M. & Mortensen, M. (2016). The Secrets of Great Work Teams. Harvard Business Review, 94(6), 71-76.

Workplace Privacy is a Growing Need

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Balancing “We” and “Me”
Reviewed by: Jonathan Wong

Workplace privacy is not something we think of often, but a new review by Congdon, Flynn, and Redman (2014) has highlighted this interesting and important topic. First, the review points to a growing percentage of US workers who are concerned about workplace privacy, say they can’t concentrate at their workstations, and don’t have access to quiet places where they can focus on getting work done. Why is this happening?

One of the reasons they suggest for this rise in the concern for privacy is social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. Large amounts of personal information are available on social media sites, which may make people feel vulnerable. Combine this with a workplace where there is no privacy, and employees may feel as if they are being watched the whole time. This may be causing people to crave more alone time.


Back to the Drawing Board: Surviving Career Setbacks

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Rebounding from Career Setbacks
Reviewed by: Ashton Reid

Career setbacks can be pretty brutal. When everything seems to be going right, sometimes we are faced with unexpected challenges that change the course of our careers and our lives. So what do you do if you’re laid off, didn’t get promoted, or didn’t make the cut? A new article by Marks, Mirvis, and Ashkenas (2014) has highlighted three scientifically supported steps that you can take:


Taking Feedback to Heart: How To Find the Coaching In Criticism

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Find the Coaching in Criticism
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

We all know that constructive feedback is necessary for personal growth and development. Simply put, you can’t improve your performance if you don’t know what you need to work on.

But, with that being said, at times feedback can be a little difficult to swallow. After all, no one likes hearing that they’re doing something wrong, or having their weaknesses pointed out.

So how can you become a stronger person, and learn to take feedback without becoming defensive or getting your feelings hurt? The following six steps suggested by authors Sheila Heen & Douglas Stone (2014) will teach you how to “find the coaching in criticism.”


Managing Your Emotions: Four Simple Steps to Success

Publication: Harvard Business Review (Nov 2013)
Article: Emotional Agility
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

Fact: All people think negative thoughts from time to time.

We may feel sad or gloomy, or find ourselves in a funk that’s hard to shake. We’re human; it happens. Attempting to suppress such feelings (or even worse, buying into them) can leave a person feeling drained.

Strong leaders know that it’s okay to think undesirable thoughts on occasion. But being a strong person means keeping things in perspective and not letting these thoughts take over. Managing your emotions is a key skill that can benefit everyone, both personally and professionally.


What Does an Executive Coach Do? 7 Things You Should Know

Publication: Harvard Business Review (2009)
Article: What Can Coaches Do for You?
Reviewed by: Scott Charles Sitrin

There is a lot of buzz around the term “Executive Coach” so what does an executive coach do and what do you need to know before you hire one? Courtesy of a Coutu and Kauffman’s survey of 140 seasoned coaches, here are some FAQs that may help:


3 Tips for Effective Decision Making from the Expert

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: You Can’t Be a Wimp: Make the Tough Calls
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

In his recent interview in the Harvard Business Review, Ram Charan, noted author, renowned scholar, and trusted advisor to the corporate elite, shares his tips for effective decision making in the twenty-first century. As someone who has counseled senior executives and board members alike, he admits that “getting to the right answer is tougher these days.” Technological advancements and the rapid pace of change within organizations, as well as in the greater marketplace, have made strategic planning a more important but more challenging endeavor than ever before.


How to Increase Your Productivity: Setting Priorities

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Make Time for the Work That Matters
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

How many of us frequently find ourselves with a never-ending to-do list, wishing there were more hours in a day? We want to achieve our goals and increase productivity, but there’s just no way to get it all done. Well, the trick to boosting your productivity is not necessarily having more time to accomplish your tasks, but instead simply making the most of what time you do have by setting priorities.


Genuine Leadership: How sincerity is the key to successful organizational leadership

Publication: Harvard Business Review (Oct 2013)
Article: Be Yourself, but Carefully
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

By now surely everyone knows that the key to successful organizational leadership is sincerity. Genuine Leadership — that is, leadership by individuals who make an effort to be open and honest in their dealings — has become the gold standard for successful team building and a basic expectation for professional advancement. No one wants to work for someone who is cold or aloof. Master networkers and business leaders earn their titles by being authentic and real. However, there’s a fine line between being genuine, on the one hand, and over-sharing or talking about yourself in a self-deprecating manner, on the other. If you ever hope to be seen as a credible source, you want people to be able to trust in you and take you seriously. That means you must be able to walk a tightrope between the two extremes. Not an easy task. Fortunately, the authors, Rosh and Offerman (2013), have explored this issue and bring us new information regarding leadership psychology that provides some helpful tips and advice on how to balance along that line.


HR 101: Human Resource Management isn’t as simple as it looks

Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: HR for Neophytes
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

When people think of Human Resources, they usually think of those pesky reminders that flood their inbox nagging them to fill out paperwork, or perhaps they think of performance appraisals. In my experience, it’s usually one or the other. Many employees see HR as ‘the fuzzy side’ of the business. To most of us, it’s the department that deals with people-related issues no one else wants to get involved in and that everyone else pretends are not there. Of late HR has a gotten a pretty bad rep, but as line managers increasingly begin to take on traditional human resource management and development tasks, they’ll find that there’s more to human resource management than meets the eye.