Work Team Development

Successful supervisors influence team members to do things because they “want to,” ‘like to’ and are ‘capable to.’ They help each feel useful and contributing.

In order to develop an effective work team, those in leadership must understand the role of individual private logic (also called paradigm) for how each person sees the world and their role in it. Additionally, leaders must consider how best to influence each team member so they are effective in gaining their willing participation.

Sales and management expert Bill Prenatt shares the wisdom of Steven Covey plus his own experiences and observations on recognizing, respecting and relating well to direct reports who require guidance to fully engage and contribute in your working team in a responsible, productive manner. The following are important to consider when influencing your team members so they mesh well and support the success of all.

Perceptions and Paradigms
We all experience the world in different ways. People are not motivated by facts, but by assumptions – what they believe the facts to be. Our assumptions arise from our experience, our paradigms.

Every normal person craves direction, and a sense of dignity and purpose. Our basic drive is to protect what we perceive to be in our own best interest. We do what someone asks because we will realize personal gain.

Successful supervisors influence people to do things because they want to. The interaction provides a perspective that re-defines the environment into one where people ‘like to do’ and are ‘capable of to do,’ with supervisors helping each person feel useful and contributing.

Supervisors have an opportunity and an obligation to ‘identify and influence people who need their guidance. The role of the supervisor is to clearly define critical issues, plan out how to overcome problems, resolve frustrations, and eliminate or reduce waste, leaving people free to enrich their lives and achieve their goals.

Paradigms and Patterns
Supervision has its roots in the understanding that people, as the principal asset, are the catalyst that make things move. Supervisors create and provide the conditions in which each individual member and the team collectively, can be successful. They call forth each person’s potential by demonstrating faith they can excel when managed properly. In contrast, an authority merely provides a supervisor with the right to expect certain standards of performance.

By the time a person gets to be a supervisor, he/she has spent a lifetime developing specific patterns of thinking and behaving. Each of us likes our ideas of how things should be done and changing our minds can be a problem. We develop a comfort zone. Behavior patterns are buried deep and do not change quickly. These patterns become so fixed they legitimately can be called a second nature. Then behavior plays out naturally without conscious thought because it has been reinforced over a lifetime.

Organizations and companies become fixed in this way too. They have developed a culture that works on its members silently. Then this too becomes second nature to all within its walls. All the traditions, preceding practices, norms, standards, habits, rituals, attitudes and expectations that have evolved over many years, have been woven into how everyone thinks, feels, speaks and acts.

These two factors; the supervisor’s personal patterns and the organization’s culture have a powerful effect on change.

Patterns and Persuasion
Our paradigm is the way we see the world – perceiving, understanding, and interpreting it; in a sense our paradigm is our map.

Each of us has many maps in our head. Maps of the way things are (realities) and maps of the way we should be (values). We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; and we’re usually unaware we have them. We assume the way we see things is the way they really are, and the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of those assumptions. The way we see things is the source for the way we think and then act.

Conditioning has a powerful effect on our perceptions. We have a lifetime of conditioning – family, school, church, work culture, friends, associates, and current social paradigms. All have made their silent unconscious impact on us and help shape our frame of reference, our paradigms; our maps.

These paradigms are the source of our attitudes and behaviors. As clearly and objectively as we think we see things, we come to realize that others see them differently, and from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view.

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are; that we are objective. This is not the case. We see the world not as it is, but as we are — or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, and our perceptions. This is the power of our paradigm. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. In reality, each of us sees things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.

Trying to change outward attitudes and behaviors does little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which our attitudes and behaviors flow.

The more aware we are of basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experiences, the more we can take responsibility for our paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others, and be open to their perceptions too, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.

Persuasion and Paradigm Shifts
Paradigm shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another. Whether paradigm shifts are in a positive or a negative direction, whether they are instantaneous or incremental, they create powerful change. Our paradigms, correct or incorrect, source our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately our relationships with others. If we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms. Until we change our basic paradigms, we are unable to create quantum change in our situation or ourselves.

Many people experience a fundamental shift in thinking when they have a life-threatening crisis and suddenly see their priorities in a different light, or when they suddenly step into a new role, such as that of husband or wife, parent or grandparent, or into the new role as a supervisor. Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world. The power of a paradigm shift is the essential driver of quantum change, whether the shift is instantaneous or a slow deliberate process.

In all of life, there are sequential stages of growth and development. A child learns to turn over, to sit up, to crawl, and then to walk and run. Each step is important and each one takes time. No step can be skipped.

Paradigm Shifts and Principles
This is true in all phases of life. To understand and accept these principles can be difficult. Consequently, we sometimes look for a shortcut, expecting to be able to skip vital developmental steps in order to save time and effort while still reaping the desired result. It is simply impossible to violate, ignore, or shortcut the development process. It is contrary to nature, and attempting to seek such a shortcut only results in disappointment and frustration.

To relate effectively, we must learn to listen. This requires emotional strength. Listening involves patience, openness, and the desire to understand – highly developed qualities of character. It’s so much easier to operate from a low emotional level while giving high-level advice.

Our levels of development physically are fairly obvious, but not so concerning character and emotional/social development. We can ‘pose and put on’ socially for a stranger or an associate. We can pretend. And for a while we may get by with it – at least in public. We may even deceive ourselves. Deep down inside, most of us know the truth of who we really are and many others can discern this too.

Principles and Positive Change
In today’s complex and demanding business environment, we need to solve chronic underlying problems and focus on principles that bring long-term results. Utilizing Coaching as a valuable tool is one step closer toward being an effective supervisor.

Taken from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.



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