Posts

3 thought-provoking business books from 2016 that you may have missed

As 2016 comes to an end (it’s gone so fast, hasn’t it?) we’d like to share 3 thought-provoking management books we’ve enjoyed and been challenged by.  From everyone at Target Training we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and a great “slide into the New year” as they say here in Germany.

 

 

FREE DOWNLOAD

Need a little help getting the right message across at Christmas?

 

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

Do you ever feel that you can’t get any work done because of the countless emails, calls, updates and web-meetings? Do you feel that you spend all day “communicating” without getting things done properly? Then this hugely topical book is for you.

In Deep Work Cal Newport argues that one of the key skills for productivity and success in such a “connected age” is the ability to focus  on demanding tasks. He then brings this to life with science, stories, anecdotes and examples. Finally he then shares 4 “rules” for building habits and transforming your approach-

  1. Work deeply
  2. Embrace boredom
  3. Quit social media (see below)
  4. Drain the shallows

Check out the author’s excellent and generous blog to get a quick overview of the ideas.  Then put your smart phone in a drawer, turn off the TV, pour yourself a glass of wine and make the time to read it.

 

 

Managing in the Gray: Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work

Joseph L. Bardacco

In contrast to the previous “21st century” recommendation, the core themes of this book are timeless and universally applicable regardless of your situation. Every manager needs to accept and work with ambiguity.  Do you support your manager when you know the decision is terrible – and your team know it too?  Do you promote a driven and successful team leader who has regularly rubs people up the wrong way?

This book offers five deceptively simple questions to help you navigate through “gray areas”.

The questions are …

  • What are the net, net consequences?
  • What are my core obligations?
  • What will work in the world as it is?
  • Who are we?
  • What can I live with?

These 5 questions provide an ethical compass. To quote the author “When you face a gray area problem at work, you should work through it as a manager and resolve it as a human being.”

Certainly worth your time, and it also provides an excellent framework for teams, talent programs and management training programs.

How To Have A Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioural Science to Transform Your Working Life

Caroline Webb

And finally, our third suggestion is perfect for December. As the year comes to an end. many of us will be reflecting on what we’ve achieved (or not), how we’ve achieved it, and what we should be doing more or less of.  In How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb shares findings from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience and then shows how you can build on big “scientific” ideas to transform the quality of your everyday life.  The book is divided into seven areas

  • Priorities
  • Productivity
  • Relationships
  • Thinking
  • Influence
  • Resilience
  • Energy

And concludes with a transfer-oriented “Making it stick”.

Speaking openly, it can be a heavy read. There’s a lot of research and findings shared, BUT there’s a clear focus on your working life too.  Don’t let the “self-help” moniker put you off reading this – the stories and examples avoid slipping into fantasy or “business book bullshit”.

The author’s excellent blog is also well worth your time.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Finally, I know we’ve shared our 3, but its Christmas so check out “HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review”.  The summary of “Collaborative Overload” by Cross, Rebele and Grant connects back with Cal Newport’s Deep Work and is hugely relevant to anyone working in virtual teams. Plus check out the  excellent summary of Erin Meyer’s “Getting to Si, Ja, oui, Hai and Da” if you need to negotiate across cultures.

 

,

Book review: How to win friends and influence people

I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!”  The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world.  Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.

Some interesting points from the book

There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)

Talk in terms of other people’s interests

People love to talk about themselves.  Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you.  Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.

Don’t criticize

It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake.  This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you.  Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do.  Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.

Say a person’s name

Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs.  By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.

Smile

I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable.  But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond.  You may be surprised.

Begin in a friendly way

Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve.  Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business.  It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations.  Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something.  Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.

Admit if you are wrong quickly

This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement.  If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done.  They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.

 

 

 

, ,

8 great books for busy managers you may have missed in 2015

puzzle target training

It seems as though 2016 has only just started, but it’s February already! We know you’re really busy, so we thought we’d help out by reviewing 8 of the best management books from 2015 for you. If any of the summaries grab you, why not read the whole book?

1001meetingsphraseslargeThis (Target) eBook

1001 Meetings phrases is a useful toolkit of phrases for the most typical meeting situations you find yourself in…

 

Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations (13 Aug 2015)

Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone

Did you know that actually the right team size is usually one fewer that most managers think they need? And that “chemistry” doesn’t equate to team success? Can you spot the right moment when one team needs to be dissolved to create another very different team? And are your teams really leveraging multicultural values as a strength?

Written for today’s managers, Team Genius reviews and explains the latest scientific research into how teams behave and perform and uses simple case studies and examples to bring it to life in a way that any manager can relate to.. It shows that much of the accepted wisdom about teams just doesn’t hold true – and then goes on to outline “new truths” and how to achieve them.

Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed (1 Sept 2015)

George Everly Jr, Douglas Strouse and Dennis McCormack

If you get turned off when you see the author is a “great business school professor”, “world-famous CEO” or “top management thinker” then this might be the book for you. Everly, Jr.is an expert in disaster mental health, and McCommack is a former Army psychologist and was one of the first original Navy Seals.

Drawing heavily on the psychology employed by US Navy Seals plus other examples from all walks of life, this book focuses on how we can each build our resilience and be “stronger” when everything seems to be falling apart. More importantly the book outlines how we need to practice building up our resilience (psychological body armor) before we actually need it. The five key factors the book explores are

  • Active optimism
  • Decisive action
  • Moral compass
  • Relentless tenacity
  • Interpersonal support

Each area is outlined in detail with case studies and research. A quick warning though – being written by 3 psychologists, it’s not an airport quick-read.

Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers (9 Oct 2015)

Elizabeth D. Samet (editor)

When you think about it, it’s amazing that this book hasn’t been complied sooner – management and leadership books aren’t a 20th century creation. General fiction, biographies, great literature etc have reflected core management and leadership questions for centuries.

This anthology draws our attention to 102 stunningly diverse extracts from fiction, speeches, anthropology, letters, songs, and even the odd occasional poem! The extracts from Machiavelli, Macbeth, Ghandi, Didion, Ovid, Melville, Mandela, Lao Tzu, Orwell plus many many more all invites us to step back and think about leadership. Excellent reading for just before you take the dog for a long walk.

Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today’s Young Talent (7 Oct 2015)

Bruce Tulgan 

“They just don′t know how to behave professionally.”, “They know how to text but they don′t know how to write a memo.”, “They don′t know how to think, learn, or communicate without checking a device.”

Today′s new young workforce (also known as Millenials or generation Z,) has so much to offer – new technical skills, new ideas, new perspectives, new energy. All great stuff- but Tulgan also argues that research shows that employers across industries feel that too many Milennials have weak soft skills. As a few of the many case studies outline “they only want to do what they want to do” and ”his technical knowledge far surpassed anyone else in the firm … but his communication made him seem so immature”.

Renowned expert on the Millennial workforce Bruce Tulgan offers concrete solutions to help managers and HRD professionals alike teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership. The book includes 92 step–by–step “lesson plans” designed for managers to use, and these include “take home” exercises, one-on-one discussion frameworks and training room activities.

In a nutshell, I can’t imagine a more complete or practical book than this.

Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts (21 Sept 2015)

Ernest Gundling and Christi Caldwell 

Leading a global organization is no longer just a big businesses challenge.  Even small company owners can be leading a virtual team that includes people from all over the world – and just yesterday we spoke with a HR manager with 60 employees in 11 countries and 23 cities.

This books aims to guide you through this new business environment. It features stories from people in critical roles around the world, advice based on practical experience, and shares new research which outlines the distinctive challenges of leading in a virtual and multicultural environment … and cultural awareness isn’t enough! Happily the book also includes strategies, tools and tips for working across cultures, leading virtual teams, running a matrix team, integrating an acquisition and developing the agility needed to innovate in such an environment. Personally I found it aimed more at larger mature organizations, but still worth a read … and we integrate many of the elements into our Working in Virtual teams training.

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead (2 April 2015)

Laszlo Bock

Despite receiving 1,5000,000 job applicants every year, Google spends twice as much on recruiting as comparable companies. Why? Because top performers are usually doing very well where they are and not looking to move. So Google works to identify these performers and cultivate their interest. But while Google spends considerably more on recruitment than most companies it also spends considerably less on training, believing top performers need less training.

Laszlo Bock, Head of People Operations, joined Google when it had just 6000 “googlers”, and in this book he shares the different recruiting and talent management practices Google use and have used. Although sometimes bordering on self-congratulation, the book is very much-action oriented with each chapter outlining a clear to do – Become a founder, Don’t trust your gut, Why everyone hates performance management and what we decided to do about it, Pay unfairly.

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be (19 May 2015)

Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Have you ever wondered why you become so irritated around a specific colleague? Or questioned why your communication skills fall apart when presenting to a certain team? Goldsmith is an executive coach, and in this book he examines the triggers that can derail us – and how we can become the person we want to be and stay on track.

Perhaps common sense, but our reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of triggers in our environment—whether this be specific person, situation or environment. .But how do we actually change ourselves? Knowing what to do doesn’t mean we actually do it, right? This book outlines how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives, and actually change to become the person we want to be, Drawing on executive coaching experience the authors use a simple “silver bullet” approach – daily self-monitoring, using active questions which focus on the our effort (and not the outcomes).

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader (20 Jan 2015)

Herminia Ibarra

Do you wish you actually had the time and the space to be the manager and leader you know how to be? Introducing the idea of “outsights”, Herminia Ibarra, -an expert on professional leadership and development at INSEAD — shows how managers and executives at all levels can make an impact by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves. She argues that managers and leaders need to act first then to think – and to use the “outsights” resulting from the experience as a basis for meaningful individual growth and enabling of people and organizations. Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG. summed it up nicely as “transforming by doing”

The book is full of engaging self-assessments and plenty of practical advice so you can actually build a plan of action. It can be a bit heavy going but stick with it.

,

Book Review: 5 great books to boost your virtual teams’ performance

Virtual teams target training

As we’ve heard from many of our participants in our virtual team seminars , the challenges of virtual teams are similar to the challenges of face-to-face teams but magnified. Additionally, new challenges arise, such as the impact of a lack of contact on the social glue that holds teams together, and matching the right technology to the right task. The sources we’ve looked at below continue to help us to focus on practical solutions to the real-world problems and opportunities virtual teams present. We hope they will help you to succeed in a virtual environment as well.

VTchecklists

Free eBook download

Virtual Team Success

By Darleen Derosa & Richard Lepsinger

This research-based book is a compilation of practical approaches to virtual teaming. The book contains a number of helpful checklists and best practices that can serve as a guide for virtual team leaders and participants. The behavioral focus of Virtual Team Success will help you to get out ahead of any problems before they happen with no-nonsense advice based on real-world success. If you need to justify the investment of time, energy and resources needed to improve your virtual teams, this book will help you do so. The processes for solving common problems in virtual teams is a highlight.

Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies Tools and Techniques that Succeed

By Deborah Duarte & Nancy Snyder

The authors of Mastering Virtual Teams have applied best practices, tools and techniques from team theory and information and knowledge management to the challenges of virtual teams. They’ve organized the information in three, easy to follow areas: Understanding, Creating and Mastering Virtual Teams. Their vast practical experience as professors, consultants and business leaders inform the “how to” approach of the book. The book provides a toolkit for participants, leaders and managers of virtual teams. Practical tools, exercises, insights and real-life examples help you to master the dynamics of virtual team participation with guidelines, strategies and best practices for cross cultural and cross functional work. For example, instead of simply stating “build trust”, the authors give us three general guidelines for building trust in a virtual environment. Not surprisingly, these factors work in collocated teams as well. They’ve included a CD Rom with the third edition as an easy way to print the checklists and helpful documents from the book.

Where in the World is My Team: Making a Success of Your Virtual Global Workplace

By Terrence Brake

Where in the World is My Team: Making a Success of Your Virtual Global Workplace follows the exploits of Will Williams as he makes his way in a virtually enabled workplace and the life of a young professional in London. As a narrative that weaves the best practices of virtual organizations and teams, Where in the World is my Team succeeds in helping the reader to want to go from cover to cover and not use the book merely as a resource document. The book is far more than just an entertaining look at a digital life. The book’s very detailed appendix provides researched support for the virtual structures and tools highlighted in the story. Brake’s 6 C’s of global collaboration provide a logical framework for the needs of effective virtual teams.

Leading Virtual Teams

Harvard Business School Publishing

Leading Virtual Teams  is a quick and easy guide for those who don’t need to be convinced to do what it takes to improve their virtual teams, needing only tips on how to do it. The book covers the basics for those beginning their experiences with leading virtual teams. There are references to related Harvard Business publications, a mention of the Harvard extension course on Managing Virtual Teams, taught virtually, and a brief test as a check-on-learning.

The Big Book of Virtual Team Building Games

By Mary Scannell & Michael Abrams

The Big Book of Virtual Team Building Games fills a present developmental need for many virtual teams with games that encourage building rapport, solving problems and team skills. The games are designed to be played using various virtual team platforms and are cleverly arranged according to Tuckman’s stages of team development–forming, storming, norming, performing—with the additional stage, transforming. Each game is described in detail with the approximate time for completion. Keep in mind that teams with member using a non-native language may take a little longer than predicted.