Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times
March 2009 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary


Tamara J Erickson
Tamara J Erickson, President nGenera Innovation Network


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  • How should companies build and encourage collaborative teams during troubled times?
    Each individual should be encouraged to develop and nurture strong relationships, using the following steps.

    Begin by creating a personal relationship map. List all the people who are part of your sphere of work – everyone you need to collaboratewith in order to do your job successfully, across all the generations. Ask yourself which ones you know well, and which ones you need to know better. Then make a personal commitment to invest the time and effort required to form stronger relationships with each one.

    There are a number of ways to get to know your co-workers, even among global teams collaborating remotely across geographies and time zones, starting with tools and work activities that are already in place within your organization.

  1. Look for opportunities
    Keep searching for opportunities throughout your normal work activities to work closely with others from all generations. Although too many meetings can be a drag on productivity, getting together for highimpact sessions can be very helpful. Be sure to allow time for personal interactions – use your time with the group to become better acquainted as part of the process.

    l Team and co-workers selection
    Whenever you can, take the opportunity to work with someone new. One rule of thumb: about threequarters of the people on any assignment or task should be people you already know and trust. With that ratio, the core group is large enough to work smoothly together and insure the job is done well. But reach out to others about a quarter of the time so you ensure the influx of new ideas and thinking and continue to broaden your network of relationships from across the generations.

    l Technology
    Social networking tools can play a very useful role in developing relationships, particularly in today’s world of virtual work. Encourage all members of your work group to use your firm’s social networking tools not only for work-related exchanges, but also to develop updated personal profiles that share photos and news about personal events. If you have colleagues who are not accustomed to social networking, consider this as an opportunity for co-workers who are more familiar with the technology to assist others.

  2. Work location
    One of the best ways to spur the development of informal personal relationships among those who work in one physical office is by taking advantage of your surroundings. If possible, rotate your seating, moving to a different spot frequently, so that you sit near different sets of colleagues over time.
  3. Forums
    Any type of activity that brings people together is an opportunity to get better acquainted – if you use the time to meet others. Take advantage of social gatherings, communities of interest, customer-oriented events, special interest groups, educational programs, or any other forums the company offers that bring people together and provide time to get acquainted on a personal level. Once there, spend at least part of your time forming new relationships, rather than talking only with existing friends or people of your own age.
    And, if there are people that are key to the success of your work whom you don’t have an opportunity to get to know through any of these approaches, adopt a direct approach – seek out and spend time with these individuals.
    The key point is that individuals need to play an active role in forming the strong personal relationships required to work effectively. Use the resources and forums that the company provides to the extent possible – but you need to make it happen.

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The interview was conducted by Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary, Consulting Editor, Effective Executive and Dean, IBSCDC, Hyderabad.

This interview was originally published in Effective Executive, IUP, March 2009.

Copyright © March 2009, IBSCDC No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced or distributed, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or medium – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise – without the permission of IBSCDC.

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