Monday, January 23, 2006

Attributes of a High Performing Team

Do you want to get more out of your team? Here are nineteen tips to building high performing teams:
  1. Perhaps the single most important way to get more out of a team is to constantly demand a bias for action. A bias for action begins with the leadership. Teams who habitually fail to take action or procrastinate kill productivity.
  2. When a team embraces the core value of a bias for action, sometimes mistakes will be made. Managers must allow mistakes to occur. Teams that are not allowed to make mistakes do not push the envelope and do not reach their highest potential. Good managers ensure teams learn from their mistakes.
  3. Size matters. Smaller teams are often more productive than larger teams, especially on fire fighting tasks. Large teams frequently take on the “group grope” mentality. It is the manager’s job to limit or control “group grope”. Keep the size of your team lean.
  4. Keep the team focused. Clearly state the objective and the prize for reaching the objective. Straying = lost focus. Good managers recognize when the team is straying and will bring the team back in focus.
  5. Always focus on the customer. Managers should ask each team member to identify their customers and to build and execute customer call plans. Team members should spend at least 25% of their time with their customers. Listening (not selling) is the most critical skill when dealing with customers.
  6. Build and demand loyalty with team members. Good managers take care of their teams and fight for their teams. When a disloyal action occurs, the manager must call the team member on their action and work with the team member to avoid or eliminate future occurrences.
  7. Acknowledge problems. Problems seldom get solved if the team avoids discussing them. Hiding from problems can be the Achilles Heal of a team. Festering problems almost always have a devastating affect on morale. Good managers ensure each team member is a problem solver and critical thinker.
  8. Implement risk management systems. Ask team members to identify risks (an event that might happen that could impact cost or schedule), establish the likelihood of the event occurring, define the impact to the business, and develop risk mitigation action plans.
  9. Insert new blood. New ways of thinking are healthy for the team. Managers should work with team members on career development and transition plans. Good managers are not roadblocks to team members who desire to grow within the organization. Allowing team members to transfer to other teams provides a mechanism for bringing in new blood and develops alliances with other teams.
  10. Diversify the team. Homogenous teams stifle creativity and limit different ways of thinking.
  11. Encourage devil’s advocacy thinking. Different points of view challenge teams to think outside the box and may prevent teams from overlooking critical items.
  12. Ask team members what they think. This promotes buy-in with team members.
  13. Hold team members accountable. Again, this is a buy-in concept. Good managers work with team members to clearly identify tasks, ownership, and due dates. Managers should let team members plan and execute their assigned tasks (basically stay out of their way) and if they get into trouble, then bring in resources to assist.
  14. Ask team members to stretch. The saying, “a man’s goals should exceed his grasps” should be a core value for every team. Good managers implement reward systems for team members who achieve their stretch goals.
  15. Managers must keep the team busy and challenged. Idle time lowers morale and the good performers leave in search of more challenging ventures.
  16. Good communication is essential. Managers should let the team know when expectations are met and when expectations are not met. If a manager waits until the annual performance review to communicate that expectations were not met, then the manager has set up the team for failure.
  17. Managers should encourage mentoring and coaching and ensure that team members develop mentoring relationships with executives preferably outside their “chain of command”.
  18. Put proper incentives in place with each team member. Incentives motivate people to succeed. Good managers never say to a team member, “You should be lucky to have a job. Your salary is your incentive.” A statement like this will likely lower productivity. Incentives do not always need to be money-based. Incentives can come in the form of time, money, publicity, gifts, promotions, trips, etc.
  19. Allow the team to have fun. The majority of Americans hate their jobs. This is a giant indictment on management and leadership. Good managers create atmospheres that allow team members to have fun and enjoy their jobs.
You should now be ready to increase your team’s performance. Good luck!
Pierre Cutler
The Sacramento Executive
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20 Lessons Learned By An Entrepreneur

Robert May of Business Pundit yesterday posted a very insightful article "Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job". The article is hitting the blogosphere big time and has reached the top ten list for today's most popular posts on del.icio.us. Robert said:
Entrepreneurship is difficult. No matter how smart you are, how well you plan, or how hard you work, there is still lots of luck and timing involved. If you ever consider making the jump, here are some things to think about.
A summary of Robert's 20 lessons learned as an entrepreneur are:
  1. Money matters
  2. Nobody cares that you are smart or knowledgeable
  3. Think about the intangibles
  4. Short-term thinking can kill your company
  5. Don't max out your credit cards
  6. Know how you make money
  7. Your estimates are wrong
  8. You aren't your own boss
  9. Industry contacts are important
  10. You don't have any free time
  11. Attack everything with enthusiasm
  12. Acknowledge your mistakes
  13. Keep your integrity
  14. Deal with the possible consequences
  15. Save your money
  16. Start something on the side
  17. Go it alone
  18. Be ready to accept failure
  19. Make sure you enjoy it
  20. Train for it.
I couldn't agree more with Robert. Well said.
Pierre Cutler
The Sacramento Executive
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Friday, October 21, 2005

Meet Pierre


My resume:

Program Management - Capture Management - Proposal Management

Customer-focused and results-oriented leader known for developing strong client relationships, identifying opportunities for growth, establishing and executing account strategies, marketing information technology products and services, winning competitive procurements and building strategic partnerships.

Mentoring and coaching management style with a track record of building highly motivated teams.

Experience

  • 15 years in federal systems business development
  • 5 years consulting to commercial technology-based companies
  • Key contributor in winning over $500M in federal systems integration contracts
  • Federal systems expertise in training, simulation, SIGINT, and messaging applications
  • Commercial systems expertise in telecomm, finance, publishing and security applications

Qualifications and Skills

Strategic Planning

  • Develops strategic business plans
  • Analyzes competition and creates discriminators
  • Builds business cases

Capture Management

  • Develops and executes capture plans
  • Manages and controls bid and proposal budgets
  • Identifies customers' key issues, concerns and needs
  • Positions Company as the preferred contractor prior to release of RFPs
  • Leads teaming strategy and teaming agreement negotiations
  • Develops technical, management, price and past performance approaches for proposals
  • Designs, develops and delivers winning proposals for customers' solicitations

Program Management

  • Manages software and systems integration projects on time and within budget
  • Recruits and builds teams for program implementation and management
  • Manages cross-functional and matrix organizations
  • Prepares staffing plans and basis of estimates
  • Develops risk management plans
  • Tracks and reports status to executive management
  • Manages change and configuration control processes

Vendor Management

  • Manages source selection processes for suppliers, vendors and subcontractors
  • Develops RFIs, RFPs and SOWs
  • Manages COTS requirements
  • Collaborates with OEMs

Personal Attributes

  • Strong oral and written communcation skills
  • Highly organized and schedule / deadline oriented
  • Thrives in fast-paced environment
  • Team player
  • Passionate and positive attitude
  • Creative and strategic thinker
  • Problem solver
  • Works well with little management direction

Employment History

Technology Consultant, 2000 - 2005. Provided consulting services to information technology companies in the areas of strategic planning, funding, alliances and operations.

Home Loan Consultant, Countrywide, 2004 - 2005. Established strategic business relationships with service providers and originated home loans for retail consumers.

General Manager, RMSI, 2002 - 2003. Led turn-around of 18-person, data storage federal systems integrator, restoring company to profitability and growing annual revenue from $2.9M to $7.5M.

Manager of Vendor Management, GTE Internetworking, 1998 - 1999. Managed team of 12 program managers responsible for life-cycle management of 40 contracts to develop and deploy GTE's national fiber optic data network.

Account Manager, Fannie Mae, 1995 - 1996. Led team of 4 account managers for in-house mortgage related application development projects and production support.

IBM Federal Systems Group (includes mergers with Loral and Lockheed Martin)

  • Program Manager, 1996 - 1998. Led efforts to identify, qualify and capture messaging systems new business opportunities with U.S. federal agencies. Developed and maintained 5-year business area strategic plan and established teaming agreements with two prime bidders for the FTS-2001 program.
  • Marketing Representative, 1995. Led modeling and simulation business development efforts for key accounts - Army's Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer, Advanced Distributed Simulation Testbed, and Battlefield Re-configurable Simulator Initiative, National Guard's Re-configurable Manned Simulator and supported key proposal efforts that resulted in winning Army's WARSIM 2000 and England's MoD UKCATT programs.
  • Program Manager, 1992 - 1994. Led team to create strategic plan and raised $5.6M in seed funding for modeling and simulation business unit. Successfully bid, won and managed $1M R&D simulation-based design contract with Electric Boat and DARPA. Helped capture over $100M in revenue through bid and proposal activities with DoD.
  • International Program Manager, 1991 - 1992. Managed 17-person team consisting of three different companies in the development and rollout of a cross-services banking application. Implemented marketing, market support, service support, and distribution plans for Asia Pacific and Canada.
  • Program Manager, 1988 - 1991. Managed $8.8M winning proposal for Commodities Exchange Center's Price Reporting System and resulting $3.3M software development project to include 6-person IBM team and a financial software vendor. Held 6-month assignment at the London Stock Exchange to develop the requirements and design for the Exchange's clearance and settlement back-office operations.
  • Systems Engineer, 1984 - 1988. Defined system requirements, designed man-machine interfaces, led test and integration and managed technical marketing for a signal intelligence digital voice processing system, resulting in the production and sale of over 100 units, in excess of $30M to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Sergeant, Electronic Warfare / Signal Intelligence Analyst, U.S. Army, 1978 - 1984.

Education

  • 1984, Boston University, M.S. Business Administration
  • 1982, University of Maryland, B.A. in Government and Politics.

Training and Certificates

  • IBM certificates in Program Management and Subcontract Management
  • Six Sigma, ISO 9000, SEI and DoD Best Value
  • Held Top Secret / SCI clearance