Force Field Analysis as a Teambuilding Exercise

When you’re trying to fix a team. There are always factors working for you and against you. Secret force fields undermine your efforts. Make the hidden forces known. Make the force be with you.

Force Field Analysis is a well-tested change management technique developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1950s. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. Define a problem (or change) and a desired state. Identify all the forces for and against your efforts. Develop plans to maximize the good and minimize the bad. The technique works best in small groups (less than 12) and can be applied to any decision or change effort.

Force Field Analysis as Teambuilder

I use Force Field Analysis to build teams. It gets people talking about specific issues. Tangible actions emerge quickly. Warning, it can get deep fast, so be sure your team is ready to talk. You may want to use someone from HR or an outside facilitator to help. For added fun, add light sabers.

Here’s how

  1. Define a problem your team is facing (i.e. we don’t help one another)
  2. Determine your ideal state (i.e. we would proactively support one another)
  3. Identify Driving Forces (i.e. we “want” to help, we have a common vision, some people help oh boy.)
  4. Identify Restraining Forces (i.e. we’re all so busy, we aren’t co-located, I can’t trust that others will reciprocate)
  5. Prioritize the issues in terms of magnitude (i.e. trust is the fundamental problem, made worse by being a remote team).
    Sometimes it’s good to stop here and then take each issue one-by-one in shorter follow-up sessions
  6. Talk about the salient issues (this may take multiple sessions, that’s just fine)
  7. Identify your action plan with measures of success
  8. Follow-up to assess progress

Give it a try. Let me and the LGL community know how it goes.

A Good Mad is a Terrible Thing To Waste

Are you good at angry? Or, do you waste your “mads?” Angry informs. Angry teaches. Mad makes us care. Unless it doesn’t.

Use anger to fuel passions and accomplish change. Don’t respond with frustration, outbursts, or retaliation. All you’ll have then is embarrassment, regrets and apologies.

When you are really ticked off, don’t just get mad get thinking.

4 Ways to Use Your Mad

1. Understand Your Inner Mad

Try studying and documenting your anger for 2 weeks (10 Ways to Manage Anger at Work)

“What was the situation?”
“What disturbed me, put me off, or made me genuinely angry?” (This could be an action, way of behaving, a word, etc.)
“What did I think and feel when this occurred?”

“Mad as heck” patterns help you understand your leadership values.

2. Be Mad Better

When you’re mad it’s tempting to raise your voice, throw insults, and say useless words. Some insights on the destructive nature of ignored anger (American Psychological Association).

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.

Great leaders cultivate their ability to manage emotions, so that they are in control. 

3. Teach From Your Mad

Use your anger to create “teachable moments” for your team or other leaders. Chill first– you can’t teach with your head exploding.

Explain exactly WHY you are frustrated. When your team is angry, help them explore and understand their emotions.

Help leaders become better by watching bad leaders.

4. Act Against Your Mad

Anger motivates (psychological benefits of anger). I blog to act against my enemy of “bad leadership.” What makes you mad? What are you doing about it?

5 Ways to Surface Team Conflict and Live to Tell About It

We all know deep in our hearts that teams need conflict.

Conflict is “healthy.”

Leaders and teams have been talking about Tuckman’s forming, storming, norming, performing model since the mid 1960s.

Teams were storming long before that.

We get it intellectually.

We’ve even seen the value of addressing conflict play out practically.

But conflict is uncomfortable.

Sometimes addressing conflict does more harm than good.

Stirring the Pot

I am a pot stirrer.

If you have ever worked on a team of mine, you know I am constantly encouraging you to “air and discuss your concerns” with one another.

I will listen (for a minute) and then immediately send you back to the person with whom you need to engage.

People love that or hate that– that too, can create conflict.

When the pot gets stirred, and the going gets tough, that’s when the calls usually come in from all parties. My stance remains the same.

“I don’t need to hear the play-by play. Everyone gets an extra smile from my heart for working it through. I’m glad you are talking. Have as many secret meetings” as you need. I won’t take sides.”

The biggest worry seems to be, “what if I get exposed?” The truth is, there are at least two sides to every story. I know that. If your boss has any sense, she knows that. If YOU are the boss, same rules apply.

Once the storming is over, I love to ask “what did you learn about how to do conflict better?”

The truth is I ask myself this same question every day.

Sometimes I screw it up.

Conflict is never handled.

Conflict Survival Tips

Here’s what folks have told me they have learned (from addressing conflict in real situations). I hope this helps.

  1. Don’t wait too long.
    Your issues become less relevant and feel more stupid to the recipient as time passes.
  2. Own it.
    No one wants to hear “everyone is saying” comments
  3. Carefully consider the input of others
    Don’t let your response feel like retaliation
  4. Watch your facial expressions when giving and receiving feedback
    Everyone is watching those more than your words
  5. Be prepared to give specific examples
    Even if you are absolutely right, it’s difficult to digest and even more difficult to take action without the details.
  6. ??? My list goes on but, I’ll stop here and let you play. what would you add?

On Anger: Techniques for Managing Emotions at Work

I run, I do yoga, I reflect, I write and sometimes I get angry.

As leaders, how we manage our anger and other emotions is vital. Everyone is watching, and if we don’t handle our anger well we can make a tough situation even more difficult.

“Anyone can be angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way this is not easy.”
~ Aristotle

I’ve gotten better at this over the years, but when I’m in a values clash, or if someone isn’t straight with me I get ticked off. I don’t always love how I react on the inside or the outside.

In his work on Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman writes,
Anger is the most seductive of the negative emotions; the self-righteous inner monologue that propels it fills the mind with the most convincing arguments for venting rage. Unlike sadness, anger is energizing, even exhilarating.

Intervene Early in the Anger Cycle

Goleman talks about intervening early in the anger cycle, to challenge the thoughts and assumptions at the source of the anger. This is similar to the approach recommended by the Arbinger Institute in their work around “Self-Deception”. Both approaches focus on truly considering the emotions and values of the other person. Reframing the issues and changing perspective help to organize a more productive response.

While anger breeds more negativity as we subconsciously look for ways to justify our negative emotions; reframing diffuses the intensity and makes room for more logical approaches.

Consider Meditation and Other Mindfulness Techniques

In his book, The Mindful Leader, Michael Carroll recommends mindfulness practices and meditation as a way to get better insights and mastery of our emotions.
Emotions are like unruly but beautiful creatures that we work hard to tame. We want our emotions to behave themselves, but they are not always predictable. Some emotions seem very powerful and threatening, so we have them caged for fear that they will escape, and make us do all kinds of things that we might regret. On occasion, an emotion may break out and frighten others or we may let one out of its cage to prance around and have a little naughty fun, but generally, we work hard to keep them under lock and key. Other emotions we domesticate, and they behave like circus monkeys– entertaining us and keeping us distracted and happy.
Meditation helps us to sit with these emotions and handle then more objectively.

Of course, the techniques that will work best, are the ones we will actually use. As leaders, it is vital that we acknowledge how we handle our emotions and find productive way to manage those feelings productively.