K&Co. Founder and well-known author Leslie Bendaly was recently interviewed by The HR Gazette magazine on here career journey, new book and her thoughts on how to create better, more cohesive teams.
Here’s the scoop:
Leslie Bendaly is one of Canada’s most respected thinkers and practitioners in areas of organizational leadership, teamwork and change. Leslie’s books on leadership include Strength in Numbers, Winner Instinct, Organization 2005, Games Teams Play and Leadership on the Run.
K&Co. President (and daughter) Nicole Bendaly teamed up with Leslie to co-author the latest book, Improving Healthcare Team Performance: The 7 Requirements for Excellence in Patient Care.
The models, tools and books created by the mother-daughter Kinect team are used in organizations worldwide and Leslie’s books have been selected as mandatory reading for MBA and other postgraduate programs in both the U.S.A. and Canada.
Let’s learn more about Leslie.
Editor: Tell us about your career history and how/why you came to launch K&Co. and its sister companies
Leslie Bendaly: It was rather a circuitous route. When I left university, I applied to work as a volunteer overseas with CUSO and was told that as I wasn’t a doctor or an engineer that I only qualified for teaching. I saw the opportunity and took it! And so began my own learning about how people learn. I later applied that learning in Canadian public and private sectors and eventually gravitated to the management consulting world.
During the 1980’s I became fascinated with the organizational change process so I decided to leave the consulting firm and set up my own business which a core belief that teams are at the heart of successful change.
Editor: What does K&Co. do? What’s the brand’s elevator pitch?
K&Co.’s passion is challenging and supporting teams and leaders to achieve more than they ever imagined they could by sharing our years of experience and offering highly researched and validated development tools.
Editor: What’s unique about K&Co. and its team fitness tools and how do you think it will help HR people?
In all modesty I have to say there is so much that differentiates us.
First our on-line team fitness tool itself is unique in that it includes both a validated team assessment and development activities and processes that target the individual team’s needs.
It also provides an incredible amount of support material and guidance for the team leader or other development facilitator.
As far as what makes us unique as a company, in addition to the depth of our experience, we provide highly personalized service. For example, when a client uses the online Team Fitness Tool we are always available to provide any additional support that would add value to the team development process. We don’t see ourselves as simply service or product providers but as active partners in the project the client is undertaking.
In addition, HR professionals tell us that they are thrilled with The Team Fitness Tool. It creates impressive outcomes and allows them to launch a team development process for one team or across the entire organization quickly and very easily with absolutely everything they need.
A big bonus is that there is no development time required on their part which also means it is also cost effective. It is a process that they can introduce into their organization with pride and confidence.
Editor: What do you think are the top 3 benefits of a product like The Team Fitness Tool?
- Improved team performance
- Improved Team Performance
- Improved team performance
Oh and ..time and cost effectiveness.
Editor: What are the 3 biggest challenges facing team cohesion in 2015?
I would say that there is one that outweighs anything else ..the increased dependence on contract employees. This is already evident in many organizations and the challenges are several.
Contracted members could be around for a relatively short time and one could argue that they might not have the same stake in the longer term success of the team. The onboarding process for contract employees must be designed to speed up and intensify the integration of the new employee into the team. Happily, requests we receive to design this process suggest that organizations are beginning to recognize this need.
Editor: What challenges are added to the mix when trying to develop a cross-generational team?
It’s feasible for a team to have 3, even 4 generations in team – as many baby boomers are opting to stay in the workforce much longer and the oldest
Gen Z’s have turned 20. Studies have identified various characteristics of BBs, gen Xs and gen Ys..such as BBs are innovative, decisive and persuasive, Xs, culturally sensitive, change oriented and confident, Ys, abstract thinking, ambitious and relational.
Key things to consider here: 1. We can’t generalize, these are broad findings and people are still individuals. In addition some characteristics will likely be more strongly displayed at different stages of life. 2. We have always had two or three generations in teams. The big difference today is social and corporate cultural change which allows team members to more freely express their own values and expectations. 3. In some ways this makes team leadership easier because the leader can have a better sense of what makes a job rewarding or otherwise for an individual team member and after all being fulfilled on the job is what leads to high performance.
Editor: What’s your response to suggestions that better team performance can not be supplied ‘out of the box’?
I absolutely agree which is why we have designed the Team Fitness Tool so that each team using it will have a development experience that is unique to their particular needs. In addition we are eager to provide any guidance that will enrich both the experience and the team’s outcomes.
Editor: What are the big swifts and changes in team building technologies which HR practitioners should watch out for in the coming 12 months?
What we are already doing with gathering real time data and creating customized on-line team development resources I think will remain leading edge for quite awhile but something I plan to explore is the development of on-line simulations in which team members can interact in the scenario and get immediate feedback as to which behaviours were effective and which less so. This has begun to be introduced to develop specific skills but I haven’t seen it applied to teamwork as yet.
Editor: What are the top priorities for SMBs to maximise team productivity and employee engagement?
People are most fulfilled and so engaged and productive when they feel they are accomplishing something.
It is essential that everyone sees how the bit they do contributes to the success of the whole and that they get recognized for a job well done, even if the recognition is simply the leader stopping by to let them know what they do is appreciated. Also look for barriers to their getting their job done well efficiently and effectively. For example one common barrier is too many non -productive meetings.