Tag Archives: ruth barratt

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Blueprinting

In the final session of the 2012 Small Business Leadership Academy, attendees took an in-depth look at brainstorming. For a company with a limited number of employees, it’s more important than ever to get the best from each of them. Many small business owners see that they have high-potential individuals who can become leaders, but they don’t bring their ideas out.

“What the cybernetic effect of communication tells us is that if people commit to an idea too soon, they’ll be stuck on that idea,” said Ruth Barratt, clinical assistant professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. It’s important when you’re facing the prospect of asking your employees how you can innovate, that it be presented in an open way. They should take time to think by themselves in a quiet space. Then once the group re-convenes, write all the ideas down on a board, as quickly as possible.

Then work through the ideas. Don’t allow the extroverts in the group, or the negative people in the group, to interfere with the idea creation process. So while you’re putting all the ideas on paper, there should be no criticism of ideas. This allows for ideas that might seem silly or ill-conceived at first glance to get their proper consideration. It also gives those people who worry about offering the “perfect” idea a safe space to be more open and creative.

Changing the way you share ideas can have a large impact on your business as your high-potential employees feel increasingly comfortable with these aspects of idea-generation and leadership.


Listen to the Podcast


The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: The Importance Of Team Dynamics

One rarely-recognized aspect of a small business that has a huge impact on the success of that business is team building. Knowing more about how teams function and what can be done to strengthen the team was the topic in this week’s Small Business Leadership Academy, led by Ruth Barratt, clinical assistant professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“One of the elements of building a high-performance team is spending the time outside of work on another project or social activity,” comments Barratt. While budgets have been cut for many company-funded outside activities, there are ways to get creative and still accomplish this important task. One of this year’s attendees spoke about how her and her co-workers volunteer at a food bank. “It didn’t really cost the company any money, but the employees are already very excited to do it again,” Barratt says.

Any team, regardless of its size, goes through the same five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. With each stage, there are certain emotions that team members will feel while they “find their place.”

  • Forming: Excitement, anticipation, anxiety, optimism
  • Storming: Reality sets in, frustration, dissatisfaction, adjustment anxiety
  • Norming: Shared goals, team cohesion, coping, acceptance
  • Performing: Teamwork, cohesiveness, leadership, performance
  • Adjourning: Separation anxiety, crisis, dissatisfaction, negativity

“Once you reach the performing stage, there is still a requirement to keep nurturing the idea of goals and keep everyone on the same path,” Barratt says. “When something goes well, celebrate that fact. When something goes wrong, have confidence in the team to sit down and follow up on it.”

Nurturing the team as a whole will result in a more productive and ultimately more successful team. Next week, attendees will discuss brainstorming and how to help employees to reach their full potential.


Listen to the Podcast:
The Importance of Team Dynamics


The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

 

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part II)

Ria Robles, owner of B2B Delivery LLC, was spending the lion’s share of a couple days a week checking and re-checking the complex bills she sends to customers. She reached a point where she asked herself, “Why am I doing accounting?” So, Robles turned the job over to her accountant, but not until the two worked side-by-side, going through the pricing details and the way she scoured the invoices for mistakes.

The story is an important lesson about delegation, explained W. P. Carey clinical assistant professor Ruth Barratt, who taught two classes on how to build high performance teams in the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) where Robles is a student.

SBLA, taught by W. P. Carey School of Business faculty, is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona.

If you want to build highly effective teams, you must know how to delegate tasks, according to Barratt.

Here are some concepts and pointers from last night’s class:

  • Think carefully about the task and who might shoulder it. Provide lots of background: paint a picture of a successful outcome if you can. Identify the key points of the project.
  • Encourage employees to give you regular progress reports. These are the junctures where the business owner or manager can provide feedback.
  • Be prepared to accept the fact that someone else probably will not do the job exactly the way you would. If you nitpick your employees will be reluctant to do the task again.

 

Robles followed the steps when she delegated the billing. Last night, she reported that the accountant does an even better job than she did, and it’s clear that the accountant enjoys ferreting out errors and saving the company money.

Alex Zuran, owner of Phoenix National Laboratories, Inc. described himself as “the guy who does it right.” A self-admitted perfectionist, Zuran performed many of the tasks at his company personally in the past; not any longer.

“Instead of being the guy who does it right, I’m the one who makes sure it’s done right,” he said. His employees can’t always perform the work as fast as he does, and that does affect profitability, but Zuran says employees do master the tasks, and “it’s pretty cool when it happens.”

Zuran said that delegating has “totally changed his role” at the firm, freeing him to build the business. Robles, smiling, said, “I got my Tuesdays and Wednesdays back!”

Last night’s class was the final session in the 10-week course of study. Students came to the W. P. Carey School every Wednesday for four hours of instruction. Next week they graduate.

Keep an eye on the Small Business Leadership Academy’s website for information on next year’s program.

[stextbox id=”info”]The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students. For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.[/stextbox]

 

SBLA: Building High Performance Teams

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part I)

Last night, students in the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) formed two teams and competed to see which could navigate a “minefield” best. The exercise was designed to help students experience the dynamics of high performance teams as they move through all the stages of group development.

“Many of these owners are getting ready to launch their businesses into the next stage, and at some point they will need to form and lead teams,” said W. P. Carey clinical assistant professor Ruth Barratt, who is teaching two classes on how to build high performance teams. “Even the solo practitioner needs to understand team dynamics,” she added, “because they will be interacting with customers who work in teams.”

“One of the common mistakes managers make is to give teams too little time to do their work,” Barratt said. Managers must come in on time and under budget, and in a challenging economy, the pressure intensifies. But teams don’t achieve peak performance unless members have a chance to get to know each other – each person’s strengths, weaknesses, style – and the assignment.

Knowing yourself is the first step to understanding others, so before last night’s class the students completed the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. “It’s a valuable tool for understanding what their stressors are and how that affects the way they interact with other people,” Barratt said. Before class she had already heard from a handful of students: “the extraverts,” she laughed.

The class delved into the stages of team development and management, how to build a culture that leads to achievement, and what it takes to lead a team. “Story-telling is an effective way to build culture,” Barratt said, “so for next week’s class the assignment is to get ready to tell your business story.” In preparation, students heard about Miller Brewing Company’s Norman Adami, and how he used culture to turn around a sluggish company. And for an example of a well-told tale, she showed them Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech.

Next week’s class will be the final instructional module of the 2011 SBLA program.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy and building high performance teams and team development, please visit SBLA’s website.