Team Effectiveness

“We do not like Touchy Feely stuff”.


I was recently honored to be the speaker/facilitator for a team building holiday celebration of a respectable high tech company in Silicon Valley. The HR contact advised me that this group did not like touchy feely stuff.

Although I understood her intuitively, I wanted to ensure my facilitation reflected her concerns.

What is “touchy feely?” We hear this term often mentioned in a negative or pejorative way. Business people typically don’t like it and, sadly, HR work is often referred to as touchy feely work.  Touchy feely is attributed to a group exercise, activity or workshop where people share their feelings and innermost thoughts that make them vulnerable.  The formal definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary says: “touchy feely is characterized by interpersonal touching especially in the free expression of emotions; openly or excessively emotional or personal.”

Understandably, nobody wants to feel vulnerable in the workplace. No one wants to lose control, lose face in front of his or her co-workers or be uncontrollably emotional. I’ve had a successful career in HR, both in a corporate setting and as a consultant, and I have never wanted to engage in these kinds of touchy feely activities.

I covered this concern early-on with the group. I said I was cautioned not to make this session touchy feely. “Let me assure you”, I told them, “that I don’t like to be touched and I don’t like to be felt”.  I got laughter from that comment.

Seriously, while achieving results is very important, there is a personal/human side of business when we work with people, and whether we like it or not, we need to develop effective interpersonal and communication skills to develop teamwork, but it does not need to be touchy feely at all.

When we work virtually or in person, we need to use positive behaviors that bring out synergy in our teams.  Synergy, as defined by Human Synergistics, “occurs when the interactive efforts of two or more people produce or fully utilize their resources.  Synergy within groups improves the efficiency and effectiveness of individual and group decision making”.

Synergy happens when people collaboratively work on the best possible approach and solution to work problems without voting on or imposing one person’s point of view.  Even if there is disagreement, each member of the team can voice their thoughts, will feel heard and can stand behind and align with the team’s solutions.  Synergy is hard to achieve, not all teams reach synergy.

Most leaders I know wake up in the morning with the best intentions. As they go through their day, things happen that causes their behavior  to unknowingly turn negative. Sometimes our intent does not automatically create our desired impact.  It is important to remember that we have a choice in our behavior; we can use appropriate behaviors to create a work environment that is positive and supportive, and brings out the best in others.

Breaking down the necessary elements of effective team building, and achieving synergy in a fun interesting activity using language that the team can relate to, will ensure that the team building activity is not touchy feely.

Liza Sichon of is a Coach, Speaker and Consultant who helps clients transform their culture and build a positive workplace.  She can be reached at



What does it take to be a global leader?


What does it take to be a global leader?

Tasked with identifying and developing talent for global assignments?

Have you recently been assigned to lead a global team?

Is your company in the midst of a global expansion?

  A couple of months ago, I was asked to coach a senior global leader, on an expat assignment in the US who was very successful in his country but could not replicate his success here in the US. Having a global assignment and being successful in your country does not guarantee success in a global role.   Join us at 20th Annual The Leadership Conference of The Conference Board, on June 3-5 in San Diego, CA.  The pre conference on Succession Planning will help you  to deepen your own global acumen, learn the key leadership behaviors of successful global leaders and walk away with succession planning tools. 1. Uncertainty Resilience – someone who comfortably adjusts to changes and complexities. 2. Team Connectivity – someone who integrates and connects ideas and people across boundaries. 3. Flexibility – ability to adjust their style in a practical way considering local and global norms. 4. Responsiveness – use customize and appropriate ways to address, motivate, inspire others 5. Talent Orientation – personally involved in the customized development of their own people. It is no surprise that building teams and connecting people while taking into consideration the uncertain and constantly changing global environment are critical leadership qualities of a successful global leader. Find out how prepared you are to take on a global assignment or lead others to succeed in global roles.

For the Agenda, see Global Leaders . To register, visit the sign up page.

Intent vs Impact. 5 Ways to Match Your Intent with Your Desired Impact

Have you ever received feedback that meant something to you?  Feedback that was constructive? Feedback that has changed your approach and made you a better person?

Recently, we completed a leadership development workshop with a client and his direct reports.  We used a powerful 360 assessment tool called Leadership Impact.  Each participperformance reviewant received feedback on their leadership effectiveness with a set of recommended strategies that would make them better leaders. Some were quite surprised by the feedback, some were not.  All were very appreciative of the opportunity to pause and think about how they are viewed by their peers, their bosses and their direct reports.

In my experience, most leaders generally have good intentions.  They want to grow their business, develop their people, build a team and achieve higher margins.  How leaders behave, the actions they take, what they say or do makes a difference on the impact that they want to have. This impact may or may not reflect their positive intentions.

How can you ensure that your intention matches your impact?

1. Be very clear about your intent.  What is it exactly that you want to achieve?  Is it to motivate others to do better? Build stronger relationships? Defend your points?

2. How are you going to communicate your intent?  Are you going to send an email, pick up the phone or wait until you have a face to face meeting?  The more important the issue, the more real-time conversation you will want to have.

3. What message will match your intent?  If your intent is to motivate, you may want to use more encouraging language vs criticizing or nitpicking.  According to the research of Heaphy and Losada 2004, (The Role of Positivity & Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams)  high performing teams provide positive feedback to each other in the ratio of 5.6 to 1 whereas low performing teams have an average of .36 to 1 with almost 3 negative comments to 1 positive comment with each other.

4. Deliver the message and ask for feedback.  Did your message reflect your intention?  In the example of motivating others, ask the recipient how your message was received.  Was it motivational or discouraging?  Ask how you could have better delivered your message.  Ask how the person felt after your conversation.

5. Practice.  Over time you will be more versed on how to match your intent and your impact.  Yes, there is a place for negative feedback, usually when one is in a downward spiral or about to hurt themselves.  Such conversations have an appropriate place and time.

Are you interested in learning about your impact on others?  Ever wondered why you are not achieving the results that you want or perhaps are unable to sustain high performance?  A trained peer coach or external executive coach can help interpret your assessment and help you change your leadership strategy to take your game to the next level.


Are your team members working effectively together?

team conflictEver wondered how your team is getting along?  Or perhaps you know where the pockets of conflict exist but are unsure how to resolve it?  Ever wondered if your team members are aware of the impact of their unresolved conflict?  Are they in denial about their conflict? Or perhaps it is you who is in denial?  You just don’t want to deal with it, it is draining and a waste of your time.  You know that each individual working their hardest is not going to enable you to achieve your goals.  You need to find a way for the team to work well together. Only as a team, can you achieve your results.


Sociomapping® is a way to safely bring up these issues within the team.  Through the expertise of a trained coach, you can build trust and begin to openly work towards resolving issues within your team.  Sociomap is a graphical representation, a picture, of how your team views their own effectiveness or lack of cooperation.  To track your improvement, you can take this picture every six to twelve months.  This tool is for leaders who value the importance of team members working cooperatively to achieve the team goals.  This is for leaders who believe in the synergistic value of teams and the importance of an open dialogue.


At the Empowering Teams Conference 2013 in Prague last November, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of this powerful tool that has helped hundreds of organizations and teams perform at their peak in the most high pressure conditions like space projects, in the army or in high growth tech companies.  To learn more about how you can take your team performance to the maximum level contact me at or learn more about Sociomapping® at


I wish my team members got along better.

sociomap_samIf only my team members would talk to each other.  I don’t need to get involved in their own squabbles, they should just talk it out. I’ll just ignore it and hope that it will go away.

I have heard these statements from my clients.  They know that there is conflict within their team, they feel it, but they are reluctant to address it.  They are tired of playing referee or parent. They know that certain members of their teams do not work at maximum effectiveness. Individually, these team members are excellent contributors, they achieve results.  But ask them to work together and its a battlefield.

Usually the team leader ends up frustrated and drained when this situation happens. It is emotional and a waste of time. It doesn’t need to be.

Using Sociomapping® techniques, leaders can visualize the level of communication, decision-making, teaming, and cooperation within the teams. Through open and honest dialogue, with the help of a trained executive coach, sociomapping® provides a safe and non-threatening picture of the levels of collaboration with the team.

Sociomapping® has been around for over 20 years and most recently received the Innovation Award 2012 at the 24th IIAS International Conference for significant contribution to the field of sociodiagnostics.

Over the last 20 years Sociomapping® has been used in the research of communication of small groups operating in extreme situations like simulation of space flights or combat units. The process of group mapping has been also pioneered in Army units operating abroad in foreign missions. In 2008, Sociomapping® methods started to be used in commercial areas for mapping of management teams of multinational organizations.

Tired of working in a dysfunctional team? Are you ready to take your team performance to new heights, maximize the contribution of every team member and build synergies and positive collaboration among your team members?  Take your leadership and your career to the next level and build team effectiveness as a competitive advantage.  Contact me at or visit to learn more about the benefits of Sociomapping®.



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Top Reasons Coaches are Engaged:

(HBR Jan 2009)

    • Develop high potentials or facilitate transition: 48%
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