Over-Collaboration: Solution #1 – Be More Intentional About Meetings

Our last post talked about the problems of over-collaboration: wasted time, burn- out of some of your most valuable people, and decision/action bottlenecks.  Let’s start with something practical – smarter use of meetings as a collaborative tool. It’s not sexy, but it’s a solution that can save your team thousands of hours per month.

Most people don’t want to be viewed as un-collaborative or leaving someone out of the loop. Nor do we want to be left out of the loop ourselves.  And technology has made scheduling and accepting meetings incredibly efficient.  So, the meetings pile up.  I can’t tell you the number of leaders I’ve worked with who tell me how easy it is to accept invitations without really knowing what the meeting is all about.  Maybe they know it’s related to an important initiative, but they’re not sure exactly why they’re needed for the meeting.

So, the meeting goes on the calendar with all the others and the leader shows up.  By the time they’re questioning whether they really need to be there, it’s often too difficult to extract oneself.  So they’ve wasted 30 minutes or an hour, and they’ve wasted time physically or mentally coming and going to the meeting.  What really matters about this?  There’s the opportunity cost of not being able to tackle higher priority items.

The first solution to over-collaboration is to be intentional when planning, accepting and running meetings.

  • Determine if you really need to meet. Does every one of your meetings have a clear purpose and intended results? Do you really need to meet every week? Every month?  Can you cut the meeting from 60 to 30 minutes?  If it’s just to share information or it’s a low value meeting that seems more habitual than helpful, get rid of it altogether.
  • Be a better meeting leader.  How organized are you?  Consider must-have versus nice-to-have agenda items.  Set expectations and put targeted time limits on the agenda items.  Are you managing the discussion?  Is the person who always talks forever encouraged to get to the point?  Fight the “collaborative” urge to hear what every single person has to say on every single topic.  Do you know how to artfully table an item when you don’t have the right information or the right people at the table to make a decision?
  • When you’re planning your meetings, think about each person you are inviting. Why do they need to be there?  Do they have critical information? Are they needed to make a decision?  Are they there only for internal political reasons?  Are you making an intentional decision to include them or are they invited because they’ve always been at this type of meeting in the past?  Talk with them and encourage them to speak about whether this is a good use of their time.
  • Don’t make attendance all or nothing.  Can one person represent one or more additional people at the meeting?  Can some people be invited only for certain meetings or segments of meetings?  Maybe they can dial in or show up at a specific time.  If you only need me for 10 minutes of a 60-minute meeting, that’s 50 minutes I can spend on other pressing matters.
  • Be intentional when you receive a meeting invitation.  Ask yourself the following questions:  Why am I invited to this meeting? What value will I add to the meeting and the organization’s goals by attending? What will my role be?  Is this an opportunity for someone else on my team?
  • Give yourself and others permission to say no. Too often we feel like we can’t decline a meeting invitation.  It means we aren’t a ‘team player.’ Permit yourself and others to decline meetings.  Teach people how to say no effectively and respect it what someone else says no.  Executives who lead by example can create a culture that makes it acceptable, even desirable to limit how many people attend how many meetings.

Look at the meetings on your calendar over the course of the next month.  Which can you decline going forward?  Which can you delegate to a team member?  Are there some you can attend only part of?

Let’s say you remove just 3 meetings per week for a total savings of 120 minutes, which equates to 8 hours per month.  Now multiply that times the number of people on your team… or by the number of people in your company.  How many hours do you come up with?

What’s the value of hundreds or thousands of hours per quarter better spent on addressing your business challenges?  What’s the value of collaborating more intentionally?

Collaborate The Right Way and Free Up 20% More Time

Collaboration is a great thing. It brings together diverse perspectives and experiences, helps us generate new ideas and can create breakthrough results. In highly matrixed organizations it seems to be just about the only way to get things done. As a matter of fact, research says collaboration has increased by more than 50% over the past 20 years.

Great, right? Actually, it’s not so great. Too many of us are collaborating too much and in the wrong ways. We see 5 key risks from too much collaboration.  Which of these are familiar to you?

  • Time sinks: Highly collaborative environments create a lot of extra meetings, phone calls and emails – which eat up a lot of time. One HBR article says that we’re spending about 80% of our time on these three activities.
  • Burn out: The good news is your highest collaborators – your uber-collaborators – can drive team performance more than all other team members combined. The bad news is people seen as the best sources of information and in the highest demand as collaborators have the lowest engagement and career satisfaction scores. They are at higher risk to leave, taking valuable knowledge and experience with them.
  • Bottlenecks: Uber-collaborators can become seemingly indispensable to different groups or projects. Work just can’t get done and decisions aren’t made without their participation, insights and perspectives. They can then become decision or workflow bottleneck, as well.
  • Poorer work quality and speed. Multiple studies show that both suffer when people over-collaborate. But super high levels of collaboration have become the norm and it’s hard to see the forest for the trees on quality and speed.
  • Too few doing too much. Collaboration isn’t spread around enough. Up to 35% of value added collaboration comes from 5% of employees. 20% of your “star” performers are among your worst collaborators, i.e., they aren’t getting their results by collaborating. Only 50% of your top performers are also top collaborators.
What to do? Our next 3 articles will answer that question and give you new ideas on digging yourself out of these collaboration pitfalls.
Fenway Park

What can the Red Sox Teach Us About Winning? Sweat the Small Stuff!

It’s early in the baseball season and hopes are running high. The Red Sox have a lot of great talent on the team. There should be a lot of wins this year. What can the Sox teach us about winning?

I hear what you’re saying. We’re not the Red Sox. Sports teams aren’t like most organizations… or are they? Talent is everything for them, right? But how many times have we seen teams spend big money on great talent only to have a dismal season because of bad morale, poor coaching, or unexpected changes drive them off course?

A few weeks ago, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, wrote about how the Red Sox have ‘Culture Culture’ meetings during spring training. The article reinforces what we believe. A winning culture doesn’t just happen. Being intentional and sweating the small stuff – the right small stuff – is what creates it.

Building a great team starts with being intentional about hiring great talent but it doesn’t stop there. Without the right culture, even great talent will underperform much of the time.

The talent in the majors is of course the best baseball talent around. They all have spring training to get ready for the season. Think of it as onboarding. All teams work on the fundamentals during spring training but the Sox and some other teams, intentionally focus on culture – and the details that build it. For example, the idea of each person contributing to the team is paramount to Red Sox culture. So, in spring training when reviewing game films, they don’t just call out the highlight reel moments. They call out moments like running out a play to make it to first or an at bat that sets up the next batter to drive in a crucial run. They’ve taken the concept of team and defined the behaviors that represent it. Has your organization done the same?

They also make culture building a habit. They’ve created a short-hand language that allows them to talk about the successes and failures on the field in real-time. Everyone on the team knows what a right-handed fist pump means vs a left-handed one. What key words or phrases are you using as “short-hand”? Is using them a habit? What other culture building habits do you have?

In winning cultures, everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential. The Red Sox have one of the youngest teams in baseball. Back in the day, young ball players

When is Loyalty a Disadvantage for Change Leaders?

When is Loyalty a Disadvantage for Change Leaders? 
by Edith Onderick-Harvey & James Harvey 


When it’s the wrong type of loyalty.

We’ve talked in the past about the importance of building trust in leading change efforts.  Change creates discomfort and disruption to the way people do things and how they interact with others – sometimes in profound ways.  In short, it puts a strain on relationships, and therefore, on loyalty. And what does a leader under pressure to manage a significant change often do, almost reflexively?  They try to leverage the loyalty of others.

There’s good news and bad news in this.   Here’s the good news.  The right kind of loyalty provides a solid foundation for the trust and leadership people are looking for from others during challenging situations.  It makes it easier for a leader to convey the value of the change and enlist others in making it happen.

The bad news?  It’s all too easy to misunderstand the nature of loyalty or to disregard the consequences of “fake loyalty.”  You risk building a house of cards that falls apart under the high stakes and duress that change often brings.

You want to build the kind of solid relationships that allow you and your management team to build long-term change agility into your organization’s DNA.  You want to avoid:

  • Blind loyalty.  This is based on the premise that an idea or argument is right simply because it comes from someone who is in a position of leadership or iinfluence. But great ideas come from robust conversation and differing perspectives.  Blind loyalty doesn’t question. And blind loyalists simply execute the plan.  Don’t count on them to take a lot of initiative to uncover or find solutions to problems that inevitably pop up.
  • Forced loyalty. If someone is demanding loyalty, it is given out of compliance and fear. Forced loyalty may look like engagement to an outsider but it’s not. Underneath the surface is resentment and anxiety.
  • Favor-seeking loyalty. This individual laughs at even your worst jokes and is often way too eager to support your ideas – even the ones you’re not too sure of yourself.  It isn’t about the team or the larger vision. It’s about being rewarded for being a favorite. This type of loyalty is toxic to the team. People recognize what’s happening.  It often creates distrust, jealousy and behaviors that undermine rather than elevate.
  • Conflict-avoidant loyalty. Some people go along to get along.  They always do what’s asked (i.e., they’re loyal) because even modest amounts of conflict make them very uncomfortable.
Loyalty naturally feels good.  Even “fake loyalty” does.  And in the short run, it can have its uses.  But in the long run, it erodes the very relationships you need in order to thrive in a changing environment.   At the very least you can end up surrounded by “yes men.”  There’s an old business adage: if two people always agree, one of you is unnecessary.

When you are a leader implementing change, ask yourself: how do I create buy-in and enhance loyalty? Have you and the organization helped people move through the change curve or have you tried to go from awareness to commitment in one giant step?  We work with leaders every day to create loyalty and move people through the change curve. Read about one of our client’s results.

Something New Has Arrived!

We’re pleased to announce that Factor In Talent is now 

  Just as we’ve helped clients evolve and even, transform their business we’re evolving, too.  Our new name represents our next chapter. 

 What’s in a name?

Why did we name it NextBridge?

We believe that growth is imperative, change is constant and talent executes strategy. Over the past 18 years, we’ve always focused on more than just the current challenge. In addition to today’s needs we help you to think and prepare for what’s next. Our partnerships with clients create bridges between ideas and performance; between strategy and results; between today and the future through pragmatic solutions, in real time.  We thought it was time that our name better reflect our values and the value we bring to our clients.

What can you expect from NextBridge Consulting?

What’s changing? What’s staying the same?

The value that we’ve always provided – strategic design, pragmatic planning and collaborative execution – is not changing.  We’re continuing to focus on our core consulting services for innovation sector clients experiencing rapid change.

What’s new besides our name?

  • We’re providing a more complete suite of services and next generation thinking on the strategies, processes and tools that have proven so successful for our clients over the past 18 years. Our solutions will continue to be tailored to our clients’ needs and will leverage proven tools and expertise. Find out more about our suite of services at
  • We are also re-emphasizing the deep change agility expertise we bring to our engagements.  People often talk about change management. We like to think of it differently. It’s not just about managing change but about creating a culture where thinking about how to initiate and implement successful change is second nature. It’s a difference between adapting to change and developing the skills to be great at using change as an asset, a way to excel, the way to stay ahead of the curve and perform well in the marketplace.
  • Finally, we’re introducing Jim Harvey, NextBridge’s partner for product and business development.  He brings deep professional and senior management experience across multiple industries, from tech-start ups to large global firms. He has been Senior Director of Learning and Development at PNC Bank and Head of Talent Development for a global business unit of BNYMellon.

Jim has extensive background as a talent development leader and innovator.  He’s developed multiple groundbreaking programs at all levels including high potential and executive development programs that utilized action learning, virtual learning communities and web-based approaches to development.  He has a passion for developing innovative products and services, where the focus is on integrating talent development into the actual work people do

Our website has been redesigned to reflect our new brand, latest thinking and updated offerings.  Check it out at

We’ll be reaching out again soon to bring you updates how we can help you, on our thinking, our offerings and our own growth.  In the meantime, follow me on twitter @eonderickharvey or, if we’re not already, connect with me on LinkedIn.

We All Have Biases

biasThe events of the past few months have put bias or potential bias front and center in the American consciousness.  In its extreme, bias becomes an -ism.  Absolutism. Sexism. Racism. Agism. Name your -ism. These extremes can lead to discrimination, fear and, at times, tragedy.  We have seen this with our own eyes too many times.

Before we say, I’m not a biased person, stop.  The truth is we all have biases.  It’s part of being human.  They can be biases we are conscious of or biases that are subconscious.  We aren’t really aware of them until someone points it out.

For most of us, most of our biases never rise to a level of -ism.  Still, they impact our perceptions and decision-making.  You may have a bias for action.  What impact does that create?  You are probably great at getting things done. However, does that bias also cause you, at times, to not spend enough time planning and then you or someone else ends up having to do a lot of rework? Or maybe, you have a bias for only hiring people who have a certain degree from a certain school. That bias is probably the result of having very positive experiences with people you hired with that profile.  However, could it also be causing you to miss out on some other great hires? Do you have a bias for experience when listening to ideas or suggestions from others?  Rightly so, wisdom can come with experience. However, those who are new to the situation see it with fresh eyes and their insights can be just what you need to hear.

Bias in the extreme is an ugly part of our human existence.  However, its more benign forms impact us every day.

How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was December.  December!
How can it already by the end of the year? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of the year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, especially in companies that have end-year check-ins as part of their performance management process, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

The Power of Thank You


As we move toward Thanksgiving, my thoughts are turning to gratitude. I question whether we show enough of it in the workplace. We often think that because someone is ‘doing his job’ he doesn’t need or want to know that we appreciate the value he is providing, the results achieved, or the extra effort given. That’s not to say that we should be showing appreciation or praise for everything someone does. Work is not an 8 year old’s soccer team where “everyone is a winner.” However, a simple thank you can garner immense returns.

Think about the last time someone gave you a genuine thank you or compliment on your work when you were not expecting or asking for it. How did you feel? What did it do to your relationship with that person? If you had two competing demands from the person who said “thank you” and someone else, who were you more likely to move to the top of you list (assuming that all things are equal, like the other person is not your boss or the CEO or someone else who trumps everyone else)?

Effective leaders recognize the contributions others make. They recognize that others achieve the results for which the leader may receive credit. They know that without others they are unable to achieve many goals.

Let me publicly thank a few people who have supported my success this year:

* Thank you to my assistant Diane who has helped me make order out of chaos, helped me put process in place and given me the time to focus on those areas where I add value to my clients.
*Thank you to my husband and family who, even when I doubt myself, have no doubt in the value of the work that I do.
* Thank you to my clients who put the trust in me to help them achieve their goals and to move performance forward in their organizations.
* Thank you to all of you who have so generously let me know that you find value in the words I put on this page every week and that you appreciate finding it in your email.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Was Your Most Authentic Moment Today?

authenticity sign


Two recent HBR articles provide two different views on what it means to be authentic. In “The Authenticity Paradox” Herminia Ibarra notes that too simplistic an interpretation of authenticity is a hindrance to effective leadership. In order to grow and develop as a leader, one has to try on behaviors and attitudes that may not come naturally and, therefore, feel less than authentic. “Discovering Your Authentic Leader” looks at the role of your life story, self-awareness, acting on your values and principles and balancing your internal and external motivators in authentic leadership.

My view of authenticity tends to be more aligned with the second article. Being authentic isn’t about saying and doing whatever you feel like because it feels right to you, which the first article suggests is the simple view of authenticity. It’s about bringing the uniqueness of yourself to situations, acknowledging the others in the situation and their uniqueness, and appropriately using your individual perspective, values, knowledge, abilities and skills in the moment. As I say in Getting Real, it means knowing who you are as a leader then taking actions and having the interactions that allow you to make a real impact. I see many people who leave their authentic self at the door because they believe they need to be someone else to be successful at work.

As you go through your day today, think about your most authentic moment. When were you bringing your particular uniqueness to a situation and what happened? How did it feel? Did you respect others’ uniqueness? What was the result? How can you make that happen more often?



What kind of expectations do you set for your team? Most people I speak with believe they set clear, concise goals that help their people focus on what’s important. Once the goal communication is done, they believe everyone has their marching orders and will carry on until the goals are achieved.

Setting expectations is about more than just setting goals or objectives at a point in time. Your expectations of others are set and reinforced every day by your actions and reactions to situations that arise. When that reinforcement doesn’t happen, you have what I often call “expectations-busters.” Have you ever experienced one of the following expectation-busters?

Goals are set and within two to three months most of the goals are completely irrelevant or have been re-prioritized to the bottom of the list. Business priorities change. That’s a given. However, if rapid goal obsolescence is a regular occurrence in your organization, it sends the message that leadership really isn’t sure where things are going or can’t make up its mind. The result is an attitude of “I don’t really need to put a lot of effort into whatever the stated goals are because they’re just going to change anyway.”

Once a goal or expectation is set, it’s never discussed again. If you give someone a goal, but the two of you never discuss progress against the goal, that person will assume it’s not a very important goal. He’ll assume you are really interested in other things.

Goals or expectations are set but rewards and recognition are given for things completely unrelated to achieving them. Remember the adage “what gets measured, gets done”? Well, when an expectation is set, the person assumes it has some relevance to his performance and in turn his salary increase, promotion consideration, and general recognition. Nothing busts expectations like seeing people rewarded for things that have nothing to do with meeting expectations and achieving results.

There is no differentiation in recognition when expectations are achieved, exceeded or not achieved. This is a corollary to rewarding things that are unrelated to achieving goals and objectives. If people who meet expectations and those who exceed expectations and those who do not meet expectations are not recognized and rewarded in any distinctly different ways, a high performer will become disengaged quickly and you’ll see overall performance migrate to mediocrity.

Setting expectations is not a one-time event. The relevance of those expectations is established on a regular basis. How you integrate setting and reinforcing expectations into your leadership approach will mean the difference between achieving expectations and moving towards excellence versus simply being mediocre.

Which expectations-busters have you been guilty of committing?

How can you get rid of expectations-busters in your organization?