Five tips to help lead a team to success

1. Don’t provide all the answers

You are the leader. But that doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on all of the good ideas. If your employees are hesitant to make decisions without asking your opinion first, you probably need to change some of your tactics.

When they present you with information and ask what to do about a situation, push the ball back into their court and ask them, “What do you think?” They might be surprised at first, but after you do that a few times, they’ll start thinking it through before they come to you so that they’re fully prepared to discuss the matter and make a recommendation.

That’s a good thing, because they’re usually closer to the customer and more familiar with the details of the work. You need their opinions. And you need them to make some of their own decisions.

2. Align people with the stuff they are passionate about

Make sure you have the right people in the right seats. Take stock of all the talents you have on the team and reshuffle the deck if you can give your team a better chance at success. Don’t keep someone in a job role just because they’ve been doing it for long time — not if you truly think their talents are better suited for another role.

You should also find out what people are passionate about and try to align them with job roles and projects that let them channel some of that passion. That could mean putting them in an area where they don’t have much experience. But if their work history makes you think they can succeed, it’s usually worth the risk. Their passion will usually fuel a strong desire to learn and to grow.

3. Avoid throwing people under the bus

In any organization, there are going to be times when you fail. When things don’t pan out as you hoped, do a postmortem to figure out what went wrong and to learn from it. If egregious errors were made by individuals, deal with them privately, if necessary. Let them know your expectations for how this should be handled in the future.

Above all, don’t publicly blame individuals — either directly or indirectly — in meetings or team e-mails. If you do, you risk creating an atmosphere in which people are so afraid to make mistakes they won’t do the proactive and creative work necessary to avoid future problems and to drive innovation.

4. Build consensus by letting your team know WHY

One of your key responsibilities as a leader is communicating about new initiatives and strategy changes. The worst thing you can do is surprise your staff members with a fully formed idea about a new way to do something that will drastically alter their day-to-day work.

Whenever possible, give people an informal heads-up that a change is coming and let them know some of the reasoning involved. If they don’t agree with the reasoning, they can express their dissent. They might even bring up a concern that should be considered before the final plan is solidified. An even better course of action is to have a brainstorming session with your team when you are still formulating a new idea or strategy change, so you can gather their ideas and feedback.

You may sometimes have to spring something on your team, but try to limit those occasions. Even then, make sure you fully explain reasoning behind the decision.

5. Trust your people, and let them know it IT

jobs typically require creative solutions and decision-making. Your staff needs to stay sharp mentally to achieve top performance — and it’s up to you to build an atmosphere that encourages that kind of creativity.

One of the best things you can do is to let your employees know that you trust them and that you have faith in their ability to do the job, solve the problem, and meet the deadline. Now, if you don’t trust them, that’s a deeper problem altogether. In that case, you’ve identified an employee that you need to either manage up or manage out.

Managing knowledge workers and IT managers requires you to foster and encourage independent thinking, creativity, and problem solving in an environment of trust. And that’s a tall order. But following the leadership strategies we’ve looked at here can help you build a passionate, productive IT department that’s dedicated to delivering top-notch results again and again.

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Using Google Analytics with our SharePoint 2007 publishing site

One of our services wanted to use Google Analytics for their SharePoint (MOSS 2007) intranet.

There’s some good information out there about how to set this up, but I wanted to clarify a few points in the hope of saving others some time.

The basic steps are:

Obtain the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) for your MOSS site.

Create your Google Analytics account (see detail below). FYI, You don’t need to pass any authentication in order to track hits to your site.

Add the GA tracking code to your site’s master page within the HTML tags, which will allow you to analyze all the sub-pages, not just the home page.

With regard to step 2, when you set up your new account, you need to enter your FQDN in the URL field, and you need to enter it the way they specify:

However, to work with MOSS, what really needs to be entered for the Website URL is the full URL with the /pages/default.aspx ending. Thanks to this post for this information! So you need to go back into the settings once you’ve created the account, and change it. Finding your way into the settings to change the URL is not the most intuitive thing in the world, so I’ve shown it below:

From the home page of your Google Analytics account, click Edit:

Then, in the Profile Settings window, click Edit at the upper right:

At this point you can change your website URL. For the example I’m using, you would enter:

http://yourfqdnurlhere/pages/default.aspx.

After 24 hours, you should be able to review results on your GA account page.

Part 3 of 3 – Testing out the InfoPath / VS Workflow

With the workflow now deployed on my virtual environment it’s time to try it out. Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing our new workflow…
Associate to the Shared Document Library and start a workflow on a document uploaded into the library by clicking on the documents ECB and selecting ‘Workflows’
Select Rob’s Sequential Workflow
Fill out the Initiation Form and click Submit. 
A task should appear in the task list
Now select your task from the task list, edit the instructions and click submit.
The Task will appear ‘Completed’ with an integrated InfoPath and Workflow form.
Finally, return to the Shared Documents Library to see your Sequential Workflow has been completed.

Part 2 of 3 – Deploying our InfoPath VS Workflow Project

Hopefully you’ve walked through Nick Swan’s previous article and successfully created your InfoPath 2007 forms and the Visual Studio project needed to create our simple sequential worklow. Now we need to set about deploying it. First let’s look at feaure.xml in DeploymentFiles\FeatureFiles. Copy and paste the following xml into that file:
 

   
       
   
   
       
       
       
       
   

 
Here you can change the name of your workflow Title and Description. It would also be a good idea to generate your own guid id and add it as the Feature Id.
 
The next file we need to look at is workflow.xml. Copy and paste the following xml into that file.
 

 
   
   
   
      urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:infopath:DemoInitiation:-myXSD-2008-05-30T10-42-41
      urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:infopath:DemoInitiation:-myXSD-2008-05-30T10-42-41
      urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:infopath:DemoTaskForm:-myXSD-2008-05-30T12-41-58
      _layouts/WrkStat.aspx
   
 

 
Again you are free to change the title and description attibutes here, and also again it’s best to generate your own guid id for the id attribute. The code beside class is the fully qualified name of your workflow class, eg namespace.classname. The CodeBesideAssembly is made up of the name of your dll (you can often take this as being the project name), the assembly version which is set in the Properties\AssemblyInfo.cs file. To get the public key value of our assembly we need to open a Visual Studio 2005 Command Prompt. This can be found via the start menu by going Start -> Program Files -> Visual Studio 2005 -> Visual Studio tools -> Visual Studio 2005 Command Prompt
 
In the command prompt type : sn -T “”path to your workflow dll””
 
The only other parts you need to worry about for this workflow are the formURN’s. These are used to identify exactly which InfoPath form should be used at each point. You can find these values by opening your published InfoPath 2007 forms in design mode (right click on them in explorer and chose design), then from the main menu go File -> Properties, and the value will be in the ID field:
 
We are only going to build and deploy our workflow in debug mode so we don’t need to worry about the files in the Production Folder.

When we do a Re-Build of our solution the PostBuildActions.bat file will be executed.
 
The template PostBuildActions batch file will need to be configured to cope specifically with your Cheshire Council Council Virtual development environment. 
 
Firstly, the script will need to be edited to ensure the urlhttp://mycheshireteamslocal:24001 is present in place ofhttp://localhost.      Also, add –force to the deactivating and uninstall script so it reads:
%STSADM% -o deactivatefeature -filename %PROJECTNAME%\feature.xml -urlhttp://mycheshireteamslocal:24001 -forceThe GACUTIL script operates from drive e:\ on Virtual Development Images.  The path to the gacutl files will need to be amended to point to the relevant location as follows:
IF EXIST “”E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0\Bin\gacutil.exe”” (SET GACUTIL=””E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0\Bin\gacutil.exe”” & GOTO DEPLOY)
 
IF EXIST “”E:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0\Bin\gacutil.exe”” (SET GACUTIL=””E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0\Bin\gacutil.exe””) ELSE (ECHO Gacutil.exe could not be found! & GOTO QUIT)
 
From a new project however in the post build actions of the project a
parameter of NODEPLOY is passed to it so our workflow feature is not deploy. To change it so our workflow is deployed do the following steps:
 Right click on your workflow project and chose PropertiesSelect the Build Events tab from the project properties screen.In the textbox for the “”Post-build event command line:”” the last parameter of the line will be NODEPLOY. Change this to simply DEPLOY
And that is it. To build and deploy our solution simply rebuild it. Generally this can be done by pressing F6 or going Build -> Rebuild Solution from the main menu.
 
You should get something similar to the following text in the output window. If you get an errors detailed here hopefully there should also be a hint of how to fix it. Something else to check before trying to bind your new workflow to a document library is that the correct files have been deployed to the 12 hive. Look in ..\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES\ – or whatever you called your workflow and you should see feature.xml, workflow.xml, DemoInitiation.xsn and TaskEdit.xsn.
 
If the deploy seemed to run ok and you have all the files in your Feature folder, go and try your workflow out! Good luck!
 
I hope all the above makes sense. In the net blog posting i’ll explain how to test out your newly deployed workflow feature.

How to add an InfoPath Contact Selector People Picker

InfoPath 2007 ships with a control called Contact Selector Control that will allow to implement a People Picker in your feedback form.

The Contact Selector control is an ActiveX control but it is a special cased control, in that it can also be used in InfoPath browser forms. To use this control there are specific steps that need to be taken – let’s take a look at those now.

Step 1: Add the Contact Selector control to your Controls Task Pane
1) From the Controls Task Pane click the Add or Remove Custom Controls link
2) Click the Add button
3) On the first screen of the Add Custom Control Wizard select ActiveX control and click Next
4) From the list of controls, choose Contact Selector and click Next

5) Select “Don’t include a .cab file” and click Next
6) For Binding Property select Value and click Next
7) From the Field or group type box choose Field or group (any data type) and click Finish

8) Click Close and then click OK
Step 2: Create the data structure for the Contact Selector Control
The Contact Selector control needs to have a specific data structure to work properly – this is documented on the “Items” tab of the Properties screen for the control; however, we’ll include that information here as well.
**IMPORTANT!**Spelling and capitalization must be exactly the same, starting with the “Person” group!
1) Add a non-Repeating Group named: gpContactSelector
2) Add a Repeating Group named: Person
3) Add the following 3 text fields to the Person group: DisplayName, AccountId and AccountType

Step 3: Add and bind the Contact Selector control to the View
1) Drag the gpContactSelector Group to the View and select “Contact Selector” from the list of controls

2) You’re almost done…! 🙂
Step 4: Add a secondary data source XML file which specifies the SharePoint server
The Contact Selector control needs to know the “context” of where the user validation should occur. These steps are not necessary if you are only displaying the form in a browser from SharePoint – in this case, it uses the context of the site from where it was provisioned; however, if you are in a mixed client/browser scenario you will need to include this XML file so forms opened in the client can use this functionality.
1) Launch Notepad
2) Copy and paste this one-line XML:
<Context siteUrl=""http://””/&gt;
**NOTE: Replace with the name of your server
3) Save this as: Context.xml (again – naming and capitalization are important)
4) Add Context.xml as a “Receive” type Secondary Data Connection to your form template and make sure the option “Include the data as a resource file” is enabled

Step 5: Test!
You should now be able to Preview the form, enter a name or logon alias, click the “Check Names” button and resolve the name! Alternatively you could click the “To” button to perform a Search if you do not know the complete name of the user.
One other important point: if this control is something you will use numerous times, this process works great to create a “Contact Selector Template Part” – then you only have to complete these steps one time!

Tips for correcting the WSS Explorer View

As many of you may know, WSS Explorer View can be very flakey at times.

I have made several calls to Microsoft and below is a list of fixes they suggested to resolve the issues with Explorer View.

– Install IE6 SP1, if it’s already installed, make a repair
– Remove and Install the WebFolders (c:\winnt\system32\WebFldrs.msi)
– Install MDAC 2.8 SP1
– Register this key to support a url more than 100 caracters
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet
Explorer\Main\FeatureControl\KB325355_INCREASE_WEBFOLDER_MAXURLLENGTH_TO_260CHAR]
“”Iexplore.exe””=dword:00000001
– Install the patch Webfldrs-KB892211-ENU.exe