I read somewhere that by the age of twenty one, the average millennial will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games … for us older folks, we shout in glorious victory when we get in the fastest moving checkout line! Why? We all enjoy the challenge and the reward of competition. According to game designer Jane McGonigal, the positive traits that gamers develop include: the drive for productivity, “urgent optimism” and the ability to “weave a tight social fabric.” Sounds like great attributes for any high-functioning team! And so enters the concept of gamification: since gaming is here to stay, doesn’t it make sense that we apply the dynamics of a game to a non-game environment to reap the benefits of increased stimulation? How can you apply gamification to your team?
Have you ever encountered doubt or disbelief after explaining a monster goal? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Have you found yourself on the receiving end of a cringe, eye roll, shake of the head or the “You’re kidding me, right?” look? Don’t fret, it’s just part of the innovation territory. We’re better off being surrounded by people who are open-minded, supportive, and have faith in us. Yet we do need both types of people on our team: ones to warn us and others to bolster us. We should decide to pursue our goals based on our own gut feel, balanced with the proper perspective received from both the negative Nellies and the positive Pollies. How will you dare to be different and trust yourself for your vision?
- Make sure there isn’t a bigger underlying problem. When morale starts to flag, many business owners try the quick fix of throwing raises at people to improve morale. However, declining morale and departure to key staff may point to larger underlying problems in the company around stagnating market share and losing your competitive edge. It may be time to open up the hood and do a full engine overhaul!
- Examine how you are motivating your team. Recent studies have shown that many people today (especially young people) are less motivated by money than by having a sense of mission, a great work environment, inspiration and a sense of camaraderie. Check out the book Getting Employees to Fall in Love with Your Company by Jim Harris, Ph.D. for more ideas (it’s an older book, but it’s full of great ideas: http://tinyurl.com/lovemycompany).
- Conduct a “work climate survey.” Don’t make assumptions or operate in a vacuum. Get information on how your team REALLY feels about working at your company. Use an outside firm to create and conduct the survey and make sure it’s anonymous so the hard questions can be asked and answered.
- Get more balance. Most team members actually need help getting more balance in their work and family life, so having a fun, dynamic and flexible work environment will often be more inspirational than raises and fancy titles.
- Conduct an externally facilitated strategic retreat. Smart business owners conduct strategic planning retreats at least once a year. Using outside facilitation provides critical objectivity and separation from the day-to-day operations of the business that help you identify key strategic and/or operational steps that need to be made.
- Re-evaluate your team. If some top performers or key staff members have left, you probably need to re-evaluate your team to ensure you have the right people on the right seats in the bus moving forward.
A strong team has a proactive leader versus a reactive leader. Which one are you?
Opportunities are problems waiting to be solved; those that solve them reap the rewards. Being a problem solver is not just for ourselves—those around us MUST be adept at it. But can we promote more effective problem solving? Consider it two sides of a coin. Each individual must: (1) possess the desire to problem solve and think creatively and (2) be comfortable with and capable of problem solving together with others. So why not emulate a sports team and practice? Do a fun problem-solving challenge at the next team meeting. It will provide insights into how each person thinks and raise the collective skill level of the team. How well do you problem solve as a team, and what can you do to increase that?
World changers focus less on new systems and processes and more on a clearly articulated vision.
At the most basic level, a vision statement is meant to put words to what we’re out to achieve with our business or project. On a much deeper level, however, it should be used to communicate our vision to those who can make it happen; investors, team members, clients and even our friends. Think of it as a mantra: JUST DO IT (Nike). Simple, yet powerful and memorable. It comes down to this: if we can reflexively speak our vision to others without even thinking, applause is due. But if our stakeholders can do the same, we deserve a standing ovation! Ask two of your team members to recite your vision statement. Now ask a client. Now what are you going to do as a result?
Leaders are defined by the achievements of their team, not the details of their daily decisions.
Sometimes a leader’s role is not to lead, but rather to act as a mirror. It’s interesting to consider that the highest functioning, most elite team doesn’t need a leader to micromanage or make daily decisions at all. It requires a leader who can ask profound questions and identify the needs of the unit, then remove the bureaucratic barriers so they can defy the odds and accomplish their mission. Ask yourself whether you’re controlling, enabling, or enhancing your team’s effectiveness. Here’s a quick test: if you walked away from your team, would it continue to function successfully without you? If not, perhaps it’s time to consider cutting back on your own decision-making and control, and encourage them to self-delegate & problem-solve among themselves. Are you serving or suffocating your team?
Passion ignites the fire in our bellies, and drives us to dream of expanded horizons beyond our fears & failures.
Everyone on your team has a particular role & each has their own personal passion. It’s these passions and interests that you must identify in order to create a team that is totally on fire! What is it that attracted your team members to their particular roles? Is it direct customer interaction, is it writing, is it finding creative solutions? Ask them! When our roles evolve in business, sometimes the very thing that excites us to begin with is no longer a focus. As a leader, it’s our task to ensure each member of our team is successful—one of the best ways to do this is to create an environment where they are in love with their roles and working with passion. What are your team members passionate about?
Our next Take-Away comes from a great pre-submitted question: Is it better to have an “A” Team and a “B” Plan or a “B” Team with and “A” Plan.
- There is No Such Thing as an A-plan: The truth is that the perfect plan is a myth…it just doesn’t exist. Read the book Getting to Plan B By John Mullins [Provide affiliate link to this book]. Most of us have heard the old adage “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and this is true of business plans too. While planning is important, don’t make the mistake of “over-planning”, since half of your plan will likely go right out the window as soon as you put it in motion. Today’s dynamic business environment requires nimble adaptation to constantly shifting business factors. In a nutshell, trying to create the perfect “A” plan can actually set you up for failure.
- Leadership is Key: Think of all the sports teams that have assembled the greatest individual talent possible, yet failed to win a championship. Now think of teams that have lesser talent, yet were able to gel, overcome the odds and win. The difference? It all comes down to leadership! Effective leaders are able to share the organization’s vision/core values with the entire team and inspire them to greatness.
- Understand How Your Team is Built: We preach this constantly. To operate at peak efficiency, you must know yourself and your strengths. To get the most from your team, you must understand how each team member is built, what their strengths are, and how they can best support the organization. While there are numerous assessments and other resources out there to do this, we’ve developed a highly effective method – based on how the U.S. Military evaluates the Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs – to help organizations discover and leverage their unique TEAM DNA. To discuss how we can help your organization, please contact us: Team@BroughtonAdvisory.com or 800.646.4186 toll-free.
To learn more about the “A” Team vs. the “B” team, please listen to the replay of the November 2012 Virtual Jam Session
iListen. iLearn. iLead.
You might be a leader, but you don’t have all the answers all the time. Leadership involves listening, collaboration, partnerships, and team building. Sure, you may very well be the go-to, answer-person; but it’s quite likely your teammates have the answers within themselves already. This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, because contrary to popular belief, leaders don’t have all the answers, even though they attract all the questions (and problems)! Secondly, it should come as a big relief that, as a leader, all you actually need to do well is empower your team to believe in themselves and their own judgment. It sure takes the pressure off having to be right all the time, doesn’t it? How do you bring out the best in your team?
Don’t mistake others’ limitations & failings for lack of standards. Communicate. Inspect. Expect.
As success seekers & leaders we hold ourselves to a high standard…so why wouldn’t we hold our teammates to that same standard? Our role as chief standard-bearer is vital to our ventures’ success because of our mission to build the best product, service and team possible. But, slow down…our expectations of high standards may prove detrimental to success if all we do is simply expect our teams to conform to high standards. Folks can’t meet our expectations if they don’t know our expectations. Progress starts with accessing the talent & resources of our team; inspiring them with our vision of success (and communicating it effectively & frequently); and encouraging them to bring their own ideas & flavors to the table. How do you seek input for growth and excellence from your team?