I forget where I first heard the rallying cry Question Authority!
I mean, I’m a sixties person. I had it on a sweatshirt, on my college notebook (kids, this was a primitive device that required pen, paper, and handwriting) and on the stickers we pasted on phone booths. (Oh my… How do I explain ‘phone booth’? Ah! They were conveniently placed little rooms where Clark Kent could change into Superman.)
I think the term is also in one of James Baldwin’s early works.
Questioning authority was a team sport. We’d gather in small groups, debating whether or not the latest word from Washington – or from our college administration – was TRUTH. (We liked TRUTH and we spelled it that way.) Remember, there was a conflict raging in Southeast Asia (not a war, officially). And there were conflicts raging in the streets of urban America.
As we sung along with Bob Dylan, the times indeed were “a-changin’”.
I have not stopped questioning authority. But along the way, I started to listen to the answers.
Mostly, since I’m now old enough to be an authority, this means I get to question myself. And listen to my answers. And go back and clarify exactly what I meant when I said that. Sometimes what I thought was TRUTH is merely correct. Or open to debate.
You may not think you are an authority, but you are, at least on something. (Age does not really matter. Five year olds can be great authorities on the most surprising topics.)
So, when someone says something authoritative, what’s your default response? Question, accept, or listen and then decide?
If you are always questioning, you risk getting caught in the undertow of doubt. Slogging through battle after battle will surely slow your forward motion.
If you never question, you can never use the power of Authority as a stone against which to sharpen your individuality, to hone your wits, or to create synergy by joining with other people of like mind.
But if you listen, you have time to question. And time to digest the feedback. And time to raise your level of awareness before you ask your next, deeper question. People need to develop a mindful relationship with authority, whether it is internal or external. And you’ll be the wiser for the exercise because you will gain greater knowledge and trust (as appropriate) in that authority.
By the way, I also recall (with just a hint of a blush) parroting another watchword of the day: Don’t trust anyone over thirty! That particular form of authority didn’t last long.
This post originally appeared on Switch & Shift.
I was not born a leader.
When I was born (and this was a very long time ago), there were serious defects in my leadership blueprint. First, I had two X chromosomes at a time when one Y was needed in order to be a leader. Actually, nobody knew what a chromosome was back then, so 42 Extra Long was the preferred measure, and I didn’t reach my full 5’2” until I was 25.
Although I had no choice in the matter, I also ended up with two loving parents, neither of whom was an entrepreneur or executive. It would seem hopeless.
Now, in 2013, diversity is desirable. My dear friends in executive search tell me that they are under the gun to produce diversity slates for the high level positions they are engaged to fill. A diversity slate, one told me with his typically charming sense of irony, is one that includes at least one woman and one non-white.
When pressed to explain, he went on to say that this configuration positioned the first runner up to be the feel-good candidate while there actually would be no danger of hiring a person other than someone who looked like the rest of the executive team.
I think we’re looking at the wrong kind of diversity.
What if, instead, we looked at people from the viewpoint of the organization? What if, instead, the organization (as a living thing itself) were to provide the want-list, instead of the typical laundry list of job specs written by HR? What if we actually treated organization’s needs with respect and consideration?
This would truly represent a revolutionary change in the way we look at leadership and organizational dynamics.
It turns out that organizations – small, medium, large, and Fortune list huge – all have similar fundamental needs. The people who fill those needs best are the ones who feel, deep inside, a connection to the specific organizational need they are serving. This is what gives a person the sense that they are making meaningful contributions, more so than anything else they could be doing.
People may do various kinds of work similar in focus and thoughtfulness, but they experience different kinds of work in different ways; each aligned with the specific need of the organization that they are filling. This has especially important relevance to leadership.
There are those who are drawn to create big visions, as an entirely new product, or service, or level of awareness. They start an organization as a way to draw other people in to make it happen. In the language of Teamability, they are Founders.
There are those who bond to the vision of the Founder and lead the strategic process of putting it on the road to realization. In the language of Teamability, they are Vision Movers.
There are those who take the drive and activity of the Vision Mover and shape and form it into a more elegant, efficient framework. This transforms the team as well as the project. In the language of Teamability, they are Vision Formers.
There are those who adapt big-picture strategies into action. They are the heroes of their teams as they lead them into the fray. In the language of Teamability, they are Action Movers.
And there are those who make sure that every detail is in place, been accomplished well, and that the project is not closed until everything is done. They are extraordinary project managers, no matter what the project. In the language of Teamability, they are Action Formers.
All are leaders. All are essential. If you want to lead, and you feel comfortable in leading, one of these Roles probably resonates with you.
But there are five more needs that organizations have, and without them the organization is incomplete and structurally flawed. If you fill one or the other Roles, you may not be automatically seen as a leader. However, that does not mean you can’t lead. It may very well be that your organization needs you for a special kind of leading that only you can do.
We’re all in this together, and all people were born to serve. Whether your leadership is recognized or not is less important than your desire to contribute. It is really a matter of finding the right niche.
Here are some tactics you can try along your way to becoming a leader:
- Start, or take a leadership position in, an organization that does something good for people. (I was involved in several parenting nonprofits and learned the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ‘well worth the trouble.’)
- People often make snap judgments based on how you look, and they’re often wrong. But, the more you tune into how they see you, the more you can influence their ideas about you. Ask a friend for feedback. (I will be eternally grateful to my BFF Margot for getting me to stop dressing like a mom, even at business meetings.)
- I have to give credit for this one to serial entrepreneur and investor, Vincent Schiavone. He told me his secret in two words: Get Famous! (I have been working on it ever since. Blogging is a good start!)
- Ask yourself why you want to lead. If your answer is to make more money, there are probably easier ways. If your answer is to change the world (or some part of it) start figuring out how you’re going to do that and, more important, who you’ll need to team with in order to get there.
- Finally: don’t give up. Remember that times change and you will change with them. What is impossible at 30 can be possible at 40, probable at 50, and inevitable at 60. (Just remember as you get older to stay young in your mind, your heart, and your body.)
Leadership is, after all, quite simple… and has nothing to do with being ‘born with it’. All you have to do is be the person other people want to follow!
This post originally appeared on Switch & Shift.
Have you found your tribes? Not tribe. Tribes.
This is a mobile-social-connected world. Perhaps way too M-S-C for some people…but if you’re reading this, you’re not one of them. You are multidimensional, geographically diverse, and time-zone agnostic in your scope of connectedness. But we still have our tribes.
Like me, you probably have a primary tribe, your home team. (For me, they are my Teamability peeps at The Gabriel Institute.) And there’s that amorphous tribe in the social cloud I’m often found floating on. And the tribes of common interest: the treps, the sixties folks, the people who are at the table with me on birthdays and holidays, my social media followers, and so on.
Now I have a new tribe, and it is really, really cool! I have joined the brand new Constellation Orbits group. Founded by R. ‘Ray’ Wang, Constellation Research is a guiding light in the fields of innovative and disruptive technology. Its stated goal is to help clients realize the Art of the Possible.
Constellation’s analysts are as varied as the places on the globe that they hail from. What they have in common though, is the depth of trust that I (and others much wiser than me) have in their advice on everything organizations need to know in order to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving technological future.
The Orbits program brings together an equally diverse group of technologists, entrepreneurs, bloggers and business people each specializing in one or more of Constellation’s research themes: CoIT & The New C-Suite; Data to Decisions; Digital Marketing Transformation; Matrix Commerce; Next Gen Customer; Tech Optimization & Innovation; and my personal fave, Future of Work.
And there’s also a warm and wonderful crew who support Constellation’s clients and colleagues in so many ways.
I’ll be blogging on the Orbits site twice a month (or more!) and Constellation will be offering my workshops and Team Analysis advisory services as part of Constellation Academy. I’ll also be in attendance later this year at the fourth annual Constellation Connected Enterprise (news to follow!), which always feels like a homecoming.
Now, no matter where I go as a member of this globally interconnected tribe, I’ll never be far from home.
When I was a very young mother (and this was a very, very long time ago) my mantra was ‘people are more important than things’. It worked the way a good mantra should, as an all-purpose stress reducer. It was especially handy after some bauble had been broken by the crashing of a particular toddler into a coffee table, or to calm things down after that same toddler started pounding on a sibling with a purloined toy. In other words, my mantra served equally as a reminder to myself, and as an influence on the moral development of my offspring.
People before things. I think it’s still worthy of consideration.
The other day, a former pro football player-turned-consultant told me about what goes on in the locker room when the team is not on the field. I have to admit, I was doubly disappointed. There were no lurid tales of cheerleaders gone wild; nor were there any heart-warmers about player’s moms showing up with homemade chicken soup or huckleberry pie. Not even a kid with cancer getting an autographed shirt from her sports idol. Nope. It was mostly the same as what goes on in the average living room these days: just individuals communing with their tablets and smartphones. Oh, dear.
‘But wait,’ you say, ‘they can’t all just be playing games! There’s Facebook and Twitter, sending selfies on Instagram, and texting, too.’ Yes, these pastimes do give the impression of social activity, but even then they may not actually be social, because no matter how many ‘friends’ or followers you’ve amassed, you’re alone with yourself and mostly sending one-way signals. There is no guarantee, and rarely an immediate way to know, whether or not even one person has seen, thought about, or cared what you just did.
Compare that with having a face-to-face conversation.
I can understand the appeal, having come of age during the time of beatnik culture. (This was before hippies, and way, way before the dawn of hip-hop.) Back then, alienation had been raised to an art form, but poetry was recited in coffee houses and listeners snapped their fingers to signify that the message was received, processed, and appreciated. There were creators, critics, patrons, and fans, in person and active on the typical team.
Today, we have an internet that can (and does) bring people together from all around the world to support a cause or to fund a startup business, and websites that personalize user experiences. But are these really personal connections – or just sophisticated transactions? The buzz-phrase ‘Internet of Things’ refers to an internet populated by inanimate objects that can be tracked and managed remotely. I don’t think it was meant to include people, but I worry if that might be where it’s headed.
As the word Alchemy describes the effort to transform base metals to gold, Dr. Joshua Lederberg coined the term ‘Algeny’ to describe the ‘upgrading’ of human organisms to generate better performance. In terms of giving people more knowledge, more range, and greater potential, the Internet of Things may seem to be a sort of ‘Algenist’s Apprentice.’ But like the Sorcerer, whose errant Apprentice misused powers that he didn’t fully comprehend, perhaps we should be aware. Not hostile or fearful. Just aware.
Consider this: those football players are surrounded by people whose job it is to polish and reinforce the interconnectedness of self, others, and team success. Their solitary communion with the Internet of Things is regularly replaced by green grass and a chalk-lined gridiron where (in an immediate and physical way) they crash headlong into their Reality of Teaming.
Yes, I have just capitalized Reality and Teaming. For those of us who are ‘on our own’ in exploring and experiencing the disembodied existence made possible in the internet and all of its things, Reality and Teaming may well be the saving graces.
Here’s to a warm and wonderful 2014. May all your interconnections be supportive, synergetic, and oh-so-satisfying!
I’m not a hospital administrator or the owner of a clinic. I’m just a regular person. Yet over my lifetime I’ve had to hire at least three dozen doctors. They’ve been my medical advisors (for family as well as me), my ‘body shop’ people (getting broken parts working again), and those who have risen to the job of ushering us through life’s transitions, beginning, middle, and end.
MANY OF THEM HAVE BEEN GREAT TEAM PLAYERS. THE OTHERS, I’VE FIRED.
For more than half of my lifetime, I’ve been observing and studying the way people team together, and I’m also the architect of new technology that measures just that. Many of those early observations were made in health care environments, such as emergency rooms. I learned that when physicians and nurses ‘team well’ together, people who might have gone straight to the morgue are soon sitting up and asking ‘What time do we eat?’ But…sad to say…when medical teaming is out of whack, people who should have lived, don’t. When that happens, you can’t point a finger at any one person. The proximal cause is a shortage of collaboration, and that’s not something we can control…or is it?
My opinion: yes. How do I know? Because the ‘technology of teaming’ – tells me so. But you don’t need technology to make medical care work better for you as an individual. Here’s how that happens, at least for me.
I’m an informed patient. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer that term to ‘health care consumer’. (Developing a relationship is preferable to ‘consuming’ your doctor’s time, attention and energy.) I know how I want my healthcare to go, and I do a lot to keep it on track. You know the basic components: nutrition, exercise, sleep, work I love, people I love. Most of the time it works great and I really don’t need help. But there are things I can’t do myself. Swap out those cataracts for bright new vision, for instance. Or get a second opinion on what will help a loved one in decline achieve a satisfying conclusion to a life lived well.
So I figure, what I need is a physician who’s a great team player and who wants to play on my team. And that’s the person I’m happy to hire.
HERE’S THE JOB DESCRIPTION:
You must be willing to lead, follow or get out of the way, as appropriate.
If I tell you I know little or nothing about something that is critically important (and I can’t learn it quickly enough on Medscape) I need you to take the lead. By that I mean, give me the big picture. The truth, as you see it. Maybe even the truth as others have seen it, making clear which part is medical party line, which part is new research, and which part is your opinion, because I might then feel the need to add another person to our team; one who has a responsible alternative viewpoint.
But then, if I know a lot about something, and I already have firm opinions, I need you to follow. That could mean telling me about options that will help me reach my goal, pointing me to the support structures or information sources to help me get through whatever I’m going through.
GET OUT OF THE WAY
And sometimes, I might just need you to get out of the way. That could be when the time comes, and I hope that time is long off, when there is no more to be done.
That’s it. The rest is just practicing medicine.
This post originally appeared on the blog BRAINFOOD.
John Marshall once served on the board of a start-up organization with me and since he was the only person with CFO credentials on tap, I asked him to do the budget. That didn’t make much sense, he quickly pointed out, saying “Janice, there’s no income to budget.” Never one to waste talent, I said, “Well, John, go figure out where to get some.” Whereupon he enlightened me thusly:
“CFO’s don’t bring in money – we force others to bring in money. We then complain that it is not enough and force them to go back out and get some more. When we get the money, we hate to part with it and we arm wrestle with those in the organization who seem to think money grows on trees. This is pretty much what we do – and should anyone ask about this at a cocktail party, we try to get them to buy our drinks.”
Okay, he was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But I got the point. If you want a great CFO (like John) you’d better make sure you have a great marketing and sales team to bring the money in. And a great operations team to make sure there aren’t great big piles of wasted resources. And equally great everyone else, to fill the rest of the seats, because the more you give a great CFO to work with, the more value they add to your enterprise!
And yes, I did buy him a drink.
This blog originally appeared on Innovation America.
Innovation: the final frontier. These are the voyages of your life. Your mission: to explore new ideas, to seek out new opportunities and new prospects, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
It’s your future. You can either go it alone – be the captain, first officer, communications officer, navigator, chief engineer, cook and bottle washer – or you can discover and develop your personal best way to make team contributions, trusting others to make their contributions with equal authority and responsibility.
Teaming in this new way is a daunting challenge, with potential high costs and risks. It’s like being newly born and all of a sudden having to navigate nursery school. Life doesn’t work that way. We learn to relate to other people – to team with them – by first connecting with one other person, and then two others. Collaboration happens haltingly at first. Think about the complications of getting along with parents or guardians. How long did it take you to figure out that you couldn’t tell one of them something without the other somehow finding out?
So if you want to invest in better teamwork, your quickest ROI will come from finding a person – just one person – with whom you have a natural fit. This is not a random match. Research tells us that for each one of 10 specific modes of team contribution (known as Role, with a capital R), there is a complementary Role. When you meet a person who is your Role-partner, an instant connection will be made, and it will have nothing to do with age, appearance, gender or intellect. It will be a naturally occurring synergy between your Roles that inspires, ignites, produces, distributes or solves something and creates business value.
If you haven’t yet experienced Teamability, you don’t know your Role, and that’s okay for now. Just read that list again and let the words sink in. Inspires… ignites… produces… distributes… solves. Which one seems more resonant, more appealing and more deeply meaningful to you?
Here’s a first step toward discovery of the part of you than longs to team with other people. It works because the five words are essentially about the needs of a team. If you sensed a special connection to one above the others, then that word may be telling you something about the Role that exists within you.
Your Role is likely to be a Founder or a Communicator – the Role-pair that gets people excited about a new mission. Do you have a big dream, or do you love bringing people together to support the achievement of big dreams? For a team to form, to innovate and to do more than simply carry on, there needs to be a vision, and a means for communicating and maintaining the vision. When a Founder and a Communicator get together, that’s what happens.
The Roles of Vision Mover and Vision Former convert ideas and descriptions into strategic plans and activities. Have you noticed that you naturally take to being a spark plug in a group? Do the words “here’s how we’re going to make this happen” ring a bell? These are power-packed Roles, but without each other’s influence they can be like gasoline in a dish. One flash and it’s over. Together they are like gasoline in an engine. Apply the spark and you can really go someplace!
Your Role is likely either an Action Mover – the deployment specialist – or an Action Former, the expert in detail and follow-up. Think of a team leader and with the troops burning through to-do lists, and a project manager with a clipboard, checking things off as they’re completed. Here’s the essential Role-pairing: deployment without follow-up can go seriously haywire, and follow-up without deployment is pointless.
If you are an Explorer, you may have noticed your knack for spotting valuable things or opportunities that others missed — like, all the time. If you are a Watchdog, you probably have a natural interest in caring for the needs of others; getting those resources to the place where they’ll do the most good. Explorers team from a distance, and Watchdogs team from within. As a pair, they provide an internal/external linkage and balance that becomes a lifeline for any kind of organization.
Every organization needs sources of information and applied ingenuity. People of the Curator Role will, all on their own, gather and organize massive amounts of information. (How big is your library, and how many trivia contests have you won?) Meanwhile, Conductors have a seemingly limitless appetite for tackling thorny problems. They are the ultimate fixers and greasers-of-the-wheels of production. (Do you feel that you don’t get the credit you deserve? This Role-pair is a powerhouse of problem solving, but Curators tend to avoid the spotlight, and Conductors are often misunderstood by the people they help.)
In the end, understanding your own Role and connecting with your Role-partner will begin your voyage of self-discovery and personal innovation. When you no longer feel the need to be everything to everyone, life is less stressful and you get to experience the joy of making a personally meaningful contribution. This brings stress reduction to the whole team and makes everyone more productive. Team players are neither dependent nor co-dependent. They’re interdependent.
And that’s how they prosper.
This blog originally appeared on Monster Thinking.
Whether you’re in a startup or on a team in a huge multinational organization, the quality with which you work together has a big impact on the quality of the services or products you create.
The other day, I heard the CEO of a private equity company say, “I spend 25% of my time arranging for capital – and the other 75% working on human capital.” I have to agree with his priorities. They are especially true when you’re trying to grow a business. But I really don’t like the term ‘human capital’ because I hate to think of people being viewed as dollar bills on legs. So for now let’s just say, as I prefer, it’s all about the team. And where there are people working together to get something done, there’s always something that demands your time and attention.
If you’ve been around a while, you’ve seen the typical problems. For example:
- The team seems to mesh like a well-oiled machine, until one person throws a tantrum, or fails to communicate critical information. Suddenly there is sand in the gears.
- You’re at a critical juncture in a project, working 24/7, and someone bails out without warning.
- There’s a change in strategy and the team has to turn on a dime, but two people won’t stop jockeying for the leadership position.
Pressure, ambiguity, and stress: those are the facts of business life. Dealing with them constructively and collaboratively is essential, and that’s when the quality of the teaming really counts. But, team quality is an elusive concept. In order to define it, you need to know how to measure it. And since what you measure is what you get, you need to be using the right measures or you’ll wind up with lots of data, and not much information.
Team Quality Hiring (TQH)
If you’re reading this, then I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard of Teamability®, the new technology that we created and engineered to identify and organize how people will perform on a team. Because Teamability is fundamentally about team interaction, it introduces completely new – and surprisingly succinct – information about forming and populating teams.
For illustration, let’s look at the inner workings of teamwork from the perspective of the team itself, as if it were a living breathing entity of its own. Like all living things, a team needs sustenance – in this case, everything required not only to survive, but to grow, to gain future direction, to create value, and to have a reason for being.
First, the team will want to know its mission, because that will drive the selection of team members. If you are the team’s caretaker, you should identify the functional area in which you expect the team to be operating, say accounting or customer service. Then you’ll need to consider the plans and processes that will organize the team’s work.
If this is an executive team, it will probably be operating at the strategic level, and the ‘product’ will be big-picture guidance and high level plans, along with a general roadmap to success. (That would include benchmarks, success metrics, and maybe even a ‘Plan B’ to be used if things don’t exactly go according to plan.) If it’s a management team, it might be receiving the broader, more visionary plan from the executive suite, but its main job is going to be to flesh out the details, assign the workflows to the various action teams, and monitoring execution. Then there are the action teams that may do some day-to-day planning, but mostly they’ll be doing the hands-on work, and following up to see that all the doing got done well.
Teamability tells us that different people are attracted to different modes of service to the overarching needs of a team. To create a high quality team, you’ll need to select people who really want to contribute in a way that their team needs them to. If you go out and round up a group of really smart strategy people, and then put them on an action-oriented team, they will feel misunderstood and unappreciated. And there’s another unintended consequence: they will also want to re-strategize and plan and push the team in a different direction, instead of just doing the action tasks that are needed.
This is where the concepts of Role-fit and Team-fit come into play. Role-fit is an appropriate match between a person’s Role and their assigned set of job responsibilities. Their Role (see below for a handy summary of terms) simply describes the way in which they will best contribute to the team’s needs. When the two – Role and job responsibilities – are aligned, conditions are ripe for real job satisfaction and the production of higher business value. Team-fit works similarly. A team charged with creating at the visionary, strategic, big-picture level needs vision-oriented Roles, while an action team needs action-oriented Roles.
Then there are the aforementioned stresses and strains in the work environment that must be taken into consideration – both the direct ones (deadlines, high standards) and the abstract ones (like the need to tolerate change and ambiguity). And don’t forget that all teams develop a culture, which is really just their set of norms for how things are done and how people are treated. The measures of Coherence and Teaming Characteristics, which are also reported by Teamability, provide additional guidance in selecting and assigning people to a team.
Finally, you’ll want to compare the existing team structure with the picture that emerges from consolidating Teamability report findings. This is how you will identify the source of excellent performance (or chronic problems), and the specific steps to take that will propagate (or repair) them.
The goals of Team Quality Hiring, of course, are outstanding team performance and measurable business benefits. This is where Teamability shines. Just ask the CEO who mandated Teamability for all hiring, and watched new-hire turnover plummet from 30% to Zero%, as the company grew by 500+ people.
For more information on a Team Quality Hiring pilot, contact us at email@example.com, or call 215-825-2500.
It’s been said that the only deal some salespeople are really good at closing is the one that gets them hired. High turnover rates in sales departments suggest this may be more common than anyone cares to admit!
Clearly, Sales management knows what it wants from salespeople. They test for it, background-check for it, and they interview endlessly for it, yet hiring errors keep happening. So there must be something missing in the process. Something that can tell when, even though it looks, walks, and talks like a sales pro, it’s not going to SELL like one.
There’s a relevant point to the story that follows, so please bear with this ‘true confession.’
I’m a behavioral scientist by training. I know a great deal about interviewing. I used to do a lot of forensic work, where your impressions need to have a foundation that is strong enough to stand up in court. I’m actually pretty good at this. And I’m a mother. I have a daughter who’s in her 30s now. She’s mine—I mean I was there when she was born—and despite the ongoing ‘interview’ that is part of the mother-daughter relationship, I never really GOT what she was all about.
When she was in her early 20s and the company she worked for moved too far away, she looked for a new job and, like a classic clueless parent, I started in with suggestions. She said to me, “Mom, I just want to help people.” So I said, “Become a therapist—we help people.” She looked at me like I had three heads and said, “No, I don’t want to do that—I just want to HELP people.”
“OK then, so become a social worker,” I said.
“NO, I JUST WANT TO HELP PEOPLE,” she shot back.
Luckily this was happening at the time my colleague and I were doing initial validation studies on Teamability®—a technology we created to measure how, and in what way, people will ‘team’ with each other. I asked her to take it. She did love to do quizzes in magazines, even though she’d always says they didn’t get her either.
When the results came in, I was floored. She was NOTHING like I thought. Guilt set in. How could I be so far from understanding my own daughter? I must be a bad mother…and maybe not so good at judging behavior either!
Naturally, I had expected her to be something like me. But she is NOTHING like me. In fact, her approach to working with other people is one I never appreciated, simply because I didn’t understand it. The Teamability report enabled me to see clearly how different her way of ‘helping people’ is from mine—and at the same time, how important it is.
Anyway, I started to respect her for who she is, and our relationship improved enormously. I mean I’m still an ‘idiot mom’ a lot, but at least now I can tell when I’m off-target.
So what does this have to do with Sales performance? Well, my daughter is now the queen of customer service in a large corporation. Why? Because all she wants to do is help people! And the funny thing is, in her job, ‘helping people’ is all about listening closely, understanding people’s needs, reassuring them, and guiding them to the ‘best fit.’ In the process, she inspires tremendous customer loyalty and does a huge amount of upselling and add-on selling.
Are the ‘teaming’ metrics produced by Teamability the missing ingredient in predicting sales performance? We think so. ‘Coherence’ tells you if a salesperson will work with clients and colleagues in a positive, constructive way. ‘Role’ and ‘Teaming Characteristics’ enable the correct pairing of a particular person with a particular type of selling (high-concept vs. technical vs. status-oriented, etc.) And Teamability is objective, while interviewing never is.
Sales is a team sport. These days, if you want to win, you need a BETTER way to pick top-quality team players…and to put them in the right positions.
This blog originally appeared on CustomerThink.com.
I’ve always been fascinated by what other people want to know. And paying attention to the questions they ask, it turns out, can open the door to a person’s inner life. After all, questions can reveal that little is known about the subject, or that a a lot is known but the questioner is still seeking more correct, complete, and comprehensive knowledge.
Here are four of my favorite questions about teamwork. I’m not sure how enlightening the answers were for those who asked them, but maybe they are just what your inquiring mind wants to know.
What makes a great team? What are some clues a team is not working and what are some that a team is working well?
Great teamwork doesn’t come from a collection of intellects, experiences, traits, or skills. It arises within a group of people who feel an affinity for their job responsibilities, who know they are able to make meaningful contributions to the mission of the team, and who deeply connect with the idea that ‘teaming’ is the way to get things done right.
A team of so-called ‘A-players’ may achieve its mission on time and on budget, but might never achieve greatness. Great teams achieve their mission with a communal sense of positive collaboration, respect, and trust. They celebrate together and eagerly look forward to their next mission.
If a team is making progress despite setbacks, pressures, and ambiguities, and no one is falling apart or going ballistic, the team is working well. When teamwork isn’t working, the quality and quantity of individual contribution will vary widely. There will be covert blame and back-biting, and generally people will be just plain frustrated. They won’t want to be there and that’s exactly how they will act.
How big a difference does the leader or manager make in how a team works?
The number one job of a leader is to be a great team player, which involves engaging with people, letting them know what is needed, and how it needs to happen. This is as true at the executive level, where the objectives are strategic and visionary, as it is on the ‘action’ level, where tactical and practical tasks are executed. A leader who imagines him- or herself as elite and separate from others is, at best, just a figurehead.
If you trust, respect, and really connect with people, you’ll make a positive, constructive impact. If you also inspire them, you’ll be even better.
How do you figure out the ‘Role’ a person has when filling a new position? What would you look for during the interview?
The most useful and accessible part of the ‘technology of teaming’ that we developed is the identification of a person’s Role – spelled with a capital R. This isn’t a rank or job title, it’s a person’s affinity for specific modes of service to the needs of a team. Understanding a person’s Role can do wonders for understanding and managing people for success. However, Role can be very difficult to ferret out in an interview because people have been conditioned to focus on selling their personal skills and experiences rather than their sense of service to something bigger than they are, i.e., the needs of the team.
In creating Teamability®, we didn’t invent the Roles – we only figured out how to identify them and the primary ways they interact with each other. And there have always been wise people – teachers, managers, and mentors – who were skillful at spotting what really gets a person going, and then arranging opportunities that can bring that underlying value to the surface. I believe that the best interviewing techniques would borrow from that wisdom, and get people to reveal things they are really passionate about. The interviewer could then compare their deeper motivations to the way they behave when they are talking about the job responsibilities that go with the position for which they are interviewing. If there is alignment, there’s probably a fit. But of course, a Teamability report will tell you this, too…and a lot more.
What is Teamability, and how does it figure this all out? What is actually being assessed?
Teamability is a completely new technology that identifies and organizes the various ways that a person will team with others to solve problems, overcome obstacles, and achieve common goals. It is not derived from personality traits, IQ, EQ, and the like. Consequently, it adds new information and value to other measures.
Teamability produces three new metrics: Role, Coherence, and Teaming Characteristics, in a concise plain-language report. This can speed and simplify the selection process. Prerequisites in the areas of education, skills, and experience will always be highly relevant, but now leaders and hiring managers can also be thinking in terms of the teaming qualities that are most critical to an assignment, or will work best within a particular organizational culture, and then hire to meet those needs. In addition, managers can look at the interactive qualities of the team as a whole and –through management concepts based on teaming analytics – immediately understand where and how to make needed improvements that will increase engagement, and sustain or increase the level of productivity they require.
Understanding a person’s Teamability is highly relevant to the selection, development, management, and motivation of both individuals and teams in any environment.