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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
You can tell that summer is really underway when you get emails from auto repair shops promoting the Seven Point Summer Check-Up. I try to remember to take the old buggy in before June, because there’s nothing worse than heading out in 90-degree heat, only to discover that the air conditioner is blowing warm air. But it’s usually July before I get around to it, and by then I’m competing with everyone else whose car-care planning leaves a lot to be desired.
I used to have a T-shirt that proclaimed, “I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent!” (Props to Ashleigh Brilliant, the – ahem – brilliant author of that line.) It’s true. I’m lacking the motor-driven vehicles part, but I’m pretty good at career vehicles (aka, ‘jobs’). So while I can’t help you with your car this summer, I can help you tune up your current position.
Here is a Seven-Point series of questions. If you can answer all of them with a resounding YES, you’ll be able to stay cool and get where you want to go. If not, you might consider taking a peek into your owner’s manual.
- I am aware of the vision, mission, and/or goal for everything I do at work.
- When problems arise—of any kind—they are usually resolved in a reasonable and efficient way.
- My job responsibilities make sense to me, in terms of what my organization really needs.
- I get respect and recognition from others in a manner that is meaningful to me.
- My manager ‘gets’ me – consistently listens to me, values me, and encourages me to grow.
- My coworkers feel like a real team to me – we share the load, we support each other, we have fun together, and we get the job done.
- I may not have big-picture responsibility or an executive title, but I know that I make a significant contribution.
So, are you cruising along to your destination with cool confidence, or are you off-course, negotiating detours of frustration and dissatisfaction?
If the score on your check-up was less than optimal, here are some tips:
- First, to quote Socrates, Know Thyself. (Actually, being Greek, he probably said: γνῶθι σεαυτόν.) But in any language, it’s the best starting point from which to discover who you really want to be, and what sort of team contributions are really meaningful to you. If you’re not too sure about these things, ask people who know and love you for their perspective on the kinds of activities that always seem to get you going and make you happy.
- Second, learn something new every day. You don’t have to take a formal class to learn, and that’s not necessarily the best way, either. Try connecting with someone who knows more about the topic than you do. It’s called social learning, and it’s a powerful force for developing your teamwork skills because you learn with other people.
- And last, read the seven points again and ask yourself this question: ‘If I were in charge, how would I go about making each of these points universally true?’ Then, pick a career destination where you believe it can happen.
Remember, the purpose of an automotive check-up is to keep the car in top condition so it can perform with excellence over the long haul. Doesn’t your career deserve at least an equal level of care?
I’ve taken to using the word ‘cluefulness’ and all its glorious variants because I’m tired of hearing people bandy about phrases like ‘he hasn’t got a clue’ and ‘she’s the most clueless person I ever had on my staff.’ Listen up: that language misses the point, and here’s why.
First of all, people who don’t have a clue don’t realize what they are missing. Duh. (Why would they have a clue about themselves if they don’t have a clue about others?
Second, I realized that it doesn’t matter if you have a clue or not. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you really didn’t have a clue? (For me, the first video game after Pong left me in the cold. Blasting Space Invaders and chomping power pills just wasn’t an attraction.) What matters is whether or not you care.
In the case of video games, I was clueless but I still had to care. Between my two kids, the television was permanently tuned to whichever game one or the other was playing.
I was forced to confront my cluelessness and to try to become clueful.
Guess what. It wasn’t that hard. I asked questions. I listened politely. I shook my head, despairing I would ever be clueful enough. And amidst the head-shaking, some puzzle pieces must have rattled into place. I realized that my attraction to the game was irrelevant. It was important to my kids, and they were entitled to their own view of the game. And the world. And even their own view of me.
So that solved the problem. Because I cared, I became more clueful, at least where it concerned my job as mom. And, amazingly enough, it also worked at the office.
We can increase cluefulness in our time. We just need to care about it.