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Five Ways To Get Optimal Outcomes From Your Team

Season 4, Ep. 2

What makes a team optimal?


Alignment, communication, collaboration, energy management, leverage, trust, and what else?


Google did some comprehensive multi-year research on this topic. I’ll refer to it below and map it to my work during the past 30 years in the areas of safety, belonging, and mattering.


I’ve found it all comes back to safety, belonging and mattering, no matter what structure you want to wrap around the idea of optimal teaming. Let’s look at what Google learned in its extensive research on the topic.


Over the course of two years (ending in November 2015), Google conducted more than 200 interviews where it assessed more than 250 attributes of what makes an optimal team. The findings from the 180 teams studied were surprising.

While they had hoped to find a recipe for an optimal team (for instance, take one Ivy League MBA, one extrovert, one expert engineer), Google actually found that who was on the team mattered far less than how team members interacted, structured their work, experienced their contributions. The answer was in behavior and emotional resilience. The results echoed some of what Carnegie Mellon researchers found back in 2010 with their collective intelligence work.


They learned that five key dynamics resulted in optimal teams:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?



Google found that psychological safety was by far the most important dynamic. Without this people don’t feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions, checking in. There’s too much risk of being labeled as “out of it” or “clueless.” All humans want to belong to a group, and we’ll take tremendous risks (such as not speaking out even if we feel it’s very important) if we feel we may become an outcast, lose status in our tribe, or be ostracized somehow.


Googlers now use a tool they call teams. It’s a 10-minute check-in on the five dynamics. A modified check-in is below, one that our clients find works very well. During the past year, more than 3,000 Googlers across 300 teams have used teams and focused on the five factors above. They often will kick off team meetings with each team member sharing a risk they took in the past week. The net is that they’ve seen psychological safety ratings increase by 6% and structure/clarity increase by 10%. But the best part is the increased connection in the team due to increased communication.


Rate Your Team Per Google’s Five Dynamics

Consider the five factors from Google:

  • Psychological Safety
  • Dependability
  • Structure & Clarity
  • Meaning of Work
  • Impact of Work


On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is excellent, rate your experience of each factor in your team. Now total up your score. Here’s our rating format. If your total score is:

Up to 10: High Risk. There’s a lot of work to do. Use the table below to map to safety, belonging, mattering. Get a neuroscience-based coach, and get to work healing your culture.

11-18: Risky. Your team is not performing nearly as well as it could. Let’s get everyone more connected and collaborative. Time for team training and coaching.

19-25: Solid. Congrats! You’re on a high-performing team. Time to raise the bar!

Below is a shortcut to help you figure out where to focus, how to get better, and a way to talk about this concept with your teammates in a structured way.


Let’s now map frameworks:


Easy, yes?


More Episodes

9/23/2021

The Surprising Link Between Customer Experience And Employee Engagement

Season 4, Ep. 11
How would your customers describe their experience with your firm?Please take a moment and rate the Customer Experience (CX) that you believe you deliver:Better than all companies in any industryThe best in our industryConsiderably above average in our industrySlightly above average in our industryAverage for our industrySlightly below average in our industryConsiderably below average in our industryNow, what CX would you like to deliver within 3 years?[Credit: Temkin Group Q1 2017 CX Management Survey]Data: Q1 2017 CX Management Survey of 180 organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenuesAccording toAimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and VP atTemkin Group, 55% of all the companies surveyed want to be best in their industry or better than all companies in any industry when it comes to the level of CX they deliver they deliver within three years. That’s a big crowd wanting to get into a small, small slot.As Aimee and I caught up at the recentNorth American Employee Engagement Awardsit became crystal clear: it’s time to stress the connection between Employee Engagement (EE) and CX. Now.Customers today have a louder voice (think Yelp and other rating sites), have access to more information on you and your competitors, and as a result expect an increasingly awesome experience. And they should.Meanwhile your competitors are launching new products and services faster than ever before, and are consistently raising the bar on CX. And they should.So what’s an organization to do?Arm yourself with these 3 CX-Boosting Strategies!3 CX-Boosting Strategies1) Become A CX Leader—By Focusing First On EmployeesCX leaders (companies whose CX is significantly better than their competitors) have more engaged employees. Here’s whatTemkin Groupfound:[Credit: Temkin Group Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2017]Base:5,552 U.S. consumers employed in for-profit organizationsHow exactly does engagement work? What happens in the brain when we are engaged?Engagement comes from feeling good, from passion for the company, from meaningful work, from attaching part of one’s identity with their job. And this comes down to some neurotransmitters and a hormone. As leaders when we intentionally help the brains of our employees to generate dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin we create good feelings for the organization. Dopamine (anticipation of reward) and serotonin (feeling good, well-being) and oxytocin (bonding, feeling connected to others) can be created via a number of programs in yourCultural GAME Plan.So how do you become a CX leader and get engaged employees? This is where HR comes in…2) Get HR To Connect EE And CXHR owns the cultural programs, so it’s key that they are first looped into Employee Engagement (EE) so they can help support CX. First a strongmission, vision, valuessets the tone for your tribal purpose and code of conduct (oxytocin). Next,acknowledging employeesfor being models of your values creates social validation (dopamine and serotonin). There are many more ways that you can read about in my many blogs onemployee engagementand in #3 below.Next, when HR runs regularSBM Indexes, you can easily diagnose and cure and engagement dis-eases so you can continuously raise your engagement bar.It matters, it’s a reflection of them and what they believe in, who they are, how they show up in the world.According to Temkin Group’s research when HR is significantly involved in CX the organization is 50% more likely to be a CX leader. Wow.Is HR involved in CX at your organization?Credit: [Temkin Group 2016 HR Professionals Survey]Which brings us to the next item to check on our list, specifics for creating EE and CX.3) Clarify Exactly How/Where HR Can Support EE And CXHere are some ways that HR can forge the EE-CX link…Employeecommunications– rich in safety, belonging, mattering and boosting positive feelingsEmployee training & new hireonboarding– see my blog on how to ensure key emotional touchpoints in the onboarding processPerformance motivation– learn how to create intrinsic motivation in this blogAwards, celebrations, incentives– learn how to celebrate and incent in these blogsEmployee listening programs– learn how to be a better listener in this blogMiddle manager engagement efforts– learn how to engage leaders and the cost of low leader engagement in this blogRecruiting & hiring processes– learn the latest way to recruit with self-revealing questions hereAll of the above examples and blogs will help you keep the brains of your employees in theirSmart State, which will in turn help your customers spend more time there too! Smart State = Engaged, Aligned, Tribal, Together.
9/9/2021

Right Person, Wrong Role?

Season 4, Ep. 10
People get into the wrong roles for a number of reasons.Perhaps there was a reorganization and the company didn’t want to lose them, so they were reallocated without consultation or training. Maybe they were promoted beyond their capability without a training plan. Or maybe they were hired to do a project that’s now irrelevant and they’ve not been redeployed to produce meaningful results elsewhere. And then there’s our all-time favorite, the Untouchables.Do you have Untouchables? Also, known as Sacred Cows? These are people who were hired because they are related to (or friends with) the CEO or other powerful team members. Even though their performance is sub-par, they get promoted or allowed to stay on for emotional reasons.[Shutterstock]Case Study: Company XCompany X was a tech consulting firm with a $37 million in annual revenue and approximately 270 employees, about two-thirds of whom were consultants. They were tracking at $137,000 in revenue per employee… ouch! The company was run by a married couple, John and Sarah, who initially contacted us about perfecting their sales process. They felt that their salespeople could be performing much better. What we found was amuchbigger issue.Assess: What We FoundThe findings were grim: a fear-driven culture with 53% employee turnover each year. Company X did an exceptional job of technical training for new hires, only to see them leave for higher pay within a year.The two owners of the company had virtually oppositeMeta Programs, and this was causing chaos. Sarah (Active, Toward, Options, Difference) would proactively start an initiative, rally the troops to move toward the new goal, then jump to the next option/project. John (Reflective, Away, Procedures, Sameness) would want to analyze before launching the new initiative, so he would kill it or block it, minimize exposure, and set up a procedure to handle the proposal through testing, no matter how much or little, the cost associated risk. The resulting chaos was confusing to the team and sending them deep into Critter State.The glaring gap in the consultant’s training curriculum was in sales. Even though their role was heavily client-facing, the consultants weren’t trained in the basic selling skills and had no incentive to do anything but fix technical problems. They also had no interaction with the sales team — which was sequestered in a different area of the building. The consultants were the right people in the right role — but with no support to perform their best.Harry, the new sales manager, had been with the firm for three months. Shortly after hiring Harry, the company had reorganized to close a failing business unit. Sarah and John had moved their niece, Toni, the VP of the failed unit, into a new role as the VP of sales and marketing —wait a sec! What? Did we read that right? Yep, the niece was given one of the most important roles in the firm after killing an entire business unit. Sounds like a sacred cow to me.There were three problems with this scenario:Harry (who now was sales manager) had no sales expertise — his entire background was in Internet marketing)Toni was an experienced sales manager but wasn’t strategic and had no marketing expertiseThe two disliked each other — Toni was threatened by Harry and Harry thought Toni should have been fired for her lackluster leadership of the failed business unitTo make matters even more fun, Toni’s boyfriend, Taylor, had been hired as director of client care. He had solid experience, but a perpetual mocking smirk when interacting with anyone but Toni.Act: What They DidThe first thing we had John and Sarah do was to create a clear and compelling mission, vision, and value statements. This would help everyone know why they were coming to work, and where they were going together, and how they agreed to behave. They posted these statements in the lobby, and the managers worked with smaller teams until everyone was on board.Next, we establishedNeedle Moverstogether (first for the executive team and later for everyone) in line with the new mission, vision, and values, and radically increased accountability using weekly reporting and theAccountability Equation. We created a reporting process for the sales pipeline and marketing effectiveness metrics and set up an incentive plan for the consultants to source future sales.We also redefined the roles and responsibilities throughout sales and marketing to get the right people in the right roles. Some people were reallocated, and one or two were let go respectfully. Since the company had a history of high employee turnover it was key to minimizeCritter Statevia thoughtful communication.John, Sarah, Toni, and Harry worked on their on key challenges. Toni got the tools to turn her department around. Harry was moved out of sales management and into the right role — marketing —where he is brilliant and a perpetual learner. He still reports to Toni, who now manages the sales team directly. Harry’s initiatives have made Company X top of mind in their target market. Now that John and Sarah communicate more explicitly, they are no longer creating chaos, and Toni and Harry have developed a mutual respect for each other. Taylor had to be let go. He didn’t want to uphold the company values and had burned too many bridges to be salvageable.ROI: What They GotAbout six months into the change process, things got pretty scary. The consultants became resistant and didn’t want to work on internal projects for which they had no billable hours, and John and Sarah almost pulled the plug and reverted to chaos. Instead, they appliedenergy managementtools, worked through their own resistance, recommitted, and held their team accountable to the direction they had chosen together. The results were not all immediate — patterns occasionally resurfaced and to be readdressed — but overall the results have been phenomenal. They zoomed through the $50 million inflection point and are preparing for $100 million. Their employee retention is now normal for their industry, and employee surveys show that engagement and satisfaction continue to improve.
8/26/2021

Special Episode: Inside Leadership with Guest Cheryl Farr

Season 4, Ep. 9
Cheryl Farr, Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Signal.CSK, is our special guest for this insightful episode of the Crack the Behavior Code podcast where we discuss the importance of finding opportunity in times of crisis and much more.Who is Cheryl?Cheryl builds accessible, exciting, audience-engaging brands and brand-driven marketing programs that strengthen brand power and drive real marketplace results. She founded SIGNAL.csk in 2009 to help organizations of all kinds realize and exercise their true brand power. She empowers organizations that value fresh creative thinking, purpose, alignment, and the strategic pursuit of excellence to be strong stewards of their own brands — and their people to be passionate brand leaders and evangelists. Cheryl and her Denver-based team work side-by-side with their clients to expertly align visual and verbal identity, products and services, organizational decision making, and marketing initiatives to meet brand and business goals. Their proven True, Meaningful, DifferentTM and Brand SignalsTM methodologies build brand value by illuminating what their clients can uniquely own in the hearts and minds of their target audiences and reinforcing it across all touchpoints. Hundreds of successful client engagements include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, where Cheryl helped positon the then-fledgling brand for expansive worldwide growth; Taylor Morrison, the nation’s largest regional homebuilder, for whom she developed its first award-winning active adult brand; and PetSmart, where she led the sensory branding work that innovated the total in-store experience.Find Out More About Her Work Here:LinkedIn: Cheryl Farr | LinkedInWebsite: Home - SIGNAL.csk (signalcsk.com)Facebook: SIGNAL.csk Brand PartnersTwitter: SIGNAL.csk (@SIGNALcsk)