A company is only as strong as the team behind it. So how can you create the best team that will propel you to success? In this episode, Patrick Veroneau shares the three necessary ingredients that successful and effective teams share: support, challenge, and celebrate. He goes in-depth into all of these and reveals some crucial aspects that will help foster a great team environment and ultimately create a strong team that can navigate whatever comes their way.
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3 Ingredients All Successful Teams Share
You’re joining me for another episode. As you may have noticed, I took a little bit of a hiatus for a few weeks, in terms of putting out another episode. This is one that’s been turning for quite some time in me in terms of a lot of the work that I do around building better teams. How do we do that? We can look at teams, whether it is a team in an office setting or now a team remotely, or even in our personal lives. When we look at our family units, we can think of those as teams as well. Along those lines, what I want to talk about is what are three necessary ingredients that successful and effective teams share? Will those things revolve around a team that supports each other, they challenge each other and they celebrate each other?Appreciation is about recognizing people's diverse backgrounds, races, religions, points of view, and histories. Click To Tweet
Those are the three things that we’re going to focus on. How do you do that? How do you support, how do you challenge and how do you celebrate? If you think about this model or these three approaches, whether it’s in an office setting or now remotely, or whether it’s in a family unit or any type of environment that you’re in, it could be an organization that you volunteer for. These things are still vitally important to making sure that we’ve got strong, solid teams. Let’s get into it.
The three things that I have found all successful teams share is that they do those three things. They support, they challenge and they celebrate each other. When we talk about support, what does that mean? In the model that I use, this Cables model that I often talk about, this system, there are four behaviors out of that Cables model that directly addresses supporting. The first one is around appreciation and appreciation from the standpoint of understanding biases or differences. A lot of the work that I will do involves using personality tests around DiSC to help people understand what are our different personalities and how do they impact how we show up to each other. The better that we are at understanding that and appreciating that, the more effective we’re going to be in terms of supporting each other.
What I mean by that is, as a quick example, if I’m talking about DiSC, and I might ask somebody or ask the group, who in here would consider themselves fast–paced and outspoken, or who would consider themselves more cautious and reflective? I will ask people, “Raise your hands if you’re somebody that thinks you’re fast–paced and outspoken?” I will wait no more than a couple seconds and for those that don’t raise their hands, I will say, “You automatically, by not raising your hand, immediately, you default to the cautious and reflective space.”
The other questions that can be asked or the pairings is to say, let’s look at people in here that might be questioning and skeptical versus warm and accepting. There’s a difference there too in that those that are questioning and skeptical, they’re going to show up differently than somebody that is fast–paced and outspoken, but also warm and accepting. As an example, I am in the high category. I’m considered influenced by somebody that’s fast–paced and outspoken, but also warm and accepting, which means at times, I’m less interested in data or in process and in more about this feels right. My gut tells me we’re going in the right direction. Let’s get going and we’ll figure it out as we go.
Now, if I’m working with somebody that is more conscientious, that’s somebody that is questioning and skeptical, and they’re also cautious and reflective. If I don’t understand that and appreciate our differences, we’re going to have problems. I’m the one that comes in and says, “This is why we should do this. This is going to be a great opportunity.” If I don’t provide that person that is conscientious from a personality standpoint, with maybe the data or the points or the process that we’re going to take to go about achieving this, then they’re going to look at me as reckless and somebody that flies by the seat of their pants.
Realistically, that probably is what I do some of the times in terms of I feel an idea coming on or I feel an intuition on something, and I want to jump into it. There’s a balance there because I can learn from somebody that’s conscientious in terms of slowing things down and being more methodical. I would say a conscientious person can also look at somebody that’s in an influence category. At some point, we can’t keep evaluating this. We can’t keep setting up committees and subcommittees and now we’re going to do a survey on this. At some point, we’ve got to take action. There’s an appreciation there of our differences. On top of that, we’re in such a heightened state of looking at diversity and how important that is. That’s what appreciation does. It recognizes people’s diverse backgrounds, their races, their religions, their points of view, maybe their histories, where they’ve come from. When we’re able to do that, when we can appreciate people on that level, that creates this sense of support.
Next, we move on to belongingness. You’ve heard me talk about this before, in terms of the amount of research that is available for us in terms of belongingness research. We are pack animals. We need each other. We can’t survive without each other. It’s different than it was thousands of years ago. We couldn’t survive if we were pushed outside of a group literally because we’d be attacked by something or didn’t have the resources to be able to support ourselves. It’s the same thing but different. We can still be ostracized or isolated from a group, and it still is on some levels a death sentence for us or it creates that environment.
Being an in-group versus the out-group is very different. When we’re on the out-group, we don’t feel that support that we need. Along those lines, we know around psychological safety how important that is. I don’t care if you are in organized crime or you’re in a gang, or it’s in your family or in your work setting. We do all have a need for psychological safety, and to me that falls into belongingness. Next, when we talk about support as well, we have to talk about listening and how important it is to listen effectively. When I talk about listening effectively, I talk about listening to understand.
In this environment that we’re in, you’ll often hear people might say, “They listened to respond.” I would say that more often, what I’m experiencing is just about listening from a standpoint of waiting to respond. It’s listening from the perspective of how I can undermine you with what you say. I’m not listening at that point. We talk about listening in four different ways, listening with our eyes, body language that somebody else has, facial expressions, how they’re standing maybe. There are many different things that when we’re listening with our eyes, in terms of what people are doing, we can pick up on incongruence or inconsistencies, or maybe how they’re feeling and that’s important.You can’t lead in any aspect of your life if you are unable to demonstrate empathy for other people. Click To Tweet
We talk about listening with our ears and that’s listening to the tone of voice, the word choice that somebody uses as well can be important here. All of those things become important. We can probably give examples of situations where somebody maybe has said, “No, I’m not angry or I’m not upset.” You can tell by either their facial expressions or their body language, or maybe the tone that they’re using that something is wrong. There’s an incongruence there. The next two can be a little more challenging, but are probably even more important in this environment is one is listening with our mind. I will often reference Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about one of the habits as seeking first to understand and that’s what we do when we listen with our mind.
When somebody says something or they’re in a series of conversations, or I’m in a series of conversations with them, I’m listening for, “What does this mean?” I’m asking myself, “What are they trying to say to me? Is what I’m hearing and what I think I’m hearing the same thing? Am I maybe jumping to conclusions? Maybe this is somebody that I haven’t gotten along with in the past or maybe it’s somebody that I had heard can be difficult to deal with.” They make a remark on something and I immediately think that this is an attack on me. As opposed to maybe I didn’t understand what their point of view was. We need to flush that out and understand, what is it that you were saying? It might just be that simple as saying, “Jim or Sue, what I hear you say is this, is that what you mean?” Rather than walking away saying, “They were short with me or they were disrespectful in their response because maybe that wasn’t their intention.”
Lastly, we talk about listening from a standpoint of listening with our heart or compassion or empathy, but we’re listening from a standpoint of, “How would I want to be listened to if this were reversed?” When we can listen in those four ways with our eyes, with our ears, with our mind and our heart, we’re fully present at that point. This is truly listening to understand at this point. We‘re not listening to either just respond or to undermine. We ourselves can probably all think of those times where somebody has truly been listening to us. We know the difference when somebody is fully involved in us. They’re not looking at their phone or looking over your shoulder at who’s coming into the room, or they’re invested in your conversation.
When we listen in that way, we demonstrate a high level of support for the group, which in turn brings us back to this level of psychological safety within the group. Lastly, from a standpoint of behaviors, one of the Cables that we also talk about is empathy and how important empathy is. I don’t think you can lead in any aspect of your life if you are unable to demonstrate empathy for other people. Whether it’s in a family, setting, a social setting or a work setting of trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I was having this conversation in a workshop, and Dan Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind had come up in the conversation. He was talking about empathizers. One of the observations was that empathizers have the ability to imagine themselves in someone else’s position and understand what that person is feeling.
I took issue with that from the standpoint of we can’t understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. We can genuinely make an attempt to do that but we can’t. I will give you an example. I lost both of my parents to cancer about a year and a half apart when I was 17 and 18 years old. I could run into somebody else that also lost their parents at the same age as I did. There is some shared experience there that I can empathize on some level what they’re going through, but I‘m not them. I don’t know exactly what they were dealing with, and I think that’s important. Empathy is making an effort to try and imagine yourself as being where somebody is, but it’s not assuming that just because you imagine it to be a certain way that it is that way. That’s important for us to recognize.
When we move on to the next ingredient in strong teams or the most effective teams, we talk about the challenge. That strong teams challenge each other, but you’re only able to challenge each other effectively if you’ve built a level of trust. The behaviors that we talk about in regards to support that appreciation and belongingness, listening, and empathy, those are all building blocks that allow us to get to this place where we can challenge. If we haven’t demonstrated support for each other, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to effectively challenge people without them taking it personally and becoming defensive.
The two things that we talk about here from a standpoint of behaviors around challenge is, one is congruence, walking the talk. Is what we say and what we do in alignment? This is where personal values or organizational values become very important that if we say that integrity is one of our corporate values or collaboration is, or continuous improvement is., then now, we need to be congruent to that. We need to stay in alignment with that. That’s how we challenge each other is we say, “These are the values that we agree on as a team, as an organization, as a family and we need to walk the talk. We all need to hold each other accountable or take ownership for what these are.” Along those lines when we talk about congruence, the last behavior that we talk about in the Cables model is around specifics and that’s setting clear expectations.Empathizers have the ability to imagine themselves in another’s position and understand what that person is feeling. Click To Tweet
To challenge each other effectively, first, we need to be able to say, “What do we stand for? What do we need from each other? What’s going to make our relationship, our team, our organization be the best it can be? When we do that, when we set clear expectations, and then we are in alignment with those through congruence, then we truly are able to challenge each other to make ourselves better. One of the taglines that I will often use is rise above your best. It’s not somebody else’s best. It’s to rise above your best. We all have that ability to challenge ourselves and others to get better. We need to do that. There’s a quote by Eric Hoffer that says, “In times of change, the learners inherit the Earth while the learned find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” Unless you are living under a rock in 2020, we cannot say that we are not dealing with significant change. It is our ability to develop and learn how to navigate the challenges that we’re faced with and challenge each other on that that will allow us to become better because of this.
The last ingredient in this successful team model is around celebrating. It’s a thing that oftentimes get overlooked is that we’re back from a behavior standpoint in Cables, we talk about it from a standpoint of appreciation. If we don’t recognize others for their efforts, for what they’re doing for their growth, even in times when maybe we had to talk about them about something or talk with them about something they weren’t doing well, where are we on that? If we don’t recognize them, when they’ve made positive changes, then we’re missing opportunities for future growth. We’ll look at this as somebody that will become disengaged. This is the person that was asked to make certain changes, and if the leader looks to that individual to say, “Yeah, now they’re doing what they should’ve been doing all along.” That’s not effective. We need to be able to recognize when people do make the effort and follow through on change that we let them know that. To be able to celebrate and appreciate people for the things that are done in difficult situations or in day–to–day, it’s important at some point to recognize those things.
I will often talk about it in terms of RPMs, Recognizing Positive Moments. Just like in our vehicles, we have a tachometer that if the needle on that is too low, we know that the engine is not healthy. It’s probably going to stall out, something is wrong with the vehicle. That’s like disengagement in an organization or disengagement at home or in the community. If we don’t feel as though we’re being appreciated for what we’re doing, that at some point, we become disengaged or we engage in ways that are unproductive for the organization.
The other end of this is when people are appreciated in ways that are insincere. That’s the redlining of the tachometer in the vehicle and eventually it burns out. That’s the cynicism. It’s the employee of the day. It’s that everybody gets a trophy and nobody believes that it’s sincere. It’s like a manipulation tool, but there is that sweet spot that we all want to be recognized for or in. It’s different for all of us. That’s the important thing as leaders is to recognize how do other people like to be treated or recognized most effectively. There’s a model that I will often use or a set of guidelines that I will use in terms of how do you make sure that you don’t overdo it or create cynicism?Rise above your best. Click To Tweet
It’s not to say that it will be effective all of the time, but when we’re recognizing people, we want to make sure that it’s specific, not just telling somebody they do a good job, but what specifically did they do that you’re recognizing them for? Next is that it’s unexpected. It’s not every Thursday at noon time, somebody’s going to get recognized. Lastly, it’s meaningful to that individual, and back to this understanding, what is it that drives people? How do they like to be recognized on teams? When we know that, we can provide the right kind of recognition or appreciation that’s meaningful to that individual.
That’s it. We’ve got three different ingredients that create the strongest teams. Teams that develop an ability to support each other, teams that know how to challenge each other, and teams that also celebrate each other. When you have those three things, you will have teams that can navigate any issue that comes up, a team that is able to employ all three of those ingredients is the team that’s going to come out on top. I’d asked you in the teams that you’re on, how do you fare in regards to those behaviors? What can you do that you think will make your team stronger? Do you need to do more around supporting first? How do you challenge each other? Lastly, how do you celebrate each other? In these times, we probably need even more of that celebration. I hope you found this valuable. Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to reflect on this. Find a place that you can rise above your best. Go out there and make a difference. Peace.