Teams that last

We’re told that the “career” is dying.

I’d like to argue that it’s not so much “career” as it is “building teams to last” that is dying. If companies or teams aren’t investing in themselves to maintain or nurture greatness, is it any wonder people look for greener pastures?

We’ve talked about what makes a great team before. What should such teams be investing in?

  • People: When people get better, everything gets better. Do you invest in each other?
  • Clarity: The clearer you are, the better peoples decisions become. Do you invest in your communication skills as a team?
  • Privilege: The more of a gift you are, the more impact opportunity we create. How are you being a gift?
  • Consistency: Be it speed, duration, quality, price, experience or quantity, better consistency means better promises. How good are your promises?

If you belong to a great team, invest in it–it’s your responsibility as a member to make sure your team is built to last.

Pause, paper, practice

What goes through your mind while you work? The mindset we bring to our work has a profound effect on what we create.

I like to use these 3 Ps as I enter new tasks:

  • Pause: Before starting, no matter the rush, take a moment to reflect on the task, being thankful for it and pondering the many different ways you could approach it.
  • Paper: Away from technology and team members, write down how you might do the work, and toward what goal it will ultimately move you all.
  • Practice: Do the work and call it ‘practice.’ Practice acknowledges growth: how can you–or the process you use–grow and develop from doing this?

Consider maintaining a Result List instead of a to-do list, while implementing items on that list using the 3 Ps above.

Over-available

Great teams are either in high demand or are about to be in high demand. Could over-availability stunt such a teams’ momentum?

  • Apply vs Buy: “Buy” suggests instant access for all. “Apply” suggests an opportunity to qualify each other. Over-available teams are at less risk of ever needing a waiting list because they’re happy to dilute their work by instead being all things to all people.
  • Qualify vs Preapproved: Upon application, some potential buyers may want to proceed, but may not be a good fit for your team. Over-available teams may say “Yes” in order to make payroll. “Close enough.” Great teams know how that’ll dilute their attention from doing their best work.

As with being over-flexible, there’s a fine line between being available and over-available, and every team must determine together where that line is.

Where’s yours?

Over-flexible

Teams that create impact understand how being over-flexible compromises their work and their results.

Flexibility enables work to grow and for every implementation to be done right. This respects your work and your audience.

Over-flexibility cripples your work and for every implementation to be an act of desperation. This disrespects your work and your audience.

Here are some examples:

  • Doing the right thing, or doing it differently to cut costs, compromising the results of the work you deliver.
  • Doing work at the right time, or doing it too soon to appease a buyer, rushing the results of the work you deliver.
  • Doing work for the right duration, or ending prematurely to cut costs and negate the progress of your work. Worse, ending too late to drag out costs because you need the money, ultimately delivering bad value.

There’s a fine line between flexibility and over-flexibility, and every team must determine together where that line is.

Where’s yours?

Today’s peg

What are you working on today?

Regardless of the answer, how we answer that question will affect the outcome. Consider these example answers:

  • I’m putting this peg in that hole.
  • I’m putting this peg in that hole so that there’s no more hole.
  • I’m putting this peg in that hole so that there’s no more hole, and the water will stop rushing into that boat.
  • I’m putting this peg in that hole so that there’s no more hole, and the water will stop rushing into that boat, and its passengers won’t all drown.

Are you putting pegs in holes, or are you saving lives?

Every peg should count.

So, what are you working on today?

Choose your rhythm

You’re really good at keeping rhythm. No, really.

Even if you’re not gifted musically, you know how to “find your groove.”

The problem starts when we don’t choose the ‘groove’, and settle for a ‘funk’. Both have Rhythm.

  • Your Rhythm is when you consistently bail on your gym workouts.
  • Your Rhythm is when you consistently make time for your children.
  • Your Rhythm is why you always come through for your team.
  • Your Rhythm is why you can’t kick that bad habit.

The nice thing about Rhythm is that we get to “set the tone.” To “march to the sound of our own drum.”

What are your ‘grooves’? What are your ‘funks’? In what ways are you going to “change your tune”?

Drug-dealers vs missionaries

Drug-dealers and missionaries have a lot in common.

They’re both out there trying to create conversions, albeit for very different reasons.

Their messages are different, but they use the same pattern:

  • Drug-dealers: Buy this. It’s easy. They don’t understand, you need this.
  • Missionaries: Join us. It’s hard. You’re not alone, I know how you feel.

When approaching the marketplace, every team follows the handbook of one of these two things. One coerces and traps. The other serves and supports.

Which best describes your team? Is that the answer you want?

Cavalry

“It is the business of cavalry to follow up the victory, and to prevent the beaten army from rallying.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

A brand is only as strong as the promises it keeps. Great teams keep their promises. If you do important work, you need to be able to call the cavalry if you get stuck, in case of emergency.

Consider having–and being–cavalry for someone on your team:

  • Get cavalry: someone who can ride in and save the day when you need it, who stays ready.
  • Be cavalry: Being able to ride in and save the day when they need it, staying ready.

With backup around every corner, how much would an initiative like this strengthen your team’s promise to the marketplace?

Team first

Does your next project excite you or stress you out?

Great teams optimize their work to create leading products and services that create a lasting impact. The answer to the question above determines whether or not this is a possibility for them.

Consider the trade-offs of a team that falls into the latter bucket:

  • Fastest turn-around time at the expense of everyone feeling worn down. Would a team that feels ‘ready to roll’, rather than aching for a vacation, not create a better result?
  • Cheapest option around at the expense of not supporting the team and their families. Would a team that focuses on doing great work, rather than worrying about the bills, not create a better result?

Interestingly, great teams often wind up offering projects their time and their speed for the love of what they do and who they get to do it with.

For customers, “made by a happy team” is the ‘feature’ worth buying.

Features, benefits, privileges

Most of us have heard that, in marketing, it’s more effective to describe benefits than features. You may have also heard that the best marketing changes the product (e.g. learning and executing user feedback), not the ads alone.

We have an opportunity to go further: to let marketing change not only the buyer’s product experience but our trusting audience’s world, by privileging them. This comes with promises from you to them:

Example 1:

  • Feature: Self-setting clock functionality
  • Benefit: Convenience of not manually updating the time.
  • Privilege: Never again wonder what time it is.
  • Your promise: You will ensure that the clock never breaks or stops, and you’ll replace it immediately if it does.

Example 2:

  • Feature: Batteries included.
  • Benefit: Product is ready to use, right out of the box.
  • Privilege: Never see a sad face on your child when they open a gift from you.
  • Your promise: You will learn their child’s preferences every gift season, to be sure the gift they buy is always a perfect fit.

Privileging your audience means giving them the gift of an unpayable debt. It’s an opportunity to serve at a much deeper level.