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6 Secrets to Building Teams in a Stack Ranked World post image

Bell curves bring out the worst in your best. Rewarding individual performance drives individual behavior. Yet, most performance management systems so just that.

Bell curves, stack ranks, 9 box succession planning grids, all encourage selfish choices. Unless you’re running HR you can’t change the system. You can build great teams within it.

Lead past the curve to greatness.

6 Secrets to Building Great Teams

Secrets from 20 years of watching, listening, leading, and being a member of great (and mediocre) teams.

1. Inspire Vision that Motivates Sacrifice

Build excitement around an important vision. Make the mission bigger than “me” or “you.” Ensure everyone feels vital. Make the mission so attractive that everyone feels like they’ve won.

2. Define extraordinary

Define “leading” in terms of extraordinary behaviors.

  • Expose mediocrity tenaciously and compassionately. Teams rise when mediocrity is courageously rejected and excellence pursued.
  • Honor self-less actions.
  • Establish systems, rules, rewards, and consequences.
  • Rise above results. Build integrity, loyalty, and vulnerability.

3. Reward teamwork

Reward collaborative behaviors early and often. Create infrastructure for peer recognition. Celebrate “how” over “what.” Begin meetings with informal peer recognition.

4. Create opportunities to cross-train

People will remember the years they grew professionally. The memory of a 5% higher bonus will fade. Vital skills last forever. Encourage cross-training. You can’t resent a peer who made you remarkably better.

5. Involve the team in evaluation

Have the employees rate themselves and one another on behaviors. Conduct the assessment several times a year, and use as appraisal input. It’s tricky, but worthwhile.

6. Eliminate coasters

Require teamwork as a foundational job requirement. Inspire and teach teamwork. When a member refuses, help him find a more fitting job.

How have you built great teams in a stack-ranked world?
Filed Under:   Career & Learning, Communication
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.
 

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What People Are Saying

Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)   |   09 April 2013   |   Reply

Keeping systems simple.

All organization naturally drift towards complexity. Don’t institute a new policy because of one person’s mistake or misstep.

Whenever possible, instruct and education over train. Training is teaching someone to do something without variation. Instruction gives them the skills to do a task, and the understanding to adapt to unseen variables. Education gives them the skills and the ability to adjust plus the knowledge to leverage opportunities and threats while connecting to the big picture.

letsgrowleaders   |   09 April 2013   |   Reply

Eric, what an important add. Instruct over train. Beautiful. I wonder if we could stop using the word “training…” what new approaches could that trigger?

Patti   |   09 April 2013   |   Reply

Karin, instructing rather than training is a wonderful concept, however, if you are going to instruct rather than train, you also need to give people the freedom to make decisions on their own and trust those decisions. Many managers are not comfortable with letting go of the reins a bit so their folks can make their own decisions.

letsgrowleaders   |   09 April 2013   |   Reply

Patti, you raise a very important point. Empowerment goes hand in had with this approach.

Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)   |   09 April 2013   |   Reply

Patti and Karen; indeed.

Karen, it’s interesting you questioned renaming training. I was working on the packet we are about to send to our new hires for this summer. We’ve decided to switch the word training to orientation…not earth shattering or creative…but I also spent time creating a pizza topping scavenger hunt. That got the creativity efforts today. The life of a camp director.