4 Lessons from a High Performing Team

“Teamwork doesn’t seem like work.” Early on in my career, a friend used to say this all the time usually while playing teams in Halo. But it has become one of my top 5 sayings while working on teams. Probably because people find is so cheesy they can’t help but smile when they hear it.

It seems almost everyone is on a team at work. I’ve had the great fortune to be part of several great teams. There is one team that has stood out for me in my career. We were a high performing team, and it was fun. Years ago, I was in a focus group on high performing teams. While the facilitator was asking questions, I was able to reflect on how special it is to be a part of a top performing team. Here are a few things that I learned.

Respect: when developing a team, start with the confidence that every team member is here for a reason. There is something you can learn from them, and they can add value to the team.

Shared Goal: our shared goal was always more important than personal goals or roles. We were four people working together to solve X. We all had valuable skills and knowledge to contribute to the shared goal.

Listen & Pause: we did more listening than talking and we were comfortable in the silence. Sometimes we needed to pause and allow an idea or perspective to settle. We respect each other to listen to everyone’s opinions and created a safe space for people to speak up and be heard.

Effective Communications: we provided clear status reports and action items. We didn’t spend hours on conference calls or holed up in a conference room. We connected when we needed to but gave each other time to complete action items.

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned while being on teams?

What Skill will you Develop this Year?

Your career development is solely your responsibility.  You get to develop the skills you want.  You get to apply for the roles that you can use those skills and develop more.  You get to seek out mentors and accountability partners who can help you achieve your goals.

Now, sometimes it may feel like our development is someone else’s responsibility.  There are influencers and decision-makers that are needed to get you that next role, title, promotion, or pay increase.  There are mentors and managers that will give you insight into areas of improvement or give you opportunities to stretch yourself.  But sometimes, we give all these other people too much power in our career development.  You do not need permission or an invitation to grow.  Remember they are team members in your development, you are the team lead on this! Build relationships in your career, learn from others, and get advice.  Work with your manager and HR team to see what’s available.  Some companies do tuition reimbursement, will send you to conferences and events, or have subscriptions to Harvard Business Review or Lynda.com.

What is the most important skill for you to develop this year? Here are some thought starters.

Leadership Skills: Who is a leader that you admire?  What leadership skills do they have that you want to emulate?  Think big and create an action plan to develop these skills!  Keep yourself in check.  At the end of each week, set aside 15 minutes for a reflection.  Celebrate the successes from the week and replay when you fell short.

Team/Relationship Skills: Most of us work in teams at work.  Even if you don’t work directly in teams, other people contribute to your success.  How can you improve your teamwork?  How are you currently perceived in team settings, and more importantly, how do you want to be perceived?

Technical Skills:  Is there a software you want to master?  Does your boss have a task that you don’t understand but want to learn?  As a business owner, do you wish you were better at P&Ls, insurance, or marketing?  What are some technical skills future-you needs?

If you are ready to commit to your career development, it may be time to hire a career coach!  Reach out to me for a free 15-minute introductory call to learn more about coaching.

Diversity & Inclusion: It’s Different This Time

Diversity & Inclusion is on the minds of top CEOs and companies across the country.  And there have been several movements in our country’s history when this has come up, like The Civil Rights Movement and The Women’s Movement.  Maybe even in your career experience, you’ve seen companies focus on the percentages of minority employees or attended tolerance workshops and trainings.

In 2017, I had a different experience with Diversity & Inclusion.  Something that has seemed so overwhelming, taboo, and out of my hands became real, comfortable, and important.  I read more, I had more dialogues, and I participated.  I knew my intentions were in the right place to understand and that I could better express my intentions in one-on-one conversations and in groups.  People opened up and shared with me more than ever on this topic.  It was enlightening, it was meaningful, and it was real.  We can all be better.  We can treat everyone with respect and understanding.

In 2018, I’m going to blog more about Diversity & Inclusion.  But I’m going to start here.  In 2016, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson gave a speech to the AT&T Employee Resource Groups.  In it, he shared:

“When a parent says ‘I love my son,’ you don’t say ‘but what about your daughter?’
When we run or walk for breast cancer funding and research, we don’t say, ‘What about prostate cancer?’
When the president says ‘God bless America,’ we don’t say, ‘Shouldn’t God bless all countries?’
And when a person struggling with what’s been broadcast on our airwaves says, ‘Black Lives Matters,’ we should not say, “All Lives Matter,’ to justify ignoring the real need for change.”

This topic is incredibly sensitive for all of us.  And I’m not going to share a checklist of things you can do to be an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion.  It’s not a checklist, it’s about you showing up as the best version of you.

For now… Think about what Randall Stephenson said.  Think about how you have responded to people asking for their voice to be heard.  Think about how you can truly listen to what people are saying.  And if you’re up for it, think about what you can do to support them.

Difficult isn’t a barometer you’re on the right path

I used to be motivated by the whole “no pain, no gain” and other strong quotes about how brilliance is on the other side of hard work. I don’t always buy it anymore. It doesn’t have to be difficult. And we shouldn’t use pain or difficulties as a barometer we’re on the right path. I’ve learned something greater – mindset. So let’s look at two ways difficult can be reframed to tell if you’re on the right track.

Do the work. Real work is awesome. When you set a goal, put the effort in, learn amazing skills, ideas, and philosophies along the way and you can find great success. I suppose real or hard work can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t discount real work as being difficult or painful. Celebrate real work for what it is – helping you achieve your goals.

Other times our professional lives are difficult. Sometimes we’re in the wrong situation. And we are empowered to do something about it – we can make changes or we can leave. If you are waiting for changes to happen outside of your control, you’ll be sitting in a difficult, painful place indefinitely. Here are some questions to help you identify if you can change the situation.

Environment: Are you in an environment where people like you can be successful?
– Are there people around you that you can look to as a role model, mentor, or advocate? Have you put in the real work to find them and develop a relationship with them?
– Are you at an organization that is helping you develop or master the skills you want to use in your career? Can you articulate what those skills are and an action plan to achieve those skills?
– Are you at an organization that celebrates and leverages your uniqueness to contribute to the success of the organization? Have you had the conversations to validate your answer?

People: Are you in a difficult place because of the toxic people around you?
– Have you built the skills (technical, soft, leadership) that you need to earn a promotion but other people are holding you back? Who are the real decision makers and have you had the conversations with them about your inability to grow?
– Are your managers, peers, or executive team demotivating? If there are specific things happening, have you had the right conversations with the right people to initiate change?
– Are you unnecessarily competing with people when it’s not a competition? How can you change it from competition to collaboration?

It’s Just You: And maybe it’s you. Maybe you aren’t being true to the career life you want. Maybe you’re not on your right path, leveraging your best skills, or building your future skills? Maybe there’s something else out there that aligns with your work priorities. What’s holding you back from pursuing your dream career? Maybe it’s just you.

Take some time to think about if difficult parts of your professional life are:
1 – real work and you need to evoke your mindset.
2 – difficult because you’re not on the right path.

How will you invest in your career development in 2018?

A new year is upon us. You may be starting the year off strong with great momentum or you may be exhausted by 2017 and need a boost. Either way, you should constantly have a career development plan in place. You are solely responsible for your own career development. There are a number of support systems available to you (peers, mentors, managers, your company) but the person solely looking out for you, is you. You should absolutely leverage your support systems. They can be a fantastic support for helping develop your plan and even provide resources for you to execute or commit to your plan.

There are two investment resources that you have: time and money.   Here are some thought starters on how your time and your money can contribute to your career development in 2018.

1 – Get Inspired! There are a number of people/accounts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter you can follow to keep you thinking about your Career Development. (Resource: Time)

2 – Connect! If networking overwhelms you, reframe networking. Think about it as connecting with people. Learn from others, ask their advice. Find some peers at work and commit to encouraging each other. Get a group of friends together for brunch once/month where you celebrate successes. (Resource: Time)

3 – Learn! If your dream job requires certain degrees or certifications, make a commitment to earn those. How will you get your PMP or MBA? What are the budget and time requirements to earn this degree or certification? Create a Commitment Plan to save, explore options with your current company for tuition reimbursement or discounts, and talk to programs to find out what’s right for you.  Also, look at programs like LinkedIn Learning if you don’t want to commit to a full degree. (Resource: Time & Money)

4 – Hire a Coach! A coach can help you build a Commitment Plan to move your career development forward. Working with a coach will give you an opportunity to have an unbiased cheerleader!  As your coach, I’ll ask questions and guide our conversations to help you gain clarity towards the next steps in your career.  If you are interested in learning more about coaching, fill out the form below to schedule a free 15-minute conversation. (Resource: Time & Money)

Cheers to 2018! I hope it’s full of motivation, inspiration, and action in your career!
Jenn