How to Attract Top Talent at Your Company

7 Ways an InSPIRED Culture Keeps the Best People

Lack of direction, definition, and subsequent re-work exhausts the team, leads to missed deadlines, and lowers productivity. 

About $1 million is wasted every twenty seconds due to poorly executed business strategies. You might as well light your revenue on fire, because poor execution will send whatever you earn up in smoke. 

When you hamper productivity, blow through finances, and destroy relationships—even unintentionally, you create the unholy trinity of culture gone wild. 

In the end, when you fail to execute, you’re not only hurting the bottom line, but also betraying the trust of your people. Who puts faith in someone who can’t be trusted to complete the plan? When trust leaves, commitment isn’t far behind. 

If you promise an inspirational culture but don’t deliver execution, inspiration turns to exasperation, especially for the top talent you need to stay engaged on your team. Remember, talent always has a choice. 

The best people want to get things done, not stagger in and out like zombies. 

On the other hand, a team that drips Inspired Culture can plan to catch—and keep—top talent that keeps them on the rise. 

You Can’t Afford to Miss This

If you’ve had the privilege of working in an InSPIRED culture, you’ve already experienced some of its benefits. But you may not have realized how deeply this kind of culture can impact the entire organization. 

In my years of working with companies and helping them build InSPIRED cultures, here are some of the benefits I’ve discovered. 

InSPIRED culture…

  • Attracts the top talent. Talent always has a choice. Especially in today’s highly mobile work environment, the best people can go anywhere to work for anyone. So why would they choose you? A healthy culture produces all the intangible quality-of-life benefits that top talent demands. Even if they may be able to make more money elsewhere, they’re more likely to join a team where they like the leader, are treated fairly, and feel connected to a sense of purpose.
  • Maximizes top talent. A healthy culture is a pro-growth culture that seeks to empower everyone on the team to deliver his or her best in the areas of their greatest strengths. If you think it’s too much trouble to maximize your current talent, try not doing it. You’ll soon be left with only the employees who lack both the skills needed at present and the ambition to grow in the future. Not good. 
  • Retains top talent. According to the Qualtrics Global Employee Pulse 2017 study, “employees with a high confidence level in their company’s senior leadership are five times as likely to remain with their employer for more than two years compared to employees with no confidence.” It’s that simple. If your people believe in you as a leader, they’ll stay. If not, they’re five times as likely to leave.
  • Increases productivity. When your employees are engaged, you’ll get more done with fewer people because you won’t be carrying the weight of disengaged employees. At the end of the day, a healthy culture grows the bottom line (and possibly, your own performance bonus).
  • Frees you to focus on the future. It’s amazing how proactive you can be about tomorrow when you’re not having to put out fires today.

Is Your Team INspired or Exasperated?

What are the marks of inspired culture? 

1. INtentional. An InSPIRED culture begins to form when you get intentional. Some companies and leaders try to succeed without ever understanding why. But how can you replicate what you don’t understand?. Excellence is never an accident.

2. Service. More than ever, service matters. An InSPIRED culture serves both external and internal customers. How people experience your team or organization over time becomes their expectation. Their expectation of you becomes your brand. 

Is your brand one that serves others well, or is it a self-serving brand? Do you even know? 

3. Passion. What fires you up? What passions fuel your best performance? Inspiration may influence you, but passion moves you and motivates the people you lead. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your product or service is—if you’re in leadership, you’re in the people business. And people run on passion.

4. Integration. Everything is connected in your organization. But how well do all the parts and pieces work together? The gears and sprockets that make up the inner workings will determine whether you produce inspired results or the clock expires on your results. 

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “It really shouldn’t be this hard,” then you know the pain of disintegration. 

5. Real. As much as business leaders focus on hard data like production numbers and the bottom line, real people touch everything and determine long-term success. Everyone is wired for greatness, but not everyone is wired for greatness in the same areas. 

Consequently, the best leaders develop a team of people who lead where they’re strong and team where they’re weak. To do that, you must first get to know the people you lead in a real way. 

6. Execution. Why do you need to inspire? Results. And to get results, your team has to execute. If you don’t actually get things done with an accountability cadence, all your work becomes merely a relational exercise. 

The reason you need to be intentional, service-focused, passionate, integrated, and real is so you can execute with excellence to achieve optimal results.

7. Develop. Once you achieve excellence, the question becomes: can you sustain it tomorrow, next week, and next year? The best leaders know they can’t stand still—they must continue to develop. So how do you and your team do that? By choosing to get better every day. Leaders must choose to develop continually. 

Top Talent Always Has a Choice

If you promise an inspirational culture but don’t deliver execution, inspiration turns to exasperation, especially for the top talent you need to stay engaged on your team. 

Remember, talent always has a choice. The best people want to get things done, not stagger in and out like zombies. 

BUT—Imagine for a moment that in your particular sphere of influence you create a thriving culture where people are happy to come to work.

They love their jobs and are proud of the work they do. They push each other to greatness and, as a result, they execute with excellence. People are real with each other, because they are living with authenticity. 

They follow their passions, because you’ve put them in the right seat on the bus. 

They serve one another because they know a rising tide lifts all boats. And they aren’t stagnant, because you’ve created a plan to help them develop and grow. 

Do you think a team like that would get noticed in your organization? You bet.

The Team-Building Process in 6 Steps

Lead Where You’re Strong, Team Where You’re Weak

Maybe you think, or even know, that there is a certain way you are expected to act, so you put on a persona each day you walk into the office.

You want to be the real you, but you’re so busy figuring out the right thing to say that you forget the best thing to do—be real and authentic to who you are. 

Inauthenticity drains your energy and renders you ineffective. 

Even more importantly, if you’re not comfortable with and can’t get along with you, how in the world are you going to get along with anybody else? 

Everyone is wired for greatness, but everyone is not wired for greatness in the same areas. 

It’s a key life principle, not just a business one. That’s why I encourage leaders to have their people use self-assessment tools so everyone gains an awareness who he or she is and best to work together. 

For example, if you are a blunt, get-it-done person, you may be great in crisis management, but not so great where the situation calls for empathy and patience such as mobilizing the day-to-day habits that create a profitable workplace. 

That doesn’t mean you’re inferior or defective. That doesn’t mean you’re weak, but you’re weak in that role.

Team-Building Requires Interconnection—Instead of Shame

Weakness is more about role-fit than anything else. And finding yourself in a role that doesn’t leverage our natural strengths is stressful.  

We do need to learn to stretch, grow, and adapt. But if we are spending most of our time and energy out of our strength zones, we’ll run into trouble and wear out everyone around us. 

Genius and flaws exist in each of us, and neither one has to diminish the other. If you know where your genius lies, but struggle in one particular role, you can create a multifaceted team.

Lead where you’re strong, team where you’re weak. Don’t have someone to team with? Lead where you’re strong and put a system where you’re weak!

Thankfully the process to “teaming” up your weak areas is straightforward. 

In fact, the hardest part is mustering the honest, authentic courage to reach out for help and collaboration.

adult-brainstorming-group

Teaming Process: 

  • Recognize Areas of Weakness
  • Ask For Guidance  
  • Hire the Strengths You Lack 
  • Learn from Your New Team Member 
  • Grow Strength as a Team 
  • Move on to help others with similar problems 

It’s time to admit you can’t do it all. And you’re not expected to!

What is expected of you is to realize that truth. 

I help leaders all the time who say, I can’t admit weakness to my team or tell them what I’m not good at. 

In a sense, the joke is on them, because their team members already know their weaknesses.  

Think about it. How hard would it be for you to rattle off the top five things your leader doesn’t do well? Pretty easy, right? 

So why would you assume that your direct reports can’t do the same? You aren’t hiding your weaknesses from them when you won’t admit them. 

They know your weaknesses better than you do. That’s why you need to be authentic. 

You’re not fooling anyone.

Team Building Begins With Humility

It takes humility to admit, “I am not amazing at this, so I should partner with someone who is.”  Humility multiplies strength. 

Pride isolates people and breaks down teams. 

A humble leader, rather than trying to do it all, functions like an air traffic controller who scans the radar and calls certain team members to move depending on the strengths needed in any particular situation. 

If inauthenticity has created a rift between you and your team, you’re missing out on their support to cover your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. 

Remember: leaders are to achieve results with—and through— their teams.

Why Your Winning Team Should Act Like Sled Dogs

Build a Thriving and Efficient Force for Productivity and Support

Part of what makes the great Iditarod race such an inspirational feat is the level of teamwork necessary at every step. 

What looks like a bunch of dogs all doing the same job is actually a multi-faceted team—trained, orchestrated, and equipped by their musher. 

A full team is made up of 16 dogs, running in 4 different positions. Every dog has a particular strength, and every musher knows exactly which dogs will play each position best. 

It takes the same analysis and social understanding to create a winning team in the workplace! 

Let’s look at each pack member in detail and how their strengths translate to your team. Keep in mind which of your own members would thrive in each position. 

Who Are Your Lead Dogs?

Lead dogs know their way on the trail without being watched and you can trust them to make decisions guiding others on the team. 

Lead dogs are smart, possess initiative, common sense, and the ability to perform even in less than ideal conditions. 

How can you tell which of your team members will execute well as a Lead? 

Some will take that initiative pretty early. But sometimes you take a leap of faith on an untested pack member— and they surprise you

Let the Leads get to know your heart, and keep them close. Learn to develop a mutual intuition and give them access where the rest of the team might not have. 

Watch for their health, so you don’t have to replace them. Make sure their “paws” are in good shape—in other words, make sure they are free to run without anything hindering their running with all of their potential. 

Stay Prepared with Swing Dogs

The best teams have members who can operate in other positions. The Lead can be a burdensome place that wears, wearies, and stresses.

So it’s natural for mushers to have their ‘leaders in waiting’ to run in the next position—which is Swing. These dogs have to be leaders in their own right, and for many, becoming that Lead dog is the next natural step. 

Swing dogs are directly behind the leader, understanding their moves and translating that to the rest of the team. 

They ‘swing’ the rest of the team behind them in turns or curves on the trail. They protect the Lead dogs from attempting a turn—only to find the rest of the team choosing not to follow! 

They are crucial to making sure everyone makes the journey and stays in sync. 

Pro tip: When Swing dogs are able to rotate with the Leads, both sets will remain fresh and the results will show. 

The Powerhouses: Your Team Dogs

Not everyone on your team will be a Lead dog. In fact, if you had a pack full of them, your mission would probably fail. Chaos would ensue with everyone trying to lead.

That’s why, settled in the middle, are Team dogs. 

They don’t have to be concerned with the stress of leading and the sled is a comfortable distance behind them. They are free to simply pull with power and run. 

These pack members make up the momentum and pull you need to get the race done. To get the project finished. To keep going towards the prize. 

Most of your Team dogs will never be Lead, and they are fine with that. But you know what? If we didn’t have them, we couldn’t do what we do. They are vital to every pack—and every business. 

We should accept that the race is not their life—and let them run from 8 to 5 as hard as they can, then clock out and leave it all. 

Steady the Sled with Wheel Dogs

Wheel dogs run at the back of the pack, but are important for the steadying element they bring the entire team.

It takes a calm and even temperament to run close to the jolting, unpredictable sled.

These dogs know how to pull with power and steadiness to maneuver the sled around turns and rough bumps. (Not all dogs can handle it, nor should they.) 

The sled is not always pretty—things like cash flow and layoffs and contingency planning. There are things in your business that not every pack member needs to see and some will be scared off by. 

Which people do you allow close to the sled of business? 

Team dogs need to run unhindered from the burdens of the sled. But remember, even Wheel dogs that are closest to the sled are still not on the sled itself.

Though Wheel dogs are seasoned confidantes, people you count on to help you turn the business, they’re not meant to be pack mules for your emotional burdens. 

Keep an eye on those boundaries, establish outside sources of emotional care and support, and you’ll keep the Wheel runners—as well as the team as a whole—healthy.

Create Your Racing Team

Of course, your people aren’t actual racing dogs. And you probably don’t wake up every morning, tie on your fur hat, and climb into a wooden sled. 

But it’s still true that how well your team performs is in direct proportion to how well you know your people and put them in the right spot on the team. 

All positions are necessary. Knowing which ones your team members naturally play and allowing them to run there not only increases their satisfaction, but can lead to better team performance in the long run. 

Building the perfect team is rarely a sprint—more like an adventure of endurance that is wildly rewarding to those who take the time to learn and truly prepare. 

As always, if I can help you maximize your team’s unique talent, drop me a note using the form below.

The Real Reason No One Listens When You Speak

3 Steps to Communicate Powerfully with Your Team

People have been figuring out ways to communicate with each other since they first set foot on the earth—from cave drawings and hieroglyphics to modern day emojis. 😎

We’ve become masters of getting our ideas across. Without dialogue, our teams disintegrate. But communication requires more than the transmission of information.

On a boat flying across the bay, crew members must become efficient and effective at relaying information. Wasting time and energy, or worse, risking miscommunication, just won’t do.

In your business, what are your critical communication points? Do you speak to employees or team members in person or via video calls? Will a team member text you with a question, call you, email you, or wait until you come asking? How does your behavior influence how willing teammates are to communicate with you?

Every interaction is a potential miscommunication unless you are intentional about integrating.  

The Communication Checklist

As you re-envision what you want successful communication to look like on your team, take these three steps:

1. Identify

It’s also important to identify the key people with whom you need to communicate the most—and help leaders on your team do the same with their key personnel. Everyone needs a leader who will hear him or her. As a leader, you must take responsibility for communication as far as it is within your control.

2. Adapt

Integrated communication depends on doing it in ways others understand and appreciate. Does one member love to contact you directly? Give them a chance to do so.

Are they independent and work on their own until checked upon? Be sure to check in on them at regular intervals.

It’s impossible—and not necessary—to get everyone to speak the same language. Do your best to integrate with the people you lead and speak to them using their preferred style.

3. Ask

When I’m working with turnarounds or start-ups, I like doing critical communication in morning huddles. These are short team meetings designed to communicate critical information, focus the team, and get back at it.

To make sure you are communicating effectively, consider these questions:

  • What are the critical components I need to communicate?
  • What does my team need to know?
  • Whom should I tell first?
  • Are there any critical communication points being missed?
  • Is my communication one-way or two-way?
  • Is the message I’m trying to deliver the message that’s being received?

People Who Listen are People Who Feel Heard

All communication is not created equal. Many leaders technically say all the right information—but they’re still not communicating. They’re just transmitting. Because if you are talking and nobody is listening, you aren’t communicating.

In the military, when somebody has given an order, the soldiers respond back with a term called “Hooah!” It stands for H.U.A. Heard. Understood. Acknowledged. Effective communication asks for an echo check from the team, a confirmation that not only have they heard, but they understand what to do, acknowledge their role, and are moving to action.

Don’t mistake leadership monologues for company dialogue. Communication means not only that transmission has occurred, but also that recipients have received the information—and they know what to do with it.

As a leader start the communication evaluation with yourself. Perform a communication audit. Ask your team members to rate your communication skills, and take what they say to heart.

Then perform a listening audit. Work to listen to your team members and use their best input.

When people feel truly heard, they rise to the occasion every time. When you start listening to them, they’ll start listening to you.

How to Make Sense of Your Team Performance

Identify Where Underperformance Strikes to Blow by the Competition

Measuring Your Team Performance

If someone dropped you in the middle of nowhere Alaska with just a map and an X on it… would you know how to get there?

Of course not. (And if you attempted, would be lucky to avoid frostbite.)

Because, as any adventurer knows, before you can move towards a goal, you need to know where you are on the map. You would need to identify some landmarks to gauge where you are and some checkpoints to measure your progress toward the goal.

Evaluating the right route for your team—even if you know where to go—requires the same assessment. Any leader needs to know the landmarks or checkpoints that lie between the organization and optimal performance.

When assessing where you are as a team, there are two general categories of landmarks or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) you can use: tangible and intangible.

Tangible KPIs

As a general leadership rule, you should stay out of the operational weeds. It’s your job to plan and sustain the big-picture and train up the right delegates for detail work.

However, assessing your team well does require a season in the weeds to really understand who is doing what.

Only then can you assess the skills of each team member and position him or her for maximum value and production. Only then can you identify strengths and weaknesses and position each of them in the best possible position to contribute to the team performance.

You’ll want to take a look at things like:

  • Output
  • KPIs
  • Conflicts
  • Collaboration
  • Turnover
  • Wants and needs
  • Beliefs and behaviors
  • Capacity
  • Capabilities
  • Empowerment levels

Intangible KPIs

Other performance indicators are more easily missed because they don’t show up as numbers or percentages. But oh, do they matter! They are intangible so far as they are the performance indicators of healthy culture, problem-solving, and the relationship between team members. The four intangible KPIs I like to look at first are:

Trust. Trust is the currency of leadership. It starts when your team can trust you and you can trust your team. On the other hand, mistrust creates isolation. Isolation in a team environment always leads to disaster.

So, ask yourself:

  • Does my team trust me? Do I trust my team?
  • Do external customers trust us?
  • Do other departments within the organization trust us?
  • Do I know what my team can and can’t do—and how to grow where we are lacking?

Competence. Trust can only take you so far when you’ve got a competence problem. As an InSPIRED leader, you have a responsibility to create and guide a competent team. That means you’ve got to understand your team’s core competencies:

  • What is it that your department does?
  • What are the critical deliverables?
  • What are the critical roles?
  • Within the critical roles, what does competency look like?

Communication. All communication is not created equal. Many conversations among/to team members technically use all the right information—but they’re still not communicating. They’re just transmitting. Communication means not only that transmission has occurred, but also that recipients have received the information—and they know what to do with it.

Commitment. We all start with some level of competence, but knowledge in any industry has to be learned. Give me a person who has some level of competence, but is trustworthy with a heart full of commitment—and I can turn that person into a vital and integrated member of the team. You will gain competence every day if your heart is committed.

Becoming a Master Navigator

Together these KPIs make up your team compass. Most leaders focus on the tangibles, but the secret to finding true north is understanding both the measurable performance indicators and the abstract characteristics that set the context and culture for everything you output.
Keep them in your pocket at all times, and it won’t matter where you get dropped—if you can evaluate where your team is now, you can strategize how to get them anywhere.