Re-Boot Your Team’s Definition of Success

11250 NNIVYT

Do you want to re-boot your team with a clear and compelling definition of success?

Rebooting around success can be done at any time. No need to think that you’ll need to do this when the team is entirely new or having problems. Rather, it’s a great way to boost everyone’s engagement and inspiration by being clear about success, what it takes to get there and how to continually raise the bar on quality, collaboration and innovation.

1) Be Clear About What You Want 

What’s most important is clarity around the re-boot’s intention. Why are you initiating this? What is an ideal outcome? What is an outcome you don’t want? What would happen if you didn’t redefine success at this time? Having answers to these questions will increase the value of the exercise for everyone.

2) Introduce Your Idea

In today’s hectic and uncertain world, most people are either overwhelmed or near overwhelm most of the time. It doesn’t take much for someone to shift from feeling ok to feeling like they’ll never get from under their to-do list on a daily basis. In addition, most people are afraid of losing their jobs and so, this fear can be easily triggered by sudden changes, new initiatives or any new requests from their bosses. Because of this reality, it makes sense to give everyone a heads-up about your intentions and goals for the re-boot. That will reduce any fears people may have about your new-found attention on success.

3) Ask for Individual and Team Definition of Success 

Before your re-boot, ask everyone to think about and describe how they define success for themselves and the team. Which metrics do they use or want to use? What will be fun and inspiring? Which definitions will help them leap into the unknown, balancing between structure and creativity? Ask for evidence or data, such as case studies or personal experiences to make the process more tangible. Whatever they come up with, you’ll be able to know their level of engagement, creativity and collaboration, which will provide you with more info about how they feel and how they’re doing.

If it’s difficult to bring out ideas from the team, try playing a game. One game is identifying 50-100 definitions of success within 10 minutes. This might sound like a lot to do in a short period of time, yet in a design thinking course I took through Standford, the instructor, Tina Seelig, suggested that the best ideas come closer to #100, when the obvious ones have long been listed. If you have a shy team or people who want to avoid being criticized, you can ask them to use post-its to stick their ideas to the wall vs having one person list everyone’s ideas one-by-one. Use time pressure and a fun factor as levers for engaging even the least engaged, as most people are willing to play along for 10-15 minutes (and then become engaged along the way!).

You might notice that your team is on the same page as to how they see success. That could mean that they’re wonderfully aligned or mindlessly following what’s already been done! Sleuth around for more info; use your intuition for insight. On the other hand, you might be intrigued by the variety of ideas and can use that as a springboard to infuse further delight and curiosity into the team culture. You can also vote on a short-list of what’s most fun or just leave all of the options available on the board at this stage.

Remember to:

      • make this exercise engaging by including everyone’s voice
      • stay simple and practical
      • use time pressure to create clear boundaries around the exercise
      • link your new success definitions to your organization’s vision and goals
      • nurture presence and focus by making your meeting device-free
      • focus on the intended outcomes of the new definition of success

4) Focus on the Outcomes and the “Why” of the Reboot 

I mentioned this above, but it begs more attention. Most people focus on problems or remedies. It’s good to be clear about the issue at hand and how to solve it. At the same time, what’s most important is what you really want — what is the ideal process or result? Why does that matter? What will you think, feel, do, have? What would happen if you didn’t redefine success and kept things as they are?

5) Use Emotions as Data

Defining newfound success and the intended outcomes are actually the easiest part of this re-boot. What requires more attention is the implementation. How has each person interpreted the re-boot? Are they energized or stressed? Inspired or burdened? Excited or bored? Clear or confused?

While your job is not to make people feel good (that’s their business), it is to create a context in which they can thrive. “Happy” people are more resilient in face of challenges and perform better than “non-happy” people. (I put “happy” in quotes as people don’t really need to be happy, as that’s a fleeting emotion, yet it’s best to feel good, which also means resourceful. In any case, “happy” is the term used by psychologists to mean feeling good or resourceful).

Here is a set of questions with which to use emotions as data:

      1. Name the emotion
      2. What is it telling you?
      3. What do you need to feel good/resourceful and do your best?
      4. What would a wise person do?

If you want more reading on emotions, check this out.

If you can’t name the emotion, yet can name the problem, use these q’s to get to the root of things (a process called, “Beyond EQ” based on euro-linguisitc programming):

      1. What’s going on? What is the issue at hand? (problem identification)
      2. What’s the worst that can happen? (fears)
      3. What’s the ideal outcome? (aspirations)
      4. What do we need to make that happen? (collective action)

Sleuth around about how people feel to speed up problem solving at every turn. You’ll be amazed how these simple questions regarding emotions and needs provide exponentially high ROIs.

6) Take a Pulse on Work/Life Balance

Most people are steeped in a belief that to succeed, you have to work at a furious pace, yet this never helped anyone. People who are continually tired and stressed tend to burnout. People who burn out do not perform as well as people who are healthy and rested. This is based on enormous amounts of research on sleep, let alone how some work environments make people sick.

Be sure you notice who is working too fast or without creativity and inquire about it. Encouraging yourself/your staff to get and stay healthy pays off in the short- and long-term for everyone.

7) Make it Easy to Reinforce

Having a re-boot is worthless unless you reinforce it on a frequent basis. Make your new definitions of success a part of every communication and interaction. Notice how everyone responds to this and what you learn about the process, yourself.

Using your re-boot results daily helps you identify whether or not they’re simple enough to retain. If you find that there’s confusion, solve that asap. Never postpone creating clarity because doing so undermines the team’s effectiveness and your credibility.

To use your new definitions in every meeting, q’s like these can help:

      • How do the new definitions change how/what you’ll do?
      • What’s different for you now compared to before our re-boot?
      • How would you do ____ differently?
      • How could we double our/your expectation on ______? What would that mean?
      • What do you think we need to use our new definitions/metrics successfully?

To be more obvious, you can:

      • Create a symbol to help everyone take ownership of remembering and helping others remember the new definitions. I like asking people to use metaphors….”The new definitions of success are like what…?” Maybe they’re like a ray of sunshine or a bowl of cherries. Metaphors anchor the new definitions with a new feeling, which reinforces them in a positive way. You could use hand gestures like a “thumbs up” or a “T” like time-out or maybe use bright yellow smily faces to hold up during meetings. Whatever you do, make it simple and fun!
      • Co-create a poster to hang in your work area. That could turn into a fun 20-minute lunch-time project, where everyone brings out their magic markers or stencils and designs a poster that inspires.
      • Invite each team member to lead a team meeting with the new definitions of success, ensuring that everyone talks about what’s different now.

Whichever ways you decide to reinforce your new definitions, make it clear that there’s no going back. Post re-boot is always new day.

8) Repeat Every 4 Months

Repetition is the mother of learning.

Anything that’s related to sentient beings requires regular care. If you live with a pet, you don’t feed him/her once and forget doing so from there on, do you?

Use regular — perhaps quarterly — re-boots to continually infuse your team with new skills, perspectives and clarity around your ever-growing definition of success (and precision about what’s failure). You’ll be able to notice how everyone gets better at staying aligned, creative and proactive.

9) Spice Things Up

To increase your fun level and credibility, invite other teams to your re-boots. You can start with the people you closely work with to spread your re-boot success, plus, increase your influence around engagement, problem-solving and the like. Over time, you can envelop the entire company into your process and create value in ways you never thought before. Always remember to focus on intended outcomes, what you’ll “get” with those outcomes and the reasons they’re are meaningful.

When you see how such re-boots energize everyone and increase creativity, use them around other topics. Problem-solving, conflict, innovation, work/life balance — any issue is a good one when it’s important to cultivating a positive team culture and ensuring everyone is primed to contribute his/her best.



[Image by Freepik]