Working with Bridgestone/Firestone has kept me busy this year, but today I found a few hours to pick up the blog series I started a few months ago called Leadership That Grows Up. In the last blog on this subject, I covered how to discover and activate the best in your team.

In this post, I want to unpack the process of assessing

  1. How your team is doing with trust

  2. How your team is doing with accomplishing your plan

Do you have an entry point to assess the strength of your team? I recommend The Five Behaviors process as a way to develop trust because it gives a lens through which you can gauge team growth both behaviorally and quantitatively.

This paradigm is built on trust. All the behaviors grow in health and build on one another from there. For instance, a team that trusts each other will be able to have healthy and productive conflict. Having productive conflict will lead to better commitments which enables tighter accountability. Last, if you’ve got healthy and predictable accountability, you’ll get better results. At a minimum, I recommend a check-up on these behaviors every six months.

+ Accomplishing Your Plan — Red, Yellow, Green + 
Checking in rhythmically on your plan provides predictability, which creates the best work environments. Ideally, your team plan contains a most important goal that can be accomplished in 3-12 months with 3-5 defining objectives.

In your team check-in, ask how each person’s work is going through a simple dashboard of RED, YELLOW, OR GREEN.

  • RED = Not going well, and I need help
  • YELLOW = Some progress, but I need help or have questions
  • GREEN = Things are going well and on track

+ Going Beyond Check-Ins: Here’s Where Things Get Fun +
Learning to assess team behaviors and progress on goals is only half the work. The other half is bringing in supplemental training and processes to help where the team is lacking.

To quote Sherlock Holmes: “No man burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so.” What’s happening on your team is a small matter because it points to what is happening in your broader organization.

If you’re in any leadership role within your organization, it’s your responsibility to think bigger than your immediate problems. Why? Your problems are like arrows pointing to broader needs.

In my organizational health work, I’ve learned that when you find a team or organizational growth area, simply asking 5-10 people the same questions will likely help you flesh out the broader problem. Using the Five Behaviors Paradigm, below are some possible ways for you to figure out how to help your team or organization.

+ Lack of Trust +
Could point to organizational issues, unclear values, or no values. When Vision and Values aren’t present, we leave people in the organization disempowered. Things become like the wild-west where people have to fight battles they can’t win. Possible solution: revisit organizational values and see if you’ve got the processes in place to help people stick to those behaviors.

Psychology has found that trust is built through the sharing of story and emotion. Do your values allocate for people to bring their whole selves to work?

+ Unhealthy Conflict or Avoidance of Conflict +
Could point to lack of safe spaces for people to talk about disagreements. Additionally this could reveal that people simply don’t understand how conflict can be productive. Most people learned how to handle conflict on the playground as kids and never got additional training. Does your organization have a conflict model you expect others to follow? If not, it’s time to bring in some training. We can help you identify a good conflict model and provide that training.

+ Hesitancy to Commit +
Could point to lack of buy-in on the team goal. This could also point to lack of managerial oversight. Possible solutions could include helping managers understand how to better delegate and develop their teams through regular and predictable check-ins. Another possible need could be to re-visit the team plan or maybe even provide coaching skills training so leaders know how to better ask questions to find out why people aren’t committing.

+ Lack of Accountability +
Could point to people simply not knowing how to call one-another out when things aren’t going well. The majority of my past year partnering with Evergreen Leadership within the Bridgestone Corporation has been helping hundreds of managers learn good recognition and development feedback models. Watching these leaders take the models and run with them has been extremely rewarding. Consider equipping your teams with good feedback models. It could be as simple as integrating the SBI model — What’s the situation, behavior in question, and impact it’s having on the team or organization?

+ Inattention to Results + 
Could point to team members being too focused on tasks that don’t contribute to the team goal. Helping people do an audit of how they’re spending their time isn’t easy. It requires a lot of 1/1 conversations and then team conversations. It requires a leader knowing how to ask good questions. Here’s where the axiom rings true:

The difference between a good and a great leader is about two minutes. Getting over focused on the “to do” list instead of taking the time to develop people is common, but why not commit now to make it uncommon?

What I’ve listed here isn’t exhaustive. But my point in listing these ideas is to simply show that drawing out the best in your team is like detective work. You’ve got to look at the clues and follow them. Then bring help where necessary. The good news is that your team’s greatest area of deficiency is an opportunity for you to build trust by stepping in, getting vulnerable by asking questions, and then bringing help to fill in whatever gaps you discover.

We develop custom workshops for everything listed above — contact us, and let us know where your gaps are.

In my next blog I want to share how to develop a system of care in your organization. In business world, this means getting healthy engagement.