29 March 2015

I am often asked how you create a successful team. It’s not easy, we are all made differently and we are therefore all motivated by different  things. One thing that might work for one group of people, will almost certainly not work for another group. Yet a highly motivated team is arguably the most important factor when running a business or team. So how do you do it and where do you start?

Firstly when you are recruiting people, look out for something called goal orientation. This is the drive in a person that all successful people have. It is not always visible on the outside and can be a quiet burning fire inside an individual that you don’t see until you stimulate them, so often these types of people are missed during a recruitment drive. But these are people you want on the team, they are essential. It’s also important not to mistake drive for enthusiasm. The two are different and once the enthusiasm wains, a driven person will come in to their own.

So how do you find it?

In an interview you can look for signs and stories that demonstrate the person is someone who will never give up. I am a great believer in psychometric testing someone too. A good test asks a candidate questions, so we are not analysing them, we are merely reading what they say about themselves.  There is no real right or wrong answer to the test, however as we employ certain traits right across the business, when we have ignored personality traits and brought people into a team, they seldom fit in quite as well.

Once you have people with a high dosage of drive, you need to stimulate them. The best way to do this is to listen and learn about a person. Find out what makes them tick. What events in their life they remember with absolute clarity, where something changed. These areas hold the key to getting to know a person. At the same time if someone is telling you about moments in their life that are personal and that they value, its important that you share your experiences too. Honesty is an important factor in Leadership. Once people connect with you they are far more likely to go that extra mile and vice versa.

I never turn down an opportunity to talk and listen to someone whether I work with them directly or not. People need to feel valued and if you deliberately distance yourself from them, don’t expect extraordinary results.

Getting the right people and is so important that at UKFast we take people away for a few days in the Snowdonia National Park. A few days, climbing Snowdon with fun activities like raft-building and archery not only give people an opportunity to demonstrate their personalities it also allows people to bond in what would ordinarily be a potentially stressful first few days of a new job.

Raft Building At UKFast

A team of adventurers at UKFast on our Lake with Sowdon in the distance

Once you have chosen your team, its time you share your goal. Often creating the goal together is a good start, however every goal needs a “Why?”

I remember key times in our company’s history when I felt we’d been wronged in the way we’d been treated by competitors. Rather than letting this frustrate me, I assembled a team and shared my feelings and asked for their commitment in helping me right the wrong. These type of adventures are the best as everyone feels a part of the mission. Contribution is key if you are going to make everyone involved feel connected. If one person doesn’t feel connected, there is a danger that the whole project can drift off target.

If you have one person that struggles to engage, take the time out to listen and understand what’s necessary to help them understand the importance and the fun of the journey ahead. I’d recommend not doing this in front of the whole team. I have made that mistake as a younger man and it always creates a bigger problem as people tend to get embarrassed with a crowd looking on.

How important is measuring the team?

Here’s a great analogy, “how many people would play football let alone watch it if there were no goal posts?”

The answer is zero!

Building teams with in teams and keep the energy high

Building teams with in teams and keep the energy high

Football or netball like all things in life would be very dull without goals. We all need variety in our lives. We all need to experience winning and losing and the only way to do this is by measuring.

There is a great saying that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

So when you are creating your campaign, make sure that there are clear measurable results so individuals in the team know that they are contributing and doing well. More importantly celebrate success, however small. When someone does something good, single them out and let everyone know how well they are doing. This will stimulate positive feelings in others who will follow suit and try and better what is already being achieved.

There is another type of goal, called a PURPOSE that I learned about from Jim Collins, Stanford Professor and author of Good To Great and Built To Last.

What is a purpose? Its a goal you can never hit! What do I mean by this and why would you set a goal that you can never hit?

Simple really, the purpose is the over arching reason why we exist as an organisation. Missions and campaigns are necessary because they drive you from point to point, but you need an underlying fire burning in your heart keeping you going and inspiring you on the longer term journey.

Example, Disney’s purpose was “TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY,” at first sight you might feel that’s a bit simplistic, however when you think about it, it’s genius. How can you make ALL people in the world happy, all the time? You can’t, yet Disney still is attempting this long after Walt’s death.

Our purpose is a little more complex at UKFast, but for me equally as inspiring.

UKFast exists to significantly accelerate commerce and learning, through innovation and thought, whilst contributing to our clients  success.

What does that mean?

Well it means we stopped worrying about profits long ago and started to look at what the whole world needs and yes we are starting small with the UK, but if we do our job well, we can inspire others. We already have massive evidence that we are creating this wider momentum with the things bigger businesses are adopting that originated from our tiny offices in Manchester all those years ago.

So to explain our Purpose, our job is to accelerate commerce and learning, speed up the internet, make it possible for people to communicate and learn together in an instant and with consummate ease. There is no clear amount to speed it up by, because as fast as we improve it, we will just continue using innovation and thought to go faster again. It’s a journey that can never end, a marathon without a finish line and I, like Walt Disney will die trying and never give up.

Which leads me to the final point. Don’t expect people to get excited about something if you are not. Don’t expect people to do jobs you’d never do yourself. Team work is about sharing and honesty. Its the most rewarding elements of your life and you can use these techniques (which are really only common sense) in every aspect of your life with your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, children, friends, local sports team, literally everywhere.

Find your purpose, build your team, change the world.

If you need help on any of these areas, pot your comment and I will happily help.
Best LJ

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