17 September 2018
What makes a great team? At UKFast, it’s a question we’ve been working to answer for many years. When you know what makes a great team, you know how to make a great workplace – the two go hand in hand. We’re on a mission to create the best workplace in the world and, as part of that, it’s essential to look to those around us to learn from their mistakes and best practice.
So reading on inc.com this morning, as I had my breakfast, that Google has carried out years of research into what makes a great team, I was fascinated to see the results.
Interestingly, the points that sum up the research’s findings are things that we’ve seen ourselves across the UKFast business portfolio time and time again.
Being comfortable enough to admit a mistake, share an idea or ask a question is absolutely essential for building a great team and a great workplace. The fear of being embarrassed or punished for speaking up to admit an error or share an idea hugely restricts a person’s potential.
I have a huge amount of respect for the people who come forward to say that they have made an error, particular compared to those who try to hide the mistake or pass the buck. Mistakes happen, it’s how we learn from them that counts.
Equally, imagine how limited the potential for innovation is when you restrict people’s ability to share their ideas. Some of the most successful products and practices at UKFast have come from ideas within the team; the people at the forefront of your technology, or those on the phone to clients all day, are the ones who have that insider knowledge as to where the business could go to further meet client needs. It makes perfect sense that they then drive innovation rather than feeling stifled.
Having a team of like-minded individuals giving the same effort and focus can easily be disrupted by one person. If one person consistently misses deadlines, underdelivers or has a negative attitude, you will quickly find this spreading throughout the team.
It’s almost as if people see “XX isn’t delivering the same standard as I am, so why should I bother going above an beyond?”
However, it works on the counter too: positivity spreads quickly. When you bring in someone who overdelivers and is thriving, this attitude quickly passes through the team too.
Structure and clarity
How can you thrive at something if you don’t know your remit? If you don’t know what is expected of you? Setting clear goals and giving an understanding of how much time and effort is needed for each tasks give a structure that almost always guarantees success.
We have a huge focus on ownership and empowerment. It means that people know what they’re responsible for and they thrive within that area. There’s no need for micromanagement or spoon-feeding. Their remit is clear and, within that, they’re empowered to make their own decisions and reach the outcomes in their own way.
When you build a team of like-minded people, this is a seamless organic process. The people engaging with customers, offering support and providing the service are the people who know first-hand what needs to change or develop to keep improving the business as a whole. It makes perfect sense.
I often blog about ‘why’. What is your ‘why’? Why are you striving toward that goal? Why do you do what you do? Motivational speaker, author and creator of one of the most viewed TED Talks ever, Simon Sinek talks about how everything comes back to why. When times get tough, you come back to why you’re really doing something. It’s not for money, it’s not for fame. These aren’t enough. Everyone has an ultimate reason, and that is the greatest motivator in the world. It is the single most important reason why you do what you do.
So how does that translate to creating a great team? Google’s research shows that it is important for individuals to know what their work means to other people within the business, so they know why it is important to the business. Why should they do the task that they are set?
Similar to knowing the meaning of something is knowing the overall impact that has. How does your work impact those around you? How does it impact the business’ goals as a whole?
It is interesting that these points all come from one of the biggest technology brands in the world; the research doesn’t come from an external company surveying a few people. The points make perfect sense to me and we see them in practice across UKFast every day. Whilst I don’t agree with some of Google’s business policies, there certainly seems to be strength in their knowledge of building amazing teams. What do you think?