EP8 – Three Crucial Ingredients to Grow a Happy and Productive Team

This episode teaches the three crucial ingredients necessary to grow a happy and productive team: incentive, expectation, and communication.

The Growability® podcast is designed to teach business owners and non-profit leaders a more excellent way to run their business.

Podcast Transcript:

Joshua MacLeod:
If you, as a leader or a manager, are able to answer the questions, what’s in it for me, incentive, what’s expected of me, expectation, and where do I stand, communication, then you’re really going to be able to create a healthy environment for a team. And the people on that team are going to want to stay with your organization.

Podcast Announcer:
Welcome to the Growability podcast. Teaching business and nonprofit leaders a more excellent way to run a business. Visit growability.com for your leadership, coaching, consultation and business collaboration needs. Are you a great leader? Do you know the key ingredients to keep your team happy and productive? This episode shares how incentive, expectation and communication provide the necessary ingredients for a motivated team. Here are your hosts, Joshua MacLeod and Bernie Anderson.

Bernie Anderson:
My question for you today, Joshua, is what’s the secret sauce for keeping really good people happy in an organization?

Joshua MacLeod:
That’s a great question. There are three critical ingredients that every team member needs to be happy. One, is incentive. Two, is expectation. And three, is communication. Incentive is the question, what is in this for me? Expectation is the question, what is expected of me? And communication is the question, where do I stand?

Bernie Anderson:
Let’s start with incentive. What are the main pieces to having great incentives for people? Is it just money?

Joshua MacLeod:
There are three primary ingredients to providing incentive for every team member. The first you’ve already mentioned is obvious it’s financial. How much am I going to get paid? And pay doesn’t just include your salary, pay includes things like your 401k, your vacation days, your medical reimbursement, your bonuses. Like what are all of the benefits that you can have for this organization? Is there a profit share? You know, how much do I get paid is a really big question.

Joshua MacLeod:
The number two reason for incentive when working at a business is actually that the immediate supervisor to your position appreciates your work. And they appreciate you as a person. Does my boss or my manager or my supervisor appreciate me and what I’m doing?

Joshua MacLeod:
And then the third ingredient is being able to do a job that maximizes your strength. Like we all like to do things that we’re good at or can become good at. So I think to answer the first question of, what are the core ingredients of incentive, you’ve got three. First is financial, so what’s my package? Second is relational, does my immediate supervisor appreciate me? And then third is doing a job that I’m good at, or a strength assigned role. If you have those three ingredients, from an incentive standpoint, the itch is going to be scratched and they’re going to enjoy their job. If you don’t provide those things, if you don’t have a good financial package, if you don’t appreciate your team, and if they’re not doing something that they can excel at, you really got to figure out how to make that happen so that you can keep that team member. If you can’t scratch that itch, then they’re going to look for incentive somewhere else.

Bernie Anderson:
You know, it’s interesting Joshua, when you first talked about incentive I thought about the idea of like fulfilling a purpose, right? Fulfilling, I’ve got to do this because it’s who I am. Like it’s not even a, it’s not a passion thing it’s more of a purpose thing. Like, I’m doing something important. And I think the strengths-based work, having a strengths-based role in an organization is going to help you on that path.

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah. That’s a good point. I think the vision for your organization, you know, where you’re going, the mission, how you bring that about, the values, the way you make decisions and the standards of excellence, like what defines the quality of your team, all of those things are culture ingredients that if you don’t have that kind of as a foundation, as a base, then your organization is never going to reach its full potential.

Joshua MacLeod:
But on top of that, I think from a leadership role as a manager, I want to look at each person on my team and ask the question, am I providing the incentive and the expectation and the communication that this team member needs to really thrive? So as a leader in the organization, or a manager in the organization, there’s the culture of how we do things. But then there’s also the culture of, how do I serve our team? And those three ingredients are really team serving ingredients.

Bernie Anderson:
What about expectations? Having clear expectations of your team?

Joshua MacLeod:
So when it comes to expectation, the question, what is expected of me? The analogy that comes to my mind, imagine that you’re going to play basketball but the scoreboards are out. So the power didn’t run to the scoreboard. So you’re the basketball team, you’re playing the opposing basketball team, you’re running up and down the court. You’re shooting free throws. You’re passing the ball. You’re dribbling. And you’re doing this for like 30 minutes. And after 30 minutes of running up and down the court shooting the ball you look over and you notice there’s no score. So you’re asking the question like, what’s the score? Are we winning, are they winning? Who’s winning. Like, what? And then it’s like, well, how many points did we get? And the answer is, we just don’t know. The question starts building in the back of your mind.

Joshua MacLeod:
Like, why the heck am I running up and down this court? Why am I passing the ball? Why am I shooting? What’s this all for? What am I doing? So the first ingredient to having clear expectations is a score that makes sense. I want to break that down a little bit. Imagine that you’re going to go on a flight to go see a relative, or you’re going to fly overseas. You’re going to go get in the airplane. So you walk in the airplane and you walk into, the door to the cockpit is open and the pilots sitting up there and you walk into the cockpit and you notice there are zero instrument panels. There’s just a big wooden block and there’s a bumper sticker that says, I sure love to fly. But zero instrument panels. So you’re talking-

Bernie Anderson:
Maybe there’s just a cupholder.

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah, there’s a cup holder and coffee holder, I sure love to fly decal. You’re saying to the pilot, like, so where’s the dashboards? And he’s like, oh, I’ve been flying for years and years, we don’t need to look at all those dashboards. I know how to fly. And you’re like, well, what about fuel? Like how do you know where the fuel? Oh, we don’t need. I don’t, I’ve been flying this plane for years. It’s crazy. A lot of organizations, and you and I’ve kind of both experienced, and we go into the organization and we’re like, hey, what are you looking at on your flight plan? And they’re like, well, we’ve got fuel. We’ve got a P&L. There’s money in the bank. Well, that doesn’t tell me about the flock of birds that are coming in. How much, what my wind speed velocity is. How soon am I going to get somewhere organizationally, from an expectation standpoint.

Joshua MacLeod:
You’ve got to have a good set of dashboards to know where the organization is going. Who’s in the organization? Are we meeting our milestones and benchmarks? But that’s for the organization. Individually, we need to have a score card to where I know what my role is in this organization. The scorecard is really important for each team member to know what their particular role is. How does my individual effort actually make an impact on the organization as a whole? So dashboards and scorecards, that’s number one.

Joshua MacLeod:
The second key to providing clear expectation for a team member is a step-by-step playbook. Every team member, as they go to work at an organization, they need two ingredients that, for whatever reason, is very difficult for most managers and leaders to provide. A very clear job description and very clear playbooks on how to perform that job description. Often what happens in business is you go to play the game and it’s like you’re playing like tag with a bunch of kids.

Joshua MacLeod:
So you show up and the apple tree is home base. So you start running around and you’re trying to tag somebody and then you’re on home base and then they come and they’re like tag, you’re it. And you’re like, I’m on home base, I’m at the apple tree. And then they’re like, no, no, no, no, the car is home base. You’re like, what? When was the car home base? And they’re always changing the game.

Joshua MacLeod:
In a small business, especially like a startup or an organization that’s growing, the leaders of the organization often say your job description is whatever we need to do.

Bernie Anderson:
A terrible job description.

Joshua MacLeod:
It’s a terrible job description. If you’re the leader of the organization, that’s your job description. But if you’re on the team, you need to have it very clearly laid out. This is the simple thing that you need to do. The less ambiguity that you can provide for each team member, the more happiness you’re going to have from that team member.

Joshua MacLeod:
And then finally, there’s like a clear chain of command. We use a tool called a RASI Model. So RASI, the R stands for responsible. Who is responsible for this task? The A stands for accountable. Who is that person accountable to? The S stands for support. Who needs to be there to provide support for this task? And then the I is informed. Who needs to receive information about what happened? The expectation that is necessary to create for each team member is really about removing all ambiguity to your goal. In order to remove ambiguity at an organization I need a RASI model, I need step-by-step playbooks, and I need scoreboards and dashboards

Bernie Anderson:
Just for clarity on scoreboards and dashboards, what I hear, you said the organizationally, the organization needs a dashboard to see the whole thing, and the individual needs a scorecard to know what she is having to accomplish in her role in whatever her role is. So really dashboards are for the leadership ultimately, would that be true Joshua? That dashboards are for leaders, scorecards are for everybody. Everybody, including leaders, all people in an organization should have a scorecard to know how they’re doing, right?

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah. And especially depending on how your organization is structured, I’m a fan, of dashboards are for everybody. Here’s what our numbers are. This is where we need to be. This is how this breaks down. Organizations that have more sharing and more transparency on dashboards really create more incentivized team members.

Bernie Anderson:
What about communication? What are some of the key ingredients for having great communication in workplace?

Joshua MacLeod:
For communication, I think there’s three primary ingredients. The first is candor. Being honest and transparent. Not schmoozy, not fake, not sidelining things that need to be talked about, but just being a very candid communicator is critical for people to feel good at an organization. Telling somebody that they are standing on thin ice is a lot better than not telling them anything at all. Even if it’s like, oh, I’m actually on thin ice here. Then I know where our relationship is at and I can actually go and I can do something about it. The first thing is just straight talk, radical candor. Am I communicating honestly and openly? Do people know that they’re going to get a straight shot from their leader? Do they know that they’re going to be told, this is great, this is not great, without messing around?

Joshua MacLeod:
The second one, we are a fan … You know Bernie, you and I are big fans of like a quarterly self-review. Where every three months you have feedback and then we build that review off of your standards, your core standards of excellence, your core values, your mission, you know, things like that. Having a regular review is a great way to make sure that you’re on the same page. I’m on the same page with my boss, boss is on the same page with me. We’re in good standing. If you go longer than three months from like a formal sit down, talk about the way things are, it just gets kind of nebulous. I don’t really know where I stand. So one is radical candor, straight talk. Two, is a quarterly self review. And then the third thing is just having some kind of regular meeting.

Joshua MacLeod:
Some organizations they’re going to have a daily huddle before they go start the day. Or a weekly meeting. Maybe this is our sales team, we’re going to go over numbers. We’re going to meet every week and we’re going to have this and this happen. There needs to be a scheduled regular time where everybody has a chance to share. So if you have a meeting and it’s like one person talking the same time over and over again, then you’re not really having a meeting you’re just having a presentation.

Joshua MacLeod:
So we’ve been very intentional about setting up the right prompts and questions in your meeting so that the meetings make sense and help the organization grow forward. In communication there’s three primary ingredients. One is straight talk, you know radical candor. Two is a quarterly self-review, or some kind of scheduled review. And then the third is a regular team meeting. A regular office meeting. Some kind of scheduled thing that keeps you on track. So if you have those three things I think you’re really going to scratch the communication itch. And I would say, it’s not just the communication itch, it’s a communication need that every team member really has this need in an organization.

Bernie Anderson:
One of the things that’s, I think really cool about this framework is that it intersects and overlaps in so many places. That as you put these ingredients together you realize that, hey, like candor works because up here in incentive I know I’m appreciated. Like, if I don’t know I’m appreciated candor’s going to be like, ah, like you’re killing me here. Like, you know?

Joshua MacLeod:
That’s exactly right. So if you, as a leader or a manager are able to answer the questions, what’s in it for me, incentive, what’s expected of me, expectation, and where do I stand, communication, then you’re really going to be able to create a healthy environment for a team. And the people on that team are going to want to stay with your organization. If you have a challenge in your organization, you can really try to ferret out, what that problem is, by asking the question, does this team member have enough incentive? Or, does this team member have clear expectations? Or, does this team member have good communication? Have I communicated with this team member?

Podcast Announcer:
Thank you for listening to the Growability podcast. We hope this episode helps you run your business in a more excellent way. The mission of Growability is to equip leaders to flourish in their life and work by developing vision, rhythm and community. Visit growability.com for more information and to talk with a Growability coach.