Create excellent teams in 3 easy steps

“People don’t change that much.
Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out.
Try to draw out what was left in.
That is hard enough.”
― Marcus Buckingham

From the many folks who have researched the topic of productivity, I have learned that you need to discover and design for strengths and work around weaknesses. The above quote is an excellent expression supporting the idea.  Building a team with this in mind supports an exceptional outcome.

Over time I have come to agree with this approach based on personal experience and research I have done. Please note that I originally believed that you had to fix your weaknesses to improve and creating a team of “top” talent were the best ways to succeed as a manager.  I have found that, for the most part, this is a futile endeavor and in some cases delivers the opposite results.  If you agree with this read on as this is not a piece to convince you of why this is important. If you would like to learn more, here is a link to the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey.

For those who are still with me, I have found that most struggle with where to start.  To help with this, I have combined into three simple steps what I have come across from Marcus Buckingham and Rory Vaden – two leading thinkers on the topic.

Step 1. Create a Love/Loathe List

To find your strengths and weaknesses, please complete Buckingham’s “Loved It/Loathed It” exercise. The process is simple:

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle
  2. Label one half “Loved It” and the other half “Loathed It”
  3. Over the course of the next week, pay attention to how your job’s activities make you feel
  4. At the moment you experience an emotion, write down that activity in one of the columns
    • Did you actively look forward to it? – Loved it
    • Did you procrastinate or have apprehension before starting the task? – Loathed it
    • While you were doing something, did time fly by and you could easily concentrate? – Loved it
    • Did you struggle to complete the activity because you were bored or distracted? – Loathed it
    • Afterward, were you invigorated and authentically proud, strong, or happy? – Loved it
    • Did the completion of the activity leave you drained? – Loathed it

Step 2. Focus on your Strengths

Once you have completed your list, look at the Love column – this is where your true talents/strengths lie. These most likely represent your natural tendencies.

My suggestions are as follows:

  • Work with your team and your manager to leverage these in your daily/weekly work.
  • Modify your role on the team.
  • Offer to pick up work from others and vice versa.
  • Create a new role altogether.
  • Be creative!

Step 3. Eliminate/Reduce your Weaknesses.

Look down the Loathe column. These are things to stop doing or delegate to someone else whenever possible.  Rory Vaden, suggests these four options (in summary):

  1. Delegate/Teach – Give to/teach someone else on the team (or another team) that enjoys the task
  2. Automate – When possible, systematize and organize without having your real-time involvement
  3. Eliminate – Many things we do are legacy and may no longer need to be done.  Ask yourself that if you started fresh today, why would we need to do this task.  If you cannot justify, eliminate it.
  4. Procrastinate – Drop it to the bottom of the list and keep it there. If no one comes looking for it, you can probably eliminate it. If they do, revisit Delegate and/or Automate or “grin and bear it” because someone has to do it.  An alternative is to create a new position if the task(s) is worthy of it.

Give it a go!  Please let me know how it went.

For more on these topics, please read Buckingham’s GO Put your Strengths to Work or any number of his other great books and Rory Vaden’s Procrastinate on Purpose. 

Here is a link to other books I have read and recommend.

Bill -Certified Scaling Up Coach

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Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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