When was the last time you experienced the exhilaration of a ‘win’ in your workplace, have you experienced being part of a Winning Team? Have you ever truly felt the feeling? If you have, was it as an individual or as part of a Winning Team effort? When you can create an environment where everyone on the ‘team’ experiences that elation then you are exponentially more likely to repeat. For your organisation that translates into more productivity… profitability, for you as an individual it translates into a much more fulfilling environment where you WANT to participate and contribute. You want to experience that feeling again… and again! It’s a positive addiction!
Countless scientific research and studies show emotions drive action, positive emotions drive positive actions, this is a fact. But how can you create such an environment?
Like many leaders, as one of my tools I use metaphors and analogies to give meaning to a point or concept and then bridge that to relevance within our organisation or current situation. Years ago I brought fourteen leaders of a new team I had just become head of together for a ‘strategy session’. The organisation was plagued with a critical and far too common disease; very poor efficiency, little or no communication and cooperation and lots of finger pointing and CYA activity; a text book silo mentality.
The participants represented all Supervisorial levels, disciplines and experience and were from different operational locations – most had never taken part in such an exercise before. They even committed to come on a Saturday – a non working day, their personal time. Be it curiosity, a sense of obligation, a desperate need to try something, anything new or just to be perceived as appeasing (sucking up to) the new boss, for whatever reason they came – but I made a mistake!
The objective was to get them to realise we were all working together toward the same goals and provide an opportunity for them to have input into the solution and direction to attain those goals… together.
So I used a trusted sports analogy to make a point about how it feels to be part of a successful, winning team. To remind them of that incredible feeling and assure them it was achievable again in our work environment.
Here’s the mistake – I made an assumption based on my personal experience. I asked the group, who had played sports or had a competitive hobby of some sort anytime throughout their lives. As expected most said they had. I then asked them to remember back to when they won some competition within their respective activity… not a single response!! None of them had ever experienced that ultimate euphoric feeling of winning!
Major Whoops!! – so first titbit of advice for those of you who want to motivate your people. Do your research to ensure your references are relevant to your audience! A lesson I learned well that day!
The main advice for today’s journey step however is to do whatever you can to create that winning feeling within your team / organisation. A winning feeling is an emotion and when attached to a positive memory is a powerful driver for action and scientifically proven and addictive in a most positive way.
How to Create this Winning Team Environment
Here are a few pointers I learned and now share with you;
- Learn from my mistake – use examples to illustrate this feeling from the individuals’ perspective and ideally attach it to a memory they already have. Do your homework; know your people so you can tap into something they will relate to positively. It may be a birth of their children, it may be how they felt at a family gathering, holiday or their or a friends wedding, or if you are sure, it could be how they felt when they won a competition as part of a team. There are many examples but find ones, which match your group of individuals, and preferably one they all can share.
- Allow them some time to remember the positive feelings associated with this occasion. You want them to physically feel that again in that moment – get their dopamine going.
- Now bridge that to your work situation – this is the tricky part but I assure you it is completely achievable.
- Remind them, subtly but consistently how the two are similar and continually assure them it will happen in your team environment.
- Look for the first win, it can be something small – small wins lead to big wins – and repeat the message in this context.
- Remember the definition of a win is from their perspective NOT yours as their manager – a trap is to assume they feel the same way as you – or as I faltered in the example above – assume they have the same experiences as you.
- Make the win an intrinsic one rather than an extrinsic one – so something attached to their values, beliefs, positive emotions rather than a tangible bonus, raise or promotion – it has to talk to their feelings to stimulate action.
- Communicate the aspirations / goals clearly so all know the direction then each step toward that is a small win and the end goal is a big one – celebrate both accordingly
Do these things and you will start to create an environment of winning, which will self perpetuate, all you have to do, as Leader is nurture the environment.
For anyone interested in how I dug my way out of the hole I put myself into in the situation outlined above – I recovered by admitting I’d made a false assumption – we were all just getting to know each other. So I did a quick straw poll in the room asking each person an example of something that made them ‘feel’ great. Fortunately we had also begun to build some trust in the preceding six weeks since I arrived so they were very open and sharing. We not only established a collective understanding and appreciation for the ‘feeling’ we wanted to build into our environment but also took a big leap into the melding of the group’s trust.
That team went onto become the most effective and productive team in the company for the next 2 ½ years until the project we were working on finished and we each went onto something else. I have recreated this environment many times before and since however and know how incredibly powerful and fulfilling it can be – that is why I want to share it with you so you too can create such an experience.
If we can help with more advice or assistance in creating such an environment please contact us, its what we do and why we exist!
Love to hear some of your own related experiences or mistakes you’ve turned into lessons and knowledge.
Enjoy the journey… MSB Max team.