Contented Cows? Be True to Your..Company? Do Your Job! Team Flow.
Welcome to the middle of May, a time of great energy and action, with a hint of distraction in the air. Memorial Day looms and quickly beyond lies…summer. Sharing what we find of interest every 45 days has been a challenge in only that we have to narrow our selections. Options abound. Longtime readers will know that the study of performance as both an individual and a team is what we metaphorically call our “Soup,” with our interpretations of it offered to others being our “Art”.
In this edition we turn our attention to employee engagement. Tension exists around the topic of how to get the most yield from an employee. In this issue we share a series of articles that discusses what is working at places ranging from a dairy farm in Indiana, to the halls of Facebook, to the locker room of the New England Patriots.
It turns out that the software engineers of the Silicon Valley have some competition when it comes to perks at work. The dairy cows of Kelsay Farms in Indiana may not have Foosball tables and free lunch every day, but they do have waterbeds, custom back scratchers, and cool air blowing on them. Why all the fuss? Because a happy cow is a productive cow, especially with some of the milk going for $14 a gallon direct to consumers. Now, a cow can’t talk and who knows at what point there is a diminishing return, but the amount of milk per day produced is pretty easy to track. As of today it appears the “encouragement” camp is working on our bovine.
Be True to Your....Company?
Most will know the Beach Boys song from 1963 as “Be True to Your School”, yet current research being done by Adam Grant at Facebook has started to show that pride in your company can have a large impact on the amount of work the average employee will produce in a day. It can graphically be represented on an axis of belonging and autonomy.
People love to have choice, and they also love to belong. When they feel that their company's purpose aligns with their own values they take more initiative. The new haunting question for leaders may become: are you proud of our team? What a powerful yet challenging question for many work environments. I can just see several of my earlier bosses falling out of their chairs in laughter. Does this mean we need plenty of circle time and not challenge each other? Is the chain of command completely broken and the inmates are running the asylum? Not necessarily, as discussed in this article from the May edition of Fast Company.
Do Your Job!
Now here are some words that maybe a few more of us are used to hearing. Do your job. This is the sign posted in the New England Patriots locker room. With recent history as example, it appears they players are listening. The usual reluctant public communicator coach Bill Belichick agreed to sit down with a CNBC reporter recently and talk leadership, as well as the concept of getting the highest performance out of each player. The principles are sound, the behavior needed is clearly defined, and with a game that hasn’t changed its boundary lines or ball size recently the basic strategy can be deliberate. In this scenario the life time production of the player relative to the contented cows may seem similar, as both have water treatment facilities, yet with the average tenure of an NFL starter coming in under three years, we are guessing the rules and leadership strategies might reflect the duration of a performer. Regardless of tenure, the players on the roster are under Belichick’s care, and even this apparent hard liner speaks to caring about his players.
We close by bringing it all together with a man with the hardest last name in the world to spell. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was a young boy in Europe at the start of WWll and has spent a lifetime studying the highest of performance states, FLOW. His research has been the bedrock for most of today’s top sociologists. We all know when we have it, we all know when it is gone, and as leaders the challenge of obtaining it as our numbers increases grows. It is the Leaders Challenge and as always any insights into how you have been accomplishing Team Flow are most welcome. His Ted Talk is linked below.
Your Humble Momentum (Mo)
Leaders drive the key initiatives in their own lives as well as those entrusted to their care. This past Friday marked the end of the first quarter of 2017, and if you put your ear to the ground you can hear the wheels of commerce spinning at high speeds. Ending Q1 with some momentum is a big deal. How was your Q1? Did you nail it? We hope you did, and are going to focus on how to keep your momentum going in this edition of Branches & Roots.
Way back in 2013 we released a golf story about momentum, and have been students of the discipline ever since. Our recipe includes three targets with three correlating hazards.
• At the start, present yourself humbly before your task, and be mindful that expectation is not your friend.
• Treat ups and downs with a similar hand, and don’t let your mind drift ahead while in the middle of your race.
• As the crescendo builds, pursue your best performance for the performance’s sake, and allow the darts of the wicked and your own doubts fall upon a tin ear.
Thinking about 2017, we are entering the middle of longer days and rotating schedules, while people balance the tasks of progress and accomplishment with the escapes that allow for silence and reflection. A hard winter is capital's friend, while summer provides a pleasant distraction.
The past six months we have posted a daily image in five leadership theaters to build out a micro-brand by the name of The Team Leader Club. The genesis of the club came from a client who wanted to offer her team a daily boost of leadership encouragement. Everyone is a member of the TLC, and it reinforces that we are all leaders in different settings, and that each situation often requires a different style of leadership. To keep your momentum going for 2017 we offer three images that hopefully will help you as you lead yourself, your family, and your work team.
If things are not going the way you want them, or you are looking to change things up a bit, consider a ten-day micro sprint where you re-prioritize things to make one task or issue number one for you and the team. This process allows other issues to rise to the surface, and it can potentially lead to flushing out a buried conflict that is distracting your team. Charles Duigg writes about this in his best-selling book The Power of Habit. Read a few pages in the preview to start changing up habits.
If you have a method or recipe for team momentum we would love to hear from you. Thanks and have a great next 45 days. Keep the Mo going!
Banyan Book Store
We have recommended a lot of books over the years in our newsletter, and are frequently asked about ones to read on a variety of subjects. If you would like to browse the selection of books reviewed or discussed in Branches & Roots, check out our virtual library.
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