In January, I started a five-part blog series on creating a positive performance culture. The first blog focused on “We Know Where We are Going!” The second part to this series was posted in February. It was focused on “We Own Our Commitments!” In March everything changed in our world with Covid-19, so I did a five-part weekly video series on leading virtually. Now it is May, and I am back to the positive performance culture. In this blog, I will focus on “We Get Better!”
We Get Better
I have a 6-month old niece. She is beautiful, curious, and growing fast. Like other babies, she has this pure openness to learning. Her eyes and mind are bright and wide-open absorbing everything around her. She is also blessed with two amazing parents that provide a safe and encouraging home to thrive. This is a beautiful combination for learning. The child is receptive, and the parents are safe and encouraging.
Unfortunately, a change happens at some point with all humans, a resistance to feedback starts to emerge. The toddler’s words start to say, “I do it myself!” “You don’t tell me what to do!” Pride, independence, and stubbornness seem to flourish. If you are a parent, you know this wrestling match of wanting to help the child learn but getting resistance. Pause for a moment and be honest with yourself. We may have some of these same tendencies as an adult learner. “I know what I am doing!” “I do not want your thoughts!”
Yet, to have a positive performance culture within your team there needs to be behaviors and attitudes that communicate we want to learn – We Get Better! There are three ways a team gets better: candid feedback, continuous improvement, and constant learning.
As a leader creating a positive performance culture, you must provide a safe environment for people to give and receive feedback. This starts with you asking for specific feedback from associates, listening well to it, thanking them, and putting the relevant feedback into practice. This is the same feedback framework you will teach your team members. Each person learns to ask, listen, thank, and put into practice feedback on a regular basis.
Continuous improvement is the next attribute of a team culture that wants to get better. For example, Steve’s sales team is responsible for demonstrating software to clients. Steve made a list of the skills and knowledge he desires each person to learn for this task. At the end of each demonstration, the team gathers and evaluates their performance based on this list of skills and knowledge. Steve recognizes that excellence is achieved through focused refinement.
Directly connected to candid feedback and continuous improvement is constant learning. Constant learning is the ongoing practice of identifying an area of growth, creating a clear learning plan, and having someone else support your growth. Also, the focus of learning needs to be relevant to your work so there is opportunity to practice. For example, Kate committed building a team that constantly learned. She sat down with each person to identify one area of growth and create a clear plan that provided the time and resources to learn. Finally, she had each team member share their area of growth at a team gathering. Once a month, Kate’s team would share with each other their progress. Once a person was proficient, he or she would identify a new opportunity for growth.
“We get better,” is the mantra of a positive performance culture. This is a team that gives candid feedback, identifies ways to continuously improve, and is intentional about constantly learning.
- What would help your team give candid feedback?
- What continuous improvement practices could you implement?
- What relevant ability do you need to learn?