A Brain-Based Wake Up Call: 3 Steps To Optimize 2015

Author

Christine Comaford, Contributor

January 28, 2015

2015 is off to a bang—is your brain and business? Is your team? There are 3 things that will make all the difference for your company this year. Read on, and optimize your 2015.

1. Assess, Track, Increase Leadership At All Levels

Our clients find it helpful to set numbered levels for leadership growth. This helps everyone to track how they are cultivating key leadership behaviors, and nicely complements the use of Individual Development Plans.

A good starting point is William Oncken’s 5 Levels of Freedom. We prefer to call them Leadership Levels, as this makes more sense to the employee. We have also extended Oncken’s model, as leading oneself is only the beginning–leading others and ultimately the business is essential in many roles. Some companies, like Google, have many levels (ten in their case). See what makes sense to you, and is easy to define, track, and help people stretch and grow into. When coupled with needle movers we see employees understand how to increase their Leadership Level with specific programs, training, participation in Leadership Lunches (see the SmartTribes Playbook resource for this process).

Would Leadership Levels make sense at your company? Definitely. They provide us with a framework for ownership, accountability, drive, intrinsic motivation. How many levels would you like? How will you define each and help people increase their level?

As you look at our Leadership Levels below ask yourself:

Where am I? Where are my key team members? Where do I want everyone to get to in 2015—across divisions, the executive suite, and more? What training, leadership structures and cultural structures am I going to put in place to enable everyone to increase their Leadership Level? Are you unintentionally letting your leaders play small? The brain needs structures to aspire and have insights.

2. Create A Passionately Engaged Culture

The best way to boost revenue, profits, fulfillment, fun, performance in general is to create an emotionally engaged culture. So how exactly do we do this? You need a GAME plan.

Ask your team to rank the below 10 questions to assess the level of safety, belonging, mattering in your culture. Since there are 10 it’s easiest to give each answer a score of 1-10 (where 1=low and 10=high). This way you’ll get a total score that you can measure and watch improve as you strengthen your cultural programs. And the higher the score, the better the engagement. Many of our clients find a verbal scale works best. Here’s an example: 0= Disagree, 2.5 = Somewhat Disagree, 5 = Somewhat Agree, 7.5 = Agree, 10 = Consistently Agree. See what makes sense for your team–but please avoid a “Neutral” rating as this gives you no data at all, and enables people to avoid taking a stand. You need them to!

  • It’s safe to try new approaches, to innovate, to share my ideas at work
  • I trust my team members and colleagues to support my and the company’s success
  • I feel emotionally and physically safe at work—in the environment, with the tools provided, with my colleagues
  • I am motivated by my company’s mission, vision, values
  • I receive acknowledgement and appreciation at work
  • When I make a mistake I am corrected with respect and the desire to help me improve
  • I have a career development path that my leader continuously supports me in
  • I understand the expectations of me and my performance
  • I feel I matter to my leader and the company—I am making a difference here
  • I would recommend a friend to work here

Be sure to have a comments section for each statement—this is where some of the greatest gold will show up… and the harshest feedback. That’s OK—you need to know this. Beware of survey fatigue too—we recommend quarterly surveys of 10 questions as the maximum. Longer survey? Do twice per year.

The 4 Keys = Get Your GAME On

Earlier I mentioned a GAME Plan, and that every culture needs one.

Growth: How are you helping your team to aspire to greater knowledge and capabilities?Individual Development Plans, Leadership Lunches, Annual Learning Plans all help. Do you have them?

Appreciation: How are helping your team to feel appreciated and valued? Do you use High 5s, Rock Star, Weekly Wins, Friday Toasts? If not, when?

Measurement: How are you ensuring your team performs and understands your expectations? Do you have accountability structures, weekly status, dashboards, feedback, counseling process, performance reviews, engagement surveys? Do you use them consistently?

Engagement: How are you helping to keep everyone’s hearts and minds focused on how much they love your company? Do you have a solid Mission Vision Values, “Coffee w/CEO” program, company contests, Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic goals (goals that you show people the progress on, talk about, anchor in an activity? If not, when?

A GAME plan is essential to provide the most fulfilling work experience, which will yield the happiest and most committed, productive, loyal, long-term, constantly evolving team members. You deserve this. So do they. Are you unintentionally disengaging your tribe? The brain needs structures to connect the heart to the workplace, and know we care about them. To bring emotion in.

3. Propel Sales & Marketing

We usually want our sales people to sell more, faster. And we usually want our marketing people to create more demand, faster. What structures do you need to put in place to ensure you help your sales and marketing team soar? See our list of best practices below. When our clients create these they enable sales and marketing to focus on the customer or prospect, instead of obsessing about internal systems (or the lack thereof!). Every sales force I’ve ever met can benefit from clear stages, pipeline velocity techniques, prospect ranking and categorization, meta program profiling and safety/belonging/mattering triggers, and all else listed below.

Are you helping your sales and marketing team to be peak performers? Or are you unintentionally holding them back? The brain needs structures to prevent Critter State in sales scenarios, to have consistent marketing results.

What will you achieve in 2015? How will you care for the brains of your people?

Christine Comaford‘s latest NY Times bestselling book is entitled SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.

This article was written by Christine Comaford from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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