Discover the secrets of successful teams

Discover the secrets of successful teams

Every business aims to improve its performance. Whether it’s increasing sales or improving service, a high performing team can help. However, when it’s time to give employees constructive feedback, it can be hard to know where to start. Two Story specializes in performance analysis. The company combines artificial intelligence algorithms with behavioral science to dig deeper into performance-related data and create custom solutions to help take businesses to the next level.

Two Story CEO Kerry Goyette has built her business on the concept of healthy performance reviews. Goyette recently shared a more intimate side of that goal when talking about evaluating his own Two Story team. The CEO touched on several of the biggest do’s and don’ts of performance reviews and how to improve uncovering the secrets of a high performing team.

Serenity Gibbons: What three things should leaders look for when evaluating team performance?

Kerry Goyette: The flow of information is number one. It is the degree to which information crosses organizational boundaries. It informs senior executives and provides frontline employees with the metrics they need to understand the ultimate impact of their day-to-day choices. I read in Harvard Business Review that researchers can predict the quantity of quality results with remarkable accuracy just by measuring the flow of information between teams.

I would also add the ability to execute and meet deadlines during the unexpected. This is especially crucial in a pandemic economy where uncertainty and volatility surround us. The best teams always find a way to execute.

And third? Disciplined focus. It is the habit of differentiating activity from progress. The best teams recognize when their efforts are successful and remain disciplined enough to focus on efforts that are responsible for results.

Gibbons: What are a few things you always look for when looking to add to your team?

goyette: Emotional intelligence is number one. I talk about this a lot in my book, The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence. The work ethic is also non-negotiable. It is one of the few attributes that cannot be trained. I would also add self-starting and self-responsibility to this list. Both are essential in an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. All members of my team must have a penchant for action and a habit of leading.

Gibbons: Where do leaders often fail when evaluating their teams? What are they likely to forget?

goyette: It’s a good question. I see three common pitfalls. I often see leaders overestimating past performance as predictors of future performance. Past results are not necessarily predictive of future results. It’s especially myopic when the environment changes.

Additionally, I challenge leaders to evaluate team performance using direct business results. For some teams, it’s easy. Sales teams typically have large data sets measuring milestones and results. For others, it may be more difficult and require some creativity to identify concrete results.

Finally, it is easy to fall into similarity bias, rewarding behaviors that match the leader’s preferences. Instead of finding like-minded people, leaders need to identify business needs and encourage the right behaviors.

Gibbons: What are the things you do daily to help build and maintain a strong team?

goyette: I position my team in roles and opportunities that stretch them. This means that I encourage them to live to the limit of what they are capable of. It’s uncomfortable at times, but it’s a high form of support. It creates a sense of trust in the team that I unequivocally believe in them. It is also a high-level challenge that accelerates their growth and development.

Gibbons: Can you name any ways you help improve the way your team works together and communicates?

goyette: I bring clarity and focus to the team. That means I frame every meeting with relevant context and clear goals and redirect conversations that stray to the goal at hand. I also model authenticity and encourage my team to bring candid and respectful perspectives to the table. We also look at task conflict – i.e. debating the topic – while avoiding relationship conflict wherever possible.

Gibbons: Do you use tools to help you gauge your team’s success?

goyette: Absolutely. We use our product, Performance Story. It uncovers a company’s most predictive KPIs so leaders can drive clarity, alignment, and accountability. We also use Slack on a daily basis, and I often check public channels to gauge information flow and collaboration.

Gibbons: What’s your biggest tip for entrepreneurs tasked with evaluating their teams?

goyette: It’s conventional wisdom, but it never gets old. Don’t assume that past performance is predictive of startup performance and overreliance on subject matter expertise. Succeeding in a startup is a very different set of skills than succeeding in a large company. Let your team evolve with your growth over time.

Gibbons: Would you like to add anything else?

goyette: The last thing I will say is that what actually predicts performance is often not what you think. It’s not a formula. You have to be relentless to find out what you really need. Your survival depends on it.

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