When working on delivery teams, in any format, setting up a cadence is a good recipe for success. Targets, milestones, deliverables, etc are all best served by a clear upfront contract. In a perfect world, we never miss, we hit targets 100% of the time, constantly delvering business value. But what happens when we do in fact miss??? Managers get irritated, stakeholders lose confidence, and team morale can become the biggest victim.
What if I told you that, if your team is measured on a Success vs. Failure model, that you are hurting your team and business more than you know?
The Back Story
Measuring a team’s ability to deliver business value can be tricky. However, we have to do it, otherwise how do we know if we are meeting expectations, right?
In a previous life, while managing a team, a hyper focus was put on our delivery. Management established this “Succeed or Fail” mentality. Initially, it set the team on a focused mission to “Do it all”, 100% delivery on commitment! There was a renewed sense of urgency, which set off somewhat of a rebirth in how the team worked together.
In hypergrowth companies team members are dealing with a constant state of change across the organization. Stakeholder requirements could shift in an instant, the struggle could be real as the company grows. One minute this is blue, the next they are green. One minute, products are bundled this way, the next minute they are bundled in a completely different manner. You have either heard this story, or more likely you have lived it… Many times.
As the team ventured on their “Met Expectations” mission, after a few delivery cycles it became clear that morale went to hell in a hand basket. Why you ask? Since the team was being measured on the equation;
delivered on time == SUCCESS && not delivered on time == FAILURE
That minor point set the team up for failure. Too many variables, to many moving parts, to much attempted speed, changing requirements, etc.
So, the team walked around in a constant state of
Upper Management didn’t like it either, and such things could be heard;
- “The delivery team is broken”,
- “Zero confidence in ability to deliver”,
- “You are failing!”
A lot of shaming going on there. This resulted in counterproductivity, lowered morale & internal confidence, and an overall unhealthy workplace resulted.
That word right there is probably one of the most powerful in business. However, it is greatly overlooked. We took this fallout from the “Success vs Failure” mentality exactly how it should have been taken. As an Opportunity!
Hyper-growth companies require a lot of things, but one of the most important is a Culture of Learning and Growth; constant improvement. To that point fostering a culture of “Succeed vs Fail” goes directly against the grain of how a hypergrowth company wins!
With this opportunity the team had found themselves at a cross roads, we needed to pivot to a better way.
Insted of talking in terms of “Success vs Fail” we shifted to focusing on Outcomes. A neutral viewpoint on how we were executing, analysis driven, where outcomes are to spark conversation, not shame.
These conversations guided the team to accept a miss as it was seen as an Opportunity!
We could dissect the core issue, formalize possible course corrections together as a team, and make any neccessary adjustments to assist in mitigating that issue in the future.
Not only did this foster a culture of learning and growth, we also gained huge in the realms of people are valued and productive collaboration. People were engaged again, heard again, and contributing at a much higher level and passion than with a “Success vs Failure” contract.
An Outcomes based environment provided us a velocity and cohesion that enabled the team to harness change for better, versus being smacked in the face with it. The team arrived at a state where looking for where we can add the grease and foster constant improvement.
A big piece of this is owning it. Packaging the outcomes up in a digestible format, along with the opportunities that the team has identified and looks to leverage with solutions.
Focus on the Outcomes of the teams actions and commitments. Drill down into those and, as a team, look for those Opportunities to adjust and grow. Remember, mitigation is a huge part of any task we take on. Look for the gold, and be the change as a team!