This week, we interviewed Dani Condon, senior director of marketing at Built Technologies, about her well-aligned team. Dani shared tips for turning team values into functional, habitual team norms.
What does your team value?
“Visibility. Accountability. Autonomy. Recognition.”
Dani collected these values from past experiences and influential leaders, but knew that the practices and norms to hold up these values would be built together as a team.
Action: Before creating norms for your team, identify your team values first. Shared values are a great foundation for creating effective norms. Ask your team to think about what they value and share it with you.
How do you create meaningful everyday norms?
“I start every meeting asking my team how they are. I always ask a personal question first. They don't have to tell me everything, but I want them to know that I care about them as people”
To create meaningful team norms, Dani is intentional about putting practices in place early on. For every value that her team holds, there are correlated norms.
Action: Consider what practices or rituals you have in place and see if they align with your values. If you're not sure, write them down and physically drawn lines where there is a clear correlation.
For example, Dani asked her team to play a part in creating practices around recognition, one their core values.
“I asked the team to take the love languages test, so we could recognize people based on their preferences. Some people really appreciate when they are called out in front of a big group, while others like receiving gifts. It's all about understanding and acknowledging the way people like to receive recognition - you have to tailor it to each person.”
To practice their accountability value, Dani’s team has a 30-minute stand up every Monday and a 15-minute stand up Tuesday - Friday.
“Because we visualize our work, everyone knows what they are responsible for every day at standup - it is never a question of ‘I didn't have a clear idea of what was expected’ and the team holds each other accountable for the things we need to get done.”
This team norm keeps the team accountable but it also allows for recognition of other teammates and the work they complete. In addition, it gives her team visibility into the overall work output of the team.
Action: Review the cadence of team meetings. Ask the team for feedback on the team meetings too. Are you meeting enough to be aligned? Are you meeting too much? As the team and work changes, so must the meetings.
How do you recommend teams ensure their norms honor their values?
“I wouldn't want to limit the success or the output of the team because they have to fit into something that doesn’t work for them. The most successful leaders will take the team’s guidance on what works for the team. If your team changes, then sometimes these things need to change as well; you need to be agile in the way in which you lead.”
To understand a team’s values, leaders must create a safe and trusting environment for their members. By doing so, team members are able to have open and honest communication about their values, and thus how they hope to honor them in the team dynamic. Only once you understand values can you start to build norms.
Action: Ask your team to create and present a practice that they believe will uphold your team’s values in your next team meeting.
What if team members don’t value the same thing?
“Open dialogue is the key. As team members will come in with different team experiences, getting everyone on the same page can be a difficult task. Leaders should adapt to their team members’ needs and take the initiative to have open communication about what is and isn’t working. Leaders need to not only be concerned with each team members’ values, but also that they each feel valued and heard.”
Leaders start by listening. If there is clear disagreement on values, it’s a sign that the team members feel safe enough to disagree. That is a great place to start. As a leader, your job maintaining safety in conflict is paramount. If the discussion isn’t going anywhere, try to get the group to agree on something else, and then come back to the conflict.
Action: Call one-on-ones with individual team members and ask them how they feel about current team norms. These conversations are a great primer for understanding how best to navigate the discussion with the whole team.
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