Key Takeouts From Transformational Teams

Last week we looked at the last element in Building Transformational Teams with The Rising . Today as most of us are back at work, I offer the key takeouts from the series which hopefully will help you and your team as the New Year beckons.

Based on research around transformation, every organization is a collection of individual S learning curves. You build an A-team by optimizing these individual curves.

By managing people all along the S-curve and knowing what to do when they reach the top of the curve. As employees are allowed, even required, to surf their individual S-curve waves, transforming themselves, you will be less vulnerable to disruption and get the gold star – be a boss people want to work for.

For a deeper look refer to key steps in building transformational teams

Just as an investor’s portfolio has diversified holdings, your team should include employees who are at different phases of development. Aim for an optimal mix of low-, middle-, and high-end-of-the-curve employees:

  • Roughly 15% at the low end of the curve 

  • Around 70% of the team in the sweet spot middle of the curve 

  • 15% at the high end of the curve. 

For a deeper look, please refer to Manage Your Team’s Learning Curve

When hiring:

  • Hire people who are willing to try new things and who aren’t afraid to start at the bottom of the S-curve. Bring in managers who can spot talent, can help people move up the curve to mastery, and who are willing to sponsor and facilitate jumps to new curves. 

  • Look for expansive potential rather than proficiency. When we hire the “most qualified” candidate, we are choosing to shorten the period of high engagement. Plan to hire new recruits—or reassignments—at the low end of the S-curve and to invest in their development as a resource. 

  • Recruit from unconventional talent pools and hire specifically for an S-curve strategy. Evaluate for aptitude and willingness to engage in personal disruption. Craft job postings to encourage a wide range of applicants. 

For a deeper look, please refer to Recruit & Hire For Learning & Hire People Who Can Grow On The Job

When onboarding new employees at the low-end of the learning curve:

  • Outline the “why” of your organization and team 

  • Understand your new hire’s goals 

  • Articulate your vision of what they can accomplish in this role 

  • Determine if progress is slow because your new hire is on the wrong curve, or simply at the low end 

For a deeper look, please refer to Ignite The Hungry New Hire

Add constraints to keep your sweet-spot employees disrupting:

  • Time: Add a ‘brick wall’ deadline for greater challenge, move annual targets up, automate, and prioritize.
  • Money or other resources: Impose resource limitations to stretch workers’ creativity.
  • Expertise: Challenge your employees to approach problems as a novice.
  • Buy-in: Require your sweet-spot employees to sell their innovative ideas to others on your team and up the office hierarchy as if they were customers.

For a deeper look, please refer to Play To Their Strengths

Utilize the competency of top-of-the-curve employees while they wait to jump to a new curve. They can fill three crucial, and often neglected, roles:

  • Pacesetters: pushing low enders to excel 

  • Trainers: conveying corporate memory 

  • Mentors: facilitating collaboration

For a deeper look, please refer to Amplify Your Team’s Mastery

If you haven’t already, it’s time to sit down with your high-performing employee and work with them to figure out their next move.

Now that you’ve determined your employee has or is about to top out on their current learning curve, it is time to come to their AID. This is a three-step process:

1. Applaud their achievements

2. Identify a new learning curve

3. Deliver on helping them jump.

For a deeper look, please refer to Inspire Team Members To Leap

Managing people as a series of S curves requires a transformation mindset on your part. Consider:

  • How can I shake up myself to avoid becoming set in my ways?
  • What goals might be accomplished by shifting into different roles?
  • How can I create a company culture that encourages and even insists on curve jumping?
  • How do I rate on the Personal Transformation scale?

For a deeper look, please refer to The Rising

Throughout this series, I have extolled the value of constraints: in fostering creativity and in forcing action. As a manager of people, remember that all the constraints we face, time is the most unyielding. Other resources may multiply, but time is always finite. Whether it’s our time in a job or our time on this planet, the amount of time we have left is always shrinking.

We are driven forward by our consciousness of limited time. It is a force more potent than the need to have a job or to earn a paycheck. People want to dream, and then they want to realize their dreams by learning new things, developing new competencies, and having an opportunity to make an imprint on the world. Managers can be makers, generating opportunities for their team members to create and recreate themselves through personal transformation. What a wonderful day’s work that would be.

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