How to Build High-Performing, Self-Managed Teams

Mackenzie Fogelson
Nov 1, 2017 · 29 min read

For those of you who may know a little bit about me, you know I’m extremely passionate about Purpose and the undeniable role it plays in the growth and success of organizations.

For many years I’ve researched, studied, and helped companies transform into Purpose-driven organizations who want to earn all of the benefits purpose can bring. Like many companies, they want industry leading strategy and innovation, a competitive advantage, operational agility and efficiency, increased market share, more diversity in their workforce, happier and more engaged employees, loyalty and advocacy from their customers, and ultimately an increase in profit.

And although purpose is not the only component that will support organizations in achieving durability and success, it’s one of the most significant. Purpose is the connective tissue and breeding ground for all these things.

Here’s some data to prove it:

And actually, there is a purpose-driven framework that can help you bring durability and growth — not just to your marketing efforts, but to your organization as a whole. The framework involves Purpose, People, and Promise.

Essentially, the framework teaches how Purpose must live at the core of the business model, not as a marketing tactic, corporate social responsibility, or other one-off program. That your organization must drive from a customer and employee-centric place which means implementing methodologies for continuously speaking with customers and employees face-to-face, not just through digital tools. And finally, that organizations must learn to live their purpose in their day-to-day actions so that it’s not just some words that are stenciled on the wall of a conference room or in an onboarding doc. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be authentic, genuine, and human.

The fact of the matter is, if you want to earn and keep your customers and employees, and build a community of loyal advocates who will support you and tell their friends about you, you can’t just focus your efforts on how your company is packaged. You must also be investing in who your company is.

But the conversation about Purpose and the role it plays in the growth of organizations needs to be less about the ‘why’ and more about the ‘how.’

The benefits of a purpose-driven approach to growth is not a new conversation. We’ve been having it for decades. And truthfully, if companies are not already having the why conversation, they are lagging behind.

We need to have a deeper conversation on the ‘how’ so that more companies have a roadmap for transformation.

Because companies can’t solve the problems they’re facing today with a larger investment in their marketing or by adding more tools and technology to the mix.

With purpose and high functioning teams, companies can build adaptive, human, responsive organizations that can handle the world they’re faced with.

Bringing Purpose alive in the day-to-day behaviors of your organization is the real stuff that your teams need to actually achieve your Purpose. Even if you don’t have the power to evolve your entire organization, you can start small with just your team. Building high-performing, self-managed teams requires self-awareness, trust & vulnerability, and cohesion.

The work I do is in the org design space. That’s a fancy way of saying I support large companies in achieving their Purpose by helping their leaders and teams learn how to work — differently and together — better. Many times the leaders in these organizations think transformation is getting their people to learn tips and tricks so they can move faster and do more. But the truth is, purpose-driven transformation starts with opening up the humans who run the systems.

Transformation is hard because both the systems and the people inside an organization must shift in order for change to occur. I’ve learned this can be a precarious dance. If the people have the willingness to revisit their mindsets, practice new behaviors, and embrace a more adaptive way of working and being with their colleagues, but the system doesn’t flex or shed bureaucratic weight, change will stall. And as much as the system must open up to allow alternative pathways to be paved and transform the organization, it is the people who hold the key.

And those people aren’t just the role they were hired to fill, they are emotional beings. If we don’t give the humans on our teams the self-awareness tools that will help them better understand themselves and their co-workers, it doesn’t matter how much we change the systems. We’ll never win.

If your team is willing to do the work, self-awareness will support them in becoming a better team.

One of the best self-awareness tools I’ve seen is from the Conscious Leadership Group and it’s called The Drama Triangle:

The goal of this tool is not to have a competition with your team about who can get above the line the fastest. The goal is to learn to cultivate self-awareness.

Some of the conversations you can have with your team about this tool is paying attention to what sets them off to below the line behavior? Maybe it’s a meeting they don’t want to be at or having to implement a decision they don’t agree with and that makes them feel like they have no control.

If you can teach your team to pay attention to the feelings they have when leading up to or during these trigger events, over time, they will be able to recognize when they need to start to make a different choice with their behaviors.

Because when you’re below the line, you’re essentially in a pretty powerless position and that puts your team nowhere. So in order to start moving closer to being above the line, you can try these things:

  1. Name it
    Notice that you’re in reaction to one of the things that triggers you and be willing to say it out loud. Just naming it and calling yourself out to say, “Man, I’m seriously below the line right now,” releases the pressure and helps moves you closer to above the line and be ready to be creative and collaborative with your team.
  2. Go to wonder and curiosity
    The minute you feel like you’re below the line, you can switch from pushing your agenda to wonder and curiosity. Like, “I wonder why all of a sudden my boss said we have to make this change. Maybe something happened that I don’t know about?” OR “I wonder if I can go for a quick walk before that meeting that I’m not looking forward to since I’ll be sitting down a lot today.” Changing to wonder and curiosity shifts from judgement to empathy and puts you in a way better place
  3. Change your posture or breathe
    If you can’t excuse yourself or get out for a walk, move in your seat or ground yourself in the space. Feel your feet touching the floor, your stomach moving in and out as you breathe, your back upright in your chair, or take 10 deep breaths. Reactions can be exacerbated by stories we’re building in our heads that may require an honest 1:1 conversation with someone. But before that, take a breath.
  4. Assume positive intent
    Always assume positive intent and that the other person is doing the best they can with what they have. Try not to build up a story that isn’t true.
  5. Focus on you
    Finally, always focus on what you can control. You can control your attention, your behavior and your choices. It’s less about how can I be right or win an argument and more about what you’d like the outcome to be.

The Drama Triangle (or above/below the line tool) is an epic self-awareness foundation. Once you introduce that concept to your team, you can also tie that into check-in rounds at the beginning of your meetings.

Do you currently hold check-in rounds at meetings in your company? Check-in rounds are a simple tool where you spend 2 minutes at the beginning of a meeting to go around the room and give everyone the opportunity to answer the question: “What has your attention?” This helps you to get a read of the room before you start a meeting. It also allows everyone in the room to have a voice and feel heard before you get started.

If you want to go a little deeper and practice some self-awareness during your check-ins, you can try this tool from Reboot.

With this check-in tool, the colors red, yellow, and green can be used as a way to communicate what you might be carrying into the meeting and how that affects how you’re showing up. When you’re weighing in at the beginning of the meeting, you have the opportunity to identify whether you are green and fully present — which means you’re operating above the line, ready and willing to engage and collaborate. If you’re yellow — maybe you just received a tough phone call, or had a hard conversation or meeting right before walking into one. If you’re red — and in that case there’s something emergent that you need to take care of either professionally or personally — you probably don’t belong in this meeting as you’d be essentially worthless if you stayed.

When everyone is checking in, there is no need for any reaction to the check-in. The purpose is to simply acknowledge what everyone is bringing with them into the room and perhaps apply a little empathy. But also understand that what you carry not only effects how you show up but it also effects your team. Allowing people to associate their check-in with a color helps them build self-awareness and teaches them to pay attention to how they’re consistently showing up.

For a while I was in a peer group circle with Reboot and I realized after we had been having check-ins for well over a month, that my check-in was always yellow. I realized that every time I came to one of our meetings — or meetings in my company — that I was always carrying something with me that had nothing to do with how I actually felt in the present. It took me a little while to realize that this was a choice. That I can choose to carry that baggage around with me constantly, or I could decide to be present and come with my whole self wherever I am. That was a big wake up moment for me and it takes a lot of daily practice to do this, and that I don’t have to punish myself by carrying things around.

An additional self-awareness that is powerful for your high-performing team is a personal visioning tool. It’s a really simple exercise that will help your team identify what they really want in their lives — both personally and professionally — and understand how that aligns with the company’s Purpose. Even more, it’s a way to communicate how the team can support them in accomplishing their vision.

This is a visioning tool that I learned from Paterson, and it works in 3 phases by asking 3 questions: Where are you today? Where are you going? and How will you get there? These questions can be answered both personally and professionally.

  1. Where are you today?
    With the ‘where are you today?’ question, you are asking your team to observe their present reality. Since their work life isn’t really separate from their personal life, they can consider all the good they’d like more of and all the stuff they’d like to be different.
  2. Where are you going?
    ‘Where are you going’ requires your team to dream a bit. They can imagine it’s 6–12 months from now and they’ve made it up this mountain. They’ve achieved all the things they wanted and now they can see the outcomes. What does this future state look like for them?
  3. How will you get there?
    The final question of the exercise is ‘how will you get there?’ This requires some tactical work, breaking down all the steps necessary to actually reach this vision. They may need the support of their team to figure this out and some of the actions won’t become clear until they start their journey.

The point of this exercise is to help each of your team members to be aware of what they really want in their life and then identify how they’re going to go about achieving it, putting the initiative in their hands.

Plus, when your team communicates their personal visions across the team, it allows the other people on the team to better understand their hopes and dreams, humanizing who they are, allowing them to be seen by their peers.

I am just scratching the surface on this stuff, but what I want you to hear is that investing in self-awareness with your team is imperative.

People want Purpose. They want meaning. And they want to work for companies they believe in. You have a responsibility to teach your team how to better understand themselves so they can be who they are as a whole human. And whole humans are part of great teams.

Introducing and supporting self-awareness in your company is one of the most important building blocks to living your Purpose and building great teams. The next is trust & vulnerability.

So I’ll just tell you straight up on this one that trust is a hard worn path. It’s easy to talk about trust and vulnerability. It’s so hard to live it. When I work with teams at off-sites, workshops, and inside the belly of the organization, they are all inspired, excited, and even somewhat enthusiastic about cultivating self-awareness and learning more about their teammates. They love the idea of holding space for others and having open and honest conversations with those they work with. And then not even days later, I watch those same people leave meetings and gossip about each other or talk shit about decisions they agreed to in front of their team. It’s these tiny moments that do huge damage to teams.

It’s easy to think that trust is built simply by holding team retreats, bringing in lunch, or scheduling bonding experiences — and those do serve a purpose — but the trust and vulnerability that your team needs to be successful is built through courage and honesty and conflict and fails while actually doing the real work.

Trust is a daily practice that each individual on your team must be committed to working on. Here are a few simple things to try that may help.

Team chartering is something I learned from The Ready. It’s the practice of designing and building your team together. And even if you have a team who has worked together for a long time, I’d highly recommend taking the time to go back and work through these steps.

A team charter is an alignment tool. It’s an opportunity to identify agreements, expectations, and make commitments for how you’re going to work together. It brings clarity and purpose and promotes autonomy. It’s common that teams go to work but forget exactly what they’re working towards, so this is a great way for your team to articulate how they’re going to serve each other and the organization.

  1. Purpose
    Team chartering always starts with Purpose so that your entire team becomes aligned with what you’re here to do. Your purpose is your end result. Think of it this way: once you’ve accomplished what you’re here to do as a team, how will the world be any different? Your purpose as a team then will nest up into the purpose of the organization at large.
  2. Mission
    Your mission is different than Purpose. Your purpose is the ‘why’, your mission is the ‘how.’ How your team is actually going to achieve that purpose. It’s the shorter-term objectives and the results you want to achieve together.
  3. Values
    In addition to your purpose and mission, your team charter will also hold your values. And, again, like your Purpose, these values will nest up into the overarching values of the company. A great way to set team values is to have your entire team write down their personal values and bring those to a collaboration session. Put them all up on a wall and then the team can filter through those and decide which ones make the most sense or are relevant to the mission and purpose they’re looking to accomplish. Try to narrow it down to no more than 10. And when things get hard, bring your team back to these values, your mission, and your purpose.
  4. Communication & Workspace
    Another part of designing how your team will work together is specifying communication and workspace preferences. This is how your team will share information and communicate. Adaptive, high-performing teams work out in the open so that information is accessible to their teams at all times. So when you’re identifying the communication and workspace pieces of your charter, you will want have the discussion of both behaviors and tools. Your team will want to decide which tools are available to your company so that you can work out in the open — think tools like Google drive/docs, Slack, and Trello. But remember it’s less about which tools you’re going to use and more about how they allow you to accomplish your mission and purpose.
  5. Meeting/Operating Cadence
    With team chartering, you’ll also want to work out your team’s general operating rhythm. How will you organize the work and move it forward? How are you going to meet and for what purpose? Maybe you’ll have a live standup every day to remove roadblocks that are coming up. Maybe you only meet live 2 days and use a Slackbot to run your standups the other days of the week. Maybe you have 60 minute coordination meetings on Mondays to organize and align the work. Maybe you have Retrospective meetings on Fridays. Meetings are a big one because it’s where you can waste most of your life if your meetings are not purposeful. So you want to be thoughtful about the purpose your meetings serve. It may be ideal to take a look at all the meetings you’re having as a team right now and evaluate the purpose of each one. How do they help you accomplish your mission? Or cancel all of your team’s meetings for a whole week and see which ones you miss. There’s a ton of opportunity to increase performance — and morale — simply by being clear about the meetings you need as a team in order to do your work. Use retrospective meetings to continuously work on self-awareness, trust, and vulnerability with each other, discussing what you have learned and what you can do better as individuals and together.
  6. Guardrails and Norms
    The final piece to your team charter is setting guardrails and norms where you’re identifying anything that may getting in the way of accomplishing your mission and purpose. For example, if your team burns out, they can’t do anything, so maybe you have a norm that you keep an eye on each other’s health, or you decide you’ll take mental health days once a month. Guardrails may be things like how much you can spend on travel or what your budget looks like in general. Important things to name and talk about as a team. Guardrails and norms are also some of the most dynamic parts of your team charter. When your team works through conflict, identify whether you need to adjust your guardrails and norms so that the team continue to be as autonomous and harmonious as possible.

With team chartering may seem kind of fluffy because it’s so simple, but it’s incredibly important to the durability and growth of your team. Keep these things in mind as you work together to design your team:

  1. Don’t skip this step
    The thing is with team chartering is that it may seem kind of fluffy because it’s so simple, but it’s incredibly important to the durability and growth of your team.
  2. Chartering makes things better
    The purpose of your team charter is to clear the space of all the tiny details and decisions so that you can spend your time doing more complex things like thinking and being creative.
  3. Find a central, adaptive place
    Make sure you’re allowing access to the charter in one central place — work out in the open — and that it’s easy to adapt in a tool like Trello.
  4. Your charter is dynamic
    Once you’ve developed your charter, it won’t change much, but keep in mind that if changes do arise you’ll want to come together and discuss them as a team before you make them.
  5. A charter is just a start
    And finally, just because you have a team charter, doesn’t mean your team is bad ass. It’s the same thing with trust. Just because you talk about it doesn’t mean you have it. You’ve got to live the behaviors you’ve agreed to. When you’re struggling with the behavior of certain team members, or your team is lagging behind, you can visit your charter and get back to being aligned, building the muscles of courage and honesty.

Trust is incredibly important to the success of your teams and your company, and vulnerability is an integral piece of that puzzle.

About a year or so ago, Google released the data from a study they did about what made teams effective.

What Google discovered is that the perfect team is less about who is on the team and more about how the team interacts, how they structure their work, and how they acknowledge the contributions that are being made.

They discovered that the 5 most important components to a high functioning team are: psychological safety, dependability, structure & clarity, meaning, and impact.

The most important and significant of all of these characteristics is psychological safety where there is a shared belief that it is safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. Like asking a question or sharing an idea and not feeling stupid or afraid that you’re being judged or it will be held against you.

The bottom line is, we don’t want people to perceive us as incompetent. When your team lacks psychological safety, instead of just being honest about something that you might not know or maybe feel unequipped to handle, rather than be viewed as incompetent, you choose alternate behaviors.

Maybe you put on a front that you have it all together all the time but you’re freaking out and stressed out at home and none of your family or friends want to be around you. Or, rather than risk that, you just hold back and never reach your potential or go for anything that would stretch or challenge you. Maybe you just live below the line 100% of the time and by now you’ve alienated everyone around you at work so much that you‘ve earned yourself a silo.

When this kind of stuff is going on with your team, not only do you have a bunch of people who are not showing up as their whole and real selves, but it’s going to make it really hard to be successful as a team.

Like trust, you have to build psychological safety and vulnerability over time. One of the things that works really well in creating this safety is teaching your team to name stuff. Naming is just simply having a common language so that your team can identify things that are not serving either themselves or the team. Naming is good because it’s easy and it allows people to be a chance to be real in the space.

One of the first things we always name on teams is conflict. There seems to be this common misconception about conflict — that it’s not safe or healthy to have at work. But the truth is, conflict is required to build high-functioning teams. It’s OK for your team to engage in passionate and emotional conversations. The key is to make sure they know the difference between productive and destructive conflict.

You can encourage and model healthy conflict on your team by making sure during conflict that you keep the focus on the work, not the person. Remind your team to assume positive intent and work together to commit to a solution. You’re not looking for consent but for consensus. A decision that is safe to try that will help your team achieve its mission and Purpose. You can still fight and argue, but at the end of the day, you all believe in the path forward because you’re going to pave it together.

Back-channeling is another important concept to name with your team. Back-channeling happens when instead of conflicting in front of the team, everyone may agree to what is presented in the room and then once they leave the meeting, they have side conversations with individuals in the halls, via email, on the phone, without the intention of ever sharing that information back to the team. This kind of behavior will send you right down into the Drama triangle faster than anything.

Sometimes side conversations about what happens in meetings do need to happen outside of meetings and away from the team, which is fine, if the information surfaces back to the team as a whole. Sometimes people aren’t gossiping when they’re talking outside of meetings, but rather processing something out loud and they need someone to do that with. So, before you have these side conversations, ask yourself:

  1. What is this in conversation in service to? Are you going to back channel to figure something out that will add value to the team, or are you adding to the drama?
  2. How can you turn this side conversation into value or change for the team.

It takes a lot of courage and self-control for people to have healthy conflict, not gossip about people, or to even speak up. So make sure you recognize this with your team.

In addition to naming conflict and back-channeling, consider also naming something that is a simple exercise called holding the space/taking up the space. Naming this is about being aware that everyone is provided the opportunity to be heard, seen, and valued.

Sometimes people take up a lot of space, especially in meetings; they talk a lot or they’re not afraid to have their ideas heard. Other people either don’t want to take up space or they’re afraid to speak their mind. It’s not that this is a matter of making the quiet people talk more when they may have nothing to say, but rather it’s just making sure they’ve been given the opportunity. The overall goal with hold or take up the space is to help the whole group be more self-aware of how they’re showing up.

Over time, you can create a glossary of all these things that you name with your team and put it on something like a Trello board that is easy to access. You may also choose to name things with your team during your retros, discuss them, and add them to your glossary.

When you find yourself at work or in a meeting and things are heating up or someone is really operating below the line, you can choose to be vulnerable and name these things, and show up with courage and model shared behaviors — the behaviors you really want to see on your team. Over time, these are the things that catch on quickly because once people start to use them, they feel better.

I remember when my kids were little — like 2 and 3 — and there were all kinds of breakdowns and meltdowns over simple things like turning off the TV, leaving a restaurant, or putting their pants on. And for a while, I used to get really worked up. And every time they had a meltdown I was on this emotional roller coaster with them. Until I realized that they didn’t have the capacity to deal with that stuff yet because they hadn’t learned how. I figured out if I could give them an alternative for their undesireable behavior, then we could, over time, function much more peacefully as a family.

The same thing goes for your team. By teaching them self-awareness, trust, and vulnerability behaviors, you’re fostering an environment where they can trade old, shitty behaviors for new ones that serve both themselves and your company better. Then they’re bringing their whole selves to work and you have a much happier and higher-performing team.

As you’re introducing and working on self-awareness, trust, and vulnerability with your team, you will come to a place where you will be ready to really build cohesion. Some of the most powerful tools you can use when building high-performing self-managed teams are Super powers and a peer feedback system.

I remember the early days when I was building a company and having my first experiences with hiring a team. I was so focused on hiring for the role that I completely lost sight of the human. Some of that is just the experience of learning how to hire well. But a lot of it is learning that I had to change my mindset and the mindset of my team. It wasn’t the tasks on their job descriptions that were going to help us achieve our purpose. It was their characteristics as humans.

Roles are important in an organization. They provide structure and clarity. But the key here is that roles are not to be confused with the people who serve them. Roles can be interchangeable. Kind of like a uniform that can be put on or taken off.

It’s important to remind your team to look beyond each other’s titles and job descriptions to what really makes them powerful together.

Super powers is an exercise that SY Partners developed that will teach this mindset shift — looking beyond the role to the human — to your team. This is typically best done in an off-site or a half-day workshop and then I’ll show you how you can pay it forward into your culture. Here’s how it works:

  1. Use the deck
    Start by asking each team member to go through the instructions in the super power card deck. The deck is full of a bunch of even/over scenarios: this describes me ‘even/over’ that. You work through each of the scenarios in the deck until you identify your superpower. It’s fairly difficult to narrow it down to just one, so I’ve found that it’s ideal to allow each person on the team to identify up to 2 superpowers.
  2. Walk the room
    Once the team has had a chance to identify their superpowers, I hang a description of each of the super powers across the wall all over the room and then I have everyone on the team read them all so that they can have an understanding of all the superpowers or all the things their entire team may possess. They can take a picture of their specific super powers because they’re going to need to refer to that later.
  3. Make a poster
    Then, in an effort to help the group bond and become more familiar with each other’s superpowers, each team member is given the opportunity to create a poster about their top super power
  4. Tell a friend
    Once the posters are ready, the group can present them one by one. If you want to mix this with some empathetic listening, you can also pair the entire group up (pairing people with those they don’t normally work with) and have the pair present each other’s superpowers to the group, rather than presenting their own.
  5. Pay it forward
    The most powerful thing about super powers is paying it forward. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time doing this exercise and then have your team say: “Remember when we did that Super Powers thing, that was cool!” You want to find ways to remind the team to activate those super powers across the team. One idea is to keep these superpower posters visible across your company so that your team starts to assimilate them. If your team is remote, you could create a Trello or Pinterest board, or even a room in Slack that holds the intel. Always be aware of calling attention to super powers when the team is facing conflict or challenge; and encourage them to find the person on the team with the superpower that can support them most.

The key to superpowers is that it’s a mindset change for your entire team to help them understand that their job in this company is not limited to what is part of the tasks listed in their job description. It’s what they bring as a human. And in their interactions with each other on a daily basis, help them look for opportunities to access people across teams for support with their superpower, not just their role, when you’re looking to solve a challenge. It’s a great way to add to their self-awareness and also create cohesion on your team.

Lastly, a peer feedback system makes the most sense for team cohesion when you’re already investing in and learning the self-awareness, trust, and vulnerability behaviors that we’ve been talking about. So all of these things I’ve been sharing with you create a solid ground for one of the most powerful cohesion tools your team can use.

This system came about when I realized that the way my company was approaching performance reviews was not only was in complete contradiction with our culture, but it also took all of the power, direct communication, and opportunity to feedback away from the team. Not only was I undermining all of the good work we were doing by investing in self-awareness and trust and better ways of working, but I was the one who was carrying all the weight for mentoring the team, helping them level up, and that was not serving anyone.

So I approached the team with my desired outcome and a question: How can the team play a bigger role in taking initiative for their growth as individuals and for our growth as a company? How can we work together on a feedback system that matched our culture and our Purpose?

A small team who was interested in solving this problem was formed in order to develop and propose a 5-step peer feedback system that works like this:

  1. Form teams
    Feedback teams would be comprised of 3 people. Once a team of 3 gave and received feedback to the others in their group, we would swap people out to form new groups of 3.
  2. Meet quarterly
    Each feedback group of 3 would schedule their meetings over a quarter, so each group had 3 months to give and receive feedback from the 2 others in their group. And, with a team of 12, that meant that not only would team members get feedback nearly every month everyone on the team would also receive feedback from every person on the entire team of 12 approximately twice a year.
  3. Have conversations
    As a team, we decided that peer feedback would be given outside of the office. Each feedback session would be approximately 60 minutes (20 minutes to give feedback, 20 minutes to receive feedback, and 10 minutes each for questions or to get more coffee and a cookie). Each team member would prepare a feedback doc with specific examples prior to the feedback session. Each component of the feedback template connected to something we had been working on as a team. So for example, the feedback would touch on their partner’s personal vision or what specifically they would like to be coached on, something that touches on part of the self-awareness we had been investing in. The feedback would also touch on things they do really well — often connected with super powers. Finally there was a section of the feedback template that gave the person giving feedback an opportunity to be courageous and honest and direct about things that person really needed to work on. We had been laying the groundwork for trust and vulnerability for a while, so the team was ready to run this type of system.
  4. Make the data public
    As a team we decided that all feedback would be transparent to the entire company so we stored it in Google Drive. Once a quarter I would then get together with a more senior member of the team to aggregate trends in the feedback and we’d leverage that in our 1:1s with team members.
  5. Retro the process
    Finally, the peer feedback system team would then meet to discuss what they’ve learned and what needed to be adjusted as the system ran throughout the year. They would survey the team to ask them how the system was working, what they were gaining from it, how we would improve it, and whether they were getting the feedback they needed to grow individually and as a company.

We saw tons of benefits to switching to a feedback system. The team was understanding each other better. They were working together better. They were communicating better. They were taking initiative with their work and with the company. The peer feedback system also showed how much the work we were doing in self-awareness, trust, and vulnerability was so integral to the growth and cohesion of our team.

All of this stuff is living your purpose. And giving these tools to your team is not only going to pay dividends to your company, but also to your employees in their lives.

Clearly there’s so much more that you can do to build self-awareness, trust, vulnerability, and cohesion on your team than what I’ve mentioned. As you take this good stuff to your team, here are a few things to remember:

It’s not about adding more tools and technology to the mix. It’s about teaching your teams to be self-aware, compassionate humans and creating a space where they can bring their whole selves to work. This is the hardest work but is what will help your organization transform into being more adaptive and closer to achieving its Purpose.

Building trust and vulnerability on your team is an experiential journey. It’s messy and it’s hard and it’s going to make you want to quit. If your team is not having healthy conflict, something is wrong. They need to learn that they can conflict and commit to a decision that will move the company forward.

It is not your job alone to carry the responsibility of leading your team or the company. If you’re building a high-performing, self-managed team, that’s everybody’s job. Open up mindsets about roles and keep your humans focused on their mission and purpose.

The world is going to continue to get more complex. We cannot control that, but we can build better organizations through Purpose and by doing the work to foster high-performing, self-managed teams.

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