What are you doing to cultivate happiness at work? Or are you of the mind that work and happiness don’t belong in the same sentence? Tim Reitsma and Leigh Ann Rodgers—founder of the Better Teams—will give you insights into why happiness in the workplace matters and a simple framework to follow.
- To be a leader is to inspire people towards a vision, and that vision might be a small, short, simple vision or a really big vision, but it’s all about inspiring people who want to follow you towards some goal, some vision that you have. So, it’s not about a role, it’s about a way of being that anyone can practice and build the skills to do. [3:06]
- Building a better world of work is wanting to have more joy at work. [4:13]
- Leigh Ann talks about Sunday scaries, where people don’t want to go to bed on Sunday night because that means they have to wake up the next day and start the week. [5:43]
- If the team members are not happy, they’re going to do one of two things. They’re going to quit and go somewhere else. [7:02]
- The worst thing that people will do if they’re not happy with their jobs is they’ll quit and stay. [7:37]
- Quiet quitting is another way of saying people are disengaged. [7:42]
- Just as important as being high performing is to have happiness, because you want people that are engaged and fulfilled and connected and that’s how you keep and sustain a happy team in a high performing team. [9:20]
- Leigh Ann shares the 3 characteristics of a happy team: connected, engaged, and fulfilled. [9:41]
We want teams that are connected. We want teams that feel engaged in their work. And we also want members to feel fulfilled.Leigh Ann Rodgers
- One reason people are leaving or quiet quitting is because they don’t feel fulfilled. [10:47]
- It’s really important, as a leader, to figure out, “are we really connected?” [14:32]
One of the ways to begin to build trust is to feel truly connected to people.Leigh Ann Rodgers
- The Better Teams model is something Leigh Ann has developed over years of working with teams. The Better Teams model includes five key areas: Leadership, Trust, Aligned, Ready and Happy. [16:53]
- In the leadership assessment, it isn’t about the manager or the team lead. It’s really about the mindset and skillset that everyone on the team can have. [17:13]
- A really critical one for a happy team is being aligned. When the team is not aligned, there is going to be conflict. [17:55]
- The fourth element of the Better Teams model is being ready. Is the team ready to do the work? If they’re not ready, they’re not going to be very happy either. [18:42]
- The last element and the most important part of the Better Teams model is trust. [19:28]
Happiness energizes us. Happiness is where we get our fuel to want to work and be a part of something and do hard things. So I think it’s really a critical piece.Leigh Ann Rodgers
- Leigh Ann shares some examples of teams that were struggling with the 5 key areas of the Better Teams model. [22:19]
- Leigh Ann gives some advice on where to start to cultivate a happy high performing team: to observe, ask, and then to do an assessment. [35:05]
- Leaders don’t have to figure it all out. They need a vision. The vision is we want to be happy and high performing and then engaging the team to figure out the how. [41:33]
Meet Our Guest
Leigh Ann is a thought-leader in maximizing employee engagement and improving team dynamics. She has been recognized by leaders around the world for the ability to get tough and resistant teams to open up and participate actively. As an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field, Leigh Ann is a skilled coach, trainer, and meeting facilitator working in North America, Canada, Europe and Asia with numerous Fortune Global 500 companies to help leaders cultivate cultures that are both highly productive and positive.
For over two decades, Leigh Ann has cultivated a passion for people and teams. Motivated to provide solutions for the common challenges that all leaders and organizations face, she channeled her passions into creating the Better Teams Model and Assessment which includes five components, all critical for a high-performing team: Alignment, Readiness, Happiness, Leadership, and Trust. She has also founded Team Consultant Academy and Forward Membership to support the development of professionals serving leaders and teams.
To be a leader is to inspire people towards a vision.Leigh Ann Rodgers
- Join the People Managing People community forum
- Subscribe to the newsletter to get our latest articles and podcasts
- Follow Leigh Ann on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Check out Better Teams
Related articles and podcasts:
- About the People Managing People podcast
- What Will It Take To Build A Better World Of Work?
- The Great Resignation, Should You Be Worried?
- Engaging Employees Through Empathetic Leadership: What I Learned
- Hybrid Working: What Is It And How To Approach It
Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: So to me, to be a leader is to inspire people towards a vision. And that vision might be a small, short, simple vision or a really big vision, but it's all about inspiring people who want to follow you towards some goal, some vision that you have. So it's not about a role, it's about, you know, a way of being that anyone can practice and build the skills to do.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world to work and to help you create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma! I heard once long ago in my career that it doesn't matter if teams are happy, as long as they get the work done. I thought then, and I still think this now, that man, that is foolish.
Happiness, well, it may look different to each of us. I believe that if we're happy and shall I say, fired up on what we do, this will lead to higher performance. Leigh Ann Rodgers, founder of Better Teams, is an expert at helping you create happy and high performing teams. We give you insights, share a framework, and get you excited about how you can use these tools in your day to day leadership.
Leigh Ann, thank you for joining me on the People Managing People Podcast. We're gonna be talking about three ways to cultivate a happy and high performing team. And man, that has peaked my curiosity. When I saw this the application form come through, I went, Okay, what are those three things? I, I have an idea in my mind of what they could be, but I'd love to hear about your expertise around this.
But before we get into that, why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about who you are, what you're up to, what's kind of top of mind for you these days?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Well, thanks Tim! I'm glad to be here. So, a little bit about me. So I'm Leigh Ann Rodgers and I love working with teams and leaders who wanna build happy and high performing teams.
It's just a passion and an interest of mine that has been there forever. And so I do that through both workshops, like leading team building workshops, and also I do a lot of leadership training and some coaching. And I also train facilitators and coaches who want to work with teams and wanna use a model and an assessment with teams.
So, it's it's fun. I get to do a work with some really amazing people and learn from different clients and different facilitators and then share that with other ones.
Tim Reitsma: Well, I think it's fun and maybe a little unique in, from what I've experienced in the leadership training world is that I've heard high performing teams so often, but the happy in front of that happy and high performing team.
So we're gonna get into that. And if you're listening today, you know, we're gonna be talking about that happy side of a high performance as well. But, for those who listen to this show regularly, you know, I like to ask two questions. And more to, maybe it's a little self-serving my own curiosity, but I like to ask, what does leadership mean to you?
What does it mean to be a leader?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: That's such a good question. So to me, to be a leader is to inspire people towards a vision, and that vision might be a small, short, simple vision or a really big vision, but it's all about inspiring people who want to follow you towards some goal, some vision that you have. So it's not about a role, it's about, you know, a way of being that anyone can practice and build the skills to do.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I love that. It's a way of being not just a role. It's not like, Hey, Leigh Ann, welcome your new manager. Go and now manage all these tasks. It's that way of how do you inspire your team to follow and and I love that.
And I'd also love to hear your take on, well, our purpose here at People Managing People is to help build a better world of work. And I am so curious what's, when you hear that, what does that mean to you? What comes to mind?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: So it's a really timely question too, because I think right now conversations I have with just so many different teams and leaders of all types. They are struggling right now.
Right? So it's not necessarily a better working world. And the word that comes to my mind is wanting to have more joy at work, which may sound flighty or light. I just know so many people that are miserable right now and disengaged and just overwhelmed. And so figuring out ways to minimize that so that people can have more joy.
We spend how many hours at work, right? So many hours at work. And for me, most of the time, I love what I do and I get a lot of joy and it actually energizes me. And so, it's always sad to me to see teams or leaders or people who feel like, Oh my gosh, I just can't wait until Friday afternoon gets here, and I dread Monday morning.
So how do we build more joy into the work world so we can enjoy what we're doing?
Tim Reitsma: I saw an image on LinkedIn quite recently, and it was the days of the week and it had just the human emotion or somebody had the emotions and how Monday was, you know, the image was blue, like the human face was blue.
And as the week got on, you could see the joy build up until, you know, Friday, Saturday was so much fun. Sunday was again starting to look almost like that dread, and I'm like, oh that hurt. It hurt seeing that you know, how do we, but how do we do that? And I think that lends itself into our conversation today, is the three ways to cultivate a happy and high performing team.
And I think "joy" ties into that.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: I think so too. In fact, when you say that, it makes me laugh cuz I have a friend who always talks about having the Sundays scaries. You know, like, Oh, I don't wanna go to bed on Sunday night. I'm gonna stay up really late doing, watching TV or whatever it is. And because I don't wanna go to bed because that means I have to wake up tomorrow and start the week.
And so that's that sense of dread. Yeah. So how do we minimize that? How do we work through that? Cuz there are, yeah, there's so many ways to do that if you put that as an intention.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's that sense of dread. I've been there.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: We all have, right? We've all had moments where we're like, I don't wanna do this tomorrow. Yeah.
Tim Reitsma: It's like, Oh, am I sick today? Maybe I'm sick today. No, I'm not sick today. And and so when you pitched this idea, three ways to cultivate a happy and high performing team, you know, I'm gonna ask. What are those three ways? Tell us a little bit about that and, but also why is it important?
Maybe we'll start there. Why is it important for a team to actually be happy?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Oh, great point. And sometimes people go, Oh, happy feels so like, does it really matter if they're happy, as long as they're getting the job done? And it does and here's why. As simple as it is, of course, a team needs to be high performing, right?
They've gotta meet their goals, they've gotta meet their targets, they've gotta be successful in that or the organization won't do well. So that's of course. And though, if they are not happy, the team members are not happy, they're gonna do one of two things. They're going to quit and go somewhere else.
We're seeing mass exodus, right? The great resignation, right? Lots of people are leaving or starting businesses or just retiring cuz they're just like, they're done. And that's a problem cuz then we have to find people and fill those positions and work understaffed and people are working understaffed like crazy right now.
Talk to leaders all the time. We're short staffed by this many people. Was talking to a leader earlier this morning. The two people above her have retired and now they're all scrambling to try to get the work done and the change. So people will quit and leave, or Tim, even worse, they'll quit and stay. And either be what this new term of like out the literature right now, this quiet quitting, which is really another way of saying they're disengaged, right?
They're just to do their job and nothing else. Check the box, ring the bell at 4:59 and go home. And so you get this kind of a team that's just doing enough, but not excited by what they're doing. Not contributing, not really thinking of new ways. That's not really healthy or super sustainable for the long run to have a high performing team.
Or even worse Tim they quit and they, I mean, excuse me, they stay and they get grumbly and negative and complainy. I mean, have you ever heard of a team, and I'm sure you maybe even bet on a team where there was one really negative person that just impacted the entire culture of the team. Everybody was brought down by that behavior.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, absolutely. I recall my first venture into management and leading a team, and there was somebody who was always critical, always negative. Founds, found things wrong with everything, and it a while, probably way too long. I mean, I was in over my head leading his team and and having to pull this person aside and having a conversation with him because it just affected the whole culture of the team.
People were still hitting their goals, but people were not excited. People come to the office, and this was back in the day when we still had offices and and that every member of the team would sit down to kind of nod at each other, put their headphones on. And that was it. That was their day.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: How do you build a happy culture and a high performing culture if people are avoiding meetings or dreading meetings because one person tends to bring it down? Absolutely.
So that's why, to me, it's absolutely critical, just as important as being high performing is to have happiness, cuz you want people that are engaged and fulfilled and connected and that's how you keep and sustain a happy team in a high performing team.
Tim Reitsma: I'm curious, from your perspective, how do you define happy? What does happiness even mean?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Thanks. And I think I actually just gave it away. So let me tell you again. So I look at three characteristics for a happy team. The first one is, and I'll go high level here, and then we can go deeper if you want, Tim. But first one is a team feeling connected?
Right? Do they feel connected to each other, to the leader, to their work? But is there a sense of connection? And this is where inclusion can be fit into, right? Do I feel connected and included? That's big bigger for some people than others, but pretty important to most people.
The second element of happy to think about is are, is the team member engaged? Are they do they enjoy? Do they not have all the things that we just talked about? Do they not dread going to work on Monday morning or whatever day they start? Are they looking forward to it? Are they able to play in their strengths and get into the flow in that sense where you're like, time flies by cuz you're enjoying what you're doing and you are excited by what you're doing, at least most of the time.
So we want teams that are connected. We want teams that feel engaged in their work and we also want teams to feel, members to feel fulfilled. Do they feel fulfilled? And there's so much research out there right now about this as well. And one reason people are leaving or quiet quitting, if you will, is cuz they don't feel fulfilled.
It's just a task to do to get a paycheck versus do I feel like what I'm doing here really matters and makes a difference? And it, I see the value and I feel valuable. And then the other part of fulfillment is, do I feel like I'm growing or evolving? And am I getting a sense of growth and development and challenge in what I'm doing?
Tim Reitsma: Oh, those I love that. Connected, engaged, and fulfilled. It's, it sounds so simple yet as a leader, whether you're leading a team or leading your HR department, who now has to go and make sure everybody is, you know, or every leader is trained on this. Connected, engaged, and fulfilled. Which one, where do we start?
I think which one comes first? Cuz we could, you know, we could try to do, move the needle on all three or is there one specific area that we should be starting at?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Oh, and that's such a hard question cuz it, it really kind of does depend on the team, right? I'll often ask groups when I do like larger sessions or training, you know, which is most important to you?
And it, it can be, most people say all of them by the way, if given the choice. But if you only had to start, where do you start? I think it would always depend and you'd wanna think or check with the team. To me, the easiest one to start with is connected. Because that's about, are we literally making space to meet together, to connect together, to have a chance to talk together? And we can talk more about what that means to people.
Cuz that can be everything from like light, flippant, I just wanna connect on a person to person basis Tim and find out what you did this weekend. And I want you to know that I have a son that's in college and one that just graduated, and things like that. Or connection can be deeper, like are we really connecting about our purpose in what we're doing?
So everybody likes different level of fun. But I think that's the probably the place to start if the team is not happy, because that's the easiest one to do. And then as you move up, like getting engaged, that's where you might spend time really thinking about, you know, where are our strengths and are we playing in those and how can we adjust or flex what we do or who does what on the team so that we feel more engaged?
That takes a little more effort and time to do. And then as you get to fulfill, I think that's an individual conversation. Everybody on the team is gonna be unique there. And so that's a chance to really dig in and ask each person, Are you fulfilled or what would fulfill you? Or what do you need more of? And so, I don't know if I answered your question.
Well see, I can't just pick one. It's hard, Tim. They're all so important.
Tim Reitsma: They're all so important and what's coming to mind for me is, I think exactly what you said is it depends. It depends on the team. It depends on where your team is at. So if you're listening to this and you're thinking, Okay, do I know anything about my team members?
You know, do I know, like you said, that your kids are off to college or something else is going on in life that may be dragging you down a little bit right now. Do we have that sense of connection? And connection for me might mean something different than connection for you.
So, you know, I'm a vulnerable, probably, overshare. You might not be. So if I'm expecting you to overshare, well now my expectations are out of line as well. So, so it's really reading your team, engaging that sense of where people are at. Would you agree?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Absolutely. And what they want or need and do they feel connected or not?
And you might have one personal team that says, I feel completely connected, and another person that feels very disconnected. And so, just like fulfillment in a way too, there might be different things that each team ever needs to feel connected. So asking and talking and figuring that out, I think it's really important as a leader to figure, are we really connected?
And it's possible that a leader feels very connected to everyone cuz they're having one on ones with everyone or they're having more engagement like that. It's very possible that a team member may not feel as connected to the team members cuz they're not having those opportunities. And it could also be the reverse. It could be the leaders off going and the team's working really well together.
So yeah, we really have to do a little bit of thinking and checking in to find out, yeah, where is this team? Where is my team doing? And then what do we need to do more of or less of?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Yeah. It's if we aren't connecting, how do we know our team is engaged or fulfilled? So I think it's, you know, even though it really depends on where to start, but for me it's, Okay, if I'm leading a team, if I'm coming into a brand new team we need to build that connection.
We need to build that foundation in order to know where are we going and how are we gonna get there.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: And Tim connection builds trust, right? So when we feel connected, you know, we, when trust is critical to a team, to and to a happy team and to a high performing team, you've got to have trust. And so one of the ways to begin to build trust is to feel truly connected to people.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah it's exactly that. And I know, you know, building trust is, well, as in, in your words, the number one reason team members don't trust leaders is because leaders don't trust them. And I know I, that was in when I, again, when I read your submission for the podcast, and I'm like, Yes, this is, you're speaking my language here.
And so trust is that absolute foundation.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: And if we don't know people well, we just interact on work about tasks. Yeah, we, it's harder to trust, it's harder to build trust. It becomes very superficial. So connection at a deeper level, again, whatever that means for that team is really important as part of building relationships and establishing trust and alignment and all of that.
Tim Reitsma: This lends itself well into a model that you've created. The Better Teams model. And I think we've, we're already talking a little bit about it, but I would love to kind of shift that conversation into the model and tell our listeners a little bit more about, about this model and how it can be used.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Thanks. So the Better Teams model is something I developed over just years of working with teams and really thinking about, what do teams really need to be both happy and high performing? And so there are five basic areas and we're talking about happy today, and that's one of the five areas, right? So one thing is to be happy.
Another area is leadership in this assessment isn't about the manager or the team lead. It's really about a mindset and skillset that everyone on the team can have. So, is the team, do they have strong communication skills? So the ability to communicate with each other. Do they, are they accountable?
Do they, are they accountable for what they say they will do and also holding each other accountable? And also, are they accountable for the team, not just themselves, but accountable for their team? And then the third element of leadership is are they proactive? Are they strategic? Are they forward looking? Are they visionary?
And so all of those are elements of a team that are critical for, ideally everyone to have or build those skills. So we've got happy and we've got leadership. We've also got aligned. A really critical one for a happy team as well, cuz let me tell you, when the team is not aligned, there is going to be conflict.
And almost always there is at least one area that the team is not aligned. So we wanna aligned around our goals and our mission, you know, where we're headed. We wanna be aligned around our roles and responsibilities. And almost always, there's at least a little bit of lack of alignment around this, which creates frustration. Cuz I think, you know, you're supposed to do it and you think I'm supposed to do it, or we both think we're in charge of it and we're competing.
And then the other area of alignment is around methods and processes. So how we work together, you know, literally our behaviors and our norms, all the way up to like how we do our jobs and how we meet. So we've got happy leadership aligned, and then the fourth element is ready. So is the team ready to do the work?
And if they're not ready, they're not gonna be very happy either. You can see how all of these, like, just they connect to each other too. So readiness is around, are they equipped? Do they have the tools, the technology, the access to information? Do they have the people resources to do the job? Are they competent?
Do they have the skills and abilities to do their job? And are they adaptive and flexible and able to, you know, to adapt to change? And right now we're seeing, you know, so many teams are just burnt out on change that they used to be really adaptive. And now they're like, you know, not so much, right? We're kind of tired and burnt out, so you're gonna throw another change at me. Ugh. And they just, you know, have those Sunday scaries.
And then the last element, the last one of the five is trust. And trust is the, on this model. And I'll send it to you, Tim, and you can share it in the show notes with them. But the last and the one that goes around, the whole thing is trust. And that's because all the things that we just talked about cultivate trust. Being happy and connected, cultivates trust. Being aligned around how we work together, cultivates trust. Being accountable and communicating, et cetera.
All of these lend to trust. And so we're ultimately trying to get a team that has high trust, which means we're candid and open with each other. We can have tough conversations. We can disagree and work through that. We're vulnerable with each other, we're able to say, I don't know. I'm not sure. I need help.
I'm overwhelmed right now. So that team members can support each other. And we're also interdependent, like we're collaborative, we ask for feedback. We don't work in silos, but we really wanna work together and we see the value in that. So those are the five areas kind of quickly of the Better Teams model.
And I know today we're really honing in on that fun and happy piece that we, we both think is kind of special.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Well, thanks for walking us through the model and yes, definitely we will be putting in the model into the show notes linked to your website and linked to for people to get in contact with you.
And it's fascinating as you're describing this, I think about happiness and how it does lend itself to all the elements, at least in my mind is, you know, if we're not, if we're not happy, if we're not feeling that sense of fulfillment how do we build that trust? How do we ensure that we are aligned?
If, you know, if a leader comes in and thinks, Oh we're, you know, we have a happy team, and is pitching the mission and the vision of where we're going. People just shrug their, shrug their shoulders just to, just let me get my job done so I can go home today. Yeah. It's a lot rooted in that sense of happiness.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Yeah. That's what drives us, right? That happiness energizes us. Happiness is where we get our fuel to wanna work and be a part of something and do hard things. So I think it's really a critical piece.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I'm curious. I'm gonna throw this out at you and see if put you on the spot a little bit.
I'm curious if you can share an example, maybe of a team that was really struggling with with feeling connected, engaged, that sense of fulfillment, the three elements to cultivate a happy and high performing team. Where you saw that maybe that level of disengagement to actually becoming a happy and high performing team.
You know, don't need to go into company names or anything like that, but I'm just curious about, you know. How did it get to that state and what was the timeline or even to get to that ultimate happiness?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Pick one. That's tough. So let me think of a specific team. And this is a team who was a new leader had come in. A new leader had been promoted from within, and they'd worked together for a while several years. And they were, I would say, a very high-performing team. However, not necessarily super happy all the way around. I would say they got a lot of fulfillment from the work that they did because it was a mission-driven type of team.
And they liked what they did. They work those feeling super connected. They were all very much working in silos and off just busy doing their own thing. So there was a lack of a sense of connection and sometimes alignment too around who was doing what. And then sometimes when you think about how they would communicate outside of the team as well, they weren't always communicating the same message because they weren't connecting and talking and sharing with each other.
And so they didn't always have the same message. So it didn't always look good for that team as far as how they showed up. Like, are you all on the same page or not? Why is one of you saying this and one of you not saying this? Right? And so they recognized a need that to be more connected.
And now for this team, there were some people on the team that that man I wanna know about your family, and I just wanna spend more time with you and as, and other people. It was like, Eh, I don't really need to know all that, but I wanna know more about the work that you're doing and you know, I wanna learn from that and how it might impact what I'm doing and vice versa. So they had to kind of negotiate with each other and kind of find a way to find a balance so that there was some connection for those people who were more social in nature and just really missed, you know, human interaction like that.
But not so much of that. But it was just like it felt like overwhelming or like a waste of time for those people who didn't need that. And they would also connect and do things like take turns sharing, like, here's what I'm up to and here's what I've learned and here's what I'm doing.
And they would be able to ask each other questions and learn from that, and then they would be more aware. So it was a combination of them just being aware of what each person wanted or needed, where that aligned, and then experimenting, like practicing and saying, let's try this. Let's see how it works, and then reassessing, which I think is so important for teams to do about all of these things, right?
Let's go in and experiment and try something out and then make adjustments. Because you know, Tim, like teams never like, just get to be like, Okay, we're the perfect team now, and stay that way forever. Right? Any system's gonna have ups and downs like the stock market, right? Maybe I shouldn't talk about stock market right now, but you know, it's ups and downs. It's ups and downs.
Tim Reitsma: But
Leigh Ann Rodgers: what we wanna see overtime is, you know, improvement in upwards. But those are some ideas.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah I love that. There's a couple words that stand out. The connection, alignment, awareness, experiment. I mean, those are four, four big words. And so if you're listening to this, it's like, Wow, okay, so I need to build connection, alignment.
Again, connection to me doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as it does to you. So I think it's, as a leader, it's creating that space, creating that opportunity for people to share, Hey what's top of mind for you? What's going on? What's going on in your world? You know, if somebody wants to just talk about work, that's fine.
If somebody wants to talk a little bit about what's going on in your life, that's fine. But building that, and that awareness, and I love the experiment. And you know, we've, here at People Managing People, we're a really small team. We've had to experiment. We wanted to, we had very aggressive goals for our growth and create space for people to try new things. And, but also we've recently just took stock of, is this giving you energy?
Is this really playing into your strengths? And realizing like, okay, some of this work is not, so what do we do? How do we then, you know, outsource that? Or maybe it's time to bring in some new talent or but having that conversation is so important.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: It is, cuz we don't know what we don't know. Right? And we all have blind spots and we all have biases. And even I think, I find leaders who think they really know their team well. There's almost always a blind spot or something that surprises them if they start to do more assessment work or looking closer into what a team is going.
And so it's just really important that we all realize we're all limited and we all have bias, so we don't really know everything. And, and so engaging and talking about that as a team and or individually is really the only way to figure out the path forward that's gonna be as helpful and happy to most people as possible.
Tim Reitsma: Absolutely. And I think of, when I started my career, we were in the office. We all, you know, commuted into an office, we're able to almost read each other, the body language, the emotion that we're sharing on our face. And, you know, almost feel to see if our people engaged or disengaged.
And now that we are, you know, the world has sort of shifted into either a hybrid or people are working from wherever, has the way we looked at happiness and high performing changed?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Oh, that's interesting. So to me, the fundamentals are the same. If you looked at the Better Teams model, all of those are the same, whether it's hybrid or remote or not.
What's changed, I think for a lot of teams, it's because they're now either fully remote or at least hybrid. If we stick with our focus on happy in that connection piece, it's so much more difficult to build connections when you're all working from your home office and may or may not even interact or come into, you know, passing each other in the hall.
It's harder. Like you have to be so much more intentional around building opportunities to connect in a meaningful way. And at the same time struggling with the fact that everyone I talk to is completely already overwhelmed. And so the idea of connecting with another meeting can just be like, Oh my gosh, you're just asking me to have another meeting?
Ha, I'm already overwhelmed with work. I just wanna get it done. So it's figuring out how do we creatively connect with people, especially when we're not in the office. And even when we are in the office, and again, everybody, every team's gonna find different things that work for them.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Just throwing in, you know, a late afternoon on a Friday team building, Zoom meeting might not actually be that driving the connection that you think it might be. People might be just going like, No, it's end of day Friday.
If you want me to do team building, let me hang up and I'll just go and hang out with my friends and family. And that actually might contribute to the happiness of your team. And so, you know, just because you might be craving it as a leader or I might be craving it, doesn't mean your team's actually craving that connection.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Right. And then other teams might be, that's exactly what they want and need to do is have a happy hour on Friday afternoons. Yeah, I think this is where we can get like, really creative. So just to share some like broad examples here. And again, you gotta figure out what the team, but certainly meeting is a way to connect, right?
Whether we're meeting one on one with people or in groups. And by the way, meetings don't always have to be for an hour. That's one way to connect. Another simple way to connect is at the beginning of meetings, and a lot of leaders do this. Just spinning the first 10 or 15 minutes with some sort of a meaningful connection activity.
And these can be light and fun, kind of icebreakers or these can be more like, I loved your question earlier, like just what's going on with you right now? And so this is a great way too, to just intentionally spend a little bit of time on the connection before you dive into the work if you will.
And I have, by the way, Tim, so many like simple, easy icebreakers. I blog about this all the time. I've been doing this for five years. And so if anybody wants free easy ideas, go to better-teams.com and check out my blogs. Like I'll give you one example too, cuz I always love examples in a webinar.
One example is you put and you could use a slide or you could just say, but one big, little big. And so what's one little and big thing that dot and you could say is going on with you this week, is happening for you at work. What's one little and big thing you like about this team? I mean, you could just decide what that was and adjust it for your team, but it's one little thing and one big thing, and that's just kind of a creative way to get people sharing and expressing.
So yeah. And the last thing I was gonna say here, I know I got excited. And I could talk about this forever, is it might be too connecting around like having more, having, so we talked about meetings or at the beginning of a meeting or, Oh, I know what I was gonna share, like the idea of like Slack.
Like I know teams who we either use Teams like a special channel in Teams or Slack or something like that. It would, that just for fun stuff, right? Just for fun stuff. So they have all their ways of working and connecting around work, but there's one channel that's just, Hey, let me show you a picture of my vacation, or look what my kid did, or here's my dog being cute, or whatever it is.
And there's just one way to do that. So it's not mixing into the work like text or streams. It's separated and it's a fun way for people working remote or even if they're working across different time zones, they can connect in this way. And people can connect more or less depending on how much they like.
But that's just another example of a way to connect without having an actual meeting.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's, I love that sense of fun and being able to, again, with your technology, encouraging it. And if you're not seeing a lot of action in that channel, leaders, HR heads of HR, if you're, wherever you are in the organization.
You gotta start. You can't just wait for somebody else to, Oh, I'll just wait for somebody else to, you just gotta contribute. Start adding in the fun things or the silly things or whatever it is that that you're seeing. I mean, I don't think anybody's gonna say you're posted too many fun things.
I'm laughing too hard today. But I think having that sense of fun and it is, it's so important and it contributes to our happiness. And, an example here at People Managing People, we belong to a larger company called Black and White Zebra. And we have we're hybrid. We're in and out of the office where most of us are and we have some office snacks.
The team recently, there was a few people in the office, I was on vacation, but there's three people in the office and they ran out of mixed nuts. So instead of sending a Slack message saying, Hey, we ran out a mixed nuts. They actually produced a really high-quality video, scripted it out, narrated it about this whole how it was affecting them and how, you know, it was just, it was fun.
They had so much fun doing it. The rest of the company just had so much fun watching it. And a person on my team was part of that process and I was like, How do we do more of this? Instead of going, well, you could have used that four hours for something else. It was, for me, it was, I saw the joy that this brought you.
How can we do more of that? Because I know it then contributed to her state of mind for the rest of the day.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: And they bonded, right? They bonded doing that. Now they have a fun memory. I mean, I think a way to see is a team bonding is, yeah, do they have stories and memories and inside jokes? And you know, that sense of, that's what creates like a culture, that sense of team over the long run.
So that's something they'll laugh about for a long time to come. I love that story.
Tim Reitsma: Oh yeah. And we know that other people are scheming now ways to create some videos even on through, you know, we've got a team around the globes. How can we then create some fun videos and some fun interactions to to bring up our happiness and to bring up that, as you said right from the beginning, that joy. And that sense of joy does create high performance when we see that engagement.
And so as we're wrapping up, if we're leading a team and, and we know that we need to, we're bought into this, okay? We believe that cultivating a happy we need to cultivate a happy high performing team. Where do we start? And I know we kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, is those three elements, but is there somewhere else that we should be thinking about starting?
Should we just, yeah, I'll just leave it there and, yeah. I'd love to hear you.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Well, I think we've gotta figure it out, right? We've gotta figure it out. And so, like we said, we're all biased and we have blind spots. So how can we figure it out? I think there's three ways as a leader to go in and figure this out.
One is we can observe, like what are we noticing and seeing our team doing? Do they seem happy? Are they, you know, working together? Are they, you know, is there a lot of conflict on the team? We can make observations and then we can make an educated guess on how our teams are doing around connection, engagement, and fulfillment. And that's important to start with. And that's very limited, right?
So the next step up would be you could ask them, you know, individually. I'd have these conversations with an individual team member and collectively, cuz they might have different responses for different ones. So I might be, as a team, how are we doing?
Are we connecting enough? Where do we wanna connect more? What do we wanna connect about? How do we wanna connect? You know, are we engaged? Are we all playing in our strengths? Is there a way we could share work or trade off work or hire an external person to help us? So all of these things could be asked as a group, but also individually, like in your one on ones with a team person.
You know, how do you feel connected to me or not? Do you need more time with me or not? Because a lot of people will tell you they don't feel connected to their leader. And yet they don't wanna burden their leader. So they reach out only as minimally as they can cuz they know how busy and overwhelmed their leader is and yet they feel very disconnected.
So that's something to be mindful of, so asking. So we can observe, we can ask, or a higher level way to really get thorough information and to be clear and then actually have some metrics would be to do an assessment. To assess the team on how they're doing. And so you could use, for example, there's an assessment that goes along with the model of the Better Teams model.
And we one of the areas it assesses is how do we think we're doing with connection, engagement, and fulfillment? And then you have some data around how the team sees themselves. And you would use this assessment as an opportunity to go in and talk to the team around, wow, what are we doing really well here?
Where are we strong? Where are we happy? Let's keep doing that. Right? And then also, where are our greatest opportunities? And what do we want to work on to be more happy? And this is where every team is gonna be completely different, what that means to them. And so I think assessing is a great way to really get a broad view of a team, some really good information that you use as a conversation starter to work on where are our opportunities and then ultimately what are the actions we're gonna take?
Cuz if we don't have actions, nothing's gonna change, right? So how do we, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna try, experiment with to build this happy team?
Tim Reitsma: And we can measure till till we've measured everything, but without action. And I love that. And that has been such a theme throughout the last oh, probably 10 or so episodes, regardless of the topic, is if we don't assess, we don't measure, how do we know what do we need to change?
What how well are we actually doing? But action builds trust, creates trust, right? Whether you're, I, for me I give trust right away. I'm not, this is be a whole other episode about the definition of trust, but you know, but I do know leaders that you need to earn my trust.
And so how do you do that? Action.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's also empowering to have the conversation and to allow the team. It's one thing if the leader looked at the assessment and said, Oh, here's our strengths and weaknesses. Here's what we're gonna do. Or a consultant came in and said, here's what you should do.
Ooh, nobody wants to be told. It's a whole different thing. And inspiring and empowering for a team to get to debrief and look at their own data and decide collectively, here's what we wanna do. Like, that's empowering, that's inspiring and that's uplifting. And I've seen teams that have been really like unhappy and not excited at all about doing a Better Team's assessment cuz it was keeping them away from their "real work".
Leave a session after, you know, working through and deciding here's the three things that we think will make our team better. And they were excited now because they got to pick and choose. And so instead of being told, they were like, you know, I did this, I picked this. It's a great way to, it's a great way to engage a team. And make sure it's the right thing, cuz it's only right if the team thinks it's right.
Tim Reitsma: Oh, I love that. It's only right if the team thinks it's right. If you're listening to that and that really strikes a chord with you is, you know, if it's only right if I say it's right. No. That's a wrong model. It's only right if the team thinks it's right. And being able to hold a session, 20 minutes, half an hour, bringing it to your team meeting and ask for ideas and just leave it there.
Don't go in and try to fill up the white space the blank the blank space with all your ideas. Just propose the question. I love that.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: You want a really simple, let's give everyone a really simple tool here. Even just assessing your own team meetings at the end of the meeting, say five minutes, and once you do this once or twice, it gets really fast cause people know what you're gonna do.
But you say, Okay, let's assess the team meeting that we just are finishing up now. On a scale of one to five, how effective was this as a use of your time? One, it was a waste of time, and five being it was an excellent use of my time. And then if it's anything less than a five, what would make the next meeting better?
And so now you're gonna, hopefully hear eventually 5, 5, 5, but if you get a four, it's like, well, it would've been really great if we'd had this information ahead of time. And someone might say, Well, three, because we're investing three critical people. And so we really couldn't make a decision. And all of these things though are gonna tell you like, what would be better next time is we need to have the right people in the room. Or we need to have a clearer agenda, or we need to have more time, or we try, whatever it is.
It's a way to listen to your team, figure out what, what would make it better, and then just keep tweaking and experimenting with your meetings. And it doesn't take very long at all to do that.
Tim Reitsma: No, and what a way to even end this episode on is just, is to get vulnerable. As a leader, you know, you're leading that meeting.
Maybe you've done 20 minutes of the 30 minutes of talking. Be open and honest and be accepting of what people have to say. Because if people are feeling that, man, this is just a giant waste of time. They're probably not that happy. And so again, it's coming down to that ask, but be vulnerable. Be willing to accept the narrative and the words that, that you're hearing in order to drive that change within your team.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: I love that. And if I can just add that makes me think, Tim, I love what you just said. Leaders don't have to figure it all out. Be the one to come in and say, this is it. They need a vision, right? This, the vision is we wanna be happy and high performing and then engaging the team to figure out the how.
It's easier for the leader and it's better for the team because they're now empowered. So it's a win-win to figure it out together.
Tim Reitsma: Absolutely. It is a win-win and that does help build and then cultivate a happy and performing team.
So Leigh Ann, thanks again for coming on the episode. I've taken a lot. I've for those who are listening to this, I've been scribbling notes and ideas even for, to bring it to my own team. And I need to ask those questions. I think everyone's happy, but I need to ask the question. And so I encourage you today, if you're driving into work or listening to this on, in your commute or wherever you are, ask that question.
Just again, get vulnerable. So then remind us again where people can track you down?
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Yeah, so you can find me at, my website is better-teams.com. I'm on LinkedIn as well, you can find me there, and yeah, find me. I've got lots of free resources on the site for people who do team building or are leaders and want some ideas.
Tim Reitsma: That's fantastic. And yes we'll definitely be putting that in the show notes as well and sharing it out on our social once once this episode is out. So thanks again for coming on and for those who are listening, we always appreciate your feedback. I love hearing from you. You can send me an email to email@example.com or track me down on LinkedIn and I love to connect with our audience.
And tell me how I can do better as well as a host or tell me the topics you'd love to hear. So with that, I hope everyone has an amazing day, and thanks again, Leigh Ann.
Leigh Ann Rodgers: Thank you, Tim. Have a great day too!