Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

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How to get from where you are to where you want to be

5 Ways To Be a Better Team Member

“In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product and profits. Unless you’ve got a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.” Lee Iacocca

“Are you giving your best to the team you are working with?” All of us, who are part of any team, must ask ourselves this question periodically. It forces us to look at the larger picture, and how our actions affect it, for better or for worse. This is vital for our own personal development as well as the team’s progress. Having worked with many teams, I know first hand how easy it is to play the blame game. Team member X is not giving enough time, member Y is not bringing the value he/she is supposed to, a myriad of such thoughts constantly float in your head. We need to make a fundamental shift in our thinking, and focus on giving 100% to the team. We cannot compromise our commitment because other individuals on the team are not pulling their weight. What we can do, is become more proactive in helping other members of the team grow, as well as ourselves.

Listed below are five ways to become a better team member and help the rest of your team follow suit as well.

1. Playing to your Strengths: Understanding and playing to your strengths is a process that takes time. It is important that we start this process as early as possible. There is  much trial and error involved in this discovery process. Often, we realize our choice is not showcasing our true potential. No problem! Use the experience as feedback and move forward. To learn more about playing to your strengths please click here.

2. Being Action Oriented: Team members, customers, suppliers and investors look for people who can deliver what they commit to. This trait is common in successful people, they do not over think things, they, just do it. The concept of “Ready, Fire, Aim” is one I believe in, it has has served me well over the last couple of years. It certainly accelerates the learning process, helps you add tangible value to business, and gets you the reputation of being the guy who gets things done. To read more about becoming action oriented please click here.

3. Giving and Asking for Feedback: The art of successfully giving feedback comes with experience and time. By providing feedback you add value to the team and all of its members. There will be times when feedback will be uncomfortable and these are situations you need to learn to manage. Suffering in silence is not a smart strategy, it is one where both the team and individual lose out. To learn more about giving and asking for feedback in an effective manner please click here.

4. Being Sensitive: Being sensitive is commonly associated with weakness and insecurity in business. I do not believe this, I believe, this is an essential personal characteristic, specially one that entrepreneurs must possess. Being sensitive to the feelings of others, situations and circumstances allows you to focus on larger issues in a more comprehensive manner. Highly effective team members understand the need for sensitivity when dealing with issues which impact the entire team. To learn more about sensitivity in team dynamics please click here.

5. Paying the Price: Every team member has to pay a price when he/she becomes part of a larger entity. For a team to work effectively together, they need to reach a stage where there is price equilibrium. This creates a situation where everyone on the team has similar vested interests and are fully committed to its success. The price of being a team member consists of many elements, two of the most prominent ones are, time and sacrifices. It is critical that all team members find a balance to maintain stability within the team. To learn more about the price of being a team member please click here.

Being the best team member that you can be, is each team member’s responsibility. We have to continuously focus our energies on bringing increasing value to our organization. This may, sometimes be at the cost of your own personal goals, time and other opportunities. When you make a commitment to be part of a venture, remember, to identify the price of entering into the agreement beforehand. This is something to keep in mind when embarking on any entrepreneurial journey. Usually the price for entry is steep, by the same token, so are the rewards. Success is the result of consistent action towards identified goals. The better you perform as a team, the faster you can reach those goals.

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Paying the Price

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” Anonymous

Every team member has to pay a price when he/she becomes part of a larger entity. For a team to work effectively together, they need to reach a stage where there is price equilibrium. This creates a situation where everyone on the team has similar vested interests and are fully committed to its success. Reaching such a level is a difficult process, because “price” is relative. If a team consists of 2 junior partners along with 2 senior partners should each member be paying the same price? If a team consists of 3 partners out of which 2 have sacrificed their social life should the third follow suit? I have debated this topic with a lot of people and am always surprised when I hear unique responses to some of the questions asked above.

At the end of most discussions however, there is a consensus that “price equilibrium” needs to exist in every team, it just varies according to the circumstances. Two key aspects of the price one needs to pay, to be part of a team are:

1. Time: Time is a vital and required input into an organization, majors rifts are caused in the team if this is not done seriously. Team members need to dedicate the time they have committed to. For example, if you have a partner who is assisting you while keeping his day job, it is his/her responsibility to be contribute to the team during nights and weekends. When one of the team runs multiple businesses, it is essential to demarcate time commitments according to your level of involvement. Without contributing time an individual is causing a disequilibrium and it usually has nasty consequences.

2. Sacrifices: When you embark on an entrepreneurial venture, get ready to make serious sacrifices. Building a business is not an easy task, it requires all members of the teams to sacrifice their own personal goals for team goals. Many find this difficult to do, some have lifestyles which they want to maintain and others may not be ready to give up personal goals. The fact of the matter is, if you are not ready to sacrifice your time, money and opportunities, do not join a startup. If you are part of the team and you are not sacrificing, in comparison to other members, it is time to step up.

In order to become a valued and key member of your team, it is essential that you are willing to pay the price required. If you find the price too steep, let all your team members know. It becomes challenging to keep paying out and not receiving anything in return during the early stages of your organization. Therefore it is critical to find out more about the team you want to join, before, you sign up. Find out what sort of price you are going to have to pay and whether you are going to be willing to do so. Doing this will make both your life and those of the other team members a lot simpler.

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Being Sensitive

“It is… axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction.” W. H. Auden

The topic of discussion today is not a subject you usually find on business blogs. Being sensitive is commonly associated with weakness and insecurity in business. I do not believe this however, I believe this is an essential personal characteristic, specially one that entrepreneurs must possess. Understanding this, is the result of interactions with my mentors, who have constantly impressed upon me the importance of being sensitive to your team members, customers and suppliers. I have seen and experienced this in my own interactions of working with several teams over the last couple of years. Being sensitive to the feelings of others, situations and circumstances allows you to focus on larger issues in a more comprehensive manner.

Being a team member will inevitably result in times when the situation requires compromise and taking action in ways you may not always be comfortable with. Reactions to such situations can often be the ‘make or break’ factor for some teams. The key factor in all of this, boils down to balance. Being either overly sensitive or insensitive, bring their own share of difficulties. Maintaining a balance between both extremes requires discipline, an open mind and flexibility. I have worked with several people who have had trouble maintaining this composure, it has invariably led to difficult situations. 

Highly effective team members understand the need for sensitivity when dealing with issues which impact the entire team. Some areas requiring sensitivity are:

1. Dealing with conflict: The manner of handling conflict is a telling sign of whether balance can be maintained between extremes. For example, an individual is in a conflict with another team mate for not contributing adequately to the team. If you were the person who brought up this issue with your team member, your tone, rationale and way of handling this issue is critical.

2. Dealing with change: Whenever an organization undergoes a structural change process, substantial friction is created. This could be when individuals are required to move out of their comfort zone. As an effective team member, it is our responsibility to ensure that everyone on the team is given enough support during this transitional period. Focusing selfishly on yourself or how this change process will impact you alone, is not a winning attitude.

3. Dealing with loss: Every organization has its share of ups and downs. It is during down periods that a team is required to come together and figure out how to fix the situation. I have learnt, dealing with organizational loss tends to bring out the ugly side of people. The fact is, no one likes to lose, but it is a part of life. The success of a team comes down to, how we react to such situations and whether we are able to handle it well collectively as a team.

I agree entirely that some people are more sensitive than others. It is important however, that everyone on the team does their best in dealing with difficult situations and individuals, with an open mind. This attitude will not only help create stronger bonds between all team members, it will also make you stronger as a person. The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, do your best to understand where the other person is coming from as well. Always remember to treat others in the same manner you would like to be treated yourself.

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Do you give and ask for feedback?

“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback. Don’t forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.” Anonymous

Regular readers of my blog will be able to identify with the topic discussed today, feedback. Today, we will discuss feedback specifically in relationship to teams and it’s members. When working with any team and specially a close knit startup team, it is essential that communication remain open at all times. In the flurry of developing the product, chasing the suppliers and completing the marketing material, communication channels tend to get clogged up, resulting in much distortion. This break down of communication eventually leads to the creation of an environment in which it is difficult to work with each other. To avoid reaching this state, we need a culture of candor and feedback in the organization.

When giving feedback to someone, it is essential to keep a couple of things in mind, to make sure that the person actually benefits from what you want to let him/her know. There is no point in telling Tim “You are always late, I think you should do something about this habit of yours.” If I were Tim I wouldn’t be very happy with that sort of feedback. I would much rather like to hear, “I have noticed that you have not been able to make our weekly morning meetings for the last 3 weeks, is there something I could do to assist you in making it to the next one? Is there a particular problem you are facing that is causing you to come late? I know this great book about time management and I think it could be of great help to you, I will give it to you by the end of today.”

Good feedback consists of:

1. Timing: Feedback needs to be provided at the appropriate time and place. There is no point bringing up something which happened 3 weeks ago. Deal with it as soon as you can. If required make sure it is done in private to reduce anxiety or pressure.

2. Specific: Avoid using words like “always” and “never” which do not correctly portray the situation. In order to be constructive, feedback needs to be specific in nature. Avoid being sarcastic, very frank and overly aggressive. The reason we provide and receive feedback is to help others and, ourselves. Always treat the other person how you would want to be treated, because tomorrow, that person could be providing you with feedback.

3. Clarity: Sometimes even if we are being specific the meaning doesn’t actually come across clearly. For example “We have missed you during the last 3 weekly morning meetings, there is a lot of critical information shared during these meetings and the team would like you to be a part of them. Team work is essential for our organization to grow and given that we are struggling with this quarter’s number we really need you to cooperate with us on this matter.” The meaning has been partially lost and now the receiver of the feedback is not sure what to make of it.

4. Action Steps: Whenever feedback is proposed it is essential that it is followed up with some action steps which include targets, timelines and metrics to help the individual. Without these, we more often than not, revert back to our old habits, making the entire feedback loop redundant. Therefore, when giving or asking for feedback, make sure that that goals are set to help monitor progress.

The art of successfully giving feedback comes with experience and time. By providing feedback you add value to the team and all of its members. There will be times when feedback will be uncomfortable and these are situations you need to learn to manage. Suffering in silence is not a smart strategy and one where both the team and individual lose out.

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Are you action oriented?

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There will always be some people on a team who are constantly coming up with ideas, different scenarios and ways to take the team forward. These are great people to have on a team and are an amazing resource to motivate and inspire other team members.  There is a flip side to this coin as well, if this individual does all the talking, without delivering, it can be a serious issue. When someone is an ideas person, or works on the strategic element of the business, some form of action needs to be taken on it . This can be in the implementation of the concept, in the trial of the business model or even gathering feedback from the rest of the team. Hence, there need to be clearly defined action steps, for practical implementation.

There have been numerous occasions when I have been on teams where you find a particular individual providing the bulk of ideas and suggestions, but, they never put down action steps. If this happens continuously, rather than being a source of motivation, this converts into a source of frustration for the rest of the team. It is true that everyone provides value to the team in different ways. In my experience however, individuals who do not shoulder responsibility and shy away from taking action, isolate themselves. Being action oriented is a critical characteristic in any individual, more so in an entrepreneur. There needs to be a sense of urgency for execution, rather than prolonged deliberation. When assessing yourself, and how you add value to your team, ask yourself whether you consider yourself as action oriented or not?. Next, ask others for feedback to learn which areas you need to improve on for taking action.

Team members, customers, suppliers and investors look for people who can deliver on what they commit to. This trait is common to most successful people who don’t just over think things, but, just do it. The concept of “Ready, Fire, Aim” is a theme I believe in, it has has served me well over the last couple of years. It certainly accelerates the learning process, helps you add more tangible value to your business, and gets you the reputation of being the guy who gets things done. If you are sitting on the sidelines waiting for that perfect opportunity, I strongly suggest you get your feet wet, and take things as they come.

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Lights…Camera…Action!

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Are you playing to your strengths?

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” Larry Bird

In my first couple of ventures I had little knowledge of my strengths, and most importantly, team dynamics. Team roles were fluid, it seemed everyone was doing each other’s job without getting too much accomplished. This eventually led to team break downs, on account of lack of communication, frustration and most importantly, lack of direction.  I had a couple of expensive real life courses in team dynamics. An important lesson I learnt along the way was, each one of us must find our particular and specific skill set, and hone it into a major strength. The challenging part about this task is, this identification process is not as straightforward as it appears to be.

The following are a couple of things to help make this identification process easier:

1. Ask for advice: This should be one of the first steps to take during this discovery process.To begin with, make a list of people whom you have worked with, been mentored by, been managed by, and close friends and family who know you well. This will help you to pin down recurring themes which crop up during your interaction with different people. To conclude this step, make a list of skill sets which the group thought you excelled at.

2. Ask yourself: Look at the list you have developed and start to make linkages with how you displayed those skill sets in the past. Which ones came to you naturally ?, Which ones gave you the most satisfaction?, Which ones were you most comfortable in. Experience is a great teacher and must be relied upon to help make this process easier.

3. Take a personality test: There are many great tests which you can take to help assess strengths and work place based preferences. Get feedback on your test scores from a certified consultant to help you understand your report with greater insight. This will give you a holistic picture of who you are. When I first took a personality test I was amazed at the report. We have so many subconscious preferences. Personality tests help make you consciously aware of your tendencies.

4. What do you aspire to be?: This is one of those questions you hear so often as a child. However I have noticed that as we grow older no one asks this of us anymore, a lot of the time we don’t ask it of ourselves either. As life becomes more complex and complicated, we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture and lose ourselves in the detail. Who are your heros?, What or who inspires you? These are the sort of definitive questions you need to ask yourself to get in touch with who you really are.

Finding and then playing to your strengths is a long process and takes time. It is important that we start the process as early as possible, This will place us in a position to reach out as soon as possible. There is  much trial and error involved in the discovery process. Sometimes you realize your choice is not showcasing your true potential. No problem! Use the experience as feedback and move forward. The important thing is to be growing constantly, it is when we stop growing, that we lose out on what we can achieve.

Related Post:

Mentors & Strength Finder

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5 Steps to Understanding Psychometrics

“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them.” Albert Schweitzer

Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits. It is a complex science through which we are able to quantify preferences in an objective and precise manner. This tool has a wide range of applications ranging from team building to benchmarking the personality of a candidate against  particular organizational cultures and environments. It also has a host of benefits which can be realized at both  personal and organizational levels. Outlined below are five steps to make your understanding of the instrument simpler.

1. Fundamentals: At the core of psychometrics lies complex research which revolves around a few main concepts. Reliability, which measures the consistency of the instrument Validity, which measure the characteristics, which it claims to measure. Standardization, which sets up protocols for conducting the test. To learn more about the fundamental of psychometrics please click here.

2. Types of test: Psychometric tests fall into three main categories. The first category measures personality & values of the candidate, this encompasses behavior, drivers and feelings, to name a few. The second category measures aptitude & ability which provides a gauge for the cognitive ability of the candidate. The last category is used for development & guidance used in team building, counseling and personal development. To learn more about different types of test please click here.

3. Personal benefits: Psychometric tests can be great stepping stones to accelerate the process of learning more about yourself. They can be particularly useful in identifying areas of  strengths, personal drivers and your own personal work based preferences. When used correctly under the guidance of a trained consultant you will be able to realize the benefits of this tool more effectively. To learn more about how you could benefit from psychometrics please click here.

4. Organizational benefits: Psychometrics is being integrated increasingly into organizations worldwide. With the increasing level of competition, reliance on productivity and ever growing demands of shareholders, organizations have integrated psychometrics to place individuals accurately, build stronger teams, specifically aiming to reduce the rate of attrition, which is a major issue in the corporate world today. To learn more about how your organization can benefit from psychometrics please click here.

5. Ethics: Psychometrics involves a collection of personal and private information. This information must be used in a manner which builds trust with those taking part in these assessments. A high level of confidentiality needs to be maintained, equal opportunities should given to all and the data from the assessments must be used and shared with the consent of the candidate. To learn more about ethical conduct in the world of psychometrics please click here.

Psychometrics provides a powerful medium to harness individual energy and that of the organization . When highly reliable and valid assessments are used under the supervision of trained consultants, maximum benefit will be derived. The results and reports provided at the end of assessment, can only do as much as you want to do with them. They provide starting steps which need to be taken further to realize any substantial gains. If anyone has questions regarding this subject, I will be more than happy to answer them for you.

* Our organization conducts private and public workshops on “Integrating Psychometrics At Your Organization.” Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about this program at enquire(at)innovogs(dot)com

 

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Ethics and Testing

“Ethics is not definable, is not implementable, because it is not conscious; it involves not only our thinking, but also our feeling.” Valdemar W Setzer

Ethics and integrity formulate basic tenets for achieving a balanced, successful and happy life. Without them, we find ourselves on shaky grounds in life, akin to being without a moral compass to direct us. These principles also apply to the realm of testing, particularly to psychometric testing. This is due primarily to the fact that testing of candidates personality types and cognitive abilities involves sensitive information , in the wrong hands or if used with ill intent it can have extremely damaging implications. I have listed a few guidelines on ethical conduct and psychometrics below.

1. Confidentiality: When a candidate completes his/her test ,the reports of the test must be strictly viewed by authorized personnel only. These reports must not be shared with any third party without the consent of the candidate. Strict measures must be taken to control access to these reports and documents. Once a level of trust has been broken with a candidate salvaging the trust factor of this relationship is a difficult task and one which will severely impact the reputation of your organization.

2. Equal opportunity: At InnovoGS, it is our policy to work positively to reduce inequality with all current employees & potential employees, by ensuring that they are treated equitably, fairly, without discrimination and with dignity and respect, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion or belief. This helps in creating a level of trust and comfort with candidates, and eliminates any biases which could impact the assessments. 

3. Data usage: Large amounts of valuable data is collected when psychometric assessments are carried out. If you have a requirement to use this data for research purposes, you need to ensure that you take permission from the candidates on whether their data can be included anonymously as part of the research. It is absolutely essential that you take a transparent position when using psychometrics generated data to ensure the candidate that your intentions are clear.

Psychometrics is a very powerful tool which can be used both positively and negatively. It is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that they have integrated high levels of ethics and integrity into the evaluation process. Unfortunately psychometrics has multiple stigmas attached to it due to the fact that some providers have not been very transparent in their analysis, an aspect that continuously raises a level of suspicion. If you are looking into using psychometrics at your organization or planning on starting a business in this field, please ensure that ethics and integrity are tightly embedded into your corporate culture.

 

 

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Psychometrics and Organizations

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined efforts of each individual.” Vince Lombardi

The world is becoming smaller and more competitive by the day. As high quality resources become scarcer, organizations are facing a multitude of performance and productivity related issues. In the last decade or so there has been an ever increasing focus on human resources (HR) function in organizations, primarily because people are finally being seen as an organization’s most valuable asset. Psychometrics provides organizations with comprehensive information regarding understanding this asset. Listed below are some ways psychometrics could benefit organizations.

1. Better placement: Using a wide variety of tests available in the market place, helps to identify positions which are more suited to particular individuals. At work, most of the time we adapt to the environment, culture and the sort of work we do. Sometimes we get lucky and actually enjoy what we do, other times the clock doesn’t move fast enough. Through psychometrics, HR could essentially become more adept in placing individuals with greater accuracy, increasing productivity, efficiency and employee morale.

2. Team building: Tests such as the MBTi provide HR the ability to understand team dynamics with a greater level of insight. These tests provide HR with the ability to gauge interpersonal styles of an individual, how they like to receive information, what factors affect their decision making and how they structure their lives. Using this data helps create teams who are better able to understand each other, work more effectively and most importantly, execute. 

3. Decreased retention: When individuals enjoy the type of work they do, enjoy the people they work with, a natural increase in productivity, efficiency and morale is a natural outcome. I have personally noticed that when individuals or teams reach such a stage, attrition levels fall. This results in massive cost savings for organizations and can actually convert into a strong competitive advantage in the world we live in today.

Listed above are some reasons why your organization should look into psychometrics. It is important to note that the benefits listed above are not solely derived from psychometrics, they can be achieved when senior management makes a commitment to making their HR function more strategic. Training development and coaching are integral parts of the mix, together with psychometrics they help you form a strong bond with your employee and lay the foundation for a strong organization.

 

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Psychometrics and You

“Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.” Soren Kierkegaard

Understanding oneself is a major step that has to be undertaken to create change in ones life. To be successful and achieve set goals, it is vital to identify one’s strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Psychometrics does not provide you with all the answers, but what it does, is help make the abstract concepts of personality more tangible. Listed below are a few ways that specific psychometric personality assessments could aid and benefit growth.

1. Identification of strengths: Tests such as strength finder highlight and bring greater emphasis to your strengths. From childhood, aspects of our lives which were weakest got the most attention, for example if you were exceptional at english literature and not the greatest at math, a lot of energy used to go into making your math skills better at the expense of developing your skills in literature further. Through psychometrics and targeted assessment we can identify areas of exceptional skills and focus on developing them further.

2. Identification of drivers: Tests such as the values & motives inventory provide specific reports which show what motivates you and what sort of entrepreneurial or career paths you may be more suited towards. These can be really insightful and help you focus your energy on paths where you may be more inclined to follow with more accuracy.

3. Work environment preferences: Tests such as the 15FQ+ provide tremendous insight into the sort of team player slot you are most suited for based on your preferences,the sort of leadership styles that are most effective with your personality and even how you can be more effective in communicating your thoughts and ideas. This provides a comprehensive picture of the sort of working environment that would suit you the most and how to be more effective on the path you take.

Listed above are just the few ways psychometrics can help you to understand yourself better in an objective and accurate manner. It is then upto you to use the results when you get them. Ideally you should talk them over with a trained consultant and get feedback on your report as also answers to any queries. Think of it as a giant stepping stone which provides you with the ability to understand aspects of yourself without the benefit of time and experience . 

 

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