Creating A Thriving Team in Business
Ankush Jain interviews Kimberley Hare, a coach, trainer and leadership developer, about how to create a thriving team in any business. Unfortunately, most business teams consistently perform well below the levels they could and should perform at. While motivational and inspirational talks and classes can temporarily help, they never get to the root of the problem.
In this conversation, Kimberley talks about how workplaces in and of themselves don’t cause stress and when business teams understand where their feelings actually come from, their performance is naturally better.
Kimberley points out and provides real life examples of the following little known facts:
– When people have clarity, they connect and collaborate better with their workmates.
– Thriving, clarity and well-being in business are innate when people have a ‘less noisy’ mind.
– Often, all it takes is one person to thrive, for the rest of the team to do so also.
To receive an email informing you of when a new episode of the Business Series is released, please click this link: SUBSCRIBE
To contact Kimberley and find out more about her, visit http://www.heartofthriving.com
Full transcript below:
Ankush: Welcome everyone to another episode of this podcast. Today’s episode is on creating a thriving team, and for this episode I’m joined by Kimberley Hare. Kimberley’s someone who has run her own business for over 30 years. She’s a writer with three books that she’s published on the brain and how it works and on thriving, she’s also a coach, a trainer and leadership developer, and she’s someone that I met many years ago when I was also training to be a coach and I’m really glad that she’s joining me today. Hi Kimberley.
Kimberley: Hello Ankush, delighted to be here.
Ankush: I’m so glad that you’re joining us and I’m really excited about this topic, I’m sure this is a topic that many of our listeners will be able to relate to, especially if they’re a manager or a leader and they want to bring out the best in others. So let’s start by asking you: what is a thriving team?
Kimberley: Okay, cool, well my passion these days is thriving in all its forms, including at work and with the people that you work with, and I wanted to start – it may sound a bit negative – but I wanted to start by kind of highlighting the problem as I see it a little bit, because I think it’s true that a lot of people in teams and at work don’t have, in my view, high enough expectations about what’s possible.
So, if relationships are not very good or trust is low or people kind of just think that’s the price of doing business in the modern world, and I would ask listeners to this episode: “how much has your organization invested in the last 5 years on leadership development programs, process improvement initiatives, skills development workshops, systems to control and manage performance, or bringing in motivational speakers that rev your people up for a few hours or maybe a few days?” And to ask yourself how much return you really got from that spend. Because I think everybody trips over the problem every day. Many people are experiencing themselves on a personal level, so I’m thinking of things like, overwhelm, stress, low energy, just a lack of creative ideas, and kind of having to wade through the organizational politics and the silos that people seem to think are just kind of inevitable, and I don’t think they are, so there is a sort of getting through the day mentality that many people have that I talk to, and it means that almost everybody is performing way below their potential, and for managers and leaders especially this is really bad news because people suffering from stress especially, as we know, have chronically elevated levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and they’re constantly on edge and it’s not good for their long term health.
But the good news is, that the work that I do with people means that people begin to understand that these sub-optimal states of mind are something we’re creating through our thinking, and we can also realise that it’s not inevitable. It’s possible to work in environments that others would describe as “very pressured” but not to be stressed, to be calm, to be clear, to be focused. And I think we’re in the midst of a busy-mind epidemic. It’s so common, that people kind of see it as normal. But a growing number of businesses are now beginning to understand the real source of the problem, and therefore how it can easily and quickly be overcome through an understanding of the way the human experience works. That it’s possible to operate from a state of clarity and well-being, and when people do that, every single business outcome is affected. So, this understanding is crucially relevant to businesses and organizations.
I often use the formula: P=P-I, so the first “p” stands for your performance, how well you’re actually doing at work, equals “P” your potential, by definition infinite, minus “I” interference, and the interference in this context is really, I’d say almost completely your thinking, so, that stuff that’s clouding your mental stage, that’s getting in the way of peak performance, and again as I say, we trip over it every day, so, maybe trust is low, maybe they don’t get on well with the boss, maybe they don’t mention that great idea they had in the shower this morning because actually they just don’t feel like it, and, it could be feeling anxious about an upcoming presentation or it could be just feeling distracted or resentful about something that happened in a meeting last week. It could just mean poor engagement and office politics, but kind of withholding, hiding, not showing up fully, not engaging properly with colleagues, these are the things I see over and over again, just not operating at their full mental horsepower. So when people are experiencing that interference they get caught up in unhelpful thinking, it reduces their energy, their engagement, their clarity, their resilience, their creativity, their ability to solve problems and their innate resourcefulness. So, what I see a lot of with my clients is, businesses tend to treat all of that as though it’s a skill based problem, and it isn’t, it’s a function of the quality and clarity of people’s thinking. It’s got nothing to do with intelligence, more kind of training on the “how to’s” doesn’t really help long term, you could send 100 of your managers on the best leadership development program on the planet, and their performance would still vary along a bell curve when they come back, depending on the individual’s understanding of the way life works and the way their own resilience works.
Ankush: So are you saying that a thriving team is, in essence, a team of individuals, who are not stressed, who are not worried, who are operating at a high level of potential with a low-level of interference from erroneous thinking, is that right?
Kimberley: Yes I am, but there’s something on the top, there’s another kind of icing on the cake on top of that which is, that when people are in this state of clarity, they connect very much better with people around them. They give other people the benefit of the doubt, they are more inclined to go out of their way to collaborate, to support other people, to develop other people, to coach other people and to help and so there’s this culture gets created where, if people are feeling like that, then everybody wins, the customer wins, the whole team wins, even the families of the people within the team win, because people are just kind of… they’re kind of showing up as the best version of themselves at work, so, I would say, a thriving team is a bit like love, we might not be able to actually give a definition that everybody would agree with but we know it when we feel it, we know it when we’re in one, we know it when we’re working in one of those teams. It’s an experience, thriving is an experience, it comes from inside you, and it just feels… it’s just a great place to live from and work from and lead from and parent from, so, they live more of the time from that place I call “home,” which is, not a geographical place, but the natural factory-setting, if you will, of well-being, peace of mind, clarity, a kind of profound okay-ness, and the connection with everybody around them, that really seems to oil the wheels of everything that needs to happen in a team.
Ankush: I’ve heard it said that teams are often a reflection of the leader, so, in what you’re saying, could it be interpreted then, that in order to have a thriving team, you need to have a thriving leader?
Kimberley: I think there’s a great deal of truth in that, I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely necessary, I have seen teams where the leader isn’t thriving, but there are some other people in the team who don’t have the word “leader” in their job title, but they’re incredibly influential in shaping the culture. But it certainly helps if the leader kind of models the way from the top, absolutely.
Ankush: So if I’m a leader, and I’m listening to this podcast and this episode, what can I do to thrive more at work which then would have an impact on those that work for me and work with me?
Kimberley: Okay, so I think, I believe very strongly and I’ve seen it over and over again, thriving is something that’s natural and innate when people are home, and when they don’t have a lot of that interference as I say, so it’s not something you have to add, it’s not something you have to learn how to do, you just have to stop… it’s kind of learning to sweep away the interference that’s taken you away from that spontaneous natural thriving and the paradox is that you can’t create it in yourself, you have to stop doing things that are taking you away from it.
And you can’t create it in other people either, it happens spontaneously through the process of insight, literally “sights from within”. And it’s so funny because for decades I used to make my living, teaching people strategies to motivate, inspire people, create rapport, improve team functioning and sometimes these worked for a while and sometimes they didn’t but, these days I see it much more about how people show up at work, and how much of the time, they’re in that state of mind characterized by well-being and clarity, so when people show up like that, they naturally and automatically connect with other human beings, the noise in their head was gone.
I had a client the other day who was a CEO, practically dropping over with stress and overwhelm, and he said to me, “it’s like the soundtrack from the movie Psycho is playing in my head 24/7,” and I really felt so much compassion for him, but he said, “that’s what it’s like, make it stop.” And it has stopped for him now through the work we’ve done together, which is great, but, when there’s that noise there, it’s really difficult to get anything done, to have any fresh new thinking about stuff to solve problems or to kind of, there isn’t a space, there isn’t the mental bandwidth to really thrive at work, so I no longer teach people strategies, I point them in the direction of, their true nature really, what their natural default setting is, when they stop overthinking and over-analysing everything, so it’s about reminding people how the human experience really works, which is all about that well-being, that energy, that life, that connection, that peace of mind, and because all growths rise with the tide, there’s something about this misunderstanding that I share with people in the coaching that I do, that pervades across their whole life as well, so it’s not just about teams, their life gets better in all its aspects, and they begin to thrive across the whole of their life and that’s what I spend my life doing.
Ankush: Could you give an example of maybe where you’ve worked with a leader, because I’m really curious as to, you know, you’re talking about removing the interference, you’re talking about coming back to that natural state, but could you give us some more practical examples of what that might look like for someone, what they did and then what the outcome was?
Kimberley: Yeah, well I can think of loads, yeah let’s go with this one because it’s very… actually, in this case, it wasn’t even particularly the leader, but I was working with a large car dealership in the southeast of England and the new CEO had just carried out some customer research, customer satisfaction research and the numbers were really dreadful, three questions we asked, right: would you buy your next car from us? 22% said, “yes.” Would you bring your car here for the next service? I think it was 30% said, “yes.” Would you recommend us to a friend? 7% said, “yes.” I mean it was really dire, so we were asked to support the leadership team in bringing about a culture, of, we call is, “customer delight.” And there were all sorts of great things that began to happen there, once people began to understand where their experience was coming from, but one particular example, was a guy, where the transformation was dramatic.
There was this guy, called Johnny, we’d arranged for all the technicians, the mechanics if you like, the people that service the cars, to watch through a 1-way mirror into a focus group we were doing with customers. And there was this one customer, a very forthright lady called Mrs. Findley, she began to complain bitterly about the service she’d received, the car was working “okay,” she said, but the mechanics had left it in a terrible mess, they hadn’t done the valeting properly, but what upset her most was that she’d left a Mars bar, in the glove compartment of her car, and when she picked it up, it had gone. And she was really upset about this Mars bar.
She said she’d got one more service booked in with them, but after that, she was going to be taken her business elsewhere. So, listening to all this was Johnny, and Johnny, when I first met him, he was your typical disgruntled employee, he pretty much didn’t trust anybody and he was always creating trouble, and he did the absolute minimum of work he could get away with without being fired. He was a bit of a bruiser as well, he had a broken nose, and was covered in tattoos and everything. Most of the managers were actually a bit scared of him, but I remember the first time I met him to interview him about his experience of working with this particular business and, if you imagine the scene, there’s me in my suit following around this boiling greasy technician area with my clipboard, and I asked him, I remember, “What’s the best thing Johnny about working here?” And he said, “going home!” So that was Johnny, and through the workshops and the coaching we did, he began to have insights about himself and his life and his effect on people, because underneath it all, he was actually a really gentle, caring guy, and he really wanted to belong to something he could be proud of. Anyway, after the customer focus group he kind of, he wanted to – he got together with the other mechanics, and between them, out of their own money, they bought 500 Mars bars, and the next time Mrs. Findley, because they knew when she was booked in, the next time she came in for her car to be serviced, they put these 500 Mars bars in her boot, for her to find as a surprise, right, and I was actually there when she turned up and the look on her face was amazing.
Now what’s really important about this, is, it wasn’t a kind of a customer satisfaction strategy that management had imposed on Johnny, this was an idea that had arose in his mind, because he had started to understand something new, and it wasn’t even really about customer satisfaction, it was about the way he wanted to treat other human beings, so it’s not about motivated and demotivated, it’s about how people show up and he started to show up really differently, and still does, and that’s contagious. So the numbers now just to finish the story, towards the end of our work there: would you buy your next car from us? 89% “yes.” Would you bring your car here for the next service, “yes”, 97%. And my favourite one, “would you recommend us to a friend,” “yes,” 99% So it was kind of a dramatic turnaround really, and Johnny was just one example out of 100 there.
Ankush: That’s a really great story of a turnaround of a team and not even just from the leader, you really brought that to life for me, I can really imagine that. Just before we wrap up, what’s the one takeaway you want people to leave this episode with?
Kimberley: Okay, well I would say the big competitive advantage in business these days is human resourcefulness, HR, the new HR, human resourcefulness. And creating a thriving team is not something you can do to people, but you can look in this direction for yourself, and when people do everything can change, when people are truly thriving as I said, everybody wins, and the best thing that you can do if you want your team to thrive more, as a leader, you know, it’s the old Gandhi quote is, “to be the change you want to see in the world.” Start showing up like that yourself, because there’s something incredibly attractive about the energy of a human being who is fully thriving, there’s this sparkle in the eye that kind of, it just touches everybody around them, so, yeah that’d be the takeaway really, it’s to kind of start with “the man in the mirror.”
Ankush: Thank you for your time today Kimberley, it’s been a pleasure to have you with us, if people want to find out more about you, or if they want to get in contact with you, how might they do that?
Kimberley: So the website is: www.heartofthriving.com
Ankush: Fantastic, thank you once again, and I will be back next time with another person joining me, where we’ll be talking about another topic relevant to business.