3 Strategies That Create Better Team Performance
An empowered teammate will move mountains to help your company grow.
By: Matt Lombardi, co-founder of beam
One of my college teammates always said - “focus on the process, and the results will follow”. When you’re chasing something great with a group of people, fostering that type of culture can be the difference maker between winning or losing championships. Going two for three in National Championship games in hockey at Boston College gave me a unique perspective on this.
When we hire at beam, we look for people who value the process ahead of the end result. We identify people who authentically prioritize the personal and professional growth opportunity before the potential economic outcome. In other words, people who genuinely subscribe to the idea - the journey is the reward. That doesn't mean they don’t value financial success. They have a strong conviction that if they do their job well, the economic outcome will be there. This notion of success is insanely important because it allows us to build a team of amazing people who are here for the whole journey, the daily grind, and who are wildly passionate about our mission. When inevitable challenges and obstacles arise, we know we have a team that will stick it out and enjoy the struggle. To us, a mindset that favors the process is crucial.
Once you’ve started to build a team of dedicated people, understanding how to fuel their passion and bring out their very best is next. Kevin (my co-founder) and I are intentional in how we do this. As founders, here are three practical ways we empower our team.
1. The best ideas win.
There’s a term we use for choosing an idea or strategy to move forward with - believability. This means that the group of people involved in executing a key decision unanimously believe it’s the best plan.
Kevin and I didn't always understand the importance of this method. In our early beam days, and with a much smaller team, we would often push an idea forward that both, or one of us, had a strong conviction for, and inform others later what we were doing. As our team grew, we learned that achieving believability makes for better execution.
What became obvious to us was that magic happens when we all sit in a room (now a zoom call) and let the best idea win, and it doesn't matter whose idea it is.
Why believability is so important:
3 rules we follow to achieve believability:
Some of my favorite beam moments are when we are intensely engaging over an idea. Creating believability sounds easy, but it's challenging in practice and absolutely essential.
Even though this type of dialogue has become an everyday practice, we still go over the rules before we set out to achieve believability. Next strategy meeting, try sharing the idea of believability and the three rules with your team (or family!).
2. Understand how everyone is wired.
On Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast, he asked Kobe Bryant, “How important is it to understand the human psychology and human behavior of your team?” Kobe replied, “it’s probably the most important thing.” Kobe goes on to say how he learned this lesson from Phil Jackson. He shared Phil’s unique approach to learn everything he could about a player - what triggers certain emotions, what their insecurities are, and what motivates them. Understanding how each player was wired helped him communicate better and push a button when needed. Put more directly - he understood how to help them be the best basketball player and teammate they could be.
Understanding how your team is wired is essential. However, it’s not always obvious. You need to deeply listen, look for patterns, and then ask yourself “okay, what are they really saying?”
Think of it as understanding your teammates love languages, but in the work environment. What makes them feel motivated? What zaps their motivation? How do you communicate directly without a negative impact?
The simplest advice I have for understanding this is to realize that everything we do is driven by emotions. Once you understand what emotions are driving them, you can then utilize that to empower them.
Some members on our team appreciate tough love from Kevin and I, and they wear their ability to handle direct conversations like a badge of honor. So we let them know how much we appreciate being direct with them. Others love creative freedom. Others thrive when the team acknowledges something great they did. I don’t mention these as traits that are “good” or “bad”, but rather as examples of the types of emotions and patterns to look for. Identifying and understanding them can make you a more impactful leader.
3. Use questions to break barriers.
When we launched dream and clarity in November 2019, it required us to convert our CBD oil into a powder, which would become the core ingredient to a series of innovative products that would set beam apart. To maintain our brand standards, it was imperative to avoid certain ingredients or any hard-to-pronounce additives that are traditionally required when turning a liquid into a powder.
Our request wasn’t easy to fill. After a round of conversations with many manufacturers, Max, a contractor at the time, reported back on what he found. “It’s not possible,” he said. “If we want a powder that dissolves in water, we have to make some exceptions on ingredients.”
I didn’t know what our next move should be, so I asked Max, “Is it possible there’s someone else who can do this we haven’t talked to?”
Then I hit him with another question to get us thinking differently:
“Is it possible to do this a different way?”
Max has a ferocious work ethic. A week later, he came back with a new CBD powder that he invented leveraging nano emulsification, a different process unlike anything we had previously vetted. Not only were we able to convert our CBD oil into powder while keeping our ingredient standards, but we also created a more bioavailable solution (more efficiently absorbed in the body). We achieved our goal, and we got a much better outcome as a result. Now our nano CBD is a staple in every new beam product.
The way things were currently being done created a barrier. Asking good questions empowered Max to take ownership over the problem and look for a different solution. The underlying power of asking really good questions is it shifts your focus. Before, we were just looking for partners who were using traditional conversion methods. Asking “is it possible to do this a different way?” got Max focused on other solutions we hadn’t considered yet. And because he did such a great job, we hired him full-time as our director of product innovation shortly after!
I’d encourage you to use thoughtful questions next time you see your team (or yourself) struggling with a problem. There’s a familiar saying, “ask and you shall receive.” Ask your team good questions to redirect their focus, give them time to seek answers, and often they’ll come back with something better than you could have predicted.
Whether you’re a founder, manager, team captain, or busy parent balancing the needs of your family, I hope these three simple ideas can help to achieve better outcomes, understand how to motivate, and to ask the right questions to truly empower your team/kids/family/employees.