“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.”
– Shonda Rhimes
I’ve been thinking about these two concepts a lot lately. They are often in juxtaposition with respect to someone’s performance as a teammate or an employee. There are times when each of us falls short, misses the mark, or just lets their teammates down, it happens. The question that I wrestle with is why?
I think the company is working really hard these days. We are winning business, onboarding new colleagues, and doing really great work for our clients. I think everyone should be really proud, we’ve focused on our clients and the teamwork is really impressive. I can’t count the number of very strong performances in recent weeks. It’s truly amazing and I am so proud of all of you. However, there have been some moments in the last few weeks when the team or individuals have faltered. In my case, no matter how well we execute, I can only see opportunities for improvement. But that is okay because I want each of you to be the best you can be at what you do.
Hence, my concern about how do we hold one another accountable and also have compassion for the challenges someone may be facing.
A few things for each of you to contemplate. You are responsible for holding each other accountable. The idea that “management” is the only party responsible for that is just silly. You are the management. We hired you because you’re Smart and Happy, which means I am expecting each of you to be leaders. You are expected to do great work and empowered to expect the same from one another. We are and will always be a flat organization because I believe that our success is based on great teamwork- not hierarchy.
Teams need to effectively communicate; they need to be honest both in praise and in criticism. This is where the juxtaposition comes into play … the obligation is to communicate. If you see someone not living up to the Tahzoo standards, then say something. Don’t hold on it, don’t let resentment build, don’t tell stories… own it and say it. People know you care about them when you take the time to be honest and help make them better. You know someone doesn’t care about you when they just watch you fail.
On the other hand, if you’re struggling, then say something, we are all here to support you. I say this all the time “never lose alone” and I mean it if you’re having a hard time call it out. What you can’t do is wait till someone offers constructive criticism and then unleash a torrent of excuses or an explanation about the problem you’re having. It’s not fair and in fact, how can we ever have a great team if when someone delivers a substandard performance, they can just provide an excuse. Each of you has an obligation to be real and transparent about what is going on for you.
Think about this as a set of rules that we are going to run the company with…
• Everyone needs to be focused on delivering their best work at all times.
• We hold ourselves and each other accountable to that standard.
• We agree that if we are challenged in some way, we share that with our teammates so they can help.
If we can focus on those three rules, our performance will improve, our teamwork will improve and we’ll find ourselves enjoying work because each of us is doing our best work, the hard work every day surrounded by teammates who are doing the same. This is the Tahzoo that I’ve envisioned, each of us finding our best selves by building a company that cares for one another and cares about our clients.
Let’s go be great!