Six Sigma created a formula that takes into account team dynamics and different stages of growth. Jen explains:
“The components are forming, storming, norming, and performing,” she says.
According to Six Sigma Daily, Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing (FSNP) describe the four stages of psychological development a team goes through as they work on a project. Teams move through each stage as they overcome challenges, learn to work together, and eventually focus on accomplishing a shared goal.
Jen has found the model to be extremely useful when she needs to step back and look at how her team is performing. She can identify behavior and use it to define the stage the team may be in. According to Jen, teaching this process to her team has helped everyone navigate their tasks and relationships better across the company.
“Forming” happens when new team members are introduced. There’s a lot of energy in this phase, and while it isn’t all positive, much of it can be. People may be uncomfortable as they figure out the scope of their roles, and are often excited about the future. It can be chaotic, but is short lived and not as prone to long term fallout as the next stage.
“Storming” lacks the newness and excitement that forming holds, but people are still scrambling to define their roles and figure each others’ places out during this stage. This can lead to conflict, which can turn into passive aggressive behavior or just retreating and seeking something new that feels safer and better.
Jen explains, “The storming [phase] is actually where people have the least amount of energy. It’s when people tend to leave. It’s the most uncertain time.
“You can see people catastrophizing,” Jen says. “It’s a really scary time for a team.”
If a leader can recognize the Storming stage, they have a much better chance at managing the situation to a positive outcome.
“A lot of things can come into perspective,” says Jen. “You could think, ‘yes, people are frustrated’ or ‘yes, this is confusing, how do I create certainty?’ How do I tell people that we’re on this journey so that they understand that this is normal?”
One person’s perception that the team is a ‘sinking ship’ can quickly spread to the rest of the team. The reality is seldom as dire. This phenomenon of contagious behavior is largely due to our social nature, says Jen. Science backs this up - and you may notice that when one person on your team is in a great mood, it can lift the spirits of others.
“We’re very good at aligning vertically, but we’re really bad at aligning horizontally,” she says. “We’re good at following what our boss says and the team that we’re really integrated with, but we have a hard time looking further than that.”
When team rituals are formed and people settle in, they break through storming and hit the “norming” phase. There is buy in. There is a collective vision. In this phase, the team shares information. Ideas flow between them without signs of information hoarding. People are celebrating each other’s successes during this stage.
“The team knows how to show up,” Jen says. “You’ve got rules of engagement and you’ve got a culture [established].”
Once this happens, the team moves into the “performing” phase.
When a team is in the “groove,” silo syndrome doesn’t have a chance. Attaining a goal is celebrated by the team as a whole. There is no finger pointing when a goal isn’t hit. Instead, everyone comes together to work on a strategy to hit the goal next time.
“We’re one team taking responsible risks,” Jen says. “That’s where the fun is. It’s a big alignment on what to do next. When you start hitting those things, as a leader, you know the team is moving in the right direction.”
“When you’re building a team holistically, you want all the skill sets: strategy, tools, insights, and enablement,” says Jen. “That’s not one human. That’s what we have to build across the board. It might be spread across eight people.”
When you’re responsible for building out a team, the best leaders are brutally honest with themselves. They can recognize their strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to build a team that compliments one another.
One person may have multiple skills listed above, but it’s also important for leadership to be realistic about how much one person can achieve in a given day. It’s also crucial to understand how their personalities play into where they will or won’t excel.
This said, there is one skill set that Jen feels doesn’t get enough attention. It’s emotive storytelling.
“You’re the director. We want a leader who’s able to tell a story about what we’re doing,” Jen says. “You have to be able to tell that story of your impact.”
Why? Because the bottom line is storytellers get the sale. They get the budget. They get the headcount. They get the software spend. They are also able to influence teams – both their own and those they don’t have authority over.
Sure, it’s important to understand the data, but what does that matter if you don’t understand what people care about and how to relate what you want to tell them to something that will grab their attention? (A lesson on data storytelling many of us learn the hard way.)
“If you’re not good at [explaining] the ‘why’, you’re not good at storytelling,” she says. “Why do we do this? What’s in it for you? Why should you follow this? Storytellers get a lot of buy-in and form deep relationships.”
“One of the frameworks that I really love is this idea of gap versus thinking,” says Jen. “Another telltale sign of a really great revenue operations team is the ability to identify the gap and then do the work.”
Think of it as a brainstorming exercise. Have your team think of everything that could make work easier (tools, ideas, staff, etc). Then prioritize these things by the greatest to least likely impact. The same can be done for the project list for any revenue operations team. If your team emphasizes the right work, they’ll naturally maximize their impact.
“Sometimes, you don’t want to look at the worst experiences,” Jen says. It’s still important to analyze what went wrong so you can avoid it in the future. “You want to say, ‘where do we have an experience that’s a six that we can make a nine so we can create more peak experiences? That’s what people affected by our work will remember.’”
It’s all about finding the things that make the biggest impact.
“All we can do is wake up in the morning and choose to do the thing that matters most,” Jen says. “And if you have a team that understands how to find that one thing, you’re in a good place.”
We had a question in the RevOps Co-Op Slack channel that we just couldn’t ignore: “Does anyone have any strong thoughts/feelings about where RevOps should report up to?” It turns out the answer is YES. We all have strong opinions about this topic.
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