“Awesome day yesterday, we’re excited about the year ahead! We truly have a phenomenal team, I have faith in each of us and can’t wait to reflect back on the year and all that we achieved together” – that’s how Liz Masen, CEO and Client Director of Athlete Assessments wrapped up our first Team Day for 2020.
How did we get to a point where the CEO has confidence in the people she relies on? How did a group of people become a team with shared goals and a sense of excitement about navigating the challenges that the journey might bring? The answer lies in the process and so you can see how the specialists in the people side of sport connect their people to the organization’s goals – I will take you inside our latest Team Day at Athlete Assessments.
So you see the day from our perspective, we’re going to give you a seat at our table. Team Day #1 took place at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Brisbane, Australia, and I’m going to punctuate this story with quotes from the team.
Bo Hanson, Senior Coaching Consultant, Director and co-founder of Athlete Assessments said, “I loved the collaboration of ideas and learning what’s important to everyone. The day helped me understand how to provide a great environment for our team. It was also good to share why we’re doing this work. Great day everyone. Thank you!”
The day started with Liz talking us through an overview of Athlete Assessments’ key objectives and goals for 2020. She touched on our phenomenal and consistent growth rate of 30% year on year and recapped the details of our move – to bring you up to speed, we relocated from a regional setting on the Sunshine Coast to a metro setting in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (just quietly everyone is loving the change).
“Our work takes us all over the globe and we’re often working remotely, so Team Day was an excellent opportunity to spend some time together outside the office. It’s amazing how friendships flourish in such a short time in the right environment,” said Mim Haigh, Sportswriter and Researcher
“I feel like it’s been such a positive time of change for the company. We’ve been able to bring some great new team members on board and re-define ourselves in a new environment,” said Tylah King, Client Administration Manager.
Sharing our DISC Profiles
To progress the day, we got straight into sharing our Athlete Assessments’ DISC Profiles (of course!) – learning about each other. In general, everyone was interested in the Profile of themselves, they were very keen to compare and in that process we learned about everyone’s natural styles and the small adaptations that each of us could make to build our team and grow the enjoyment and commitment of working together.
“My highlight was reviewing our DISC Profiles and how that mix allows us to work well as a team. The breakdown of how we work and personally how my Profile matches me from Bo and Liz’s point of view was so interesting. I truly thought I was one sort of Profile and couldn’t understand how I showed as a different. (It was a classic case of Michelle not understanding the value of Michelle!). It was super interesting hearing Bo explain it to all of us and really helped me see how valuable the tool would be for our clients,” Michelle Stephenson, Office Manager stated.
Sharing our Internal and External Motivation
After a coffee, Bo facilitated a session to get to the bottom of why we do what we do, and the first step in that process was looking at our motivation.
Bo says, “I wanted to know what drives our staff and team and I wanted them to know what drives me. As I talk about in Athlete Tough, athletes need a Big Reason Why because our Big Reason Why drives everything we do. So, we picked three internal and three external motivations to look at. An internal for me is ‘interesting work’, another was ‘challenging projects’, an external is ‘being globally recognized’ for this work. The internal drivers never run out and the externals provide rewards and although less important than internals, they are still vital.
“All staff shared and we arrived at a better knowledge of what drives us and what is important. We also found we had some alignment and some difference which is great. We then rolled this into the values activity. Doing a reflective activity like this and then sharing it, preps you well for discovering values.”
“While we all had varying DISC Profiles, many of our external and internal motivators were along the same lines which I think is something that is beneficial to us all working well together,” said Rebekah Box, Marketing and Design Coordinator
The Need for New Values
It was time for us as an organization to re-establish new values and Bo explains why, he says, “As a new team, we have new team members alongside existing ones, we feel strongly about the need to ensure our current values are shared by all team members. We also know that our values must serve our current purpose which as a business is stable, but priorities shift and new goals are pursued in a new year.
“Our business has a renewed focus on existing deliverables and services, but we also want to develop in new areas. As such, redeveloping a new set of shared values which everyone is connected to is critical.”
The Process of Creating New Values
As a group we thought about our roles, what they entailed and how we each contribute to the organization’s goals. We talked about the previous year’s values, how we were building on them, what we were achieving and what we wanted to achieve. As the organization CEO and senior consultant Liz and Bo led this discussion but team input was vital.
Bo summarizes, “After much focused thinking and discussion we arrived at Connected, Contribution and Beyond. We then symbolized this with photos of our hands representing each of our new values. This was taken by a professional photographer and will become artwork in our new office.
“Even today, I felt this activity transferred into our work as the team has grown closer and more trusting.”
Athlete Assessments’ New Company Values
Liz explains the new values and what they mean to our team.
“Connected means stronger-together. We are connected to each other, connected to our clients and connected to sport. The bonds we build will provide us with an unbeatable strength to achieve at a personal and professional level. When we are connected, we are present to what is going on, we’re aware and focused, we are connected in.”
Rebekah reflected, “In our newly established company values, what means the most to me is the value of Connected. It is crucial for me in my role to connect – with everyone in the team, with clients, and with our followers on social media; without connection, nothing else can be established effectively and growth can’t occur.”
Liz continues to explain, “Contribution means we give our best. We each make a valuable contribution in our own way and what we do makes an important difference. It also means we make a contribution at different levels – we make a personal contribution, as a company we contribute to our clients’ success and to the community we make a difference to the lives of those we work with and the ripple effect that they make.”
“Contribution is fundamental to our business. We need everyone to know that their contribution is valued, welcomed and appreciated. We need to make sure we create an environment that encourages contribution,” said Bo.
And finally, Liz completes the three values with, “Beyond means going beyond what’s expected. We serve our clients above and beyond, we look after them beyond any other service provider they have. We go beyond our own roles to support each other within our own team. On a personal level aim to go beyond what we thought was initially possible. Beyond means growth, potential, reaching up and possibility. It’s exciting to imagine where we can go as a group.”
“I feel very privileged to have been able to be part of the process of coming up with new values for us to live by. Being from such a strong sports background the value that means the most to me is the Beyond value. I love that we as a company want to strive to exceed all expectations in all areas. This really resonated with me,” Tylah continued, “As an athlete I always wanted to strengthen my performance and push to be better every single day. Now, I get to help others perform at their best and that is one of my favorite parts about this job; getting to watch our teams, students, and consultants succeed and grow. I am very excited to live by this value as I believe it exemplifies our dedication, care, and drive as a company.”
Symbolizing those Values
Working on each value and coming up with the best way to communicate what it means in pictures makes every team member really think about the value – what it means to their role and how they’ll apply it. I’m going to tell you about the process by using our people’s quotes.
“The initial idea of symbolizing our new company values was Mim’s idea – she came up with the idea of ‘playing charades’ and capturing those in photographs. I loved the idea and as I started thinking more about it, I thought for the photography to be captured easily and look effective, we’d have to be wearing clothes that matched or were someway consistent which put the idea in the ‘too hard basket’. Then we extended the idea to be shadows and photographing the shadows which then had its own trickiness. So the idea evolved again to be to use our hands to symbolize the values which is what we decided to do and we loved it!” said Liz.
I think we successfully captured ‘Beyond’ with our hand symbol. People tend to associate going beyond with the notion of going above and beyond yourself. We symbolized our desire to go beyond by reaching out above ourselves towards the sky. In reaching for the sky we are symbolizing the desire we have as a company to stretch and challenge ourselves to make ourselves the best that we can be for those we work with.
Reflecting on her part in creating the symbols, Tylah said, “Being involved in the process of deciding how to represent our values was such a privilege. Being a part of this decision helped me own it. And knowing that it is my hand in the air, stack, or circle, with my colleagues makes me feel even more connected to the values we have decided to embody in this new era. It also helps me feel that my colleagues are equally as connected and driven to uphold these values, as they put their hand in with me. In being able to be a part of this experience it has made me feel closer to my team and shown me that they are just as willing and dedicated as me to uphold the standards we have set for ourselves.”
Liz summarized the day, “I’m surprised how connected we already feel. The level of commitment is exceptional and each one of us is dedicated to bring our personal best to make a difference. My job is to ensure the environment we create lives and breathes these values, every day.”
What people find most interesting about Bo and me, is that our family live on a boat and that we’ve built an international business based in the competitive sports industry from a beach town in Queensland (Australia). What isn’t immediately obvious is that these two very different aspects to our lives are deeply connected.
Getting the culture right in your team and organization is crucial for success on any level. So how do you ensure that your culture gives your athletes the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential? In this 7-part video presentation, Bo Hanson discusses the importance of team culture, and how effectively utilizing the GRIP Model during your season can go a long way to ensuring your team’s culture starts on, and stays on, the right track.