"It is one of the most ironic truths about the human creature: he is unable to measure his own potential, therefore he believes it to be limited." From Just Blow It Up: Firepower for Living an Unlimited Life by Dixie Gillaspie
As business leaders we’re taught to measure everything.
There are so many popular quotes and truisms about it.
“What can’t be measured can’t be improved.”
“What gets measured gets managed.”
“What gets measured gets done.”
But human potential, as Dixie Gillaspie wrote in Just Blow it Up, can’t be measured. Therefore, it can’t be managed or controlled, it can’t even be improved since it is already there, just in a latent form.
But it can be activated.
And activating human potential has to be our first and foremost mission as leaders of human teams if we want to have the opportunity to lead healthy, high-performing, self-actualized teams and increase what I call our “Return on Individual.”
Here are 10 ways you can start activating the potential of your Human Team immediately.
#1 Get Everyone on the Same Page
Literally. Having your team read about The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ together, learn it together, and discuss it together is a great way to not only activate potential, but to create a shared language and innovate new ideas for leveraging that potential.
In The Human Team I’ve shared stories, suggestions, and assessments to spark those kinds of discussions and growth. When you give everyone on your team a copy of the book, set up a reading and discussion schedule, and follow the guidelines in the book, not only will it ignite new levels of understanding of their own needs, it will highlight the opportunities for each individual to have more clarity, feel more connected, make greater contributions, accept more aspirational challenges, experience and show more consideration, and achieve new levels of confidence.
#2 Get Everyone’s $.0.02 Worth
The same Team Health Assessment I’ve made available for leaders to download and use can work just as well as a team-wide 360◦ review. Allow everyone to complete the assessment and commit to time to discus, determine a course of action, and reassess at agreed upon intervals.
#3 Get Everyone on the Path to Higher Trust
One requirement for a self-actualized team is that they trust themselves, each other, and leadership. Each of The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ (we call them the “6 Cs”) contribute to increased trust so give everyone on your team the opportunity to choose one of the Cs they believe will have the greatest impact on the level of trust inherent in your team culture and the reason they believe it is the best place to begin the path to higher trust.
You might let each team member focus on the C they choose or ask every member of your team to focus on the same one for a month then move your focus to the C that got the next highest number of votes and so on.
#4 Get Everyone in the Same Game
Many of my clients have hit “next to impossible goals” by setting up a “rally” and applying the 6 Cs. This structure is set up to meet all six of the facets of human needs and has the following requirements:
- Every team member must have clarity about what constitutes a win and their role in achieving it.
- Every team member must also have clarity about the interdependencies and the necessity of actively building connection and mutual trust of their leaders and peers in order to create the win.
- A win must require meaningful contributions from every individual on the team.
- The rally structure must give consideration for the unique abilities and skills of every individual as well as recognition of their value to the team outcome.
- It must offer a significant but attainable challenge to every individual on the team as well as to the team as a whole.
- All positive outcomes must be celebrated to increase confidence for the team in themselves and each other.
Finally, get team input - how can they all be involved and excited about a project and what do they consider a win?
#5 Get Everyone Where They Feel It Most
Humans are emotional creatures. It’s just our nature. And when you engage people in an emotional way you activate the potential for higher levels of performance in order to create more of that feeling.
That’s the principle behind “The 5 Love Languages”, Gary Chapman’s work on improving relationships in romance, family, and work life. Each of us respond more positively to different kinds of appreciation, which is one of the aspects of the fifth of The 6 Facets of Human Needs™, Consideration.
You can probably discover the primary “language of appreciation” for each individual on your team through observation, but you can also have your team members take the assessment. Then follow through by rewarding or incentivizing them in a way that shows consideration for their natural preference.
#6 Get Everyone to Play for the Win
Work doesn’t have to be all … well, work. In fact, when you bring the spirit of play into the workplace people not only improve their performance, they also experience an increase in their sense of fulfillment.
You can bring that spirit of play into your plan to activate your team’s potential by gamifying your team wins the way we do in a rally, but you can also create a game to activate the 6 Cs as a team.
This can be configured in any number of ways, but your goal is to build awareness and the ability to notice and leverage The 6 Facets of Human Needs™ to empower themselves and the rest of the team to reach new performance highs. So setting up a Slack channel for ideas or acknowledgements of the 6Cs in action, using a Bingo or Scavenger Hunt format that incentivizes awareness and understanding of the 6Cs, or dividing your team into smaller teams or pairs and offering a prize each week to the team who has recorded the greatest number of examples of the 6 Cs being used by the team.
#7 Get Everyone in the Habit of Meeting Everyone’s Needs
The best way to keep something top of mind is to put it on an agenda for a meeting that already occurs on a regular basis. And the best way to turn a behavior into a habit is to keep it top of mind until it’s second nature.
When you start each team meeting with one of the 6 Cs and share what's working and not working you’re not only bringing that one facet of human needs top of mind during and immediately after the meeting, you’re making it part of the normal pattern of the work day, embedding it so-to-speak, into a structure that is already habitual.
#8 Get Everyone Excited about Breakthroughs
What makes breakthroughs so difficult, of course, is not what is on the other side of the barrier, it’s the barrier itself. When your team knows they can safely and confidently break through barriers together they’ll be excited about taking on difficult issues rather than dreading the difficult conversations.
Each month or quarter, pick one challenge that the team considers a barrier, obstacle, or elephant in the room. Help your team get excited about what’s on the other side of the barrier then use the principles in The Human Team to get there.
- What do we need to know, share, or acknowledge in order for everyone to have clarity about the issue and the desired outcome?
- How can we come together as a connected group of individuals to include each other equally in being part of the solution to this issue?
- How can each individual make a positive and significant contribution to the solution?
- How can we take into consideration each individual’s highest talents, skills, and value to the team in implementing this solution?
- How can each team member challenge themselves and each other to achieve the desired outcome?
- Where can the team instill confidence in themselves and each other to achieve the desired outcome?
Using this structure gives everyone on your team a framework for getting their needs met, meeting the needs of others, and safely navigating territory that was previously painful.
#9 Get Everyone Celebrating
We all love a celebration. It’s one of the ways we show consideration for our own accomplishments and the accomplishments of others.
Making celebrations part of your regular schedule doesn’t just make people feel good. It activates greater potential by anchoring in reminders of previous wins. It shifts your team’s “default” setting to one of belief in possibilities, and it incentivizes greater energy and effort toward future wins.
Where can you insert formal and informal celebrations into your daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly structure?
#10 Get Everyone Committed to Continual Improvement
It’s part of human nature to strive. We climb one mountain, we look for a taller one. But to stay aspirational and in flow the improvement we’re striving for has to be incremental, continual, and achievable. Activate the potential in your team by building a framework that allows them to strive and succeed by letting them measure their progress in a way that is meaningful to them.
Because while we may not be able to measure potential, we can measure improvement. So ask your team to establish measurements for each of the 6 Cs. Benchmark where you are today and openly share progress and ways to improve as a team. Create aspirational goals based on the metrics they choose. Continue to assess, achieve, and aspire to greater and greater activation and actualization of their potential.
Finally, let me hear from you. I’d love to know if you’ve used any of these methods to activate the potential of your human team or if you’ve created methods of your own. Let me know your ideas, results, and thoughts on my contact form and let me know your ideas, results, and thoughts.