When we started hitting big numbers at our company, my team and I got really excited. We had a lot of high-fives and fist pumps, which really brought us closer together. I wanted all of us to celebrate and see what efforts had accomplished this for our company. At the same time, because of some unforeseen activity, I needed to find a way to keep our egos in check.
I knew we had hurdles ahead and even tougher metrics to clear in the near future. As a startup, we had come so far but still needed to pace ourselves. I didn’t want to put a damper on our celebration, but I wanted to balance our confidence with a little gratefulness. We sort of needed to be grateful that we had made it to this landmark goal. And to remember that we had all worked to the end -- not played to the end -- and that's why the metric was met.
In my own life, I have learned the value of humility and being grateful in creating a more positive and collaborative environment.
I realized some of the problem that happens in a startup is because we all get so busy riding high on a win that we don’t really look ahead with the mindset that there is much more to accomplish. Our work shouldn’t, and can’t, stop - ever.
Rather than see my team experience the same deflation that I was feeling at this moment, what I really wanted them to understand was that it was important to ground that appreciation in reality and continue to look ahead at what we still were facing (like Global coming up in February 12, 2018).
Here are five ways I have been able to encourage more humility or being grateful at my work:
1. Making a concerted effort to tell others they are right (when they are right, of course!).
Acknowledging that others are correct sends the message that says one person doesn’t always have to be the one that is right. It’s great to be able to say that you are not right all the time nor does one person have all the answers. It’s not something that diminishes the employees respect if I walk the talk on the value of being grateful or if I walk with the attitude of helping those on my team.
The team likes to hear that I value their opinion and actually rely on them. Even though I am not at the very top at Startup Grind, I can empower these great people I work with and help build up their confidence. I’ve noticed when I do this that we all start to help each other in a more concerted effort.
2. We don’t have a lot of rewards picked for in-house competition, but I see that there are lots of places to watch what people need and how I, personally, can give others that win.
This attitude, learning that I can make a difference even from my own place on the team seems to have made other team members think more about each other. As I notice others’ wins I see that the rest of the team starts looking around at what someone else has done for them or someone else—and the feelings spread around to everyone at work.
A surprise result was when someone reminded us all who took a big hit for someone else at work that no one had talked about. Suddenly all kinds speaking with words of gratitude began to be expressed -- in remembrance of what someone had done for them personally, or what had been done for someone else.
Everyone in the room wanted to share a quick story where someone else had played a role in them being able to accomplish a goal. This type of action really brought our company team closer. At Startup Grind, we are all a collaborative effort to help new startups win. And to us, a win for one is a win for all.
3. Removed individual quota systems and looked for team performance metrics instead.
While a little healthy competition is good in certain situations our CEO, Derek Anderson and VP, Karlie Krieger have kept us all working in a team approach to achieving specific metrics in our organization. There seems to be a greater recognition that our type of startup is where we help put out information and content that new startups and companies will need to succeed. Our work is done individually, but the projects have to work synergistically together or it just won’t work out correctly.
The competitive spirit has become more of light-hearted effort when collaboration and communication are used at the center. We have greater celebrations of effort together.
4. Rewarding courteous behavior among my team.
I have begun to make a bigger deal out of courteous behavior. To notice and comment on it when I see it occur. This type of behavior basically is humility in a nutshell. This positively reinforces that gratitude is part of our organizational company culture.
Our company has worked at projecting good behaviors from the beginning. If I see someone actively listening rather than checking their phone during a conversation or I spot someone thanking another for their assistance on a project, I try to make a point of saying something. Like, “Wow, you were so sweet to her. You always notice the good in other people.” This seems to be changing the overall team attitude in our office, reminding us all to be open-minded and respectful of others who contribute.
Overall, we all try to keep these feelings and caring in our Startup Grind company culture. These are actions that make us all stop and reflect on how we are behaving. We’ve increase our efforts by taking the time to think more about others on the team and how grateful we are to have the collaborative wins. Now, we toast each other while staying conscious that we will forever have more to conquer together just around the next curve in the road.