Every person has a set of unique abilities that they thrive at doing; however, most of the time, we are not offered the opportunity in our work life to explore the things that make us different.
At The Cecily Group, we put our unique abilities front and center, so that every member of our team knows and feels that they make a big difference.
It’s amazing to see people working at a task or in a field where they are totally comfortable and excelling. In this blog, I’m going to take you through the process we used to build our awesome team and give you an insider’s glimpse of what it’s like to work for an organization where talent matters.
Imagine working in a team where everybody is working at something they love! Imagine the pleasure of doing what you really excel at, and getting paid for it. But, how do find the right people, and then fit the people to the tasks? If you want to build an awesome team, you have to invest time and pay attention to detail.
You must identify the tools that will help you expose the things that make prospective applicants attractive to the awesome team. They must voluntarily, at first because they are interested and later because they are committed, invest time and energy into understanding the company’s philosophies and values. Every person must dedicate themselves to reaching their unique potential and helping other awesome team members to succeed at common goals. Making sure that everyone is okay and working in their area of unique ability is number one.
Our company’s focus on unique abilities really pays dividends when we experience some rocky times and have to pull together to get the job done. We also adapt to situations and make decisions as a group – instead of being giving a directive and begrudgingly fulfilling it because we are afraid of being made redundant. The path has already been mapped out by our Founder but he listens closely to our feedback and adapts his own approach as needed along the way.
In the Beginning…
We are a remote-first company. When I came onboard, we were four people including our CEO, all working from home. We had quarterly meetings in-person and weekly personal calls on Slack with our founder, Nick.
Nick made himself very available to us, more so than any boss I had ever had. It was easy to ask him questions and he was keen to know what I thought about things. Zara was here for the coding; I handled administration and Renée oversaw all things Data. During one of our early quarterly meetings, we designed our own set of values which would be the basis for everything we do.
Here they are in all their glory:
- We all take great care in being available for anyone.
- Fully Charged Batteries Included – When we work, we do this with Batteries Included. And these Batteries are always Charged and ready to go further. We know how to charge our batteries and find motivation from ourselves.
- We strive for humility in our work. Our achievements are always an achievement by the Awesome Team and not by an individual.
- We work in our area of unique ability and we work with passion for what we do.
- Does it look classy? “If we cannot do it with class then let’s leave it.”
- We provide an atmosphere where every member of our Awesome Team can grow both personally and professionally. Sometimes it will be tough, sometimes it will be a real challenge: but we’ll always do it together.
- We work in an upfront and forthright environment. We can say when something doesn’t work as it should.
- We are curious and innovative. It’ll be down to you to bring in new ideas which we can then develop further.
- Sometimes we fail. When we fail, we fail with so much style that we can learn from it and move on.
- Naturally, we don’t always get it right. But if that happens, everybody is expected to raise a hand so we can – together – improve our Awesome Team.
- Every time we have a question or an issue that comes up, we always refer back to our company’s values. This really keeps us on track as to where we want to be and how we want to approach a situation that might not be so straightforward.
The answer is always there in our company’s values; we just have to look for it. I will write another blog on “How to Write Your Own Company’s Values” very soon. Keep an eye out for that! It’s important to write your own company values and not take ours word for word.
The language you use as a team and the meaning behind the values grows with your team. Therefore it would be a misstep to try to adapt these instead of creating your own.
Time for More Employees!
Soon enough, we were chugging along, and Nick decided it was time to recruit another couple of employees. As we grew, our interview process also changed. How do you find the right people? It all starts with the right kind of ad. We used ads that were intentionally long and wordy to weed out people who just wanted to get things done quickly.
We wanted to find people who were willing to take time and care to invest in reading more about the company. We also asked the applicants to read a short book of Nick’s choice and answer some questions about it, giving their personal opinions on topics.
Many people weren’t willing to take the time to do that, which clued us in as to their suitability for the job. Only those who were willing to make an extra effort were considered. Our company and the awesome team had to be slightly different to all the other firms out there, so we wanted only the best.
The Hiring Process
We have finely-tuned tools and methods for finding awesome team members. It’s part of my role to find and onboard new talent. When we recruit a new member to our Awesome Team, we take great care that there is a close fit with our values.
We look for (in the order of importance):
- Superb fit to the Awesome Team and its values
- Drive and Willingness to Learn and Improve (“fully charged batteries included”)
- Formal qualifications
The Right Tools for the Job
Kolbe Profile and Activity Inventory
Part of this approach is that we, as an entrepreneurial company working in an exciting field, extensively use the Kolbe system. The Kolbe system is a metric of how people solve problems. The “test” does not have any right or wrong answers. No result is better or worse.
It does tell us, though, how we solve problems. I, for instance, have a 6 – 7 – 5 – 3. This basically means I do quite a lot of research before acting, can explain things pretty well, am pretty good at designing systems and processes (less so following them), don’t act rashly and can think of many subjects in an abstract manner.
We all use our Kolbe numbers daily to help us navigate communication with other Awesome Team members. The Kolbe numbers combined with our activity inventory help us to stay on track when it comes to working in our area of unique ability.
The activity inventory is a process that we go through half yearly. In a two-week period, we track all of the tasks we do for that time-frame and then we rank them by competence. The rankings range from incompetent to unique ability.
What is a unique ability? Everybody has a unique ability. In essence, a unique ability is what you love doing and are really good at. A unique ability has the following qualities:
1. Superior skill
You produce outstanding results with this talent. It’s so natural to you, you can’t help but do this extraordinarily well. Others notice this skill, rely on it, and value it.
You love to do this, and probably did it in some form long before you got paid for it. In fact, many people continue to give their Unique Ability away for free because they don’t recognize how special and valuable it is.
Using your Unique Ability gives you a boost of energy. The people around you get energy from you, too, because it’s fun and exciting to be around someone who’s both passionate about and talented at what they’re doing. Likewise, when you surround yourself with other unique abilities, your days are filled with positivity, dynamism, and creativity.
4. Never-ending improvement
You’re already exceptional at this, yet you could do it for the rest of your life and always find new ways to get better and better. Next to the unique ability we also have tasks we’re excellent at. An excellent activity is when we are good or very good at it, but it doesn’t have quite the same energy to it. An excellent activity will drain energy, a unique ability will give you energy.
Activity is when we are good or very good at it, but it doesn’t have quite the same energy to it. An excellent activity will drain energy, a unique ability will give you energy.
Then we have competent activities. We’re OK at these activities. Finally, we have incompetent activities. We all have them (still), but, if we’re honest, we shouldn’t be doing them anymore.
Here is an example of our Activity Inventory. It’s free to try out and if you have any questions about it you can shoot me an email.
This method of building an awesome team is not really for everyone. We are all okay with that. You either mesh together well, or you do not. We look for the people who see added value in getting to know each other on a deeper level and spending time on things that help propel the group further.
Our company is not for the ones who just want to get their assignment and be left to it. It is also not for the ones who need a lot of hand-holding or instruction. We are encouraged to be innovative and to explore new methods and new concepts on our own. It has been our experience in the past that people who “just don’t get it” don’t last very long in the environment we’ve built for ourselves– and that is perfectly okay. It’s clear for us that the company we are today won’t be the same one in two years. We need our awesome team members to recommit as we enter each new phase of growth and development.
Finally, the Team Was Complete!
It was a long search, but we finally found a graphic designer who would round out our awesome team. She was our Unicorn, the one no one thought we could find because her skill set and talents were so rare. It was an eye-opening process to choose someone together with the awesome team.
Everyone could offer their opinions and in the end we were all sure that she was the one. It’s a huge investment to build a team like ours. The payoff is that when we look back on the last two years, the time and energy we have invested has all been worth it, and we can see how we’ve all grown together; even during tough times.
Attitude Is Essential
How We Treat Onboarded Employees
Now that the team is assembled, we have started to work together. In the new group of seven people, I found that my heart’s desire is to highlight the strengths of and motivate the other awesome team members. I really admire and believe in each person. I know that everyone needs a someone to lean on or vent to, and I like being there for them.
That’s led to me getting the moniker “Cheerleader in Chief”. If I see someone excelling or who has untapped potential, I really enjoy teambuilding and encouraging them to strive for more. When it comes to the company and our philosophies, I don’t understand why all companies wouldn’t want to work this way; happy employees are more committed and give more of themselves, willingly and with less energy expenditure. We are genuinely happy for each other and want to see each other “win”.
We have been working as an awesome team since January 2019. I have been able to observe the initial shock that people have when they first come into this dynamic. The lengthy interview process, the time our Founder takes to answer questions and get to know each person and the amount of input you are asked for really leave a lasting impression on an applicant.
It’s not normal to work for a company that is interested in who you really are, what you are interested in and what is important to you. Part of building an awesome team is knowing who all the players are and what makes them tick. They also have to be a good fit for the awesome team and understand our working philosophies and respect the amount of time we take to build a good foundation of communication, collaboration and trust.
However, the astonishing results you achieve when everyone is working within their unique ability is worth the wait and the investment of time and money. Our team is truly awesome. Now that you know what it takes, get out there and build your own!
Coming up: be sure to check for the release of our Entrepreneurial Tool, expected in 2023! (e.g…)