Episode 49: What Makes a Great Team

Van Garnett headshot.png

What makes a great team? What are the factors that play into the recipe for a successful team? Why do some Teams gel and seem to have fun with the work they are tasked with while other do not? If you have contemplated these questions or have current challenges with building a successful Team, then you wont want to miss our next Voltcast. Please join us as Voltage Principal Consultant Lee Hubert and Special Guest Van Garnett, Training Program Specialist from Community Housing Partners (CHP) discuss practical tips and tools for building great Teams.


Van is a graphic designer, web developer, and 3d modeler and animator, currently employed at Community Housing Partners in Christiansburg, Virginia. Among other projects, Van designs and develops CHP Energy Solutions’ online courses as well as visual resources for web and print design. He is an experienced graphic designer, senior web designer, and a creative director for companies and corporations in Washington, D.C. as well as Charlotte, North Carolina. Van earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University.

Transcript:

Lee: Hello and welcome to VoltCast Illuminating Leadership this is principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for our CEO, Jeff Smith today who's down at Duke University with his oldest girl who's enrolling in engineering school down there. He's taking care of her and taking good care of her and we're giving him a shout out for that. We’re so pleased you were able to join us here today. This is VoltCast Illuminating Leadership.

This is the radio program of VoltageLeadershipConsulting.com. We're located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. We’re just in the midst of summer. It's beautiful here and we’re so happy you could join us from literally all places around the world.

We have people that call us from UAE, from Saudi, from China, from India, and pretty much every state in the United States. Thanks for letting us spend some time with you today and it's really fantastic to be your thought partner here today. On today's show if you would like to reach us you can call us in during the show by dialing 866-472-5788. That is 866-472-5788.

You can reach us on email at Lee@VoltageLeadership.com or Jeff at Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com. Our website is www.VoltageLeadership.com. You can like us on Facebook. You can connect with us on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith at Voltage Leadership Consulting or Lee Hubert at Voltage Leadership Consulting. Of course you can follow Jeff on Twitter @VoltageLeaders.

I'm really pleased to have with me today our guest who is Van Garnett who is from Community Housing Partners in Christiansburg, Virginia. I'll tell you a little bit more about him in just a second, but I wanted to tell you just a little bit about Van and his background or actually I'm going to get Van to tell us a little bit more about Community Housing Partners in just a second. Van is married to Christina, has two children.

Lives in southern Virginia as we do otherwise known as God's country, undergraduate degree from VCU in Richmond and Master Arts degree from Syracuse University, my hometown. Very experienced graphic designer, web designer, creative director for various companies and corporations in the northern Virginia, Washington DC area and Charlotte, North Carolina area. Van’s currently the graphic designer, web developer, and 3-D modeler, animator amongst other sundries talents at Community Housing Partners in Christiansburg, Virginia and among other things I'd like to have him you know that he's my friend and colleague and hello Van say hello to our radio audience.

Van: Hello radio audience.

Lee: Van do me a favor and tell us just a little bit about Community Housing Partners in Christiansburg. You know tell me what they do, how you happen to come by them and once we’re done with that we’re going to talk about your team because today's topic is what makes a great team. I want everybody in the radio audience to know they have a great team. They’re the inspiration for the show today.

Van: Well Community Housing Partners is nonprofit organization that helps out the community. They have different properties that they rent for lower income people. Where I work personally is the training center where we have courses on weatherization and land removal and HVAC stuff. You know anything like that that's going to eventually help people save money and so forth.

I'm the graphic artist so I help with the learning management system and help them create online classes and then I do any kind of graphics and videos and stuff that we use here.

Lee: Excellent well let me tell you and you know CHP is one of the best-kept secrets around and having been with your team recently you know on a speaking assignment in Atlantic City, New Jersey where I bumped into you all you know it was so evident that your team had some things present that other teams did not and that’s some of the basis for some of the things we want to talk about today. You know what makes for a great team? Is it chemistry? Is it attitude?

You know what are the intangibles? What are the factors that play into that recipe for a successful team? You know why do some teams seem to gel and have fun at work and accomplish the work that they’re tasked with doing while others just don't seem to get to that point so that's kind of the basis for what we’re going to be talking about today. About the New Jersey story let me just brag on CHP just a little bit. I think Van might be being a little bit modest here because Community Housing Partners is a big organization.

They serve multiple states, lots of different constituencies, sometimes it's private sector, sometimes it's public sector, sometimes it's federal government or state government, different people at different times are the end-users of what they do. We were together in Atlantic City and I saw just some energy and enthusiasm from the people there and why don't you tell me just a little bit about how you came about that team, how you joined the team and you know what your thoughts are about the people that you work with now?

Van: Well it began when I was moving from North Carolina to back to Roanoke where I grew up in Bonner Park County you know regionally and I was looking for work. I had a child on the way and I was filling out applications for everywhere and I got a call from Mark Jackson, who's now the vice president here at Energy Solutions Training Center, and he asked for me to come in and do an interview. I did and everything went well. A couple of hours later he calls and offers me a job.

Lee: You said some of the one of the magic words you know Mark Jackson, I'm going to share this. This is such a fun factor when we talk about what makes a great team. People who know me and know me well and I see some of the heads nodding Jeff and Jennifer, another people Diane at Voltage Leadership know that we like to have fun with what we do. I'm going to share something called the name game.

I want to you know make nice with the people that I'm doing the work for and with and these are the people that were there. We had Van who we have a habit of using a famous person's last name to remember their first name so Van Garnett became.

Van: Van Halen.

Lee: Van, Van Halen you bet. We also had Les who became Les Nessman. We had Anthony who became Anthony Quinn. We had Kevin who became Kevin Bacon.

We had Andrew. Yes, Andrew Dice Clay. We had Mark Jackson who’s the only person really didn't need to change his name. We had Christie Brinkley who was the excellent organizer.

In addition to that we had Morgan Fairchild so when I got back to Virginia after having just such a raucously good you know time there doing great work and having great results I said, “Well who did you connect with?” I said, “Well get this. This is who we were together in the room with and had dinner with Van Halen, Les Nessman, and for you non-Boomers you’re going to have to Google Les Nessman, maybe even Anthony Quinn. Anthony Quinn, Kevin Bacon, Kurt Russell, Andrew Dice Clay, Mark Jackson, Christie Brinkley and Morgan Fairchild. Now I know that your team, Van is familiar with the DISC Assessment. Correct?

Van: Yes.

Lee: Do you want to tell me just little bit about your familiarity with that?

Van: Well I believe we’ve all you know CHP has asked us to all take that course that is Lara Croft does here. She teaches. I think it's a two day course and we all dive in pretty deep and find out focus on what we're about and equally important kind of get a grasp of what other people are like.

If everybody had a DISC Assessment and they wore it on their sleeve you’d get a good shot at having a better relationship with them.

Lee: Excellent that would be Lara Croft Tomb Raider and I neglected to mention Phil Hall Collins so we were also present with Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Phil Collins. You know we're going to be coming up on a break in a couple of minutes, but I'm going to tee up a discussion on today's VoltCast. You know some of the things we’re going to talk about are what makes a great team and we’re going to drill down on some of the boss relationships that we’ve both had. You know talk about the things that really bind a team together and we’re going to get practical today.

We’re going to give you some tips and tools that you’ll want to be listening to throughout the broadcast today, the VoltCast today so you can have those at your disposal. One of the things that I wanted to point out right off the bat is you mentioned the name Mark Jackson. He became very apparent to me very quickly when we we’re all sitting to dinner and he asked a bunch of us so who's the go to person, who's in charge of this event tonight? About six guys pointed to Christie, Christie Brinkley simultaneously so what that told me is that you all had that esprit de corps, you understood the roles and responsibilities, but we're going to drill on there because I think Mark has some really great that we can talk about coming up after the break.

Once again you are listening to VoltCast Illuminating Leadership. This is principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for CEO Jeff Smith. If you’d like to reach us during the show please do so by calling 866-472-5788 or if you'd like to pop us an email during the show we check those during the show and we frequently do get questions from listeners. My email again is Lee@VoltageLeadership.com and we’re very pleased again today to have Van Garnett from Community Housing Partners as our guest today. Coming up on a break we’ll see you in two minutes and we’ll drill down on our discussion. See you in two.

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Lee: Hello and welcome back to VoltCast. This is Lee Hubert sitting in for our CEO, Jeff Smith. I'm very pleased to have with us today Van Garnett from Community Housing Partners who’s going to have a robust dialogue with us today about what makes a great team and Van before the break we were talking about the boss at CHP that we both experienced that was Mark Jackson, the Mark Jackson. The other one is modeled after him. Why don't you give me your thoughts about Mark, his leadership style, the things that resonated with you that really inspired us to have this conversation today.

Van: Well I think you know Mark's strengths are his personality and his passion and that's infectious so he also leads by example and you know when you're around him even though he's the VP here you never get a sense of any kind of he's not pompous. He's not you know oh I'm better than you and kind of keeps you even though we know the hierarchy of our system here he doesn't seem like he's not pushy nothing like that. He hires the right people. He gets us to do the job the best we can. He doesn't micromanage and in return we all have loyalty and trust and give it our guest best.

Lee: Interesting you use that word trust because that's a big one and one of the things I wanted to drill down just little bit on the segment I’d like you to be thinking about you know Mark's superpowers because trust is a big one. At Voltage Leadership we talk a lot about trust and I'm going to share a little bit later on in today's VoltCast a list of tips and tools that really do build employee trust and esprit de corps so you want to be have your pencils ready for that, but the first thing I'm going to talk about is developing your trust muscles and people think what does that mean? Trust is something that can be developed. It's like exercise. You exercise your body for physical health you may exercise your mind for mental health and acuity.

You know you may exercise your spiritual life. Trust is no different. It's like oxygen. Everybody on the team knows when it's missing and it can be hard to describe, but when it’s not there everybody kind of understands that.

In developing the trust muscles we get we ask people to understand it takes some time as any other kind of muscle, but once you practice trust watch what happens because it's reciprocal and it's almost like a key that unlocks teams. They're free at that point. It's like I trust you. You mentioned some of the things. He's passionate. He's not pretentious. He's not pushy. He's not going to micromanage you that means he trusts you to do your job and I probably does not need to be monitoring you every 10 minutes or seeing what you're doing in order to trust that you're doing your job right.

Van: Correct.

Lee: Is that fairly accurate or what might you add on to it that?

Van: Well no that's definitely true he has a, if I had to say he had a superpower it would be in his judgment especially judgment in picking who it is that's on the staff who’s on the team.

We've been very good at picking people who can work together, can be friends that are efficient together. We’re like a family here. I know it sounds cliché. I've been here for seven years basically so you know obviously I love it. My longest job before that was three years and I couldn't wait to get out. This one I'll retire here and a lot of that has to do with Mark Jackson's leadership.

Lee: Excellent we’ll listen to that now I know that you all are familiar with DISC terminology and that language and we do speak the language of DISC. You know I'm going to hazard to guess I think Mark is a combination. Well he’s interesting combination. He's definitely got some D because he gets things done like when he was asking who's driving this tonight and you know wanted to you know cut to that chase and that's all cool.

That's emblematic of high D. I think he’s also got lots of I because when I saw him on the platform speaking during the management sequence when we were out on the ballroom I thought wow the guy is an inspirational speaker. I also think he's got some S, I’ll call it the steady, the loyalty thing so I like that recipe. When you have leaders like Mark and we've seen others, others that come to mind John Hagmaier at Interactive Achievement, great example. I know Jeff and he and Bill have written a book together called Aha to All In and in there they make that point about giving people freedom. Now my sense is that Mark is going to give people freedom to innovate rather than what I’ll call vegetate.

If you're free to apply your talents and abilities and flap your professional wings you're going to accomplish some things. You’re going to blaze new trails. That's a very different discussion than people being afraid to apply their talents and abilities flying under the radar, thinking if they do something quote wrong they’re going to get hammered or even get fired. Describe for me a little bit about those types of things and how they're not present on your team. If you have examples because I've got a good one from when we were in Jersey together.

Van: Sure well the on the positive side when I first started working here it was I was tasked with helping to create a learning management system online courses as well as a website for the training center and that was my skill set was strong towards that. I had some programming, but mainly we were supposed to graphic arts and I said you know I told him in the interview at the risk of this job you're not looking for one person. You're looking for in my experience you're looking for a graphic designer and you're looking for a programmer. A graphic designer is never going to be as good at programming as a programmer and vice a versa and what did he do? He took my word from my experience.

He created my job and another job.

Lee: Well he was listening, which is a big deal too. When we at Voltage Leadership have all kinds of content beaucoup content about our people being present? Are they being really truly in the same room with you? Are they hearing with their eyes? Are they listening with their eyes or are they just along for the ride?

You’re describing a leader happens to be Mark, but we can think of a dozen others that we excellent people that we interface at Voltage that these are some of the things in common. I'm going to drill on one of the points you made and that was about hiring the right people and you know getting people matched up to their skill set, but here was what we’ve talked about so far.

Trust anything else you can add to that right? If you really do want to get a great team and get the team to feel it I think some of those things are there. Now there's going to be some people out there going yes okay Lee I get it I see you rolling your eyes. It's not going to happen that way and don't misunderstand. We understand to the extent that you can your team has some flexibility, but there's something about giving somebody some professional freedom and validating them.

Van: I wanted to just say on that line that you're saying right there I was a graphic artist. I was doing web design and stuff and through my time here Mark has allowed me to push myself so that's why I got into the 3-D design development that helped improve our product here. We stand out amongst our peers because of it and all of that came down to Mark saying okay I trust you give it a shot and I've never felt afraid to fail and that helps me succeed to be quite honest.

Lee: Let's say that again I've never been afraid to fail and it helps me to succeed. I've never been afraid to fail therefore I'm afraid to succeed and you mentioned something important just now that was he was interested in developing you so let's drill on that just a little bit. You mentioned Van that he hires the right people. Well what do you mean by that?

Van: Well I mean there's a lot of you know different personalities that can happen within a job as we all know and it's obvious, but to be able to pick people who have honesty. You know you've mentioned trust, but the currency of trust is honesty in my view and everybody here is honest and open and forthright and you know that builds the trust that allows us to work better as a team. I know that Les or Caleb or Mark or any of the other people I work with are excellent at their job and I trust them to do that when I need their help with something I know they're there and vice versa.

Lee: Excellent. I love it well let's capture that again you said, “The currency of trust is honesty.”

Drill on that what do you mean by that?

Van: Well if you I like to be honest in every aspect of my life and that way people know that what I say I mean and I mean what I say. I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes so everyone can now trust me knowing that what I'm telling them is the truth. I think that works well within our little community here within our positions because we know that someone's not trying, no one is talking behind our back. No one has a problem that has let it fester. You know we’ll go and talk to each other about it and we rarely have any problems when we have we have had one serious problem here.

Lee: Careful now careful now.

Van: No, no that’s okay because it worked out great. The person left, but Mark did his best to try to help this person and you know while at sometimes I was like dude really are you how much longer is this going to last well Mark was trying to help this person as a person. What that tells me in the end was he cared about us and if I ever needed him, if I ever needed CHP that they would be there to do what they could to help me.

Lee: You know that's just an excellent point. Our CEO Jeff Smith is probably one of the most engaged and caring people that you’ll ever meet. I have known Jeff over the years, 13 years now and you know I just have the unique perspective because he and I were at work together on three different occasions and I've been on his teams and how fortunate am I so when you talk about you know you have to genuinely care. I don't mean necessarily in a social worker type of way.

I'm talking about they need to sit across the table from somebody, look into the person's eyeballs and understand the lights are on in somebody's home and that there's some empathy there right. I mean it really does count for something so to your point Van when you say the currency of trust is honesty I think the opposite of that is also true, distrust if it has a currency is dishonesty so if you are spreading dishonest or not communicating forthrightly or being perceived or in reality have an agenda where you’re climbing over people and really not really putting the good of the team ahead of individual I mean the sum of the parts almost always far exceeds what one person is going to do. You know we're going to be coming up on a break again in just a few. What I'd like to do up in the next segment is tee up some of the practical tips and tools.

We’re going to start naming that people can use and put in their toolbox to really help them build up a great team and we're going to line them out for you so have you pencils ready. Once again you're listening to VoltCast Illuminating Leadership. This is Lee Hubert principal consultant sitting in for Jeff Smith we’ll see you in two.
 

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Lee: Hello and welcome back to VoltCast. This is principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for CEO, Jeff Smith who’s on assignment down at Duke University with his daughter Olivia. We've been having just a great conversation with Van Garnett from Community Housing Partners about what it takes to make a great team. Some of the things we've talked about were you know some of the leadership personas that have been present and we both experienced at Community Housing Partners their organization in Christiansburg and I know that your group, Van does work all over the place. You go up to Tennessee out to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Carolinas, Tidewater, and the reason it became so apparent does the other folks in these places who use what you do, the deliverables, the end-users of your work product they have a choice to make.

They can go anywhere and pretty much hire anybody they choose to and CHP because your team is so awesomely good and you're able to connect with everybody. I mean from my perspective as management trainer and HR person of many many years this is so apparently apparent to me. Let's get practical now. Let's talk about some practical tips and tools that we can task people with and say get your list out. Start writing these down because these are the things that make for a great team. First thing I'm going to talk about is you mentioned hiring the right people. Just give me just a brief drill on what you mean by that.

Van: Well I mean you know there are a lot of people with some good skills, but what you really need is people that work well together, a good chemistry and that's what's difficult. I've been on teams where that just hasn't worked out quite so well and here at CHP I’ve been very fortunate like I said working with Mark because that seems to have a natural knack for figuring out who is going to work well with whom and we all get along great.

Lee: Excellent well let me touch on a point. We’re going to move on to the next practical tips and tools here. You said skills versus chemistry. That is just so true.

We see that so many different places. Jennifer does. I do. Jeff certainly does.

Other colleagues of mine have been involved with different businesses over the years, you can have a great team with great skills, but can they work together? Are they difficult? Are they a mismatch? Are they an outlier?

Are they engaged in drama? Do they have the aptitude? Are they able to hear feedback? Are they in the leadership space?

We’re going to talk about matching jobs to job skills because how many times have we seen somebody who gets hired, they get hired yes because I need a job, but they're in the wrong place.

That works for just a short amount of time and all of the sudden the deliverables go down and it doesn't work. There's another tip and tool that I wanted to touch on and that is to manage transparently and that means sharing the rationale for what it is that you're doing. What's your experience been at CHP with the management style there?

Van: Well at the training center it's you know we’re kind of a small crew so you know we everybody kind of knows what's going on and where the company needs to head. Mark lets us know. We also have projects that are handed to us that are kind of self-evident as to where you know what we’re trying to teach people where we’re trying to go. We're also aware of politics because we get grants and stuff like that dealing with environmental practices.

Lee: Interesting well you led us right to our next tip and that is endeavor and strive to create a cultural tapestry of shared goals.

I can't tell you how many times you know when we consult with people or after a speaking engagement they’ll come up to us and say your content is great. I wish the people at our company would understand it because we don't know where we’re going and we’re in bunkers and silos and we’re not on the same page. Another tip that I wanted to mention that relates to that is what we call the IR factor and that means being inquisitive and sharing the rationale. By that you know you’ve probably heard Jeff Smith and I talk about this in the past. Being inquisitive means just that.

Be inquisitive about the people that you're responsible for. Be inquisitive about your clients, your customers. Be inquisitive about their families. Be inquisitive about your business.

Be inquisitive about the state of the things or state of affairs that are going on around you. I'm not saying you have to have your ear to the wall you know 24/7, but understand there is data information there for the taking. If it relates to a decision you're going to have to make good positive or not so positive or neutral be careful to share, take care to share the rationale for your decision. Now I happened to observe that you know Mark doing that.

He's the sort of person I think that can probably if he has to hit you with the velvet hammer he can and you mentioned you know there were some instances, but he sincerely tried to help that person. Another big tip is about skipping the egos. You had brought this up in before the break and not being much of a pretense there. What do you see in terms of that being present at CHP?

Van: Well everybody here seems to think you know their mindset is we want to be the best not I want to be the best. That may sound cliché again, but in the end that makes every bit of difference as a graphic artist. Here's what you're going to accept, but here I have an open door policy. Somebody's like oh well change this color or could you do this or let's approach something from a different point of view I'm open to it because I'm not Michelangelo. You know I can make mistakes too and I’ve had you know Phil Hall for example has given me plenty of great ideas. He's not an artist, but he has a great mind to tell the story that we want to tell in our videos and through our courses so.

Lee: You said honesty was the currency of trust. I'm going to modify that to say trust is the currency that teams do business with. I guess it's kind of a food chain there because without trust your team is going to accomplish some things in incremental doses and very baby you know accomplishment kinds of things. They're not going to be the team, the high achieving team.

If you can get to this place where it feels like your team whether they like each other is a different issue, but do they trust each other. They all have skills, but you said it do they have the chemistry?

There are some behaviors that help build trust and loyalty. I'm just going to delineate a few of them and then you know we’ll go ahead and we get after the break that's coming up in a few we’ll go ahead and do a brief summary of all the tips and practical tips and tools we've shared with you today. Just to talk about the behaviors that if you consistently engage in these you're going to keep your trust average up. What do I mean by that?

You’re thinking that like the financial markets. There are components like the DOW or the NASDAQ and these are indicators of future value. What that means is that the market thinks these companies or firms are going to have success in the future therefore their share prices go up. We have sort of a moving average for finance.

Well we also have a sort of moving average for organizational trust and it's commonly referred to as the engagement survey right now a few people who are chuckling out there I understand why. Those engagement surveys really don't do much and they’re just too infrequent. They serve a purpose so here are the five things that I want to mention, the five behaviors that if you can engage in these it's going to make your trust average go up and chances are you're going to end up with a great team.

Tell the truth. Don't sugar coat things. Just make it straightforward. The second thing is to communicate clearly as clearly as you possibly can about roles and responsibilities.

If you do that, you provide consistent timely and accurate feedback it's not the noise or half a story or rumor mill. Watch what happens to your team. Number three in our list of five is to create a workplace culture that values relationship. A.k.a. Van you said it right you're like a family.

You don't have to sing Kumbaya together every night at dinner, but understand you know we value our differences and we value relationships. Number four is just to be fair and to be open. I said it earlier, to operate transparently as you can to the extent that you can. People need to trust what they see and if you can't do that it's suspect and your trust average goes down.

Number five is to model the behaviors that you seek. What a novel idea that is right. If you model the behaviors that you want people to see demonstrate in leadership mode guess what's going to happen to your team? Give me just a little bit about how you see people modeling some of the good behaviors that build trust there at CHP.

Van: Well I mean it all comes down to honesty in the beginning. It all comes down to trust and everybody here cares about this nonprofit that we work for and we’re familiar with everybody at the very top echelon as far as you know top of the food chain. Jonica Casper who is the CEO of the company and you know this is a guy that you could walk in his office and say I'm just a graphic artist, but you know treat me you know like an equal. Nobody here feels like they're better than anyone else.

Lee: Okay.

Van: We have a goal. We have set goals that are you know told to us and we work towards them using our skills as best we can and we trust other people to obviously do the same.

Lee: Excellent well you know we're going to be coming up on the break in just a minute. What I’d like to tee up in our last segment for today in today's VoltCast Illuminating Leadership is we’re going to talk about failing intelligently and having some fun. Be thinking about that and we'll see you all in two minutes.

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Lee: Hello and welcome back to VoltCast. This is principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for Jeff Smith. We’re just having a splendidly, wonderfully good conversation with Van Garnett from Community Housing Partners about what makes a great team and in our prior segment before the break we were mentioning some practical tips and tools that we will delineate for you and we listened out a bunch of them. We’ll summarize them at the end of today’s show, but there's two more that I wanted to touch on Van and one is the one that we just see it’s such a good thing, but we don't see it practiced enough and that's giving people permission to fail intelligently.

I'll use the folks at Interactive Achievement. They have talents and abilities.

They have a mind. You know they want to accomplish things. They want to do a good job and our experience is people do want to do a good job and if they get to that place where they're afraid to apply their talents, they're afraid to fail. Now the reverse is also true if you allow them to fail intelligently by that I mean not making the same mistake more than once and if it's particularly egregious saying, “Hey what are you thinking right?” What that does to your point is gives them that trust factor that hey I can do this and I'm not going to you know get canned.

Nobody's going to chop my head off. I want you to think about that just for second and talk and I'll ask you about it in just a second. The other tip is and tool is having fun. I mean it goes without saying I mean like I say people who know us well at voltage we really do have fun right?

We just do. I mean it's a fact of life and if it's not that much fun it's going to start putting people to sleep. It can't be just all transactional or non-fun things all the time so Van give me a couple of ideas about what you all do to give people some freedom to be who they are and maybe having some fun on the job.

Van: Well usually when we start a project we’re kind of tossing out some ideas and there's nothing too bazaar or too out there to submit. You know it can maybe something that you think as an idea well they’re never going to go for this and then you find that especially if you've worked at a place and you've had some successes on your belt if they say, “Yes go for it.” There was one property management course screening property management course that we’ve developed and I did an ad, a 3-D ad for it for this little character. He's running around and we get to do the music and stuff for it here.

I play guitar and Kurt plays piano, keyboard and you know it's a tight little group. Well I said, “Hey here is the storyboard. This is what I would like to do.” I described it to him and they say, “Yes.”

Then I have to actually deliver that and I was learning on the job. I'm always learning on the job, but at this point it was like holy cow how am I going to actually pull this off? I have no idea. It was very complex 3-D programming, animation and all of this and you know I got to the end, to the deadline and I'm like I'm going to need some more time.

Nobody wants to break a deadline or end up falling short. Do you feel like you can do it? I stuck to my gun and said yes and in the end I ended up doing one of the best pieces I've ever done.

Lee: Excellent.

Van: Yes and I was very happy. They were very happy and nobody else in the business has done anything like that so it worked out.

Lee: Well think about that so like when you say you know nobody wants to like I say be the bearer of bad news and unfortunately it does happen. People are flying under radar screens. I can think of lots of examples of organizations where you know that's where the phrase shoot the messenger comes from. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news and or the person's reaction or what we would call eruption in my OD practice.

Somebody’s going to have an eruption overhearing some less than flattering news and like you say now reverse of that is also true when you do stick to your guns like you say and you say, “Okay can you do this?” Yes I can and then you hit the finish line with it and it turned out to be a great outcome. What a validating experience. I can think of lots and lots of teams where necessity has been the mother of invention. Adversity has been the path to stretching their creativity and their capabilities and a lot of times when we say allowing people to fail intelligently they never get that chance. They never know how good they can be because nobody has ever asked them. Nobody has ever tested them.

Nobody has ever tried to stretch them to say you know you have no clue how good you could be. I can think of numerous examples of executive coaching mode leadership coaching mode where we see somebody who is you know they’re really talented individuals. They’re smart. They're motivated.

They just have something on their hard drive that is almost self-deprecating to a fault. Yes, I get that, but you’re also very talented unless you can apply that talent we’re never going to know what you're capable of doing. I’m talking about it in a humble, realistic way to go ahead and own that.

We’re getting ready to come up on the final homestretch of today's final segment. What I wanted to do is to give people a summary of the tips and tools that we’ve accumulated so far today in our discussion with Van. I was going to delineate them for you. The first one is hire the right people sounds obvious, but do we always?

If you want a great company, hire great people. Second thing is when you hire people, match their skills to the job. Don't have a nefarious reason for hiring them political or otherwise. Third thing is to manage transparently and when you do share the rationale for your decisions.

Be inquisitive and share their rationale. People don't have to agree with it, but they do have to understand it and they have to trust it. Fourth thing is to strive to create a cultural tapestry of shared goals. Get your goals woven into the culture so everybody is at literally on the same page.

Number five is to skip the egos. Check the egos at the door. Make no pretense.

Number six is to trust is the currency that teams do business with. It's like oxygen. Honesty feeds trust. Trust feeds team excellence.

Number seven is to tell the truth, communicate the roles and responsibilities; create a culture that values relationships. Be fair and open, model the behavior you want. Number 8, hey give people permission to fail intelligently. We just talked about it.

Give them freedom to innovate, not to vegetate. Let them apply their talents versus being in the zombie zone. Finally the biggest one is just have some plain old fun. I mean these are the most practical best tips and tools we can give you. Van’s it's just been a delight having you on the show with us today. If people wanted to get in touch with you at Community Housing Partners how do they go about getting in touch with you?

Van: Sure they can email me at VGarnett@CHP2.org or call at 540-260-9081 want. I'm at extension 4014. They can also go to CommunityHousingPartners.org and look at what we do and our courses and other things that we do.

Lee: Van it's just been a pleasure having you in the show with us today. You have been listening to VoltCast Illuminating Leadership. This is principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for Jeff Smith reminding you that next Tuesday, Tuesday we’re going to have a live VoltCast from our Voltage Leadership Strategy Session and that's where our CEO Jeff Smith, our leadership director Jennifer Owen-O’Quill and myself are going to be talking practical tips and tools in real time about strategy. Mark your calendars for next Tuesday at 1 o'clock Eastern, 10 o'clock Pacific if you can't join us live.

Again this has been VoltCast Illuminating Leadership, principal consultant Lee Hubert sitting in for Jeff Smith. We can are so glad you could join us today and thank you again Van. You all have a great day and make it a great week. Talk to you very soon. See you next time!