Changing the rules to optimize team performance

Rethinking how we foster individual talent to drive collective success

Changing the rules to optimize team performance

“You’re only as exceptional as your people,” one of my first clients shared 27 years ago. At the time, imparting his leadership wisdom was appreciated, but even more so all these years later. He was absolutely right.

Coming up on Harbinger’s 30th anniversary, I have reason to pause and reflect on our agency’s success over all these years. It goes without saying, there have been a lot of changes to our business over three decades. Change to evolve our business for growth, change to continue to provide clients with the most optimal services, change in our positioning to stay relevant and change in how we grow our talent.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is that our people are the single most important part of our success. Harbinger is only as good as our talent, individually leveraging team members’ strengths while collectively striving to surpass client expectations.

To ensure we are selecting the optimal team for a client’s business, Harbinger doesn’t follow a typical agency hierarchical model.  Instead we build our teams based on their individual unique ability, specific expertise, past experience on a similar business challenge and their genuine passion for the client’s brand.

The final consideration is how each of our team members complement the client team. Often we’re an extension of our clients’ internal communications or marketing teams, so understanding which team is best to effectively integrate with the client team, sets the foundation for a successful and dynamic partnership.

I recently attended the Art of Leadership conference in Toronto. I was pleased to hear that some of Harbinger’s principles for optimizing, growing and leveraging team talent is in-keeping with today’s experts. Marcus Buckingham, a leading expert on talent and strengths-based leadership, gave some insightful and useful advice for anyone looking to optimize their team talent.

Help foster expertise

People become experts when they are motivated by three things: tasks they enjoy spending time doing, tasks they are good at, tasks that give them strength and empower their spirit.

It’s all in the chemistry

Literally. It has been shown that when we play to our existing strengths, and are motivated by personal interests, our brains actually build new synaptic connections to support this learning in very exciting ways. Learning is like growing a new bud on an existing branch – not new branches. Look for the connectors that grow one strength to another.

Interrogate success… not failure

We tend to focus on the negative, when in-fact, we may benefit more from dissecting the positive. Spending less time focusing on what doesn’t work, and more time on what does may be more productive and effective in the long run.  This concept of “interrogating success” and understanding what led to exceptional results can be achieved by asking these questions:

  • What was the team member/group doing when they experienced success?
  • What were they thinking when they experienced it?
  • How can they do more of that, and do it better?
  • How can they celebrate it?

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I’ll be sure to reach out to that client who gave me the advice all these years ago and thank him again.

Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.


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