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The Emotional Life of Teams


Managers own the job of creating great teams; these are the words of former Netflix CHRO, Patti McCord, a company that delivered $7.3billion USD in the second quarter of 2021 and is now considered one of the most successful and influential video streaming services in the world. At Sheridan Worldwide we are focused on supporting our clients to – onboard, develop and retain the world’s best talent, recognising that a team climate has a +/- effect on both engagement and performance. Creating great teams in the 21st century, requires renewed focus on human skill development; this blog offers a brief guide to what brilliant managers think and do differently, in order to create great teams. We’ll be publishing an eBook in mid-November – which offers a deeper dive into each of these 10-elements:

  1. Understanding the new context…
  2. Why manage? A re-orientation away from task to Talent-first.
  3. The power of Purpose – why meaning and challenge are critical to human performance
  4. Re-discovering human motivation
    The neuro-biology of trust
  5. Self-awareness, emotional triggers and decision-making
  6. What is psychological safety?
  7. Measuring psychological safety
  8. Being vulnerable is not what you think…
  9. The coaching advantage

Nothing prepares you for becoming a manager of people; it happened to me aged just 23. My first job was selling advertising space for a then, little known magazine called Human Resources. I happened to be very good at selling, I was driven, articulate and incredibly tenacious. As it turns out, these are qualities that lend themselves to sales. I also had a secret weapon, I’m an introvert, which means listening is second nature. And so, with some excellent on the job training, I soon rose to the top of the leader board. After a couple of years, I was itching for a new challenge. 

Modern perspectives on human motivation are not far removed from Maslow. In his book Drive, The Surprising Truth about what motivates us by Dan Pink, he argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic and that the aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery and purpose. He argues against old models of motivation driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors such as money. 

Let’s join the dots between the theory and my experience of working in high performing teams… 

 It feels like family – I belong, acceptance, love, connection whatever you want to call it is #1 for all humans. 

We knew where we were going – vision, purpose, a north star, everyone aligned. 

My first job; launching a trade magazine in a marketplace dominated by two established publications, one the institute magazine. We were the underdog and we knew it, but we wanted to beat the competition against all the odds and we did. I worked with a hugely diverse team led by a charismatic gay owner (he’s up there as possibly my all-time favourite boss). Second job; a digital start-up, we were changing the world. I moved continents, lived and worked in San Francisco and New York; we grew the business from a seed fund of 500k up to $100M in 6 years. Third job; recruitment agency, in search of work life balance and recently a Mum to twins, I was thrown together with a team of new Mum’s we were all in the same boat, juggling, running around, trying to find our place in the world. We were reinventing ourselves and our careers. It was a hugely stressful and high-pressure job and we clung together, providing support; a shoulder to cry on when it all got too much or dinner and drinks to celebrate candidates placed and fee income in the bank. These amazing women are some of the most talented people I have ever worked with and our friendship remains to this day. It was an incredibly bonding experience. We grew as people and we grew the business. 

I had complete autonomy over my day to day – I felt safe/secure; humans need autonomy, predictability and control in their lives and I had it in spades. 

Freedom to create something amazing – the will to create, achievement and mastery; a desire for status and respect, to live life with dignity; this is the common thread across the human race, the stuff that connects us, that powers our energy towards good productive work. 

My objective with this blog was to challenge your thinking about the part that emotions play at work/in teams. The way we think, impacts the way we feel, impacts the way we behave. I look back on my career with great pride at what I achieved because I was part of a great team; a sense of fulfilment and optimism is strong. Perhaps the most important of all has been the friendship, the fun, the connection that has powered everything. I’ve been incredibly fortunate. My final word on the subject of teams; ignore emotions at you

Let’s Make Things Better

Imagine the Possibilities
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