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Building a robust, productive team

Lately on the blog, we’ve been diving into the book Die Empty by Todd Henry. Todd Henry is the founder of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams be prolific, brilliant and healthy. If you’re an organisation that’s looking to leverage the talents of your team members and get them more engaged with a bigger picture so that these same individuals can produce their best work, the book is a must-read. It will help you understand how you can bring out the fullest potential in the people you lead. Of particular note are the three types of work Henry describes when it comes to working at your fullest capability. They are as follows:


Mapping: “planning your work. It is when you strategize, conceive, think, plan, and plot your course of action. It’s the “work before the work” that helps you stay aligned.”

Making: “actually doing the work. It is when you are creating the actual value you are being paid for, or doing the tasks you devised while mapping.”

Meshing: “all of the “work between the work” that actually makes you more effective when you are working. It’s comprised of things like following your curiosity, studying, developing your skills, and asking deeper questions about why you are doing your work.”


If you want a highly effective and productive team, then it’s essential you coach your team members into becoming ‘Developers’ – people who have mastered the combination of Mapping, Making, and Meshing. Building up more ‘Developers’ in the workplace can lead to a robust organisation where individuals are contributing on a more effective scale and putting out phenomenal work that can bring your company to the next level.

In our last blog, we discussed how to help your team become better Mappers (planners). In this final installment, we’ll discuss how to coach employees toward becoming better Makers and Meshers.


To Develop the Making Skill…

Individuals requiring improvement in this area lack the conviction, courage, or work ethic to put their plans into motion. They quickly lose interest in projects and rarely finish their tasks because they’re ready to move on to the next great idea. They enjoy talking about and planning out new projects, but doing the actual work the project requires isn’t their strong point.

To help team members in this category, follow this advice:

  • A great leader can motivate their team to accomplish objectives while keeping performance and morale high. One way to achieve this is to set realistic goals. Set objectives that you believe in and readjust goals that seem too lofty.
  • Extending praise to team members who deserve it can work to your benefit. You’ll not only encourage the team member in question to continue on the correct path, but you’ll also encourage other team members to improve their own performance.
  • Hold team members accountable and track performance. Have systems in place that will measure the level of effort, progress, and results accomplished by your team members.
  • Hold regular check-in’s to ensure team members are on track with their contributions.
  • Minimize to-do’s and deadlines. “Autonomy is the antithesis of micromanagement. In order to create an autonomous work environment, you have to eliminate micromanagement. Instead of focusing on small minutia-like details, focus more on goals and strategic objectives for each employee. Let them take care of the minor details of achieving those goals and objectives.” –Chase Sagum


To Develop the Meshing Skill…

Individuals requiring improvement in this area remain stagnant because they do the same thing all the time. They may be unhappy and unfulfilled at work because their tasks don’t challenge them and they therefore feel as if they aren’t developing any new skills. As a result, they become ineffective team members because they aren’t growing or learning.

To help team members in this category, follow this advice:

  • Turn every situation into a learning experience. When a company goal is reached, discuss the outcome but also ask team members what they feel they learned along the way.
  • Get to know your employees. Ask them what they feel their gaps in learning are. Then coach them in their areas of improvement and connect them with the resources they need to build their skill set.
  • Regularly empower team members with the encouragement to continue striving for more and reaching new levels. Regular check-in’s are a great way to understand where each employee is at in their development and to learn about their goals and desires for growth.
  • Give team members “Goldilocks Tasks”—that is to say, tasks that are ‘just right’ and are the sweet spot for each employee. The trick is not to give tasks fitting a person’s exact capabilities, but to give them space and support to reach a little higher to foster improvement, continual mastery, and growth.
  • Ensure that the company is communicating its purpose clearly and effectively, and that team members understand this purpose as well as the company’s long-term vision. This will help them to see how their individual roles contribute to the bigger picture and they will be more likely to find satisfaction with their work.

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