Upgrading the Team Operating System — Part 2

Mike Nash
Mike Nash
September 8, 2022
Upgrading the Team Operating System — Part 2

Recently we introduced the six pillars that define the next generation of great teams and last week, we dug in deeper on the first three pillars — Team Structure, Team Identity, and Team Rituals. These are the fundamentals for how high-performing teams agree, align and execute.

Today, in Part 2, we go beyond the basics and explore Team Performance, Feedback Loops and Personal Autonomy. Building and managing awesome teams also means understanding, connecting with, and empowering the people who show up every day to take part in something meaningful.

Enable Continuous Feedback

Our brains are wired for feedback. In order to learn, grow, and adapt, we’re constantly looking for signals to inform our next moves. Teams can either intentionally build flexible feedback loops into the daily operating routines, or rely on the standard operating procedures in place at most companies –annual performance reviews with semi-annual check-ins. With the pace of change in today’s knowledge economy, the latter no longer works. And it hasn’t for years. Growth demands higher frequency feedback, which enables team agility, and prevents both personal and company growth from stagnating.

We’re not talking about bi-annual company engagement surveys, either. To be effective, feedback needs to live where work is happening. This is where it matters most — in the day to day, among peers, within teams. The starting point is regular 1:1s between all members of a team, scaled across a company. These are the semi-structured conversations that should be happening every week to keep teams aligned and connected. This is the surface where meaningful feedback can start to take root.

To be effective, feedback needs to live where work is happening. This is where it matters most — in the day to day, among peers, within teams.

Feedback can take many shapes, but it needs to be clear and straightforward. By leveraging industry best practices, formats that work for peer teams and templates, it’s easy to get started. Keep feedback loops simple, small and flexible to find what works for your localized team. Importantly, when feedback feels like corporate HR trying to extract information, authenticity goes out the window.

When feedback is regularly requested and provided in everyday work, it becomes a valuable tool in everyone’s toolbox, not just a moment-in-time event. Done well, it can empower teams to continually align and improve together. And by making feedback something that anyone can use, it levels the playing field, creating feedback that is genuine, trust-worthy, and actionable. This is not just a means to promote personal growth, but also a means of building resilient teams.


Rethink Team Performance

The way we measure team performance today seems to be broken by design. As leaders and managers we still need to measure progress. We still need to know if our teams understand the mission and have what they need to succeed. But we need to rethink how we create the environments for our cross-functional, autonomous teams to do their best work — and how we establish and measure performance is a major pillar of the team operating system we’re talking about.

No matter how your team manages performance, whether with a centralized planning process or ad hoc spreadsheets, all team members should be able to access and understand the expectations and the results. And individual team members need to understand how their own goals and actions are contributing to overall team success in real, measurable ways.

Of course, the real power comes from making sure that what’s being measured really matters. To do this, team performance management can’t be a quarterly exercise, but rather easily connected to the real, every day efforts of the team. This means creating the right easy-to-use tools that let every team member connect their efforts to their own goals and objectives, and allow for those connections to be the foundation of your team’s performance metrics.


Empower Personal Autonomy

If you want your employees to come in every day doing their best work, give them a greater reason than ‘my boss told me to do it’. A team is made up of a collection of individuals, each with their own constraints, objectives, needs, and wants. If we want to serve those individuals, we have to give them a space to understand, curate, and plan their own careers across all dimensions. The team OS begins not with the team, but with the person.

If you want your employees to come in every day doing their best work, give them a greater reason than ‘my boss told me to do it’

In this updated approach, team members can access a career space that is their own. It allows them to view and navigate the teams they’re part of, as well as manage data that is unique to them. Throughout any career, they will acquire experiences across many teams, develop their own personal goals and objectives, and build relationships with other individuals who span other teams and organizations. All of these factors are more relevant to the individual than to the team, and they are also important to building a well-aligned team today and in the future.

By allowing for this space, real alignment between team and team members becomes possible. Team members can better understand and articulate their own careers, past and future. Team leaders can better understand the skills, experiences, and goals of each team member to best design the path for the team and team member to flourish together. Now, with goals properly and continuously aligned, it’s not “because my boss told me to” but because of genuine and meaningful alignment to the goals and efforts of the team.


Build Amazing Teams

By thinking of your team not as a project, but as a collection of people, you shift the team OS to be something that actually cultivates better teams. It involves creating space for every individual, including two-way feedback in as many regular rhythms as possible, and measuring the signals that matter to the team, not just to whom it reports to.

To that end, Trelliswork is designing the team operating system for tomorrow’s cross-functional, project-based knowledge economy. These blog posts summarize at a high level the pillars of what this looks like for us at scale, and we’re more than excited to bring this to life in the coming months for our customers. The future of work has changed and will continue to evolve, and we have only scratched the surface of our ability to adapt as leaders, managers, and employees.

It’s time to build. Join us.

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