October 23, 2019

INSIGHTS 2019: Building high-performing teams and making emotional health a priority

Former Netflix talent chief Patty McCord and Happier founder Nataly Kogan joined us on stage at the Ceridian Women’s Network Summit during INSIGHTS 2019, providing their perspectives on building a high-performing workforce and prioritizing emotional health.

On Tuesday, the Ceridian Women’s Network Summit kicked off with perspectives on building a high-performing workforce and prioritizing health and happiness.

The first to the stage was Patty McCord, Netflix’s former Chief Talent Officer, author of the book Powerful, and the creator of the infamous Culture Deck. Patty left the audience with powerful takeaways and lessons learned from her time at Netflix, particularly about making big changes to push the status quo.

She started by asking the audience a thought-provoking question: “When we think of transformation, we think of companies like Apple and Google, pushing the limits of what we thought was possible. But what’s behind the companies and products that push our world forward? It’s high-performing teams.”

Here are a few takeaways from her session:

Ask the hard questions

Patty challenged the room packed with HR leaders to imagine a team that drives significant revenue, delivers excellent customer service, maximizes efficiency, and then to think about the barriers that are currently getting in the way. “What skills and experience will it take to achieve these business objectives in six months?” she asked attendees.

Then, she continued, “Imagine the team it takes to get there. Who’s left?” Patty argued that companies can miss out on incredible opportunities to reach organisational objectives and grow their business tenfold if they aren’t looking at the workforce objectively with a focus on skills that will be needed in the future.

Start with a goal and work up from there

Top-performing teams consist of people who love what they do. Companies often hire people based on what will be approved or which candidates fit job requisitions that are based on people who used to work there, Patty explained. A negative consequence of hiring people based on job requisitions rather than what people are good at and what they love to do is that you end up with a poorly-performing team. Hiring mediocre talent and putting them on performance improvement plans, Patty reiterates, can have negative consequences on the larger team such as low morale.

“There’s a lot wrong with performance improvement plans. Let’s say R.I.P to the PIP.”

Instead, organisations need to build a team of people with the talent, skills, and deep passion to solve for problems the organisation will have in six months. She claims that a key in achieving this is by starting with the team you need to build instead of hiring to fit people into what already exists. To accomplish this, organisations must understand the skillsets of the members already on the team ­─ similar to how a professional basketball coach drafts new players.

Create a company that makes employees proud

The last key message Patty shared was a simple one: build a company that ultimately makes employees proud to be a part of. This, she said, was her main objective when she first started working at Netflix. Great talent won’t be as likely to leave if they’re working for a company they’re proud of.

Up next was Nataly Kogan, with a powerful presentation about feeling happier in life and at work. Nataly is a former VC and the founder of Happier, a learning platform helping individuals and organisations to realize full potential and improve their well-being.

Nataly revealed a brave truth when she introduced herself to the audience: for many years of her life ─ despite everything she had accomplished ─ she still felt discontent. Like many other hard-working individuals, she experienced severe burnout as a result of letting her health and well-being slip to the wayside.

“Emotional health and happiness are not prizes to be earned, but instead are non-negotiable assets that are necessary to do meaningful work, elevate others, and be a leader others can rely on.”

Nataly emphasized that if you invest in emotional health, you can perform at your highest level in every area of your life; you’re more creative, more competent, and more efficient. The little-known truth, she revealed is that emotional health is contagious and can spread throughout teams. In short, if you’re feeling burned out, your employees will feel it.

She left the audience with three keys to help make emotional health a main priority:

  1. You don’t have to be positive all the time
  2. Learn how to embrace the full range of human emotion, not just contentment 
  3. Happiness is a skill, and the more you practice it, the better you are at it

Nataly concluded her talk with a simple call to action for the audience: to walk away with the commitment to invest in and prioritize their emotional health.

“When you commit to this, not only do you become more productive and innovative, but you’re also giving an incredible gift to every person you impact in your life by serving them to the best of your ability” she said.

Britt Armour

Britt Armour is a content marketing specialist at Ceridian, where she writes about the HCM space, and how Dayforce is disrupting traditional HR solutions.  

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