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Nimm an unserem Pilot-Programm teil

🌟 Exklusive Einladung 🌟
Eine Chance für ausgewählte Teams aktiv unsere Team-Entwicklungsplattform mitzugestalten und gleichzeitig von den neuesten Entwicklungen für dein Team zu profitieren.
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Jan 21, 2024

Learning team development the hard way

Leading a big team in a fast-growing tech company taught me a lot about team development, sometimes the very hard way.
Stephanie McSwiney
The 4 dimensions of team successI wyrd blog: part I "the science behind wyrd"

Before, I was used to leading smaller teams where my sales expertise and technical know-how were enough, or so I thought at least. But with a team of 50, things were different. Suddenly, I was even another level away from the day-to-day and I realised that my role needed to evolve beyond being the 'matter expert'.

A new challenge in leadership
I quickly learned that being a good leader meant more than knowing the ins and outs of the job, the processes, customer accounts, and some negotiation tricks. Sure, I did the usual stuff – sales training, playbooks, sales coaching, negotiation workshops, and we even threw in some fun activities like escape rooms and dinners. These were great for developing process knowledge, sales expertise and bringing us together, but they didn’t really help anyone grow personally or professionally.

Realising the limits of old methods:
To really develop the team I tried to use the methods I knew, like the 9-box grid, but they just didn't fit us. These old ways were too stiff and didn't really see each person as an individual. Well, they were after all developed in the's hardly surprising they seem outdated and ineffective half a century later.

Working with HR, we set up a competency model. This was okay for figuring out levels and pay, and giving some organisational structure but it ended up making everyone look the same. Well, it is based on conformity after all 🥴. It was all about ticking boxes, and it didn't feel like we were helping anyone or any team to really develop.

Let me share a story that really opened our eyes. We dived deep into what made our top salespeople stand out, expecting to find a common set of skills or strategies for said competency model. What we discovered was fascinating – our best performers were as different as could be. Some were wizards with strategy, product knowledge, and data, while others won hearts with empathy, relationship magic, and relentless dedication. Each found success in their own unique way.This threw a wrench into the whole idea of a competency model. If we tried to lump all these diverse talents into one group, what then? It didn't make sense to push our empathy-driven star to crunch numbers when her strength lay in connecting with people. This experience taught us that success doesn't come from a one-size-fits-all skill set but from nurturing each individual's natural talents.

The HR challenge:
Talking to my peer department leads, everyone faced the same or at least very similar challenges. So what did we do? Well, we talked to HR. The impossible expectation for them was to come up with a practical, meaningful, streamlined approach to team development that fited every department. Basically fitting completely different needs of different departments (just think of finance vs. engineering vs. sales) into a “one size fits all” solution and rolling it out smoothly across the entire organisation.

The HR experiment with 'People Engagement Software':
HR tried some new tools, like 'People Engagement Software'. They looked good, with all their engagement features and pretty interfaces. But honestly? They felt like just a modern twist on the old conformity model. Sure, they structured our talks and set goals, but what if we weren’t focusing on the right things? And those weekly surveys asking how everyone feels, with anonymous complaints and canned responses – they didn't really help anyone grow. It was more about showing off improved engagement stats than genuine development. 📊

Strength tests: A step in the right direction but not enough
Then we tried strength tests with the team, which were interesting and felt right, focusing on what we’re good at. But my leads and I were left wondering, "Great- but what now?" We knew the strengths of the team, but lacked the know-how on how to develop the team in a meaningful way with them. It was definitely a start but not the whole solution

Finding the right approach:
I was frustrated. There were so many approaches, but none seemed to really work. With my counter part in Customer Success, our Head of HR and our leadership coach, we dug deep into current meta studies and had a couple of big realisations. First, the strength test was a good start but only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Second, and more importantly, I had been looking at team development all wrong. I was trying to 'develop' my team, but true growth is self-directed – it comes from within. 🌱

I realised that as a leader, my role isn't to develop my team but to provide the environment where they can develop themselves. It's about giving them the tools and space to reflect, discover their strengths, motivations, and aspirations, and understand how they fit into the team. Real development happens when you let people take the wheel of their own journey. 🚗💡
Stay tuned for more

And that's how we (mentioned task force) started wyrd – to make self-directed team development accessible to every leader out there, providing the right tools and environment for true, meaningful and sustainable growth. 🌟🚀