There are countless ways you could describe each member of your team and how their characteristics influence the persona of the company. Maybe your team members tend to be high-energy, cohesive, and pros at customer service. Maybe they’re data-driven, goal-oriented, and analytical. One way or the other, the success of your business is based heavily upon the team of people you’ve chosen to make it happen.
One simple way that I've found to bring clarity to whether your team can actually make it happen, is this: They may be good at their jobs, but are they scrappy?
Scrappy is one of those “oldie-but-goodie” terms that often refers to someone of small size but big heart. You say it and suddenly chants of "Rudy! Rudy!" float into your mind. Scrappy is a term that is often used to describe someone who is dedicated, confident in their abilities, and just flat out refuses to quit. If you’ve got that kind of people on your team, you’re doing something right.
Here are six key traits to look for in assessing whether you've built a scrappy team (and how to build one - or instill these traits into your team - if you don’t).
1. They can tell you the company's "why."
Your team believes in the mission and the vision of the company as much as you do. They are willing to step in wherever necessary to make sure everything goes according to plan. There is no “that’s not my job” or “that’s above my pay grade” on a scrappy team. Members of a scrappy team will do the hard, dirty, tedious work if it means progress and productivity. You know you’ve got a scrappy team when your employees don’t depend on a title to be a leader.
If this doesn’t sound like your team, invest in leadership training. Teaching your team how to lead a team instead of boss them around can dramatically shift the entire theme of the company. If you hear things like “that’s not my job,” correct it right away. "I know you're not accustomed to this task, but it's important we complete it correctly and on time. How can we help you get this done? What resources do you need?"
Remind everyone that you work as a unit and everyone does what's required to meet the end goal for your customers and your business. If they can’t handle it, they may ultimately need to find a less scrappy team.
2. They push past "paralysis-by-analysis."
Paralysis-by-analysis means you spend so much time trying to make the right decision that you don't do anything at all. Because your scrappy team is hyper-focused on results and growth, they'll be willing to take calculated risks. They will carefully examine their options and their resources, weigh the pros and cons, and take risks that they feel will work for the betterment of the team. Scrappy teams don’t wait for all of the answers to make decisions; they wait for enough of the answers to make a decision.
Scrappy teams bounce ideas off of each other, value each other’s input and (this part is important) know how to disagree respectfully. When a decision needs to be made, the well-being of the company is always first for a scrappy team.
If your team is afraid to take risks, ask yourself "Why?" Have they been punished or condemned for taking risks in the past? Do they feel unequipped to make these decisions? Are they micromanaged to the point where they’re not making any decisions? You might have some management and leadership issues to address.
And if the problem does not lie within management, are they avoiding risks because the growth of the company is not a priority for them? Make sure your team feels empowered to make bold decisions. If you can’t trust your team members with this, they probably shouldn’t be on your team.
3. They always do the right thing.
Scrappy teams are made up of honest and dependable people who do the right thing because it's what you're supposed to do. They don’t need constant supervision or excessive hand-holding to be of upstanding character. Scrappy teams do what needs to be done, and do what is right, whether or not anyone is watching.
When a problem arises, you should be able to lean on the word of your employee and trust them. You should be 100% confident in their integrity both in and out of the workplace, trust them to do what is right (even when you’re not there), and to own up to a mistake when one is made.
If you feel like you’re babysitting more than you’re running a business, chances are you lack scrappiness in your company. Have a serious talk about your expectations and what each employee brings to the team. Scrappy teams don’t have trust issues.
4. They show commitment and resolve.
If you’ve built a scrappy team, they don’t do what they do merely because it’s a paycheck. They do what they do because they are committed to the cause, they share the vision, and they aren’t satisfied with mediocrity. They see a problem all the way through and don’t quit when it gets hard. They work hard to find solutions because it is important to them. They stay late and come in early and do what it takes to be sure the team succeeds. And not just checking the box to says it's done - but to make sure it gets done well.
If you feel like your team is more concerned about clocking in, clocking out and getting to the next 3 day weekend, it may be time to chat about their “Why.” You can challenge them to think about why they’re on the team, and if they have a hard time coming up with a clear answer, some help and coaching may be required to ensure your company moves forward with a team that is committed to excellence.
5. They share true passion for the work.
Your scrappy team works hard, and they work from the heart. They are passionate about what they do and care about the result. They take personal pride in the success of the company and give 100% in everything they do. A scrappy team member has an emotional connection with the work they are doing, and it is obvious.
If your team struggles in the “work from the heart” department, a refresher on your expectations and your vision for the team could be in order. Talk to them. Your dream is not everyone else’s dream, and that is fine. But the people who do work for you should share your dream and be dedicated to pursuing it for the sake of the company and their happiness.
6. They can tell you their strengths in under 20 seconds.
When you hear the term scrappy, it’s often referring to a small or unlikely hero who finds the confidence to overcome something that should scare them. If your team is scrappy, they will be confident in their scrappiness. They will know their capabilities and strengths and use them to benefit the company.
Scrappy teams are not easily intimidated or pushed around, not afraid to speak up, and not the kind to hide from a challenge. If your team is scrappy, you'll see their confidence and character in how they talk about themselves, about the team, and about the company.
If your team doesn’t seem sure about their capabilities, check and see if you’ve given them the tools to feel confident. Do you offer praise and recognition when it is due? Do you acknowledge individual strengths, extend grace and forgiveness, and show gratitude towards their contributions? If not, this could be a significant factor in their lack of confidence. Confident, scrappy teams often start with leaders who make them feel that way.
If this doesn’t sound like your current team, it’s not too late to have the conversations, make the changes, and do what it takes to upgrade your current team to scrappy status.
If you’ve got a scrappy team, congratulations! You’ve created a group of confident, capable, risk-taking, hard-working, and honest people who share your vision and are passionate about the growth of the company. Be sure you know their "Why?"