The Art of Strengths Coaching

E is for Eager Beavers

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There are many models for building fine teams. Many emphasise the importance of leaders communicating a compelling mission. But then it is vital to have people who get the work done.

Great teams explain the outcomes to achieve. They then employ lots of eager beavers who want to deliver these outcomes. Such people are often self-managing, savvy and love to deliver excellence.

During the past 50 years I have had the opportunity to work with many fine teams. Many began by bringing together entrepreneurs and experts. At a certain point, however, they needed to introduce people who co-ordinated everybody’s efforts and made sure the work got done.

There are different definitions for eager beavers. Here are some of these.

A person who is very enthusiastic about doing something … A person who volunteers to do things and is hard working … A person who is extremely zealous about performing duties.

Looking at your own experience, have you ever known such people? What were the qualities they demonstrated? What did they do to make things happen?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Write the names of eager beavers you have known in the past or know now. 

Describe the specific qualities that these people demonstrated.

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Different people display these characteristics in different ways. So how to spot such people? Here are some qualities they often demonstrate.

Such people are self-managing in particular areas of activity. One person said, for example:

I learned to be disciplined when I was young by looking after my horse. This required feeding her and mucking out every morning before going to school.

After school I went back to the stables to ride her and set up things for the next day. I got into the rhythm of thinking ahead, making lists and getting things done.  

Such people are often savvy. One person I worked with described how she helped her parents when the family arrived in the UK. She said:

My parents spoke very little English, but I had grown up learning the language in Latvia. Even though I was only 11 at the time, I took the main responsibility for helping them to go into the bank and set up an account.

I also dealt with the electrical, water and other suppliers. This sounds a lot, but I really enjoyed working out what needed to be done and then doing it.  

Let’s explore several other characteristics demonstrated by such people.

They are energetic
and enthusiastic

Eager beavers show great energy and volunteer to do tasks. Recently I ran a super teams workshop in which two people demonstrated these qualities.

The leader presented the provisional version of the team’s story, strategy and road map towards achieving success. The forty participants were then invited to share their responses to the story. They did this on flip charts under the following headings.

Like. The things we like about the
story, strategy and road map are:

* 

* 

*

Additions. The things we
would like to see added are:

*

* 

*

Questions and Concerns. The
concerns and questions we have are:

*

*

*

Success Rating. The rating we would give at the
moment regarding the chances of delivering the goals is:

____ / 10

The specific things we can do to
maintain or improve the rating are:

* 

*

*

People spent an hour doing these exercises and then presented their ideas back to the leader. After responding to their feedback, he said that many of their ideas would be integrated into the final version of the story.

At the end of the session two eager beavers jumped up and started gathering the flip charts. One of them said to the leader:

We can write up all this information and list the ideas under the relevant headings. We can get this back to you by the end of business tomorrow.

After you have decided which ideas to incorporate, we can then write up the final version of the story, strategy and road map. Would that be okay?

Let’s move on to another characteristic demonstrated by such people. 

They enjoy
being effective

Eager beavers love to work hard, but they want to see that their work is effective. Good leaders know how to get the best from such people. They focus on the outcomes to achieve and make clear contracts about the agreed picture of success. They sometimes do this by taking the following steps.

They give people context by describing the big picture and explaining the reasons for working towards a specific goal. 

They explain what needs to be delivered and describe the real results to achieve.  

They make clear contracts with people about the goals to achieve by certain dates and give them the support they need to achieve the picture of success.

Good leaders often manage by outcomes rather than by tasks. If they want people to deliver great customer service, for example, they may say something like the following.

We want to publish six customer service success stories in the first six months.

We want to hear three of our top customers saying: “You have provided great customer service and helped us to achieve success.” 

We want to win a prestigious prize for outstanding customer service. 

Good leaders ensure that people know the real results to achieve. They then give them the tools they need to do the job. Let’s move on to another quality demonstrated by people who want to make things happen.

They enjoy
delivering excellence

Eager beavers enjoy translating the strategies in action by working through lists. They often get a kick from setting targets, making lists and then crossing off items.

There are many explanations about why people feel satisfaction from working through lists. One view is that are making progress towards achieving their picture of success.

Simon Sinek describes another reason in his talk called Leaders Eat Last. He explains that people often get a rush of Dopamine and feel good when they accomplish a task on their To Do list.

Good leaders recognise this human characteristic. After communicating inspiring pictures, they invite people to describe how they would like to contribute.

Such leaders encourage people to write down their goals and make them visual. People can then make lists, cross off items and get satisfaction as they work towards the picture of success.

Below is an excerpt from an article that Deane Alban about Dopamine. You can discover more via the following link to the website Be Brain Fit.

http://bebrainfit.com/increase-dopamine/

There are about 86 billion neurons in the human brain. They communicate with each other via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.  

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s a key factor in motivation, productivity, and focus. Dopamine has been called our “motivation molecule.” It boosts our drive, focus and concentration.

It enables us to plan ahead and resist impulses so we can achieve our goals. It gives us that “I did it!” lift when we accomplish what we set out to do. It makes us competitive and provides the thrill of the chase in all aspects of life – business, sports and love. 

Dopamine is in charge of our pleasure-reward system. It allows us to have feelings of enjoyment, bliss and even euphoria. 

Here is the talk in which Simon talks about the importance of Dopamine. He refers to this at around 5 minutes into the talk.

Great teams have lots of eager beavers who make sure that things get done. Such people have an ethic of constant improvement and love to deliver excellence. This has both upsides and downsides.

The pluses are that they are diligent, overcome setbacks, keep improving and deliver on their promises. The downsides are that they can get exhausted, take work problems home and become overly self-critical.

Good leaders encourage such people, provide the required support and make sure they are well rewarded. They also encourage them to broaden their repertoires through customised professional development.

Let’s return to your own work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation in which you may want to work with eager beavers? You may want to do this when leading a team or as part of a group.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to work with eager beavers. 

Describe the specific things you can do then to find and enable such people to deliver excellence. 

Describe the specific benefits of working with such people in that situation.

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