Expert Interview Series: Kasey Jones of Notion About Internal Collaboration Among Team Members

June 29, 2017 Yash Chitre Internal Communications Tags: 0 Comments

Kasey Jones runs growth marketing at Notion, where she evangelizes leaders’ power to leverage their data to transform the health, productivity, and performance of their teams. We recently talked with Kasey about the importance of communication and collaboration within a team and the appropriate ways to encourage, reward, and recognize teams and employees.

Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about helping startups and small businesses grow?  

I discovered my affinity for the startup life by working on political campaigns where I realized I thrived in chaos, had a knack for doing big things with few resources, and loved the challenge of being perpetually in over my head. My two greatest passions are solving complex problems and helping people and companies excel. Working on startup growth is the perfect intersection between those two pursuits. 

Why are today's companies focusing more on internal collaboration than they may have in years past? 

Both the rise of the remote worker and the increase in organizations experimenting with flatter organizational structures drive much of the increase in focus on improved internal collaboration and coordination. Both scenarios present unique challenges for ensuring that cross-functional teams are well-aligned and able to share and collaborate on critical team data, information, and projects. 

What are some of the common problems that can occur if team members don't communicate well with each other?

Poor communication can be the death of an otherwise talented team. Misunderstood directions can cause team members to waste countless hours on fruitless projects. A lack of transparency of performance metrics can impair your team’s ability to achieve important goals. And an unwillingness to be honest about issues your team is facing can slow down your ability to identify the source of critical problems and find solutions to move forward. 

If a team member or leader were to say to you, "Our team tries to communicate with upper management as little as possible," how might you respond?

I get it. We’ve all had the boss that uses every excuse to micromanage, second-guess, or take control. But when you stop communicating with upper management, you dramatically limit your ability to advocate for your team, your work, and even for your customers.

I recommend creating a method of communication that is consistent, but one that you control. For example, if you’re using a dashboarding or analytics tool, build a private dashboard or a standard report that lets you keep key stakeholders informed of your progress. This lets you give them context about the details, but to tell your team’s story the way you want to tell it. 

While measuring team performance is certainly important, is it ever necessary to examine the performance of individual team members?

At Notion, we’re pretty adamant that measuring individual team member performance is the wrong way to go. It pits your team against each other, incentivizes people to game the system or pad their numbers, and ultimately leads to resentment, stress, and general lack of trust. It's better to focus on team performance and working together to lift everyone’s performance. 

What do you think is the most effective and important way to congratulate an individual for a job well done – recognition by his/her team, or recognition by the company itself?

Recognition by the company is great. These public announcements can feel truly special, but they tend to be rare. The bigger the company, the more likely there is a lengthy and complicated process for showing appreciation for individual employees. 

Most recognition should come from the team or the department. At this level, praise can come regularly and often and it tends to be in the moment and more specifically to a particular project or action. But the most important thing to remember about recognizing the hard work of your employees is that praise should be genuine and should come often. 

When do you think gamification or incentive competitions between teams is appropriate within a company?

Incentive competitions between teams should be used sparingly and for small, fun rewards, like a team lunch or happy hour. Whether it’s between individuals or between teams, competitions with a lot at stake can breed resentment and stress. It’s important to remember that not everyone is competitive in this way, but nearly everyone is competitive with themselves. Instead, focus on setting goals as a team or a company and creating incentives for everyone to join forces to accomplish them together. 

What do you expect to see in the future in terms of collaboration/engagement apps and platforms?

The focus on collaboration and engagement is bleeding into every part of the business and every tool. Expect to see every type of internal software – from your CRM to your accounting software – incorporating an increasing amount of these features. Over time, you’ll see all your business tools provide options to share information or images with colleagues, to allow in-app commenting on projects, and to make it easy to invite stakeholders of all kinds to view critical team information. 

We can help you improve your team's collaboration and coordination. Contact us today to find out how.

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