3 Interesting Learnings From the Texas Water Development Board

3 Interesting Learnings From the Texas Water Development Board


The 3 P's of an Effective Team, How to Rethink Accountability, and more with Darrell Tompkins, CIO, Texas Water Development Board

Let’s jump into this week’s 3 Interesting Learnings from my conversation with Darrell Tompkins, CIO for the Texas Water Development Board.

1. The 3 P's of an Effective Team: People, Product, Profit

When we talk about the effectiveness of our teams, we often think first about who we have assembled to develop and implement various services for our citizens. But can the metric be as simple as: Have we surprised and delighted our customers in such a way that they attribute happiness to the services, products and agencies we represent?

Darrell thinks so:

"In the IT profession years ago, the attitude was, ‘You need us, we don’t need you.’ Truly excellent customer service is anticipating what the customer wants, and providing it without them ever having to ask for it." [2:50]

Related: Leading Teams Toward Success Using People, Products, and Profits

Below is the summary if you’re interested in reading on:

This article lays out the basic principles of developing lifetime value, and why people must always go first before product and profit in order to build long-term success.

2. Rethinking Accountability: How to Re-Engineer Performance Management

Does your agency still use a grading system to communicate performance metrics? If your team is anything like those included in a recent Gallup report, then only 20% of your employees feel “their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”

As the workforce changes, have you found that traditional performance management systems are also being disrupted? What methods are you trying out to improve your organization? How are you thinking about the intersection of performance management and workforce challenges?

Throughout the podcast, Darrell identifies critical differences between correcting mistakes vs. adjusting attitudes within a team and how modeling expectations goes a long way in re-engineering a trusting and productive team.

"You’ve got to identify and establish what you want your culture to be, and then you better be living and breathing it 110% of the time. You can’t get lazy, because it takes a good while to get that culture established that you want, but it doesn’t take very long to lose it.” [12:45]

Related: It’s Time to Overhaul Our Understanding of Accountability by Forbes

3. Win the Balancing Act Between Likability and Growth

It’s a given that no one wants to work with someone who only points out the negative and beats down the team all day. When mistakes are made, what is your style of addressing them? Do you inspire your team through mistakes that will inevitably be made? Do you turn a blind eye to help balance your relational likability? Darrell shared his experiences with learning about the value of tone and timing to resolve issues in a way that your team not only understands you’re on their side but hypes them up to try a different solution:

"You still have to have that conversation, you don’t just turn a blind eye to it. It’s a positive, motivational conversation, more of a “C’mon, guys- we’re better than this!” You’re still addressing it, but you’re doing it in the right way; the attitude is there, the effort is there, but a mistake happened- ok, what do we do to make sure that same mistake doesn’t happen again?" [13:50]

I recently took a mini-course in understanding communication strategies through DISC personality profile types- can you guess which letter I am most like in how I communicate and process communication? :)

What I found most applicable was not the part about how I process things, but in reading over examples given about how all 4 personality profiles need different key pieces of information delivered in different manners in order to confidently communicate with one another and go about solving any given problem.

For example, my wife likes to tee up the details surrounding any given issue, while I have more of a bullet point/ jump-in-and-figure-it-out communication process. After taking the test, she knows I appreciate getting straight to the point when chatting with me, and then filling in the details if I ask. And I now am more aware that when I ask her where she wants to go for dinner, if she responds with “I don’t mind-” that is actually a decision she’s communicating to me- in that moment she actually doesn’t mind where we go.

How can identifying how different people on your team process information positively impact how your team relates to one another while working together toward a common goal?

If you’re interested in the exact DISC Assessment communication style, I’ve hyperlinked to the Dave Ramsey URL here.

Be sure to check out the full episode here:

on a personal note:

My mom passed away from stage four colorectal cancer on Tuesday, November 1st (she survived one year and ten months from diagnosis).

I'm not gonna lie - I'm definitely struggling since my mom passed. Walking alongside her while witnessing her slow decay from cancer was brutal, and yet a blessing.

It's one of life's interesting dichotomies. Let me explain.

It was brutal to watch my loved one fade slowly in pain. The last year and ten months, I visited the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center- I remember hearing from the doctors that the cancer had metastasized and that there was nothing more they could do but try to comfort her. She wanted to pass away in the familiar environment of her home with her cat, Gary, so Hospice was kind enough to arrange daily check-in with her during her final weeks. As great as they were, I think no one realized how much pain my Mom would have to suffer, though because of this choice, the regulations for pain management and what they could offer for comfort are so different between someone's private residence and a licensed Hospice center. All our family could do was sit with her and be present in her pain of dying.

But despite all of this, there was a tremendous blessing in the fact that my mom outlived her prognosis by almost one year. This truly was a gift of time, and being able saying goodbye with no regrets.

Every time I was in town, I was bringing my kids and wife to meet Mom for Starbucks dates (she sure loved Starbucks).

I would read to her at home or during her hospital visits.

I would pray over her.

During her last few weeks of life we even snuck her away and took her to Disneyland (her favorite place and her final wish). We spared no expense- comfy huge SUV rented, comfy room to herself to rest in throughout the day, favorite restaurant within easy wheelchair walking distance... It still makes me smile as I can remember the glimmer in Mom's eyes as she recounted being chastized by the hospice nurses for going to Disneyland in her frail dying state.

That makes my heart happy.

But, now that she's gone, I am finding it hard to live in a city where the memories echo. Everywhere I go is somewhere where she once walked.

And one of the most difficult things to navigate is we have found that it's impossible to explain to our four-year-old. We tried explaining that Grandma has a new job in heaven and we can't see her for a while. At first this reasoning worked great, but now Jack has decided Jesus needs to send her back from her job, so oh boy is he mad!

So that’s why I’ve been so quite, unresponsive to emails and texts, and not recording podcasts this month.

I’m so grateful for the community of folks who’ve reached out. This holiday season will be tough, but so grateful for all the love, joy, and happiness my mom left me with.

Love you mom. ❤️

Joe Toste

Host of the TechTables Podcast. Podcaster by day, basketball 🏀 coach by night. Sharing human-centric stories with CIOs and technology leaders