Editor's Note: Barry Jennings is part of the Microsoft team that are finalists of the 2022 Best Client-Side Team which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. To find out more about the awards click here.

This one is straightforward. As we assess our people, we focus on three key areas that the company believes drives impact. One area is how individual contributions can benefit the team, company or customers. The second area is how to benefit from the work of others. By ensuring we share what we learn, these learnings build others and foster collaboration. Lastly, is leveraging the work of others when someone on the team has tried something new. Whether they succeeded or failed at it, we all can learn and grow from the outcome. Achieving the balance can be a challenge; however, by having it built into our workflow it ensures that we are constantly focused on harmonizing the team and the individual. 

Our biggest hurdle as a team is cultivating a speak-up culture where everyone feels strongly connected to one another and the company mission. Doing it in a hybrid working environment complicates things a bit. But we work hard as a team to create psychologically safe spaces so everyone can speak freely, share ideas, discuss mistakes and ask questions. It’s one of those things that appears simple in theory, but not easy to do. We are well into the journey and are continually learning and adjusting as we go along. 

It all starts with understanding the business question you are trying to answer. Understanding how research based on customer feedback can help better decision making only works when you can clearly articulate the question you need to answer. Once that is known, only then can the insights from the research create actionable answers. It boils down to synthesis and consulting with stakeholders to align on what story you want to tell.