How to ensure success in the New Year
Have you ever felt like you’re trying to move your team forward while the rest of the world has a hold of the back of your shirt?
The highest impact, lowest cost way to improve the performance of an individual, team, or organization is to explain the direction you’re going and their specific role in that plan.
Just as a GPS mapping app won’t give you directions unless you input your destination, people can’t start figuring out what to do in their jobs to move the organization towards its goals until they know where you’re trying to go.
Here are three steps that will enable you to do this quickly and effectively.
1.Paint the Picture
As supervisors and managers juggling dozens of tasks daily, we sometimes forget to connect the dots for people. We neglect to tell them where we’re trying to go. Sometimes we feel it’s obvious, but from my thousands of hours coaching and interviewing staff, I understand that it’s not.
Before your team can be productive and creative, they must have a clear picture of where the team or organization is going and why. Everything else–the work, the tools used, training needed– will be exponentially more effective when they have the context.
If you don’t have clarity about this yourself, the first step is to talk to your supervisor about what the direction is. But don’t be surprised if that person doesn’t know. And don’t give up either. The two of you together can either take it to the next level or come up with the direction for the team based on what you do know about the business.
How broad you take this division is up to you, but if you can tie it to a high-level “why” you are in business, it will be more effective at capturing the hearts of your team.
Picking one top initiative or theme for the year gives focus. It may have several goals or projects under it, but try to get at the umbrella statement that demonstrates what’s most important and allows for changes in goals and tactics along the way.
Is the focus improving your customer service? Is it reaching record-high sales goals? Launching a new product? Reconnecting with your members?
Anything that puts each person’s job in perspective and helps them see the reason for their daily tasks will engage them on a deeper level.
2. Ask for Their Input
Allow time to engage the team in a conversation about this vision. Let them ask questions and express concerns.
We often don’t want to give people a chance to complain, so we lecture versus communicate. If they have complaints, it’s much better that you hear them and have a chance to influence their perspective than for them to complain to each other in a vacuum.
Remember that no idea or plan is perfect, and by listening to challenges, you and your team will be in a better position to prevent problems from happening or to recover quickly when they do.
Ask each person where they see themselves fitting into the plan. How can they be most helpful to their team members in achieving the goal? What strengths do they have that they can tap into?
3. Repeat Often
Have your team come up with a slogan that will enable everyone to easily remember the direction on days when the priority isn’t clear.
This is a fantastic way to engage the creative part of the brain. As people begin to think of ideas, others will build on them, and before you know it, the team will have created something that they can own. People commit more fully to the things they have a hand in creating.
You and the team can use this short phrase to keep on track towards the goal. Repeat it at team and individual meetings. Use it when communicating updates and celebrating small successes along the way. Make it the rallying cry for the year!
Focus Creates Momentum
Without clear direction, your team will keep doing what they’ve always done. When they are engaged with a well-defined target, they will move your organization toward it faster than you thought possible!
What examples do you have of how a sharp vision has moved a team or organization quickly towards its goal?
You can leave your answer in a comment below.
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