Friday, March 28, 2014

Building Our Leadership Team Part 5… How to Define Team Goals

So in rereading my posts about building your Leadership team, I think I glazed over the process of setting goals and coming up with values for your team.  We probably spent enough time on defining our reality, and the importance of coming to a consensus.  We all have to agree, at least by the end of the meeting, on what things are like right now.  At what level is our quality?  At what level is our customer service?  How different are standards from one day or shift to the next?  Do we actually back each other up, or do we really throw each other under the bus?  Do your apprentices feel that they can be honest with you?  If not… fix that before moving on, or everything you do with end up being a waste of time.

You will also want to read, or reread the post on setting an intention.  For this, and all future meetings about setting team goals, your intention is to allow things to happen as they will.  You have worked to build relationships with your apprentices, and you know about their personal goals.  You have worked to believe that they are trustworthy, and you have told them that you trust them, value them, appreciate their hard work, and are happy to have them on your team.  So… your intention is to remember that you trust them.  You trust the process, and you will allow it to happen.  This doesn’t mean you stop guiding the process… it just means that you will not impose your will on the group.  Allow them to be who they are, and in the long run you will be much better off for having done it this way.

This next meeting will focus of setting goals, both short and long term, as well as coming up with values for our team.  You will of course have goals that you must meet… sales goals, margin, comp goals, quality goals, and many others.  These are goals that for most teams will be non-negotiable.   We are accountable for minimally meeting these goals, and a number of you may be rewarded for exceeding certain goals.  So… we need to be transparent with the team about these ‘fixed’ goals, and how important they are.  When your apprentices understand that you, the team Leader, are accountable for achieving these goals, they will have a better understanding of why you have been acting the way you have, and saying the things you say.  You have been working on ‘being human’ and letting them know that you realize that you are far from perfect.

This is why we spent so much time and energy building relationships with our apprentices before we got to this meeting.  Today, they firmly believe that you care about them, that you are interested in helping them achieve their goals, and you will take great pride in their success.  Because they know these things, they will want to help you achieve your goals, and they will do what they can to help you excel in your job.  Since you made their goals important to you, they will make your goals important to them.  You did that right?  Because we’ve been talking about the importance of developing these relationships forever.  It’s the key to Leadership!  OK… I’ll assume you did, or that you are working on it now.

So we have our fixed goals, and we can move on to our team goals as well as our values.  Some of you are asking, “What do you mean ‘team goals’”?  “We have enough to do just meeting the minimum requirements here”.  “These people can barely can’t do anything on their own, and I certainly can’t trust them to come up with any worthwhile goals”.

If you are done…  Many of us have had teams that were, at least at one point, sub par let’s say.  As we talked about before, yes… you probably have a number of people who do not belong on your team, and you must start working to get them moved to a job where they will be successful… in other words, fire them.  You also have some great team members, even if it’s only one or two.  You might not recognize them because of how they have been treated in the past.  They will stand out as soon as you develop a relationship with them, and let them know you care about them, value them, and trust them (at first, you trust them to do their job and stop micromanaging them, then we can move on to more trust).  We’ve talked about this in several posts now… if you want this to work for you, I’d suggest you go back and read the whole blog from the beginning.  The point is for you to look to the future, and understand that the steps we are taking along the way here will bring out the qualities and skills already present in our team.  Those qualities are lying dormant since they have not been asked for, or even valued in the past.  The work we are doing, the groundwork we are laying will bring them to life.  Worry not.

Here we should also talk about how the size of your team will affect the group with which you develop your team goals and values.  If you have a very small team, say less than 12 (could be less than 20, or 30, it’s completely up to you), I would think about having the whole team involved, and not just the Leadership team (which on such a small team may be just you and one or two others).  Getting the whole team involved skips a step, and gets everyone on the team actively involved in deciding what’s best for the team.  If you have never experienced this process with everyone involved, it will blow your mind!  No… really.  Imagine having your whole team working towards the same goal… wanting to work towards that goal because they were there when the goals were developed.  Their input was heard and discussed… we might even be working on goals that one of them came up with.  You have never seen a team working so hard for and with each other as when they are all involved in goal setting.

I feel that when we get more than 15 or 20 people in a room it can be difficult to get them all involved in what is going on.  Plus, on a team that size that will you will have a couple of people who will not want to be involved, and they will make it difficult for everyone.  Even if you have 2 of those people in a 10 person group, the small size makes it intimate enough that they will probably not speak out and disrupt things.  I would advise you not to attempt to have the meeting with everyone but those couple of team members you want off the team.  Their teammates do not see them in the same light you do, and will resent having their peers left out.  Those left out will undoubtedly share their negative feelings with the rest of the team long after the meeting… right until you get them off the team.  So… get them off the team now.

If you have larger team you will have to have a whole team meeting, during which you and your apprentices will share the goals you came up with, set new expectations for the team, and let everyone know that there is a new sheriff in town!  No that’s not right… You will let them know that there are behaviors that were acceptable in the past that will no longer be acceptable.  We’ll have to talk about this over another post or two.

Back to the team goals and values…

We are talking about team specific goals that you and your apprentices will come up with together.  Having these kinds of goals will not only help bring your team together, but they will move your team along from wherever you are now, towards greatness.  You will also come up with values for your team.  Your values will describe what is important in how to act towards each other, and what behaviors you value as a group.  The values you come up with will define your new culture to your team.  As we talked about before, most teams have a culture that we allowed to develop while we weren’t paying attention.  We have to fix that, and redefine what is important, to purposefully recreate the culture we want on our team.  Both our values and our goals will reflect what is important to your Leadership group, and will assure that everyone on your Leadership team will be on board and working towards the same ends.

So… you have a white board, or some giant post it notes, or maybe you are just writing on the wall (although I wouldn’t suggest the wall, it’s your meeting).

Your team goals can run the whole gamut, from Leading the world in Widget production, to having the highest service scores in the region, to improving our sales to positive comps, to increasing profits by 12%, to getting 3 team members ready to be promoted, to getting everyone cross trained by years end… the list is endless.  What is important to you?  Where can you actually make a difference?  What is important to your apprentices?  Go around the room brainstorming ideas.  Remember, in brainstorming there are no bad ideas… write them all down.  Some people in the group may get goofy, since this will be a new experience for them.  Do yourself a favor and allow them to have some fun.  Keep things moving in the right direction, and it’s not Sunday school… You can enjoy the process, and have nothing to gain by being stern or playing the authority figure right now.

For coming up with your values, I think you can start by talking about what makes a good team member, what makes any group of people one that we want to be a part of, and how do people who respect each other act towards each other.  You can use the work you did on defining your reality and your brainstorming list to help define what your new culture will be like.  If someone wanted to change careers or industries, they might sit down and write out what they wanted their new job to look like.  For instance, I want to work Monday thru Friday; I want my boss to value me; I want to work with children; I want to work alone, or conversely I want to be part of a high functioning team; I want clear cut expectations, or I want to decide what I do and when I do it; you get the idea.  We are forming a kind of wish list here.  You and your apprentices will write down what you would like your team’s culture to be like, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.  Write down how people will treat each other, how they will collaborate, and this should lead you to the things you value.  You’ll find that many of the answers line up with the qualities of a leader… how about that!  Things like self responsible, committed, honesty, transparency, shared fate, trying new things, being accountable to each other, and leaving things better than you found them…

I cannot claim to be an expert on this coming up with team values, and an Internet search will give you a long list of research, opinions, and even articles to walk you through the process.  In my experience, values are easier to understand by the team members who will be making he decisions, and dealing with your customers.

No matter what values you come up with, they will not stick, and all of your work will prove to be a waste of time if you and your apprentices do not live up to them every minute of every day.  If one of your values is open and honest communication, it’s up to you to set the standard for that.  You must always show good listening skills, you must have empathy, and you must always tell the truth.  Always.  Your team members will be watching you… watching for you to say one thing and do another.  Their experience tells them that the boss is not to be trusted, and you are out for yourself, so your job is to prove them wrong with every word and every action.  You MUST live your stated values.  There is no other way.

For your team goals, you are the team Leader, and you certainly want to add things to the list.  Remember that your goals will likely be on a different level than your apprentice’s goals.  Don’t get tied up in what they want on the list.  It’s a list of goals that both our and your apprentice’s will get behind, which is probably more than you’ve ever had before, so be grateful for what you’ve got.  You cannot go into this thinking you will end up with your dream list.  You will go through the list several times during this process, and goals will be crossed off as well as added.  It will contain stretch goals, as well as easily reached goals.  This is important, as you need some early wins to celebrate to keep up your group’s morale and energy.

Take a break… eat something, walk around a bit.  You are moving from one way of thinking to another, so cleanse your palate so to speak.

Your list of goals is a working list, and it can change over time, so don’t allow anyone, including yourself, to start carving it in stone.  Go through your list out loud, reading the ideas to the group.  At this point your group should be in good spirits, with everyone getting along pretty well.  So… you can probably have a simple first round show of hands vote to ‘keep or lose’ goals from the list.  DO NOT try to force your hand here… it will only backfire, the group will shut down, and you will have to work very hard to get to this place again… if you ever do.  Just allow things to happen… I cannot stress this enough.  For many of you this will be the hardest part of the whole process.

You will see goals on the list that you think are way to easy, that don’t align with your own goals, that won’t help the team, or that you think are just stupid.  Let them be!  You will have a chance to talk about them later.  There will be goals on the list that might be OK, and they will need to be reworded or more clearly defined.  You can deal with that later.  There will also be goals on the list that, when achieved, will bring this group together as a Leadership team.  They need to have the chance to achieve some of the small things that are important to them in order to know that their goals are important to you and the rest of the group.  The list belongs to the group, and you need the group to become a team in order for you to achieve your goals, so just be part of the group.  Now, if there are one or two items on the list that you simply cannot have, maybe they break some rule, or impose on another group, or whatever (as long as it’s a very good reason that you are willing to fully explain to your team), you can talk to them about that one or two, and pull them off this list.  Be very careful about overriding the team… you will be on thin ice.  You need their buy in with the whole process if you are going to successfully get the rest of the team on board.

If you don’t think you can play the role of moderator and group member, have someone from outside the group moderate the meeting… that is perfectly acceptable.  It could be a mentor, peer, someone from another division… it’s only important that they have enough Leadership qualities so allow them to understand the process and help it along, without any negativity at all.

This is getting a little long… why not take it up next time?

Be there, or be a mediocre leader with a team that takes so much work it isn’t funny!
See… I made a joke right there…  Did you catch it?

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