Monday, March 31, 2014

Building Our Leadership Team Part 6… How to Finalize Team Goals

So… where were we?  Oh yeah… we have a list of goals after brainstorming with our Leadership team… you and your apprentices.  We also have a list of values that describe the culture we want on our team.  Before starting this next part of the process, talk about a couple of important details.  We need to align our team goals and our values with the overall goals of our company/department/owner/whatever.  It will help to restate the company’s values, goals, and/or mission, and how our team helps to achieve these.  Whether or not your company considers you stakeholders and uses that kind of language, you can certainly speak to how we are all interdependent, accountable, and how we will all benefit by reaching our goals.

Before we finish with this meeting we will also finalize our team values… the ways in which we define what is important to us as a team.  These are the values around which we will make decisions moving forward, so they are very important.  All of the talk and ideas around building our list of goals will help us come up with our values, since our goals come from what is important to the company as a whole, as well as what is important to us as a team… how we want to act towards each other.  Our goals must be aligned with our values… not really a worry since they all come from the same list.  Don’t over think your values.  In my experience you can get a LOT mileage out of a simply value like self-responsibility.  It will take some time to get all of your team members on board with really understanding what being self responsible means.  Then you will probably have to work on describing what it means in different situations.  For instance, here is what self-responsibility looks like when you are on the sales floor.  Then later, you will find yourself describing what self-responsibility looks like when receiving the load.  Then… you get the picture.  It sounds ridiculous, and yet when you have worked with most of your team members on this one value, you will find the difference in how the team runs hard to believe.  Once you have that ingrained in them, they will not accept any additions to the team who are not self-responsible!  And you won’t be hiring any new people who lack self-responsibility, right?!  So, I have found that it pays to choose the kind of basic values that great team members have.

We should not avoid adding some of our personal goals, as many of them will be aligned with the team and company goals anyway.  Many of your team members will want to develop their leadership skills and get ready to be promoted, so we should add some relatively aggressive team member development goals to our list.

OK… so far so good.  That might be good enough for one meeting.  You want to keep things light and as enjoyable as you can.  If you are moving along well and everyone wants to keep going, feel free.  Just don’t press your apprentices, as they are not used to, and perhaps not comfortable with, this kind of process.  They may say they are comfortable, and you will have to read the room for yourself.   Your apprentices will not want to let you down, or come across as unable to keep up, and so tell you what they think you want to hear even if it gets to be too much for them.

At the next meeting, or if everyone is in good shape, later that meeting, you will go through your now updated list of goals to reword or reshape each one.  Why?

Every goal needs to be measurable.  If it is not measurable you will not know when you have achieved it.  So take each goal and rephrase it until it is something that can be measured.  In this process you may just find yourselves dropping goals from the list, or changing them completely.  That’s OK… you don’t need to control everything, and at this early stage of team development it’s as much about the process, working together, and building trust as it is about the actual goals.  Your goals should also be as specific as you can make them.  Making them measurable and specific will help later when we break down the goals into action steps.

When you are done with that, the group will choose from one to a few goals to work on.  How many you choose will depend on the size of your team, how excited they are about achieving these goals, the experience level of the group, and I expect some things I have yet to experience.  If you have experience with this process, please add what you learned in our comments for everyone to share.

If you have a very small team, I’d suggest one or at the most two goals at a time, and maybe choose smaller, easier goals to start.  You probably have your hands full just meeting your fixed goals, and adding too much to everyone’s plates can be disastrous.  Better to get some wins under your belts before tackling your bigger goals.

If you have a larger or more experienced team, you can probably split up the responsibilities and handle several goals.  Just as you would for a smaller or less experienced team, be sure to include at least a few small goals to get some easy wins.  For any size team, celebrate the hell out of those early wins to keep up the energy and morale of the group.

When you have chosen the goals your team will tackle first, you will need to break them down into action steps, and then assign these steps with accountability and due dates.  Your team members will likely have to work together on occasion, and/or will be dependent on each other’s work to achieve their part.  All of this needs to be transparent, talked about, written down, and agreed upon before the end of the meeting.  Who will be holding who accountable?  Are we dependent on people outside of our team, and how will we deal with that?  Agree on mid points for checking in with each team member’s progress.

At the end of this meeting you will go around the group and get a commitment to the agreed upon goals, and a promise to deliver the results for each other.  We are committing to each other… this is the key here.  We are not achieving these goals for some corporate bottom line, or some CEO’s idea of what we should do… we came up with these goals ourselves, and not only will we learn a lot from the work ahead, but we will all share the credit and glory!

As the team Leader, the point is much more than simply achieving these goals, so we are not approaching this as a test, where we look for people to fail.  If anyone fails, we all fail.  We all need to be doing everything in our power to get everything done within the agreed upon timeline, and reach our goals.  That means not just cooperation, but going out of our way to help each other along.  Picture military boot camp, at least in the movies… there are always one or two recruits who seem as if they won’t make it, and it takes the whole team to get them through.  That’s your team, and your job in this process is to facilitate the cooperation, teamwork, and energy needed to get everyone through to the end.

Either the group achieves the goal, or you failed the group.  It’s really that simple.  You are in charge of making sure that every one of the goals is achievable, measurable, and yet enough of a stretch that it challenges us.  Each should take the cooperation of the people involved in that goal so that we all share in the victory.  The only real defeat is if we don’t follow it through to the end.  Even if we fail to reach the agreed on measurement by our end date, as long as we cooperated, built trust and team morale, and deepened our relationships, we should call it a success and move on to our next goal!

We will assess why we didn’t achieve our measurement of success, and change our process moving forward to help us get there with our next goal.  We have a few, larger, overreaching goals like building relationships, building trust, developing the skills and qualities of all of our team members, and developing Leadership skills throughout the team.  We will also be changing the culture of the team from whatever we have now to one where team members feel challenged, are valued, are included, and get the credit.  A culture where the team Leader cares about team member’s personal goals, and actively helps them achieve them.  A culture that develops Leaders, promotes from within, and includes succession planning in its very fabric.  These are the goals of this whole process, so anything and everything that moves us forward towards these goals is a win!

I may have left out some steps… I probably left out some steps… I’m sure I left out some steps, so please add your input in the comments section.  As Leaders we share many of the same goals, and we can help each other achieve our goals and be as successful as we wish to be.

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Here is a great resource for you in developing your goals…

Setting team goals

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