Three Simple Steps That Will Keep Your Team Aligned with Your 2017 Objectives
Posted on: December 7, 2016 | By: David Kwo | QAD Business Process
With 2017 just around the corner, leaders need to be involved in both strategic planning and team goal setting, but there’s a built-in problem here. Too often, teams often tend to focus on immediate tasks, on “putting out fires,” and on familiar routines rather than the strategically vital organizational targets we set for the coming year.
Left to their own devices, many teams will simply return to the work with which they are most comfortable, and complete only what appear to be the most pressing short-term tasks. Their work runs the risk of becoming increasingly disconnected from the organization’s most important long-term goals.
Moving a team away from this classic trap – the trap of losing sight of major organizational initiatives by focusing only on today’s “emergencies” – is one of the constant tests of a company’s leadership. Passing that test means mastering the overlooked management skill of alignment. Alignment means identifying not only the right short-term tasks, but also the right long-term goals, perspective and attitude. Here are three steps you can take to keep your team aligned with your organization’s 2017 objectives.
Step One: Be inclusive Early
Effective alignment requires a consultative approach, early on. It means launching discussions that take place as a given strategy is created. That often means you need to do some upfront work, by getting more people involved. You will end up saving time and effort, by inspiring more internal buy-in and deeper emotional investment, with your long-term strategic goals.
Alignment is inclusive, meaning, it allows input. People are far more likely to engage positively with a set of new objectives for the year when they feel that their perspective has been taken into consideration and their concerns have been given a fair hearing. By including team members in planning discussions that will affect them, before a strategy is finalized, you will increase the team’s emotional investment in the strategy’s success. When your team members are included, it’s more likely that they will develop a sense of ownership of strategically important initiatives. That’s preferable to your strategy being seen as some upper management “directive” that comes out of nowhere.
Step Two: Keep Everyone Up to Date
One of the biggest sources of delay and confusion in executing strategies is team members and leaders who aren’t kept up to date with the latest information. Team members need not only transparency – meaning access to relevant Information – but also regular contact from someone who will share with them, on a personal level, what’s going on in relation to the big, new idea. People want to be kept in the loop about what affects them. They need to be reassured that they are being given all the relevant information, and that the deliverables for which they will be held responsible are going to be reasonable and within their power to complete. If you don’t communicate with them, they begin to fill in the blanks with their own reality.
Keeping team members up to date falls under the heading of Ongoing Goal Communications. Other elements of good goal communication that support the “Up to Date” duty include:
- Concise written expression of the objectives that are simple and effective, and do not rely on technical language or acronyms.
- Making sure everyone sees the same versions of objectives, not a second- or third-hand summary.
- Identification of roles and responsibilities for each individual team member.
- Involvement and accountability at both the team and individual level.
- A means for submitting feedback and updating the team’s status going forward.
Step Three: Measure What Actually Happens
All the outreach and all the good communication in the world will be for nothing if the team is not actually producing performance consistent with the objectives and goals defined. Simply stated, you cannot manage what you do not measure. Team leaders need to identify metrics by which the team’s behavior and outcomes can be measured over time against the goals and timelines that everyone has agreed on.
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