Chrystine Langille is an award-winning Fortune 100 leadership coach who believes great leadership always takes results to the next level, especially when you kick it up a notch!
Week 4 of our four week boot camp for leaders focuses on Leading High Performance Teams.
Over the last 12 months one of the biggest client complaints I’ve had from leaders is frustration over important teams that are “spinning” or “stuck” or “in their own way.” If they’re stuck or spinning, do they really know what they’re responsible for?
Oh, I know teams have lots of stated company goals, strategies and priorities to work with and lots of monthly, quarterly, annual and 3 year updates to provide. For me, if they’re well communicated, that only means that the team knows what “someone” or “everyone” in the company is responsible for. It doesn’t mean the team knows what piece of the company pie belongs to them.
You might disagree with me, and say that’s what KPIs (key performance indicators – measurable deliverables) are for. In theory, KPIs break the company pie into the pieces that individuals, teams and various parts of the company are charged with delivering. In practice, not so much, I’ve found. Often, the KPIs are actually beyond the team’s authority and scope of influence, overlap with another team’s KPIs and conflict with each other… at least on the surface – even at the highest levels.
Why does this happen with capable teams?
- Maybe they assume they’re supposed to know all the answers as leaders, not reach out to others for clarification and information, especially when the pace of business is crazy… like it often is today;
- Maybe they don’t know the team’s responsibilities and roles overlap with others, because they’re moving so fast to get done what they’ve been charged with doing, they haven’t had time to look up or check in
- Maybe they assume they see conflicting priorities in their deliverables because they’re missing an important fact or insight… not because there could actually be one! After all, the rest of the world appears to see the workability of it all.
If you were a senior, experienced team with BIG deliverables expected of you, and you found yourselves spinning because of any of reasons above, would your first instinct be to reach out to your equally busy bosses or peers, and tell them you’re confused?
Stopping to consider who else has a share of the pie, working out real roles and responsibilities and the KPIs that go with them, can stop the spinning and kick-start the momentum… quickly!
If you’re leading (or participating in) teams that you feel are stuck or spinning, your 90 minute exercise this week is to get their roles and responsibilities sorted out.
Do you know who else – up, down and across, both inside and outside the company – has a say in the decision-making, resource allocation, priority setting and project management roles affecting this team?
Do you and any others who share responsibility for this team in any way have a clear, joint understanding of what you share?
Do you and others who share responsibility have a clear, joint understanding of what each one’s specific roles and responsibilities are in the areas you share – have you pulled them apart so they work for each of you?
Is one of the people or teams who share responsibility with you, someone you report to?
Don’t let that stop you… go ahead and discuss it!
Is the “climate” in you company right now conducive to bringing up conflicts and overlaps (or are other people and teams rushing and maybe even spinning)?
Don’t let that stop you either…go after it!