A guest blog post by Andrea Jones from Jonesing for Leadership
Make it personal. Everyone needs to understand how he or she fits into the big picture, and how their efforts not only impact their team, but the company as well. Clearly defining how that person is key to the overall success of reaching the goal will help to make them feel like an important factor in the process, rather than just another cog in the wheel.
With any goal, the more each person understands what he or she will gain personally from achieving the goal, the more likely they will buy into the plan. Clearly show how it will positively affect them. Everyone wants to know “what’s in it for me.” The more they can focus on the gain they will personally get from achieving the goal, the more motivation they will have to reach it.
Break it down. Breaking the goal down into its smallest achievable steps will create better clarity for everyone involved. For example, asking everyone to clean his or her desk might seem fairly simplistic on the surface; but in reality, there is a lot to consider.
First of all, what, exactly, is the definition of clean? You have to make sure everyone is on the same page, and has the same vision.
Next, breaking the goal down into specifics allows no room for misinterpretation. A cleaning plan might look like this:
- All objects must be removed from the desk.
- Wipe down the desktop with the cloths and cleaners provided.
- Use the antistatic cloth to wipe the computer screen.
- Files currently being worked will be placed alphabetically in the new desktop holders.
- Completed files are to be placed alphabetically in the filing cabinets.
Finally, if you want to make it really clear, clean a desk while everyone watches, so that they fully understand the process.
The more specific you can be with each step, the more understanding your team will have overall.
Make an execution plan. With any goal, there will be a series of steps you need to take in order to complete the goal. Logically, certain things will need to be done first, before others can be started. Consider the flow, and then assign dates for completion. For long-term projects, think about adding a little extra time into each step if it’s possible, so your deadline will be reached with room to spare, creating less stress for everyone.
If the goal you are working on requires people, or groups working on consecutive steps, make sure someone is assigned to communicate progress, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Creating a visual map, or checklist of completion for each step, will be helpful to everyone, so they can see exactly how far along you are in the execution plan.
Follow Up, follow up, follow up. This is such an important step, and it often falls to the wayside. Follow up is necessary to make sure you stay on track. It’s also important because it’s the only way you can revise the plan when factors change.
Scheduling in follow-up dates will give you the ability to offer assistance where it might be necessary, or revise a deadline, should one of the steps be executed more quickly than planned, or more slowly.
Most importantly, follow-up dates allow you to communicate with your team, show your on-going involvement, and it gives you the wonderful opportunity of offering encouragement and praise. Everyone needs a little of that.
Holding accountability. Many people have a hard time with holding others accountable for their actions, yet structure is such an important part of creating a highly motivated team. Nothing sinks morale more quickly than a team member who is allowed to get away with substandard behaviours.
Accountability becomes difficult when the task isn’t made clear at the beginning. By following the four steps above, holding accountability becomes much easier, because every step has been systematically outlined. Not only would you have made the goals clear, you would also have assigned each step with dates for completion, made sure everyone understood how their efforts contributed to the overall goal, you would have created a follow-up plan, offered encouragement and assistance where necessary, and you would have adjusted deadlines when possible. If at this point you have someone who is not pulling their weight, then you simply have someone who is not a team player; and perhaps that is someone who shouldn’t be on your team in the first place.