Your team was formed to get results. It was not formed to increase the status of members or regularly get members out of their offices. It was not formed to claim and use resources. It does not exist to revisit the same agenda item over and over. So let’s look at some common problems and ways to become more oriented toward getting results.
Does everyone know why the team exists? Does the team have its marching orders? Does everyone have a similar vision for the group? If every member wrote down three results the team should achieve this year, would the lists all be the same? Is the team driven by a few egos rather than goals?
Are the team’s goals aligned with the organization’s mission? Teams will find it easier to understand their responsibilities in light of an easily understood and meaningful vision.
Has your mission’s strategy been translated into practical deliverables? In other words, are your goals well-defined and achievable with metrics to track progress? Does the team have what it needs to reach the assigned and agreed upon goals? Is the team making the smaller decisions necessary to achieve the larger goals?
Can your team members individually commit to your team’s goals? Will they do so publicly? Can the team make a commitment to its organization? Has it done so publicly? Is there anyone outside the team holding it accountable?
What are the real incentives? What individual and team behaviors are rewarded? Sometimes incentives are not aligned with the stated goals. Are you in an organization composed of competing silos where a team is rewarded not for taking action, but for preventing another team from moving toward their goals? Does the team leader allow slackers to just ride along with the team and earn benefits without contributing? Is your team being rewarded for making decisions quickly rather than productively?
What’s your team’s culture? Does it value individual contributions? Does it value results? Does it build upon trust, accountability, and commitment? Does it allow for, and sometimes seek out, conflict? Do members value the team’s goals? Do members value each other? Does everyone come prepared to meetings?
Roles and responsibilities
Does every member know by the end of each meeting what he or she is responsible for, overall? Do everyone know what issues they can seek assistance with, and from whom? Do members share their skills? Does collaboration happen naturally?
Does your team’s task list have enough specificity? Is the end goal so big that no one is sure what steps to take to get there? Or does each member have an understanding of the steps? If-then planning can help with this problem. If it’s April your team needs to strategize around and plan for your winter holiday fundraising or marketing campaigns, for example. Or if sales don’t rise by at least 2 percent, every team member will need to prepare an impact report for their areas. (We recommend reading Harvard Business Review’s Get Your Team to Do What It Says It’s Going to Do post.)
Have team goals or member interests shifted over time? Should there be a realignment of member roles? Is it time to create a task map? (Harvard Business Review has an excellent article on creating task maps.)
These are a lot of questions for a team to answer. It’s critical that they take sufficient time to address them if they are to be positively results-oriented.