Our tips for putting structures in place to keep teams of any size aligned, focused and generating results.
You may know what's important, but do you know how to keep your team focused there?
You’ve probably heard ample advice on how to prioritize your inbox in A, B, and C folders, color coordinate your calendar, use project management tools and special spreadsheets to track projects, timelines, people, or budgets. There are millions of tips and tricks for getting yourself and your life organized. There are just as many tidbits for keeping your team aligned. But no memo or instructional documentation in the world is going to keep a team focused on the things that matter without the proper structures in place to support that focus. Here are our tips for putting those structures in place to keep teams of any size aligned, focused and generating results.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
If you’re using different systems to track goals, metrics, results, contacts, meetings, opportunities, clients, time, emails and other activities or anything else related to the effectiveness of your teams, you’re creating silos of information and reducing visibility into where you are and where you’re going. In the indelible words of Pink Floyd, “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?” You’ll never get pudding unless you eat your meat, and you can’t eat your meat unless you know where it is. So, obviously, in this case, the meat is the important things you want to focus on. Find one system that integrates everything you need to track and keep it all there. Don’t break it up between different systems, e.g. time tracking, CRM, sales tracking, email marketing.
At Contrast, we use FutureWorks, the only platform we’ve found that allows our clients to keep all metrics, goals, communication and results in one place, and tie back to the coaching they receive from us, giving them insight into the impact coaching is having across their teams.
Adoption of a structure that supports focus on the things that matter starts with leadership. If leadership doesn’t lead by example in adopting that structure, teams won’t follow. But leaders who do adopt the system themselves can speak to the benefits and drawbacks, constantly be improving how teams work together toward common goals, and encourage adoption by the team they lead. We’ve seen too many examples of organizations that bring a new system (e.g. CRM) online, only to have people in top management positions not use it or see the value in it. However, in order to get people within a team to focus on the right things, you have to lead them into a space specifically created for focusing on those things. As a leader, your focus should be on providing the right environment for your team to thrive, including an all-inclusive results planning and tracking system and a culture of open communication.
At Contrast we say this all the time: anything that’s broken in business can be fixed with communication. Even better if you’re starting with something that’s not broken. Like your highly functional team that’s looking for even better results. Communication is supported by having everything in one place and having an effective communication style that starts with leaders within and overseeing teams. More importantly, however, communication is created by having effective structures to facilitate that communication. This is where in-person meetings become a critical use of your management’s time, and where meeting style, structure and frequency come in. Weekly Achievement Meetings™ for your top management are a great way to align communication across teams and ensure that focus in maintained and where you want it. Here are some critical elements of Weekly Achievement Meetings™:
Led by a coach or facilitator
Aligned with other meetings in the company, either integrated or set up as separate efforts
Initiated in the top management and then successfully delegated to the rest of the organization
No more than 12 people participate
All meetings are set to the same day and time every week, start and end on time, and are limited to ~1 hour (max 90 minutes, <1 hour for small teams)
Anyone from any other part of the company are welcome to attend, though normally only team members will contribute
Start with sharing good news, praise or recognition
Review and report on last week’s achievements and performances compared to KPIs and address deviations
Introduce new technologies, tools, concepts and methods to support results
Get individual coaching that moves the whole group forward
If you can align your leadership, communication, and results planning and tracking systems, you can keep full teams focused in the same direction. We typically start by aligning team leaders across the organization in order to impact all of the teams they oversee. Think of how this would work in your organization. Who would be involved? When and where would you meet? What tools, leadership and communication structures do you have in place to support your teams? Are they effective?