Leadership is the process of influencing behavior toward a desired goal. As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to work with your team to establish goals. This is a relatively straightforward process that involves five key actions.
1. Clearly define the goals for your team. The first step in effectively leading any team is the identification of team goals. To increase the team’s chances for success, you should use the SMART goal process. Specifically, each goal should have the following characteristics:
* Specific – The goal is concise and stated in performance terms.
* Measurable – It will be easy to determine if the goal has been met.
* Achievable – The goal is set high, but is realistic and attainable.
* Relevant – The goal is tied to organizational performance needs.
* Time Bound – The goal has an identifiable time frame for completion.
2. Confirm that each team member is clear about the goals. Once SMART goals have been identified, make sure that each member is clear about those goals. You can do this by facilitating the Goal Check Activity. At a team meeting, give each person a 3″ x 5″ index card and ask them to respond to the following question, “What is our most important goal for the next 6 months?” Collect the cards and list each statement on a flip chart. If group members are on the same page, you will see a great deal of consistency in their responses. If you see many different perspectives, you will need to do a better job of communicating goals.
3. Help each team member clarify his/her role in relation to the team’s goals. Once team goals are established and communicated, it is common for some members to be unsure about their role in relation to those goals. Everyone has a specific job to do, but some people may fail to see the connection between their job and the achievement of team goals. In such cases, it is helpful to work with staff on an individual basis so they are clear about the importance of their job, and how it is tied to the goals and priorities of the team. This will help each team member feel like he/she is an important contributor to the team’s success.
4. Continuously communicate the most important priorities to team members. In addition to making sure that everyone is clear about team goals, the leader must consistently identify the most important priorities for the team, and ensure that each member is clear about those priorities. This can be done using a variation of the Goal Check Activity described above. At a team meeting, give each person a 3″ x 5″ index card and ask them to respond to the following question, “What are our 3 most important priorities for the next 6 months?” Once again, you collect the cards and compile the information on a flip chart. If team members are on the same page, you will see a great deal of consistency in their responses. If you see many different responses, you will need to do a better job of clarifying priorities.
5. When priorities change, let team members know why. One of the biggest reasons that team members get confused about goals and priorities, is a failure on part of the leader to communicate changes in priorities and to identify the reasons for those changes. Given the fast-paced, ever-changing environments that we work in, it is not unusual for team priorities to change. Team members will be able to deal with these changes if you announce them in a timely fashion. Specifically, anytime the team needs to change goals and/or priorities, do the following:
* Bring team members together to discuss the changes and address any questions they may have.
* Let team members know the reasons for the change.
* Clarify how the change will affect work processes and products.
* Clarify the changes team members must make to meet any new goals and priorities.
* Follow-up to make sure each team member is clear about the changes.