Help Your Team Connect the Dots

connect the dotsBy Laura Huckabee-Jennings, CEO – So, you’ve developed your strategic plan and have created a cascade for how it impacts every job in the company. Each employee has goals and a plan that contribute to the overall company goals. Everyone knows how to connect the dots. Now you can just relax and execute, right?

Not so fast, as you probably already know. Just because your team members have personal strategies with actions doesn’t mean they have clarity about their work. Some team members fail to connect the dots and get caught up in non-productive activities that are either not important or not related to organizational strategies.

To connect the dots for people between the organization’s strategic plan and their daily work, take the following five steps:

1) Take a look in the mirror.

How does your behavior create an example for how you want your team members to work? Do you communicate, make decisions and create clarity that helps your team perform at its best? How do you handle conflict and difficult conversations in a way that your team members can emulate and learn from?

2) Be clear about your expectations.

Every leader has a slightly different way of working, and it is your obligation to share your expectations. If you expect everyone to come to meetings on time, and that’s really important to you, say so early on. If you want to be looped in on any project that includes customer ABC, take the time to communicate that to the team. Know what your own hot button issues are and share those so there are no surprises. If you expect team members to share information, ask them how they will communicate to their direct reports or other groups.  If something is confidential or not to be shared, be clear about that.

3) Tell the team how decisions will be made.

Where do your team members have the latitude to make their own decisions, where will you ask the team for input, and which decisions reside with you or with another leader in your organization? What is the process to change a decision, or provide new input that might necessitate a change?

4) Reiterate how this team’s work connects to the strategic plan.

You’ve already created the plan and the cascade to each person or group’s work. It bears repeating regularly to help connect each person to their strategic purpose and keep everyone focused on the important goals. Connecting the work to the bigger picture is not a “one and done” exercise. It needs nurturing at regular intervals to keep priorities straight and teams motivated.

5) Give regular feedback—positive and critical—to every team member.

When you notice a team member meets your standards and does good work, don’t expect them to just know that they are doing well. You need to say it out loud (either in private or publicly, depending upon the style of the employee and what will motivate them). When you see behavior or work product that does not meet your standards, be bold and give that feedback immediately and concretely (in private) to allow them to learn and improve.

 

You are the most important influencer on the outcomes for your team, and your actions have weight because of the position you hold. Communicate clearly and set clear expectations to help your team connect the dots.

Let us know how you set expectations for your team in the comments below.

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