“My team is not working very well together. What should I do?”, asked the young team leader.
“Did you clarify whether or not you are building a team or a single leader work group?”, I responded.
“Yes, a team.”
“Did you choose the right people for the team?”
“Yes. I carefully choose each one and made sure we had SMART goals to work with.”
“Wonderful; I am impressed. Now, did you set them up for some short-term wins as they worked on their SMART goals?”
“Opps. I forgot about the short-term wins. I need to go back and look at our timelines and action plans. I think I have us working too hard and too fast without any noticeable progress until way out in the future.”
“Don’t worry,” I remarked. “It happens to the best of us.”
Many young leaders forget that short-term wins create forward momentum, build confidence and undermine cynics and resistors. First coined by John Kotter in an article called “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” in the March-April 1995 issue of the Harvard Business Review, short-term wins require careful planning and thoughtful execution. Many young leaders get so focused on doing something and getting it done that they forget the importance of short term wins.
For those of you who want to read more about short-term wins or coach someone about this subject, I encourage you to read the following short piece on John Kotter’s web site <http://www.kotterinternational.com/kotterprinciples/changesteps/step6>, or check out the aforementioned article <http://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1>. Either way, helping young leaders improve their short-term wins will make a major difference when working with struggling teams, departments or the whole company.
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257