Monday, February 6, 2012

Teams and Goals

With the right people on the team, it is important for young leaders to create a high degree of clarity. The first step is to explain why the team is needed and what is the focus of the team.

Many young team leaders forget that most team members have two basic questions in mind when they join a team, namely “What are we supposed to do?” and “How will we know when we are successful?”. Creating a clear understanding about goals and metrics is mission critical to success.

As an executive coach, I often work with teams that are struggling. While there are a diversity of problems that can be happening, the most common is that a great group of people are working with extremely poor goals. At this point, I coach a young leader and the team on creating SMART goals, i.e. ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Well-written goals make a major difference in team success.

Next, young leaders need to clarify any expectations they have beyond the goals and metrics. For example, are all team meetings mandatory? How are problems to be solved when we disagree within the team? What do we do when we encounter a problem with another team? Taking time to discuss these issues and clarifying what is expected also solves problems before they become problems.

One element that young leaders also do not think about is the importance of shared learning and team coaching. The former can create a greater capacity for improved problem solving, and the latter can help a team improve it’s overall performance.

For those of you who are coaching young leaders, I encourage you to read the following three resources together:

- Developing A New Organizational Culture -

- Turning Challenges Into Achievement -

“Why Teams Don’t Work”, interview with J. Richard Hackman by Diane Coutu, Harvard Business Review, May 2009 -

With careful planning in the beginning and on-going coaching, young team leaders can be successful. The key for them and for those who coach them is to remember one simple truth: what you feed, grows. Feeding clarity grows capacity.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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