One of your jobs as project leader is to keep all your team members (no matter where they are located) focused on the same team goals. That can often feel like herding cats. It’s quite easy for team members to lose sight of larger team goals because:
- They are so focused on the tasks, and the “why” slips away. Even high-performance teams get preoccupied by daily tasks, and people forget how their individual tasks fit in to the scheme of things. For example, someone becomes so concerned about perfect execution that he takes too long on his portion of the project and holds up everyone else.
- Their “real job” gets in the way. Sometimes those loftier long-term goals slip down the priority list because of the day-to-day activities that have to be completed now. In other cases, a team may be made up of people from different departments, disciplines or groups, and they see your project as something separate from their “real job” with their “real boss” (ya know, the one who writes their performance review and can give or withhold a raise). The goals and assignments of the “real job” always come first.
- They are focused on their needs. This is not as selfish as it sounds. It makes sense that an accountant looks at things from a financial standpoint and a sales person focuses on how easy it will be to pitch a product. However, when people allow personal agendas to slow progress or affect their decision-making, it hurts the team.
So what can you do to keep your team focused on a team goal? Communicate. Open every meeting by revisiting your team goals. Explain how every project supports those goals. Talk about how those goals fit into the overall goals of the organization. And when people propose new ideas or changes, ask them how they will help to ensure that you meet your goals.
Always ask “Does what we’re doing get us closer to that goal?” or “If we do that, how will it impact our ability to hit our goal?”
Doing so keeps those goals front and center in people’s minds and increases each person’s accountability for hitting them. Additionally, it empowers the group to challenge work, tasks and assignments that could prevent the team from hitting it’s goals.
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