Knowing your goals the first step in making them happen

SOME of you may work in new and emerging businesses, or ones that have been restructured. If you thought that last week’s article addressed issues in typically hierarchical (albeit many a lot flatter) company structures in business, the truth is it does not really matter, as it serves to illustrate effective ways to get the ‘right work’ done irrespective of the corporate structure.

The issues are driven by people’s fundamental need to know the goals and how they fit into the achievement of them. The principles apply for people in nearly every industry and organisational structure wanting effectiveness of people to get the ‘right work’ done.

Several clients I have worked with in the past have had self-managed teams in their organisations, and in some cases little or no lines of accountability for people and resources.

Shared accountability for allocating work and a shared commitment to achieving common goals are not substitutes for the leadership activities at a higher level (setting priorities of the organisation, translating them into major initiatives or undertakings, seeking to preserve and reinforce the strategic position, defining the right outcomes, etc).

This defining, prioritising and translating activity is then displayed by the shaping of business units to produce what the company needs. The issues of role clarity, responsibility, authority for decisions, personal expectations and performance-related reward, and addressing non performance are equally as important in new ways of working as in more traditional environments. The assumption (falsely) today can be that, if we hire ‘professionals’ who are experienced, qualified, talented and passionate, they will be ‘mature’ enough to get on with doing the ‘right work’. This is akin to hiring airline pilots without advising which countries your airline flies to, and then saying: “Get out there and start flying our passengers”.

The following is a set of activities that some of the best leaders I know practice. Great leaders:

p know the strategic position of the company and goals of the business – if they aren’t sure they make it their business to find out;

p find out which activities drive profit and what it costs them to be in business;

p translate strategic goals into everyday activities for staff;

p build staff performance expectations around these dimensions – they do this by breaking it down to products and services if necessary;

p spend regular time with their staff;

p make sure that their staff knows what the financials/success measures are;

p share the successes and failures with their staff;

p ask people to track their own performance;

p praise people who are performing for the business and for demonstrating the right values and behaviours, even if there is no immediate success as a result;

p feed back observations to staff when they are not meeting expectations and/or the right behaviours (if they didn’t realise for themselves already through their own tracking of own performance);

p hold up the mirror to staff;

p ask staff how they can help the individual to succeed;

p respect the individual and deal with the behaviours and talents shown by the person;

p don’t compromise the standards; and

p understand the fundamentals of the employment relationship (basic employment law issues and terms and conditions of their staff).

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