Create a shared vision for your team to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction. Once you’re moving that way, prevent scope creep by using an is/is not analysis to keep your team from getting detoured.
- Now that you've assembled your team, where are you going? As the team leader, you probably have some very specific ideas about your vision and how your team's effort fit within your workload. But if your teammates don't share that vision, you might find yourself working very hard to get everyone moving in the same direction. Let's take a look at some things you can do to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. As a group, consider a desired future state for your team.
This may seem lofty, but it's a good idea to have a pie-in-the-sky vision for what your team eventually hopes to accomplish. This is a final destination, not a roadmap for how you'll get there. For example, a team of schoolteachers on an instructional design committee may hope to become the region's model for how teachers use technology to enhance student learning. Big goals are inspiring. In his research on successful organizations, Jim Collins found that highly visionary companies set what he calls BHAGs, or Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
The teams of mathematicians at NASA weren't necessarily excited about the calculations they were projecting, their BHAG, what truly inspired their work was the vision of sending a man to the moon. Based on this desired future state, you can create a shared vision for your team. Allow your teammates to give input on the team's direction. If the most compelling reason you've assembled this team is related to your personal to-do list and not a broader mission, you may have a hard time motivating your team.
Even if everyone on your team is professional and does all of their work, you still won't get the best possible outcome, and that's because the extra work, what we call discretionary effort, comes from people who are motivated to go the extra mile. Think about the managers who've gotten your best work. You probably gave more than 100% because you were motivated beyond your own expectations. Allowing your teammates to chart a vision for your team will result in greater buy-in and participation at a higher level than if they were simply taking direction from you.
Share your knowledge of the broader organization. As the team's leader, you are privy to information about the big picture that your teammates may or may not have access to. You bring that knowledge into how you approach your work. Knowledge is power, resist the urge to withhold information because it distinguishes you from the rest of your team. Sharing information will give your colleagues valuable perspective on the work you're doing together. By understanding how your team's work fits into the bigger picture, you help your teammates see the purpose in the work you're doing.
Once your vision and goals are established, it's critical to stay focused. Change is inevitable and change can be a good thing, however, midstream changes on a project can lead to delays, redundancies, wasted time, and overspending. One of the most common reasons efforts fail is scope creep. Scope creep can be defined as changes to a project's initial goals or objectives. By allowing your initiative to grow beyond its original scope, you take on the risk of allowing it to get bigger than your original intention.
Early on, it's a good idea to establish what your project is and what it is not. A tool to help your team spell out the parameters of your initiative is an Is, Is Not analysis. This will help focus your team on the specifics of your project. Start by considering everything your initiative could be. If you had unlimited time and money, what might be possible? Once you've brainstormed the possibilities, go through the list and categorize the components.
While many may be great ideas, if they don't fall within the scope of the current project, list them in the Is Not column. This is an opportunity for you to clarify expectations and set parameters for your team's efforts. Oftentimes there are exciting and interesting directions we can pursue, and giving the team time to walk through the possibilities is a useful brainstorming exercise. But it's important that everyone walk away from the discussion understanding exactly what the project is and equally important, what it is not.
Your teammates are looking to you for inspiration. By creating a space for your team to collectively establish a shared vision, you're laying a foundation for enthusiastic efforts towards your goal. Use the Is, Is Not Template in the Exercise Files to help keep your team focused on the specific task you're working to address. When you've completed your effort, hopefully on time and within your budget, you can always revisit the Is Not column to see what enhancements you might add in the future.
- Defining roles and commitments
- Managing conflict
- Establishing and maintaining trust
- Creating a shared vision and focusing on objectives
- Providing feedback
- Structuring time for reflection
- Holding teammates accountable
- Communicating in face-to-face and virtual meetings
- Communicating across job functions and across cultures