Hello, my friends,
This week I’m going to talk about Goals, Roles, and Rules. You know the words, but what am I really talking about?
For a long, long time, I’ve been either part of a team, part of many teams, or the leader of teams. Since my corporate career, I have done a lot of coaching and leading of teams from the outside, and facilitating teams through issues and challenges.
While there are as many problems and challenges in teamwork and team effectiveness as there are teams, “Goals, Roles and Rules” is a quick litmus test that I do to help me diagnose exactly what is going on or at least give me a clue as to where to dig deeper.
Today, I challenge each and every one of you – if you’re on a team or particularly if you are the leader of the team – to ask these questions about Goals, Roles, and Rules.
What is our goal? Can every member your team articulate what the team’s purpose is, not in a rehearsed manner or memorized speech, but in their own way…in their own words? How are we defining success? What is the scoreboard? When we’re all done, and we’re wildly successful and high-fiving, what is it that we will have accomplished? Everyone on the team ought to be able to answer that basic question. And if they can’t…hello, you have a problem on your team.
Think about a team picture. What is the first thing you look at in a photo of your family or any group that you’re in, particularly a team? If you are like most people, the first thing you look for is yourself. It’s very indicative of human nature. We want to understand what our contribution is to the team.
If we can’t see that, then we are lost. It’s that old WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) idea. We want to know: what’s my role? Everyone has a right to feel valued, respected, and acknowledged for their contribution. Everyone ought to be able to answer the question: What is your role on this team?
If any one of your team members can’t answer that, you as a leader have an issue.
I am not talking about some big rulebook procedure manual. I’m talking about the basic constraints of any project: cost, schedule, quality, and communication.
Costs – Do you know how much money will be available and required? What are the budget and resource constraints? People should know what those are in general. They don’t necessarily have to know all of the specifics, but in general, they need to understand that element of the rules.
Schedule – What are the deadlines? What is our deliverable? What is the delivery date? Is it a customer? Is it a trade show? What is the critical path? And more importantly, am I on the critical path? If a day delay by me would causes the entire project to be delayed, boy, it would be really good for me to know that as a team member.
Quality – This harkens back to the first one, which is, “What is our goal?” Who is the customer, and how are they going to define satisfaction or ecstasy with regard to what it is we’re delivering? What is our quality standard? How are we going to define “done”?
Communication – What are our communication rules? Are we going to communicate every day, every hour, once a week…what is the breadth and depth of our communications? This allows me to normalize my own communication to fit the constraints of the team.
Too many times, you see team players who are communicating excessively, beyond team norms, and that causes a slowdown. It can also create anxiety amongst other team members.
Or quite often, I see it go the other way where people are not communicating but “just doing their job.” They believe that if everyone just “does their job”, everything will be performed at an optimal level, and that’s not actually true.
As a leader, you have an obligation to make sure that you are clear on what the communication standards are within the team.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of my top tricks and tips for assessing from the outside perspective.
It is a matter of asking, “What issues are challenging this particular team?”
Once we have identified those, we can move forward to resolve them and get the team back on track.
Goals, Roles, and Rules…try the litmus test with your team.
Ed DeCosta is one of the most engaging executive coaches and thought leaders of our time. He delivers results with companies of all sizes, from high tech start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. Ed is an ICF certified professional coach. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University, a master’s degree in international management from the University of Texas, and an MBA from the University of Texas. Ed is also an adjunct faculty member in West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics, teaching Professional Selling and entrepreneurship courses.