When I work with leaders, I often hear that the #1 challenge they say they face is lack of execution by those they lead, especially direction given to a team. As I dig into the problem with the leader, I discover that the leader’s perception is that he gave clear direction to the group, but the result was far from what he was looking for.
When I ask the leader questions like:
-What was your initial direction to that team?
-What deadlines did you set?
-What was your cadence of accountability?
-Who did you ask to lead the team?
-Did they know what was at stake?
I almost always get blank stares and a comment that sounds something like this:
If I have to spoon feed this level of team members then I must have the wrong people, I need people who “get it”.
On the other hand when talking to those of us who are led by someone else I hear words of frustration like:
My boss gave a team I am part of a project with no direction, no background, really no information at all, just a “get it done, you guys know what to do”. When we presented our findings our boss was clearly frustrated, told us we did not hit the mark and then started to micro manage us to where he wanted us to go. I wish he/she gave us more insight upfront and checked in a little with our progress. If we had only understood what he/she really wanted we would have hit the mark.
This frustration both on the leader’s part and team member’s part can be avoided.
Here are 5 simple steps that you, as a leader can take to avoid this problem and get the execution you are looking for:
1) Define the task you are delegating. My bet is you are already doing this quite well, but this is typically where many leaders begin and end.
2) What is the outcome or deliverable you envision:
-What is the level of detail?
-Is there a specific format for the deliverable?
-How will you measure?
3) Do you want certain standards followed?
4) Who is the end user of the information, product or service?
5) What actions does the team need to take:
-Do they need assistance from others?
-What level of authority do they have?
-What additional resources are needed?
6) What is the deadlines for the deliverables:
-Is there one big deadline or will you break it down into small deadlines of deliverables?
7) What are the stakes associated with this deliverable:
-What are the benefits of completing?
-What are the business consequences of not completing?
-Who will be impacted?
Put all of these answers into a simple form and give each team member a copy. Perhaps you will assign a team lead, either way establish a cadence of accountability with the team lead or the team. The outcome may be important enough for weekly cadence and it might be monthly cadence, it just depends. It is a simple check on progress.
I know there is more of your time spent upfront, but the ROI on your time will be satisfying. Hopefully this will help you be more comfortable with a process that let’s your team members learn, develop and feel a sense of accomplishment for a project well done.