TEAMS, in any organisation, usually have a specific list of tasks that they perform on a daily basis. High-performance teams are the ones, knowing which tasks are critical to their success, able to complete them to good quality with minimal time and resources.
With rapidly changing circumstances (such as the Covid-19 crisis that we are facing right now), the limit of this approach soon becomes painfully apparent. Focusing on doing what we have been doing well, with ever greater effectiveness and efficiency, will not guarantee the on-going success (or even survival in extreme cases) of our team.
The responsibility to chart a new course forward lies with the team leader. But how do our leaders determine exactly what new tasks that our team has to undertake and what changes it has to adopt with so many evolving uncertainties? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
Reviewing existing work metrics, redesigning work processes and doubling-down on customer services are all good things to consider and take actions on. But it might not be enough if these new attempts do not deliver results fast enough while the past proven success formula is crumbling in front of our eyes. Something more inspirational is called for.
Most organisations would not debate that having a good vision is vital to their long-term success. However, setting the vision is generally regarded as a lofty exercise that squarely falls within the remit of our senior management. The common mentality probably is: Why don’t you tell us when it’s done? And we will admire and applaud it. Truth be told, the majority of us subliminally think that there is no clear relevance between the organisation’s vision and what we actually do, and it’s all a bit of management mumble-jumble really.
Some new thinking is required here: In times of great change and uncertainties, team leaders should take the initiative to create a “mini-vision” for their own teams. It does not have to be lofty and it certainly should play a practical role in guiding our team to the new tasks needed for our future success.
How do we do it? Well, it might come as a surprise: A leaf can actually be taken out of the book of those property make-over programmes on TV. They usually involve the host team choosing a dilapidated house, working on it and eventually transforming it into something amazing. All in the space of half an hour, of course!
What we can learn from this is that we can think of the existing state of our team as our “current house”. We can then use our imagination to conjure up what kind of a “transformed house” that our team would love to live in based on the things that we are not satisfied with our “current house”. This “transformed house” will become our team vision.
With this team vision in place, it will act as a magnet to help us draw out the actions or tasks that we need to undertake in order to bring it into reality. It will give our team a new sense of meaning (why we are doing the things that we are doing) and confidence (even if some of the initial attempts of new things do not turn out as intended) when we are making progress towards our team vision.
In difficult times, we long for our leader to ignite us with a vision, giving us hope and a cause to which we can fully commit ourselves. Are you up for the challenge?