“Begin with the end in mind” (Covey)
Did you know that top athletes are trained to visualise their competition or race? To vividly imagine how the race will go. From what they do and experience at the start, to the finish. This is done for a reason. Various studies have shown that thinking about an activity has almost the same effect as doing the activity.
Visualising activates the same areas of the brain. By thinking about something, you train your brain for optimal performance when it actually happens. As a captain or MT member, you have a picture of what you want to accomplish with your team(s). And from that picture you act, build your expectations and respond to others. But what if others do not have a clear picture of that goal or destination? Then they experience your disappointment every time. Lack of clarity grows when your team members work from different locations. So, pay attention!
Lack of Clarity is poisonous
Do you know this disappointment? You are not on your own. Many managers experience this. And guess what … Your team members share this disappointment. The facts do not lie more than 2/3 (!) of the working population do not feel engaged in their work (source: Gallup). One of the biggest reasons for this low engagement – according to leaders’ behaviour – is lack of clarity: “I do not know the goals and priorities, and I do not know exactly what is expected of me.” That does not happen to you, does it?
Lack of clarity is poison to the organisation. It leads to less use of time and talent, disappointment and diminishing commitment.
It’s a shame and unnecessary.
For the brave among us, a test you can take today: Call a few team members, say what you want to find out, and then ask the following questions:
- What is your vision of what we want to accomplish together this quarter?
- How do you see your role in that?
- To what extent do you think we (all team members) have a similar view of our team goals?
Give it a try, today! Regardless of the type of goal, whether it is an annual goal for your organisation or a short-term goal for your team, you will greatly increase your chances of success if you start with complete clarity.
Distributed teams? Extra Risk!
Now that we work from home as often as possible, this clarity weighs even more heavily. You do not see each other anymore, which requires more trust in each other’s contributions. If you do not create this clarity together, you lose even more time and talent than “normal”. Everyone does their best to contribute. But from an “everyone from home” situation, it is really much harder than working together in a shared space or office where you can talk or coordinate. That is why now – in an “everyone works from home” scenario – it is wise to pay more attention than ever to clarity.
Clarity, level by level
The clearer it is what you want to achieve together – and what everyone’s contribution is – the easier and more fun it will be for everyone. Because everyone wants to contribute, you just have to enable each other …
We distinguish three levels of clarity:
- Clarity about the identity of the organisation.
- Clarity about the short-term goals of the team.
- Clarity about the contribution of each individual.
We limit ourselves to clarity in terms of your company identity. Here we distinguish three components:
- Clear mission.
- Clear Core Values.
- Clear long-term goals.
Below you will find a practical step-by-step plan to achieve this clear identity.
1. Clear Mission
The Mission (also called Purpose or Why) describes the meaning or reason for your organization’s existence in a few catchy words.
Here are a few examples:
- “Every Company a Connected Company.” (Zummit)
- “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. *
- “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” (Nike)
- “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.” (PayPal)
No mission statement yet? Follow the next steps:
1.1 Describe the unique idea with which the company was once founded
- What problem are you solving for your target audience?
- And is there a particular way in which you do this?
- What has your company become famous or infamous for?
- Where does the company’s energy and passion come from?
- What gets your employees motivated? To do what for your customers?
1.2 Formulate the timeless and distinctive meaning of your organisation.
- Look at the developments in your target group and describe the timeless and distinctive significance of your organisation. What significance will you have to your target audience in the next 10 years?
- In what particular way? What emotion do you want to evoke in the recipients of your mission?
- Why are you there? To make a difference in what way?
1.3 Summarize the above into a short and catchy sentence of 3 to 7 words.
2. Clear Core Values
Core values are deeply held beliefs, principles upon which you act. They describe why and how your organisation does things. Unfortunately, these core values are often copied and become meaningless. Do not do that! Good core values are, of course, distinctive. And they must be credible, be fulfilled. As an employee, as a customer, as a neighbour or as a supplier, I need to experience and recognize these core values in your organisation.
- We are very customer-focused (not at all distinctive, doesn’t everyone claim that?)
- We are support fanatics (Rack space, already a lot stronger and more distinctive)
- We walk in our customers’ shoes (Twillio, the whole office is full of shoes)
Follow these steps to create distinctive Core Values:
2.1 Choose which values are best for your organisation
Let employees have a say. Collect all input and list all values.
2.2 Select values and describe them in an unique way
Select the three to five values that best suit your organisation. Then look at how you can express them in the most original way possible. For example, if you choose Decisiveness, then you can describe this core value for your company as: Action rather than words. Or: Just do it. Slogans that you use internally and that are easy to remember.
2.3 Begin your core value with We are … or We have….
For example: We are entrepreneurial and optimistic. We enjoy our work. In this way, you create your own slogan which is well remembered.
3 Clear organisational goals
Organisational goals give direction to teamwork. Use them to make clear what the organisation wants to have accomplished at the end of an extended period of time, such as a year. Use goals to make the organisation’s major aspirations concrete and measurable.
3.1 List the most important parts of your Long-Term goal.
List the parts that you want to set in motion for the coming period that you want to change. What are you thinking about? Customer focus? Sales, margin, profits? Employee engagement? …?
3.2 Select the most important goals
Think again about the Long-Term Objective of your business. Double check whether you have named the most important parts. Select 3 to a maximum of 5. And check again: are you sure that you captured the most important goals?
3.3 Summarize the selected parts in a few words
- Top 3 players for our target group
- Growth to market leader
- Best employer in our industry
3.4 Make goals measurable by adding one or more KPIs.
If your team is widely dispersed, clarity weighs in extra heavily. You see each other less, which requires greater trust in and reliance on each other’s contributions.
So – in an “everyone works from home” scenario – pay more attention than ever to clarity.
And once you have achieved that clarity together, continue to work closely as a team in implementation. Zero distancing.
Involve each other in achieving the goals. Imagine team members checking in every week, sharing progress and discussing requests for help. They climb the mountain together and stay close. With zero distance. Without getting under the other person’s skin. Safe and close.
With this clarity, you use your time and talent to the maximum. In this way, you create much more together. With that clarity, you make maximum use of your Time and Talent. In this way you will get much more done together.