As a leader, you probably have a laser focus on results. You need to clearly know your organisation’s goals, and what you’re doing to achieve them.
But it shouldn’t only be those in leadership roles who stay attentive to results. As Patrick Lencioni explains in his Five Dysfunctions of a Team, every successful team needs to stay focused on their goals – and if they don’t, the organisation’s higher-level results will suffer.
So what can you do to foster that culture? What concrete steps can you take to ensure teams at all levels are paying attention to results?
Make goals clear on every level
It sounds obvious, but actually the goals of many organisations aren’t clear to employees. Hopefully they know what they individually need to do, and what their team should be doing, but does everyone know the company’s mission? Its aims for the year? How their team’s work contributes to that? If the answer is no, you need to clarify this.
Differentiate ‘results’ from ‘profit’
When I say “the company’s mission”, I don’t mean making money. Though it may be a clear goal for the upper levels of an organisation, it’s far too broad to be a useful focus for pretty much everyone else.
As Lencioni puts it: “Every good organisation speciﬁes what it plans to achieve in a given period, and these goals, more than the ﬁnancial metrics that they drive, make up the majority of near-term, controllable results.”
Set up regular review/reflection points
It’s easy for company-level goals to drift away from the front of people’s minds as time goes on. As a leader, you should be sure to regularly reaffirm goals and assess progress. This can be an in-person meeting, a company-wide email, or anything else which fits the culture and work style of your organisation. But it needs to be something!
Tie results to rewards
While you don’t want to rely too much on this, results-based rewards can be a good way to motivate employees to keep their focus on results. Financial bonuses are the most obvious example of this, but other benefits and perks can work too. Just make sure they’re explicitly tied to results.
According to Lencioni, “letting someone take home a bonus merely for “trying hard,” even in the absence of results, sends a message that achieving the outcome may not be terribly important after all.”
Lead by example
As a leader, you must model all of this yourself. You need to show a clear understanding of goals – beyond profit. You need to state goals publicly where appropriate, and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. And if you use results-based rewards in the organisation, they absolutely have to apply to you too. Executives giving themselves big bonuses in very tough years is one of the quickest ways to undermine morale and commitment among other employees…
Following these tips, you can encourage a much tighter focus on results in your organisation. This should ultimately lead to growth rather than stagnation in teams, better teamwork, and a sense of satisfaction when employees see how their own work has contributed to larger goals.