Does your team stay focused on results? Or do other things get in the way – individual goals, office politics, the daily grind? Though it sounds simple, it’s actually really hard for teams to stay consistently focused on results. But it’s also extremely important.
The last of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, inattention to results can severely undermine the effectiveness of teams. Symptoms of this dysfunction include:
- Loss of achievement-oriented team members;
- An individualistic focus on careers and goals which undercuts teamwork;
- Easily distracted team members;
- Failure to meet team goals.
So what gets in the way of teams staying results-focused? And how can your team avoid those pitfalls?
Don’t put your own goals above the team’s
The damage you can do to your team by focusing too much on your individual status is obvious. By putting your goals above the team’s, or being overly focused on getting recognition for all your own small achievements rather than the larger team successes to which you’ve contributed, you’ll pull your focus away from collective goals.
Of course personal career development is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of teamwork. Plus, being a bad team member and failing to act in a way which achieves good collective results hardly makes you a more desirable employee anyway…
Don’t rely on your team’s status
In some cases, teams are inattentive to results because they feel satisfied by their affiliation to something important or high-status. So, they stagnate.
Lencioni gives a few examples of areas where this might happen – academic departments, political groups, prestigious companies, and altruistic non-profits. In this last, for instance, people may believe that “the nobility of their mission is enough to justify their satisfaction.”
I’d argue that you should feel satisfied because you’re actually doing something to support those goals. Having a sense of pride in your team’s aims, affiliations and so on is good. But what are you doing to live up to them?
Set team-specific goals
Of course larger goals for the team and organisation matter, but teams need to have goals relevant to their own work. And within that, team members should ideally have individual goals to motivate them specifically.
As a team, it’s worth taking the time to clearly identify your collective goals. Break them down into smaller aims, and think about what each individual is best suited to do. It can be a great opportunity for creative thinking, and coming up with personal goals which will benefit the group.
Identify key metrics
It’s hard to keep your attention on results if you don’t know how they’re being tracked. Identify some key metrics you can look at, make sure the team understands what they are, and check on them regularly. It’ll make it much easier for you to stay results-focused if you actually know what you’re supposed to achieve!
Make yourselves accountable
I’ve already written about the importance of accountability within teams (and how leaders can encourage it), so I won’t go over it again. But of course, accountability and attention to results are closely linked.
Decide as a team which results you can track internally, and which need the added push of public accountability. Some goals are best kept private, but others should be public – especially those which will require a lot of collaboration across different teams.
As the last of the five dysfunctions, attention to results is dependent on the last four. If your team lacks trust, members won’t feel safe airing issues. If there’s no healthy conflict, it’ll be very difficult for people to understand and commit to goals. If it’s not clear what’s expected of them, team members won’t be able to hold themselves accountable for that. And without a sense of accountability, the team’s focus may shift away from results.
Work on the whole pyramid Lencioni outlines, starting with a base of trust, and your team will go from strength to strength. From those reliable foundations, you’ll build your way up to great results and a positive, rewarding team culture.