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Dear Dr. Scott,

Developing Digital or Face-to-Face Team Goals Require These 5 C’s

As a business leader, I thought I was decent at getting my work teams motivated to work together toward the completion of goals. But I need help. Sometimes I feel like I’m herding cats trying to keep people on the same page with where we are headed.

I oversee 5 virtual work groups and have competent department leaders heading up each group. When I click “Off” from a web-conference to end a meeting with these leaders I often think, “Good, it seems like my leaders know where we are headed and they should be able to get each of their work groups to reach these goals.”

But then it doesn’t seem to take too long for my wishful hopes to unravel as reports of data and also group conflict come my way. What am I doing wrong in trying to set up effective goals for my virtual teams? Can you give me some insights to help my work teams reach their goals?

Signed, Vastly Vexed in Vermont

This is a common question for leaders of virtual work teams, as well as those who work primarily face-to-face (F2F). Oftentimes, to a leader of a group, a team goal may seem almost obnoxiously obvious…like, “Of course this is the goal! Isn’t it clear that the group must reach this goal with excellence and timeliness?”

But “assumptions get us nearly every time” (one of my favorite sayings!). And if a leader assumes that group members recognize the same priorities and goals as they do – well, that may be an initial problem in the scenario of a group not all pulling together to complete the same goal!

So here are insights I’ve offered to a leader client caught up in the struggle of establishing effective team goals for virtual work groups.

NOTE: To be sure, these “5 Components (C’s) of Effective Team Goals” work in the F2F setting as well! The main difference is that the leader of virtual groups must be much more in-tune and aware of being highly intentional in addressing each of these components to improve the performance and success rate of virtual teams they lead.

How will it look when the goal is reached?

5 Components (C’s) of Effective Team Goals

1. Clear Goals This is the “what” of the goal. What is the overarching objective? Where is the desired destination? Does every member of the group possess the same clarity about this group goal? As the leader, have you confirmed this?

Compelling goals stir a desire to contribute

2. Compelling Goals As the leader, have you crafted a vision of this goal’s desired end state that is motivating to the group members? Have you addressed the, “What’s in it for me?” question that each member mentally asks? Have you shared this group goal in such a way that you create in every member a desire to contribute? Are they authentically eager to reach this goal?

3. Cooperative Goals

Cooperation increases when team members feel needed & valued

Because we know that a high-functioning team works as a system with well-oiled parts that must be working in synch, as the leader have you identified a role for each member in the group? Have you indicated how each role is needed and valued? Have you confirmed that group members know their role (and the value of it)?

Challenging goals seem outlandish - but "do-able"

4. Challenging Goals Have you heard of the term “Stretch Goals” when talking about setting milestones with meaning that seem almost out of reach…but are still quite possibly attainable? Well, that is what I mean by setting challenging goals for your work teams. Team members need to believe that it IS possible to attain the goal; and they must realize that it will take cooperation among team members to make it happen. If they believe the goal is completely out of reach, good luck engaging them! If they believe the goal is so easy that any two members could complete it on their own, quite possibly members will sit back and wait for the little effort they believe is required to come from other members! As a leader have you planned this as a strategic, important, and challenging goal?

Commitment means, "I'm on board! Let's go!"

5. Commitment to Goals Have you invited feedback from group members during the discussion you’ve led about this fresh, group goal? Have you asked (specifically) for your group members to express that they’re “on board” with this group goal? They don’t have to love it; but they must be moved to a point beyond being willing to “live with it.” When you can get them to verbalize out loud to themselves AND the group that at the least, “I’m on board,” the group’s commitment level goes up exponentially. And almost more importantly, have you as the leader expressed that you are not just “on board” but that you are fully committed to this goal?

So if you identify with the issues vexing the leader in the intro e-mail to this post about:

  • how to set up effective goals for your virtual teams, and
  • how to help your work teams reach their goals,

employing these 5 Components (C’s) of Effective Team Goals will be of help. If these issues resonated with you, there are 3 things of which to remain aware.

a)    As a leader who desires to develop effective team goals that your teams get behind and work together to make happen, YOU must take the time to think through and plan for how to communicate the 5 C’s of Effective Team Goals with your team.

b)   As a leader who desires to share team goals with your team of leaders who must then go cascade this information about the team goal with those they lead, you must plan for how to communicate the 5 C’s of Effective Team Goals with your group of leaders.

c)    As a leader who oversees numerous work groups (each with a leader), if you want those groups to reach team goals, you must do a) and b) above, AND teach the leaders of those groups how to do the same with the members in the groups they lead.

Our dear Vastly Vexed in Vermont leader diligently prepared to share team goals in these ways. The results? Team members collaborated cooperatively toward the clear, compelling, and challenging goals they were committed to reach. Motivation and momentum mixed to make results happen.

How can you articulate the 5 C’s of a current (or soon to be) team goal (whether it is a virtual or F2F team!) to increase the likelihood of your team(s) reaching it?

By Dr. Heidi Scott – Leadership and Organizational Development Specialist – consulting with and coaching leaders across industries

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What does this picture tell you about the essence of TEAM?

A picture can say a thousand words. With that in mind, look at, study, and really think about the meaning of the picture above – and how it connects to the essence of TEAM.

As implications of what is occurring in this picture, consider the following:

  • How is this picture a metaphor for your team? (Whether you are thinking of a workplace project team, community group/team, athletic team, or any other type of group with more than 2 people working toward a common goal who influence one another.)
  • What does the pool of water represent?
  • What or who does the droplet(s) of water represent? How many “answers” can you come up with?
  • How many variations of what the ripples in the water represent can you come up with? As you consider your team/group, can you generate concrete examples of what the ripples may represent?
  • As you consider the list of concrete things that the ripples in the water may represent on your team, how did you feel about each one? How do you think members of your team felt? How do you think the leader(s) felt?
  • What does the calm water beyond the ripples represent?
  • How does the “pool of water” absorb the ripples as it seeks equilibrium and peace?

Team Impact…It Happens

Your answers to the questions above lead to these two – that get to the heart of improving your performance and effectiveness as a leader and as a team member.

  • What’s it like to be YOUR teammate?
  • What’s it like to be following YOUR leadership?
  • How can you change your interactions and communication on your team so that you produce a more positive impact?
  • What is YOUR ripple effect? And is it what you want it to be?

By Dr. Heidi Scott – The “Leader’s Coach” http://www.LearningPursuits.com

Sometimes when I am a part of a small group, it is easy to slide along together enmeshed in a purpose or vague “goal” of being together. And if the small group experience is not rockin’ with synergy, results, and fun – or worse yet, begins to feel like I have my feet mired in muck and I feel stuck with the group – I want out. Yet if I’m honest, most of the time that sense of needing to cut myself loose has to do with the egocentric “Me vs. We” tug of war exercising muscles belonging to the human, selfish nature within me…that’s within all of us.

Yet a small group is a system. In fact, it is much like a galaxy!

Shaping the small group – as a leader or participant – by seeing it as a System

In a small group, whom do I focus upon most? Why, ME, of course! Yet just because I may think of myself most as I consider my small group, or just because I may see my world as just that…MY world, doesn’t change the fact that earth is just a piece of the galaxy. And the galaxy is a vast system of interconnected elements.

When the term “galaxy” dances across my mind, the scene becomes one of the backdrops for a Star Trek show. You know, where you see the stars out in a vast blue sea of “forever” on the screen, with an occasional meteor or falling star whisks by – threatening the safety of the Starship Enterprise and life upon it had it connected?

Using this metaphor of the Starship Enterprise zipping across the galaxy may illumine the SYSTEM characteristics of small groups.

And why do we care? This knowledge can help us effectively shape the course of life and work in a small group – as a leader or participant.

What do I need to remember?

  • 1 change = BIG change. If there was an oxygen leak on the Star Trek Enterprise, the entire starship was at risk. In a system (and small group), there really is no such thing as an inconsequential change. For example, enter or exit a new member to your small group – YIKES! This could place the small group at risk of disintegration. At the very least, it may change how the group optimally functions.
  • A system is like a living organism; it is continuously adapting to the environment and micro-changes in order to continue. A small group innately seeks stability. It tries to manage its stability by controlling the degree and rate of change.
  • A system (whether a galaxy or small group!), continually seeks Dynamic Equilibrium. Much like a system, a small group has an invisible control panel where it monitors the “desirability” of change. Dynamic Equilibrium in a group or system is the delicate balance between change and stability. A group’s Dynamic Equilibrium Control Panel manages change, promotes success and growth, and knows the limits of pushing for that success without placing the group or system in utter chaos…where the threat of disintegration is real.
  • Small groups and systems seek survival at all costs – usually through Adaptability. With changing conditions, small groups respond with modifications (when needed) to its rules, procedures, and boundaries.

When we consider how small groups ARE like systems, we begin to see how we are NOT separate individuals “attached” to a group. We are part of a web of interactions, and we and our movements are connected to one another. We influence one another. We individually impact the focus, strength, and effectiveness of the group. There is an extreme degree of interdependence among all members of a small group – because it is a system.

So as a leader or participant of a small group, knowing that even though I am but one member I DO highly impact my group’s welfare hopefully keeps me mindful of how I choose to interact with my small group.

Because in all truth, my actions, words, and attitudes as I connect with my small group contributes to the overall “ripple effect” of energy in the group. Either I generate life-giving growth to this system, or I drain it by tapping its resources to simply try to adapt and sustain itself.

So which are you when it comes to leading or participating in a small group?

As you reflect, are you a Life-Giver? Or are you a Resource Drainer?