Do you want to assure your team accomplishes a goal, task or project? Then there’s five steps, as a leader, you must take to increase the odds of your team being successful. By the way, in the spirit of transparency, I write these as much as reminders to myself as I do to be helpful to you.
Put the goal, task or project clearly and concisely in writing – writing down a goal, task or project with the accompanying plan gives it a sense of permanency and significance. Making it clear includes defining success so your team knows when it has won. Also outline the steps and resources needed to win. Make sure it’s concisely written because by doing so it will make it more memorable.
Measure and track progress on a regular basis– How often you measure and track your progress depends on duration of the goal or project. The shorter the horizon the more frequent you must measure and track. The farther out the horizon is the less frequently you need to measure and track progress. But no matter the horizon, don’t ever believe you can stop or avoid regular tracking and measurements. If you do, your team will soon flounder. The depth of your measuring and tracking will also depend on the track record of your team.
Provide consistent and regular feedback – If you’re appropriately consistent in measuring and tracking then you’ll be in the right place and posture to provide timely and helpful feedback. Feedback includes recognizing the good progress and providing correction if necessary.
Stay with it till it’s accomplished and finished – Doing these five steps requires discipline on your part as a leader. If you lose sight of a goal, task or project eventually our team will as well. What you chose to focus on will be what your team focuses on, and what you chose not to focus on (or lose focus on) will eventually be what your team choses not to focus on as well.
Celebrate – By doing these first four steps you will increase your team’s chances for success. This last step increases your team’s chances of success on the next project, task or goal. So celebrate, thank, reward, and affirm the good work your team does and they’ll be ready for the next challenge that comes their way.
Recently I meet with a CEO of a large publicly traded company. I was seeking input from her about how she effectively leads a fast growing and changing organization in hopes of applying what I learned from her in my leadership context. At one point we moved to discussing the essential nature of measuring the right things. That is when she said “you move what you measure”.
Then she shared one example of a simple behavioral change her company wanted to make with a key group of their business partners – improved timeliness of monthly reporting – and how, by simply adding on-time reporting as a measurement to their weekly scorecard, they drastically improved performance in this area.
So the question is – why does something as simple as measurement change behavior?
First, measurements provide feedback and, as social science has clearly demonstrated, feedback is essential for any behavior change. Secondly, by choosing to measure something you’re also communicating it’s importance to the organization. And this is important because people want to do meaningful work that aligns with the values and the priorities of their organization.
Finally, there’s one other bit of advice this CEO had about measurements. She said that it’s important to pick only a handful of measurements because, as humans, we can only focus on a small number of things at one time. So when we measure to many things the measurements looses their power to change behavior.
I’m thankful for this part of our discussion because it affirmed one of the important components of leading the SpringHill way that I shared with our leadership this winter – “what gets measured is what gets done” or as this CEO stated “you move what you measure”. And because we value getting things done, especially the right things, measuring them is an absolutely essential practice that SpringHill leaders prioritize, value, assure happens.
For more perspectives on place of measurements in your organization click here and here.
There’s no doubt many of the most important things, maybe the most important things in life cannot be measured. For example how do you measure love, justice, grace, freedom or mercy?
And more importantly, at least for us competitive types, is the fact that if we can’t measure the most important things then we can’t set clear, measurable goals for them. So, for example, I can’t set a goal of increasing my love for my wife Denise by 20% (though I’m sure I need to love her more).
Which leads to the shortcoming of the leadership maxim I examined in my last post “what gets measured is what gets done” – you can’t directly measure the most important things in life.
At SpringHill this is the dilemma we face when we want to know if we’re effectively fulfilling our mission of “creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ.” How do you measure a person’s growth in their relationship with the God of the Universe? And even more perplexing how do you set a goal for such transformation?
We’ve accepted that we can’t measure such things directly or with certainty, but at the same time we’ve learned we can measure particular indicators of whether such things are becoming reality. These indicators center on a person’s admitted change in perspective, commitments they’ve made, and the anticipated life change they expect to experience. And when we combine these important indicators with our own professional assessment we begin to understand with some confidence our mission effectiveness. For us, at SpringHill, these indicators provide focus and attention to the most important things without being the final word on such things.
So maybe this old leadership maxim needs to change from “what gets measured is what gets done” to “what gets measured in some way is what gets our needed attention” and it’s this attention that leads to effectiveness.
For over twenty years Michael Perry has made it his mission to bring young people closer to Christ through his Bible study publications, his capacity as the President and CEO of SpringHill, and his recent book, Experience = Everything. Over the last fifty years, SpringHill has changed over half a million lives—proving that it is more than just camp, or a place, SpringHill is a transformative experience.