Organizations in 2022 still battle cultural challenges that have proven to be the biggest impediment to driving execution. This is not a strategy problem. This is a human behavior challenge.
Most organizations, even stable ones, have critical teams working at cross-purposes, too broadly focused, and in some cases, people are misaligned.
Through surveys and direct observations, many companies suffer from the following:
- Functional leaders compete for resources and budget.
- Functional leaders do not regularly collaborate.
- Teams across organizations fail to pursue goals together.
- Organizations lack clear goals, which makes recognizing progress difficult.
- Organizations fail to report progress against KPIs regularly.
- Company cultures tend to restrict frequent collaboration.
When work execution is not clicking as it should be, employees tend to burn out. Leaders expect their employees to trudge through the mud and make results happen. What they don’t realize is how these issues affect morale. The tipping point tends to be when multiple high-impact employees leave the company.
So, how do critical team leaders or executives responsible for multiple critical teams get the ball moving in the right direction?
- Identify the key people serving on critical teams. These are the people that make the highest impact in your organization. Utilize surveys to identify and evaluate important obstacles that adversely affect execution.
- Survey the high-impact people to understand where the breakdowns are happening. How are the team’s priorities being communicated? How much resistance do they face in their daily work? Are they able to effectively influence someone who doesn’t report to them? Are they saying no to distractions? A manufacturing client realized that their engineering team was prone to serving the needs of the sales team to the point it interfered with its main objective of issuing build instructions to the plant floor. This created a hugely reactive engineering team bumbling through their day-to-day work and fighting fires that could have been prevented. As a result, the organization was incurring inordinately high overhead costs because of the unnecessary back and forth between sales and engineering. Customers were getting proposals late and the technical quality of the engineering information was not particularly good. The adversarial interactions between these two groups caused major disruptions and morale issues over time.
- The next step is to help people build relationships on their teams and across silos by building trust and transparency. Often there is also the need for people to learn how to better align with their organization’s goals. Using people analytics allows leadership to understand how each team performs and what stands in the way of progress.
The implementation of people analytics is a two-step, professionally facilitated process:
- All teammates learn how to use a common language to understand better the individual strengths they bring to the team and appreciate teammates' strengths. This common language is also applied to how each individual performs their work and how they develop one-on-one relationships. The team digs into reviewing their overall team’s strengths and caution areas. This helps the team to identify actionable goals to address concerns. The takeaway is a collection of insights organized into a team dynamics action plan.
- The second part of this process is focused on the execution of team objectives. Teams are allowed to build on their understanding of their team type by translating their team objectives into a team strategy. Contrasting and comparing their team type with their team strategy, insights are gained related to the team’s strengths and potential caution areas. Teams are able to understand where they need to stretch in their execution of objectives. Each individual identifies actions to guard against potential caution areas. The takeaway is a collection of insights that they can define into SMART goals for the team.
This is an excellent process to use for newly formed teams, teams that are under new leadership, and businesses that are pivoting their strategy or wanting to enter new markets. This approach is also valuable for growing businesses that aspire to reach their next growth objectives.