The beginning of a new year can bring a quiet pressure into the atmosphere of an organization. Leaders can be tempted to roll out a long list of goals for their organization to accomplish. Leaders mean well but often miss out on a golden opportunity to cultivate effective goals alongside their team. Team members feel empowered when their perspective is valued in moving the organization towards greater effectiveness.
An exercise I encourage you to try with your team this new year is to invite your team to work together in identifying appropriate goals for the organization.
This exercise will require:
- A comfortable and quiet space that is away from the office
- Yummy but healthy food (fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, salads, soups, purified water, etc.)
- Lots of creative tools (white poster boards, markers, pencils, pencils index cards, etc.)
- Time (devote 2-3 hours for this exercise)
As you have gathered the key members of your team, ask them to journal/draw their answers to the following questions...
1. What failure did the organization experience this past year that will make its future success an interesting story to tell?
There is a temptation to sweep failures under the carpet but having the space to talk about them openly is a great way to learn from them. In addition, no one wants to learn from an organization that has ALWAYS gotten it right. The best success stories come from organizations that experienced failures but have kept moving forward!
2. What motivated and encouraged team members to dig deep into the hard work required to propel the organization's mission?
This is a question that will help you, as the leader, understand how individually and collectively team members are motivated. Be sure to take notes on their answers. You may find that you will have to make adjustments in how you lead.
3. What is one success we can achieve in this new year that will not require money?
Not all problems can be solved with money. Invite your team to identify a weak area in the organization that can be fixed without a financial solution. I have found that often a non-financial solution will open the door to increased revenue.
4. How can we have more fun as an organization and still accomplish our mission?
Folks who love coming to work... do good work. Just saying.
5. How do you feel you, as an individually team member, uniquely make our organization stronger? What perspective, skill set, or personal quality do you bring to the table that helps us accomplish our mission?
Out of all five questions listed above, this is the question that your team members will be most hesitant to answer. Be sure to give them a lot of time to think it through. Don't accept non-answers (such as sarcasm or "I don't know"). Encourage them to dig deep and to specifically identify why they are integral in accomplishing the organization's mission. When team members identify their strengths and you, as the leader, affirm those strengths, you will see them set up to the plate in a big way.
After you have worked through the five questions as a team, collectively identify 3 goals for 2018. No more than three. The goals should be easy to remember and they should be written down and displayed somewhere that team can see on a regular basis. Don't be afraid to get creative. Turn the 3 goals into a design that can serve as a central art piece in the office. Get fancy with it!
2018 can be your best year yet... but only if you invite your team to be apart of the success. Giving them a chance to voice their individual perspectives and thoughts may make your feel uncomfortable at times, but in the end it will serve the mission. In the end, that's what we all want - to accomplish more good for this world. I encourage you to check your ego at the door and let your team help make the organization stronger by asking them the tough questions.