Recently, a business client of PPS was experiencing massive communication problems within the executive team, which led to dramatic inefficiency and stress. The CEO asked us to help. In talking with him, it became clear that some of his executives were not totally confident in their fellow team members, that trust was being challenged, and that morale was wavering. So, it was time to arrange an executive meeting. In addition to helping the CEO prepare for the meeting by working on effective communication, we suggested the team walk away from the meeting with the following 5 outcomes, which we feel are critical for continued productivity and team morale.
1) Each team member is clear on his/her next immediate objective
One thing that can cause conflict among team members is a lack of clear direction. When not every individual is clear on EXACTLY what they should be doing next in order to help the team and company achieve its overall targets, both productivity and morale can be negatively impacted. Those who aren’t clear on what to do often play the victims, blaming leadership for not providing them a clear path, or co-workers for not encouraging them on that path, or the general system for making their path too difficult. So, meetings should absolutely assure that each team member is very clear on what the overall team goals are and what each member’s very next distinct objective is toward that end.
2) Each is confident that the others on the team also know their next objectives
Some leaders will always know their next steps, but not always be confident that others on the team understand or are capable of achieving their own objectives. This doubt can fester, causing less productivity for the ones who are usually clear and efficient. This is why effective team meetings are so essential. The team must get clear regularly on who is doing what, so they know a) they are working with other leaders who are also full-steam ahead, b) they are being held accountable for their own tasks, and c) their tasks won’t be for naught since everyone else is also fulfilling their own objectives, all of which are interdependent. In addition to regular executive meetings, creating an interactive or cloud-based tracking log, so all team members can see what every other member is up to and where they are at, is extremely helpful.
3) Each has an actionable plan and steps to achieve their objective(s)
In addition to assuring every team members knows what to do, it is also crucial each believes he or she can do it because they understand clearly HOW to do it. Most executives know that clear goals aren’t of much value without actionable, measurable steps, and that the team charged with those steps have the tools and capacity to achieve them. Hence, each team member should have their goals broken down into an actionable plan, with timelines, designated owners of each task, and the tools necessary to make it all happen.
4) Each feels good and right about what the team is doing
So the team knows what to do and how to do it, but does each member believe the tasks they are charged with are the right ones? Do they have silent objections and are just following protocol so as not to shake the status quo? If a team member does not believe the path laid out is the right path, chances are they won’t be extremely motivated or very meticulous in the trek. This approach cannot work, because the executive team ought to be comprised of Navy SEALS—ready for the long, hard fight if necessary. So, ask if anyone has any objections, suggestions, etc. to their current action plans and objectives. Make sure nothing is left unsaid, so everyone is clear and free to charge forward.
5) Each feels supported and encouraged by the other team members
Finally, the team members understand what to do and how to do it, and that it’s the right objective and path. Now, they just need to know they have the support system necessary to fall back on when the path goes awry or a tree falls in their way. Does each member have and feel the support of the other members? If not, this is the time to get it all out and figure out who has a problem with what or whom. Not only do they need to feel supported, they also need encouragement. A solid team is made of men and women who are not only clear on their objectives and capable of achieving them, but also from each member knowing that the others believe in him, and that he believes in all the others. A team that is clear, capable, and supportive of one another is a truly powerful force.
Setting the intention to walk out of the meeting with the above 5 elements helped the CEO tremendously. He called PPS after to excitedly report the positive impact of the strategy. His team was now fired up, confident in one another, clear on what everyone is doing, and ready to take action toward their objectives. Finally, they are working as a real team! Once again, effective communication, trust, and an actionable plan won the day.