The Art of Strengths Coaching

D is for Your Team Following Agreed Dos And Don’ts Towards Delivering The Goods

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Good teams embody clarity. Everybody knows the goals they aim to deliver. They also know the guidelines – the Dos and Don’ts – people need to follow to reach the goals.

Looking back, can you recall a time when you were part of a team that employed this approach? You may have been part of a sports team, choir, paramedic team, work group or whatever.

What did people do to clarify the picture of success? What did they do to be clear on the principles they aimed to follow to deliver the goods? What were the benefits of everybody understanding the approach?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you were part of a team that was clear on what it aimed to deliver and the Dos and Don’ts for working towards the goal.

Describe the specific things it did to clarify these themes.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of people understanding these themes.

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Imagine that you lead your present team at work. How could you use this approach to ensure that people are crystal clear on the goal? Let’s explore some steps it is possible to take.

Clarifying what the
team aims to deliver

Good leaders make clear contracts with their key stakeholders – such as their board and employers – about the results to achieve. They then translate these into a clear picture of success.

Such leaders take different steps to communicate these aims to their people. Whichever route they take, however, they make sure everybody is clear on the following themes.

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Different leaders have different approaches towards involving their people in formulating these themes. Some say:

“These are the goals and the guidelines. Achieving these aims will call for demonstrating a certain kind of spirit. Let us know if you want to contribute towards reaching the goals.”

Some leaders involve their people in helping to set the goals and guidelines. They make it clear, however, that certain things are mandatory.

Imagine that you want to take this approach with your team. Gather people together, give each person a pack of Post-it Notes and invite them to do the following exercise. You may want to say something along the following lines.

As you know, our team must deliver certain goals. We can also add other targets that we want to achieve.  

Bearing this in mind, I want to involve you in clarifying what the team must deliver. I would like each of you to write Post-it Notes on the following topics.

First, write one Post-it that describes what you believe should be the headline goal we should aim to achieve.

Second, bearing this in mind, write as many Post-its as you like to describe the specific results that we need to deliver.

Third, describe what you believe are the benefits to the various stakeholders of achieving these results.

Give people time to write their Post-it Notes. Invite them to then each go up in turn and put their ideas on the following flip charts that you will have prepared earlier. They are also to describe their reasons for each of the suggestions.

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Looking at the suggestions people have written, agree on the specific results to achieve. You can then move on to the next stage.

Clarifying the team’s Dos and
Don’ts for achieving the goal

Good leaders make sure people know the goals. They also make ensure everybody knows the guidelines – the Dos and Don’ts – to follow to reach the goals.

Such leaders also explain the reasons for these guidelines. These are there to ensure people stand the best chance of success. They are not simply plucked out the air.

Imagine that you want to involve your team in generating the guidelines. You may want to say something along the following lines.

Bearing in mind what we need to deliver, I would like you to each write Post-it Notes on the follow themes.

Dos

Describe the specific guidelines people can follow to ensure we as a team have a good chance of achieving success.  

For example: ‘Do be positive. Do be professional. Do be customer focused. Do encourage other people. Do deliver the goods.’

Write one idea per Post-it.

 Don’ts

Describe the specific things people should not do if we are to have a good chance of achieving success. 

These may well be the opposite of the Dos, of course, but describe your ideas. Write one idea per Post-it.

Finally, describe what you see as the reasons for following these Dos and Don’ts.  

Give people time to write their Post-it Notes. Invite them to then each go up in turn and put their ideas on the following flip charts that you will have prepared earlier.

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Discuss what people have written and agree on the overall Dos and Don’ts for working towards achieving the goal. It is then time to translate these into action.

Delivering the goods

Good leaders manage by outcomes, rather than by tasks. They encourage people to keep focusing on the real results to achieve.

Bearing this in mind, it can be useful to have regular sessions in which people present the following things. These exercises are included at the end of this article.

The specific things we have delivered in the past … towards achieving the goal.

The specific things we plan to deliver in the next … towards achieving the goal.

The challenges we face, the solutions we have for tackling the challenges and, if appropriate, the support we would like from other people.

Momentum is everything, so encourage people to get some quick successes. You can also invite them to focus on how to encourage themselves, especially when things get tough.

Good teams align their efforts to do fine work. There are many ways to make this happen. One approach is to follow some agreed Dos and Don’ts. People are then more likely to combine their talents and deliver the goods.

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