Getting into Action and the Resulting Traction
Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve written an installment in this series. Busy, just like you. I am also continuing to work on a new leadership series, Leading from Within, the first post of which will be out in the next month.
Alright, where we left off in the last installment of the leadership series, was discussing relationships, process, and systems. All necessary and needed to prepare yourself and the team for being in action and gaining traction.
In this post we will look at roles and responsibilities, getting into action, and the resulting traction. Ready? Good. Here we go.
Roles and Responsibilities
In a team environment, defining each team member’s work and areas of expertise is important. If you don’t know, you won’t know who to hand the “ball” to, who to go to when you need help, and you will not understand what your team members do at work.
Being on a team means defining roles and responsibilities. The first time the team and I completed this task, it was hard. Hard because I came from outside of the department, and most of the people in the burgeoning department knew of each other, yet didn’t really know each other. Meaning, there were acquaintances, yet for what this team would eventually begin to create and build, acquaintances wouldn’t be enough.
We needed to really know each other, to really get each other; and, to do that, you need to dig into the individual work.
I’m sure there are many ways to define roles and responsibilities, yet I only really know how we did it, so here we go.
- Defining roles and responsibilities – it is important on a new team to use the same language. In fact, I’ve not written a post about this concept, and it is an important one. When you are building a team and a culture around a team, you are creating an overarching system for how people communicate; and, using the same language consistently is key, which is why defining roles and responsibilities is an important first step.
- Individual staff time – once you’ve defined roles and responsibilities, and have talked with each staff member about their individual roles and responsibilities, each staff member will need time to actually write their roles and responsibilities out. Know that they may have never been asked to do something like this, so will need some time. I think we took about 2 or 3 weeks to write ours out.
- All staff meetings – once all of the roles and responsibilities are submitted, create an all staff meeting to go through them together; and, have each staff member talk through their roles and responsibilities. Important. This will give their teammates the opportunity to ask questions.
- Document and file – after all staff members have sight on each other’s work, and have had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their work, make sure to document and file the roles and responsibilities. Documentation can be done many ways. If you use a project management system, that would work, as would a Google shared drive folder.
- Keep them handy – how you document the roles and responsibilities matter less than that they are accessible to all staff, and are referenced often. After we completed our roles and responsibilities, I used these data to formulate portions of our very first 1W1 conversations. Helpful.
As we created our roles and responsibilities, we also worked through the results we intended to achieve in our respective positions.
Here is an example of what that looked like.
Yep, that picture is a little askew, yet you get the idea.
Setting your intention early on in a team’s formation can really assist everyone, especially if you are in a leadership position. It tells you what people are passionate about, and how they plan to achieve their goals, and results.
Once everyone’s roles and responsibilities are declared and results are clearly articulated, it’s time to create a system for getting into action.
Getting into Action
The past two weeks I’ve been reflecting more upon the system we’ve created over the past three years, which I’m going to walk you through momentarily. One thing you will notice is that within the system, there is a focus on both people and performance.
As I wrote about in the post, Causal Loop 101, a focus on people only results in a lack of action and traction, whereas a focus on performance only will result in declining morale and burnout.
Here is a very simple system anyone in a leadership position can use to move from inaction to action to traction. Ready? Good. Here we go.
- Door’s always open – as I’ve written about in other posts, creating safety on your team is paramount. And, one way to do that is to ensure you are available. Being open and available for people let’s everyone know that they are the priority.
- 1W1’s – I’ve been conducting 1W1’s with the team for almost 4 years now. These 1W1 conversations have iterated over time. For almost 2 years they were weekly, and now? Only as needed. 1W1’s are instrumental when creating a new team. Creating relationships takes time, intention, and thoughtfulness. There really isn’t anything more important than these relationships.
- Program Meetings – these smaller interdepartmental meetings have also iterated over time. Today, there is really only one program that still meets weekly. It is the most complex program, with the most staff, so that’s what feels right today.
- Area-specific meetings – the registration staff also meets weekly right now. Super helpful during a time when we are not all together in our office, and can easily have ad hoc conversations. At some point these meetings will probably go by the wayside, yet not right now.
- Quarterly team building – an important aspect of building teams is making sure that each person on the team has access to high quality developmental opportunities. We began quarterly team building in year 2, and though we are on a hiatus from team building right now, they will be back once we are back on campus.
- Weekly messaging – as many of you know, I send the team a message each Monday morning. It is a way for me to stay connected, and give them a reflection from the week before. Something for them to ponder and reflect upon as they work through their week.
- Monthly Updates – I usually send out a small monthly progress report, which lets the team know how we are performing across each program in the department. They are to keep the connection going, to give them data, and to celebrate our many victories.
- Quarterly reports – these more detailed reports relay important data on how we performed against our metrics, and testimonials from students and clients. They serve two distinct purposes – give the team my sight and thinking on the current reality and landscape, and to celebrate our accomplishments.
When people on a team feel safe, know what each other do, understand their goals and priorities, and fully support the vision, you will get traction. One way to ensure that happens is to install systems into the team to ensure that there is predictability and stability.
Though our systems are mostly home-grown, they work; and, though the type of education we work in changes rapidly, just like businesses in the private sector, there is always a sense of predictability and stability amidst the chaos. Important.
You might be thinking, what does traction look like?
Well, it can look lots of different ways. One thing it is not? Just hitting a metric. That’s not it.
Meeting your goals, objectives, priorities, and metrics is only one part of the equation. Just one. The other? Developing high-quality relationships with each other that can withstand changes and chaos that will come your way. It is inevitable.
If you have the former without the latter, the team will eventually falter. If you have the latter without the former, you will achieve the former in time, and the resulting traction. Guaranteed.
Alright, that’s the last entry in The Leadership Series. It was fun. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am currently working on a new Leadership Series, the first post of which should be out sometime in April. That will also be fun. Until then, lead well.