Back To CourseEstablishing Team Responsibilities as a Leader
2 chapters | 13 lessons
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Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.
As a leader within an organization, you have probably spent some time working on and toward organizational objectives and goals. In fact, this process falls within the planning function of management whereby a manager develops objectives, goals, and action plans aimed at a larger organizational goal. In contemporary organizations, many leaders, possibly even yourself, use teams to carry out these action plans so that they can meet their set objectives and goals in a timely manner.
It should come as no surprise then that one of the most important factors of team success is understanding what those goals are. Goals can be big or small and are statements that detail what an organization is trying to accomplish. Objectives are precise actions that work towards the completion of a goal. Clearly defined objectives and goals provide a sense of purpose within the team and communicate to members how their work will contribute to the overall organization and its goals. A team without clearly defined objectives and goals will make little progress and often fail to complete a project as it was originally intended. However, the team that is fully aware of its goals has clearly defined expectations and tends to be higher performing and more effective at accomplishing its mission.
While it is up to the team leaders to initiate the process of goal setting, they should also share the responsibility with their teams. Of course, there are many instances where goal setting is a one-man show, but these projects are often less successful than ones where the team members are directly involved in the process. The reason for this is simple: buy-in or gaining your team's interest and commitment to a project.
Team members want to feel that their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives matter. They want to feel vested and have a sense of ownership over the project. When team members are involved in the process, they tend to be more passionate about achieving project goals, and we all know the power of a motivated employee.
Here are some ways you can involve your team members within the goal-setting process:
One of the most widely recognized methods of goal setting is to use SMART goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each step within the SMART process is used to help leaders and their teams write focused goals across a wide array of industries. Let's take a look at how the SMART goals process is applied by Maria and her customer service team.
In recent months, Maria has found that customer service satisfaction levels have dropped significantly. According to a recent survey, many existing customers are considering switching to a competitor because of poor customer service and lengthy wait times that her customers are experiencing when calling customer service. Maria knows that she has to do something fast or risks losing customers. After spending some time discussing the issues with her team, Maria has decided to use SMART goals to tackle the issue. Here is an explanation of each area of the SMART formula and a description of how Maria applied each of these steps to her situation:
1. Set Specific Goals
Remember one of the most important factors in determining a team's success is understanding its goals. Specific, clear, and well-defined goals are necessary to set expectations and provide direction. A specific goal for Maria's customer service team is to decrease customer wait times by 5 minutes by the end of the quarter. This goal is specific in that it details what the group needs to do (decrease wait times), by how much (5 minutes), and by when (the end of the quarter).
2. Set Measurable Goals
Without some form of measurement, a goal is just a goal. In order to know whether or not a goal was actually achieved, you must have some sort of measurement tool in place. Measuring wait times will be simple enough for Maria and her team. They simply need to track and assess how much time a customer is being left on hold to determine if, on average, the wait time has decreased by 5 minutes or more.
However, another area Maria will want to measure is customer satisfaction levels with the new wait times. This is important, because according to the initial survey, customer satisfaction levels had dropped significantly in recent months. Therefore, once the new wait times are implemented, Maria's team plans to send out a follow-up survey every 30 days to measure customer satisfaction levels.
3. Set Attainable Goals
A goal is only as useful as it is attainable. If a goal is unrealistic to begin with, your team will have very little chance of reaching it. While goals should challenge your employees to allow them opportunities for learning and growth, they must also be practical. The last thing you want to do is set your team member up for failure or open the door for unethical behavior. Setting realistic goals that slightly stretch their current level of knowledge and skill is most valuable for both the employee and the organization. For Maria and her team, asking them to improve customer service wait times by 5 minutes will be a challenge but something that can be achieved with the right resources. For Maria's team, that means they need to recruit and train about 10 new customer service representatives by the end of the quarter.
4. Set Relevant Goals
Sometimes the 'R' in SMART stands for realistic, but because attainable and realistic go hand-in-hand, this lesson will use the term 'relevant' here. Relevance when setting goals is important; a goal that does not seem to matter if it is accomplished or not will not go very far in the motivation department.
For goals to drive action, they need to matter to those people who are working towards them. Relevant goals provide purpose and motivation and demonstrate how the goal will affect those working towards it. For example, the goal to improve customer service wait times is relevant to the team, because quality customer service is an important factor in customer retention. If the company starts to lose customers, there will be a lower need for customer service employees, thus putting their jobs in jeopardy. Not to mention it is much easier being a customer service agent when your clients aren't always upset by the time they get on the phone with you because they have been waiting for extended periods.
5. Set Time-bound Goals
Timelines are important when defining goals. When developing project goals you must determine the dates for specific milestones as well as the final deadline. Make sure these dates are achievable and realistic while at the same time are time-sensitive enough to the goals of the organization. Maria and her team must act quickly enough to repair the customer service issue but need enough time to acquire and train the necessary staff, which is why a deadline till the end of the quarter is appropriate for her group.
Let's review. As a leader, it is critical that you set clear objectives and goals for your team. Without goals, your team will have very little chance of success. Equally as important as those goals is to involve your team members in the goal-setting process. There are a variety of ways to include team members in the goal-setting process so that you can show each member that they are valued, increase motivation, and earn their buy-in. Using SMART goals is one way to ensure that you write clear and specific objectives that work towards your intended goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each step within this process will help to successfully guide a project from beginning to end.
You should be able to accomplish the following after completing this lesson:
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Back To CourseEstablishing Team Responsibilities as a Leader
2 chapters | 13 lessons