Last week was our first week back from summer break. During our team strategy & planning day, we strove to answer this question: What does good look like for us?
💡 Psst...EVERY good strategy / operations conversation should fundamentally answer this question!
Whether we were talking about our 2024 vision, client interactions, marketing, systems - over and over we needed to establish what we were actually looking for.
✔️How will we know if our [project / workshop / consultation / webinar / coaching] was successful?
✔️Is getting 100 new followers on LinkedIn successful or are we shooting for 10,000?
Regardless of where you work, it is fundamental to understand what success looks like and then to create expectations based on this. We hope you've come together as a team (or have a plan to), so you can realign and refocus after summer break. And of course, if you'd like to fully participate and delegate the facilitation to us, we're happy to help.
1. Define what success looks like
What does good look like? How will we know if we've failed?
These are questions all teams grapple with. In the 2023 NBA playoffs an incredible moment happened after a strong contender, the Milwaukee Bucks, lost and took an early exit.
The Milwaukee Bucks (a strong favourite to win) were eliminated in Round 1. A reporter asked their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, if he thought this season was a failure. His passionate answer has gone viral for a great reason. You can watch it here (2 minutes) :
Reporter: Would you consider this year a failure? Giannis: "You asked me the same question last year, I think. Do you get a promotion every year? No, right? So, every year your work is a failure? Yes or no? No. Every year you work, you work toward something – to a goal – which is to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, to be able to provide a house for them or take care of your parents. You work toward a goal. It’s not a failure. It’s steps to success." "Michael Jordan played 15 years. Won six championships. The other nine years [were] a failure?… No. Exactly, so why [did] you ask me that question? It’s the wrong question. "There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days, some days you are able to be successful, some days you are not, some days it is your turn, some days it’s not. That’s what sports is about. You don’t always win. Some other group is gonna win and this year someone else is gonna win. Simple as that. We’re gonna come back next year and try to be better, try to build good habits, try to play better. So, 50 years from 1971 to 2021 we didn’t win a championship, it was 50 years of failure? No it was not. There were steps to it. And we were able to win one and hopefully we can win another one."
His response went viral. And while some disagreed, most of us applauded his response and his openness.
When I listened to this, I thought about a challenge many teams we work with have: there's no clear definition of success. In sports, success and failure might seem more brutal. Did you win or lose? But Giannis is able to show the nuance - losing doesn't always equal failing.
At work we need to have a clear understanding of what good looks like AND how that's measured. Can everyone in your team answer these questions?
How will we know if we're successful?
What does good look like in each role?
How are we measured and how often?
Who are our customers and what does good look like to them? What metrics show this?
2. Set clear expectations
Expectations, expectations, expectations. Expectations are core to our brains' strategy for making sense of the world. Our brains are constantly generating expectations and then comparing our experiences with them.
When people's expectations aren't met they get a flood of cortisol (the stress hormone). Even if their expectations are unrealistic! It doesn't matter. Conversely when our expectations are met, we get hit with some dopamine!
Therefore, as much as you can and as early as possible - clarify your expectations. What should you be setting expectations about? Everything.
6 foundational expectations every team member has to know:
What hours do people work? When?
Where do people do their job?
How do we communicate and document things as a team? Email vs text vs phone call? How formal do we have to be? Where do we save documents?
What metrics/KPIs are we measured on?
What decisions do we make in our team and how do we make those decisions?
How do we build continuous improvement into our ways of working?
Expectations are built from experiences
Remember, people may have different expectations based on previous experiences they've had. And because we're diverse and have had diverse experiences, expectations need to be explicitly clarified.
Two real examples from clients:
🕗 WHEN YOU WORK: This person's previous team had autonomy to choose their work hours, as long as they got their work done. Some people were early start - early finishers. Others came in around 10:30am on days they didn't have morning meetings and then worked into the night. Imagine his shock when he found out his team leader was upset about his starting hours.
He didn't realise he was expected to start at 8/8:30am and his leader didn't realise she needed to even clarify this because every job she had held banking hours!
⚡WHO MAKES THE DECISION: This person had just moved to NZ and couldn't understand why her leader wouldn't just make a decision and kept asking other people. Her leader expected her to share her thoughts and contribute to the decision. She expected her leader to make the decision so they could both move on. (This was also a great example of building cultural intelligence amongst the team!