Idea 3: Create a Group Vision with your team. If you followed Ideas 1 and 2 you have started to improve employee satisfaction and engagement. Now, you must communicate clearly (and often) what you want the group to achieve. At the same time, we want to empower our teams to come up with innovative ways to get the job done. Finally, we must get our team involved in this process to engage them. This will improve results and help build a high performing and engaged team.
Schedule a group meeting or put this near the top of your next meeting agenda. I usually try to have this meeting about 1-2 months into taking over a new team. I want to get a good sense of the team strengths and weaknesses first and try not to make big changes right away. After a month or two we are ready, but first we need to prepare.
Step 1: What is a vision statement? There are many definitions and ways to approach a vision statement and I suggest you find what works for you. I use our vision statement to define who we want to be as a team and how we are going to get there.
Step 2: Preparation is key. Before your meeting, think about what you want the vision to include. First, I think about the big picture organization focus areas and goals that need to be in the vision (this could include whatever you are rated on by your boss). I then add my own ideas including group focus areas and goals (what I think is needed to improve the team). Finally, I make notes about things the team members might like which could help engagement (what they told you in steps 1 and 2). I create an outline for what my vision for the group looks like and how we are going to get there.
Step 3: Start engaging with your group one on one before the meeting. I ask the team individually for their feedback before we meet as a group to discuss the vision. I tell the group some of the key things I want in the vision and ask them a few questions to get their input. Empower them to solve the problems you are facing. For example, you may be having a difficult time fitting one of your boss’s priorities into the vision. Challenge your team to help you. Here are some general questions you could ask to get the team thinking:
How can we improve the group?
If you were the leader what would your vision look like?
What barriers can I help remove?
What do you feel like we are wasting time on?
What frustrates you?
How can we do things better?
If you get great answers, make some changes to your draft vision. The employee will be thrilled to hear that his/her idea was included in your plan. Or, if you get nothing, at least try to get the team thinking of things to add during the upcoming meeting. This will make for a more meaningful discussion in the meeting.
Step 4: Create the Group Vision together in a group meeting. I ask my group who we want to be as a group and how are we going to get there together. If needed, I will start to throw out some of my ideas and ask for the group’s feedback. For each idea we talk about, I ask for ideas about how we can achieve our vision.
Step 5: Try to start out with 4-6 main ideas about who the team wants to be and discuss ideas for how you could achieve those results.
Here is an example of 3 ideas from my group vision:
- The leader in quality- We will achieve this by making quality improvements a focus of monthly meetings/workshops. Management will complete 1 review per month and provide constant candid feedback to help drive improvements throughout the year. Management will let you know any time anything is noticed that could hurt your quality score. Management will recognize great quality and share best practices with the team monthly. Employees will constantly look for ways to improve quality and work to improve templates and will share best practices with the team. (Note-most of these ideas came from the team who was used to getting feedback once per year.)
- We will strive to always do the right thing. We will work together to take what you think is the right action. You are empowered to make the decision and management will support and remove barriers so that you can be successful. We will work to improve processes that will help us take the appropriate actions at the right time.
- Constantly find ways to be more efficient, eliminate waste and improve processes. We will constantly look for ways to remove barriers that are not in line with the group vision. Ideas are encouraged and rewarded monthly. We will constantly in each meeting and throughout the month, discuss better ways of doing things. We will have workshops to create templates and other time saving tools in line with the team vision.
High level leadership: This helps me clearly communicate what I want from the team. In my case the team is rated solely based on quality so starting with quality further helps me align their goals (improving their rating) with the group goal (improving quality). The team members will each have a copy of this vision and we talk about it frequently. The team needs to know what you want to deliver. To improve engagement, we also want to get the teams feedback and ideas and integrate those into the vision. You could also set some goals here about what you hope to accomplish together as a team.
Tip: Be prepared to complete the entire vision yourself without feedback if necessary. My first year I received almost no participation. Even if the team doesn’t share anything in this initial meeting, as you build trust you can add to the vision. This is a living document, it evolves as goals and priorities change.
Wrapping it up: Let me know if you need any ideas for your group vision or if you would like to see the rest of my group vision. Next time we will talk more about empowering your team and then go much deeper into recognition in a later post. I hope this helps, good luck.