“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien.
Role clarity amongst a team is highly valuable as it enables organisational success. Uncertainty negatively influences performance. This negative influence impacts both the team and the organisation at large.
When team members feel uncertain or are unclear of what is required of them, it elicits feelings of frustration and anxiety. Creating a space where your team members understand their boundaries and the outputs expected from them, they are more likely to be confident and engage with the tasks at hand.
Depending on circumstances, teams transform and reconfigure into either a larger or smaller group of individuals. When this inevitable change occurs, leaders need to ensure that team members are made aware of their role following the changes that have been made.
A team is an intertwined system that has multiple connections. These connections need to be understood in terms of each team member understanding not only their own role, but also the role of their colleagues.
Ultimately, leaders need to help their team members become aware of the ‘bigger picture’. This is an important aspect to understand as this ensures healthy work boundaries and no cross-contamination of each team member’s role.
To identify whether your team understands what is required of them and their colleagues, you can play this game: Get your team to sit in a circle. On place cards write down each person’s name. Make each person pick out a card and they must explain their own role, the role of the person from the card they picked, explain how they roles are connected and how their roles and responsibilities influence each other.
To elicit and ensure team members understand and are comfortable with their roles, you can include them in creating their role. This enhances each individual’s sense of belonging, allowing them to accept, take full accountability and responsibility of their role.
For the process of self-role creation to flourish, it needs to be facilitated with interpersonal and open communication. Creating that clear and open feedback loop allows for each team member to express their opinions and beliefs in an authentic and honest manner while collaborating in creating their role.
How influencing your team leads to planning and prioritising
The truth is we can’t make someone do something, but we can influence them to do something. As a leader, being able to influence forms an integral part of your role.
The three components that leaders can focus on when trying to influence their team to prioritise are:
Words: What you say is important. You want to grab the attention of your team. Use words that imply collaboration such as we, us, ours. If you want your team to prioritise instead of saying “If you do this task you will make my life easier” rather say, “If you do this task you are going to make all of our lives easier”.
Word cues: This includes the tone, volume, pitch and pace you use when influencing your team. Understating your team and knowing which pace and volume to communicate with them will have an influence on how they react. Knowing your audience is always beneficial when trying to influence them. Also placing emphasis on certain words when communicating influences what they perceive to be important and unimportant.
Body: Your appearance, your body language, and how you move your body has an impact on your ability to influence your team members. Always stay cognisant of the way in which your body language comes across. Always remember that what you say and what you do needs to coincide when influencing others.
Using these tips, you can influence your team to plan and prioritise accordingly.
The importance of planning
When you plan, you become focused, which in turn allows your team members to be focused. Planning also reduces risks. You cannot plan to eliminate every risk but mitigating certain risks will allow for more room to succeed.
Planning for risks gives your team the confidence and comfort to handle any unplanned event or surprise that may occur throughout the planning process. Leaders that plan, prompt their team to enhance day-to-day decision making.
As a leader you make your team members aware of the long-term goals you are trying to achieve. Reminding your team on a regular basis what your goals are will allow your team members to make better daily decisions so that your teams long-term goal can be achieved.
Planning and organising may seem like a mundane task. However, it is necessary because a leader needs to be able to drive results, inspire action and ensure they can explain the ‘bigger picture’ to their team.
Here are some ways to plan and prioritise with your team:
- Provide clear strategic goals: Your team need to understand why they have certain responsibilities and roles. When people can see that their efforts are leading to a larger and fulfilling outcome, they are more likely to plan and prioritise accordingly.
- Set achievable milestones: This forms part of goal setting. Creating clear milestones that need to be achieved throughout the duration of a task can ensure that your team members are allocating enough time for their responsibilities. What resources do you have and how are you going to use them? Do you have a contingency plan?
- Planning requires feedback: Do not plan on your own as a leader. You are human and may miss something important. Include your team in the planning process. This will allow for a more detailed, accurate and democratic plan.
- Close the loop: Plans often need readjustment. New solutions and issues may arise during the process. Close the loop by constantly revisiting the plan and adjust where necessary.
Writing a to-do list can be boring- but it is important
The fast pace and persistently changing environment find businesses often thinking about doing instead of planning. Competitors instil fear that we are falling behind, the economy changes daily, and you never seem to know what you are doing.
Having a plan helps to make sense of the overwhelming chaos we find ourselves in.
When a leader plans, their team can deliver.
Why plan when you can get straight into it and figure it out as you go?
Planning is boring but uncannily underrated. Planning may seem unnecessary in the present moment; however, time waits for no man. Since a young age our parents taught us to plan ahead. We learn at a young age to plan, but somehow, we never really realise the benefits that come with planning.
The workplace is a furnace that lights this fire beneath us which urges us to be innovative and develop these extra-ordinary ideas and concepts. The heat springs us into action to create and inspire.
In this case the most incredible ideas do not stem from planning but through an instant creative thought or idea. Planning in this case is not always necessary. However, planning becomes an essential task in many procedures and processes that needs to occur within the workplace.
Leaders often create plans to fulfil a desire they have of appearing to know what is going on and then ditch it or pass it on to someone to run with the plan. This avoidance will decrease the time and resources used now but will only increase the time and resources to be used when you haven’t followed through with the plan.
Plans fails a lot of the time- how do we mitigate this?
Have you ever thought about why your plans fail?
Reasons have emerged as to why our plans fail. Leaders, take note of the common reasons why your plans fail:
- Not utilising your team’s talents by placing the wrong people in the wrong role in the team.
- Having a team that is unwilling to change and adapt to the world around them.
- Your team not fully committing to the agreed upon plan.
- Ignoring the blatantly obvious facts.
- Setting goals that are unrealistic and unattainable.
How do we mitigate these failures and transform plans into the very basis of driving success within your team?
Firstly, as a leader it is essential to understand why plans fail. And to understand this you need to understand the human mind and why we all struggle to execute these marvellous plans that we set out for ourselves.
Kirsten Rohde talks about the gap that exists between planning and doing. We may have extravagant and admirable plans but somehow, we seem to not follow through with these plans.
This is because we find ourselves trying to bridge the gap between our present selves and our future selves. Disagreements occur between these two selves can be due to changes that happen around us.
Our changing circumstances influence whether we stick to the plan or not. The awareness that comes with understanding that there is always going to be dissonance between these two selves, we need to appoint priority to one of our selves.
In general, we are more focused on the present than the future. When you decide to do something in your present moment (put off that task you have been putting off for months) you jeopardise your future self.
To bring our two selves closer to each other we almost have to teleport our present selves to our future selves. This can be one of the most difficult parts of executing your plan. It is difficult because we are extremely good at enhancing the similarity between our present and future selves.
Leaders can assist their teams to bridge this gap within their team members by making them aware of their different selves, create realistic planning and highlight that they need commitment.
Bearing this all-in mind, once leaders have the buy-in from their team members, efficient planning will help to the following:
- Helps leader to set expectations.
- Allocating the necessary resources to projects.
- Allows leaders to hold the right people accountable.
- Assists leaders to reduce uncertainty amongst his team.