I am running an in-company strategy session on Friday. The purpose is to get the team members of a few back-office functions in this company together with their managers, in order to get buy-in to the new KPI’s for the upcoming financial year.
In the past, these sorts of KPI-setting sessions would have only been done with the executive team, but my insight has been that in the knowledge-based era, everyone should be clear about their purpose, clear about the role they play and clear about the business contribution they make, in moving the company forward to the next level.
The skilled staff who do the task-based activities are the ones who can most easily see what needs to be fixed in the various supporting systems and processes, to address the root causes of known problems. Historically people have complained to senior management that somebody should understand and fix their environment. The implication is that senior management should get involved and come down and fix their environment. The reality is that senior management do not have the time, or expertise to address these problems. A modern team needs to not only produce the business results expected, but should also be fixing the underlying issues that hinder their performance. So long as this is done in a way that is linked to the overall business objectives, this self-empowering methodology is very powerful. When the entire team gets together to understand the company goals and is involved in setting their own goals, which are causally linked to the company’s business goals, you have a winning formula. This results in buy-in and commitment.
When a team are committed to outcomes, when obstacles get in their way, they make a plan. Without commitment, all you get is compliance – and failure, communicated with a very good excuse, still counts as compliance! Teamwork starts being effective when the team members understand that somebody should fix the underlying causes of problems, and that they are indeed somebody!