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6 key actions to focus a team

Sometimes it is believed that the attitude is enough or that the desire is enough to achieve the results that are proposed. Thus, more than one leader trusts that having a team of these characteristics is the only necessary condition.

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However, reality clearly shows, and with the forcefulness that is usual, that the focus is essential to turn a team from the pile into one with extraordinary qualities and detached from the rest.

Having focus is knowing exactly where to go and how to do it, with the added value that when it is clearly defined we can change the roads with flexibility and agility without losing our way.

Focus is precise action. In the image of the laser beam we can find its best analogy, as its greatest power lies in the accuracy with respect to its target.

In the article that follows you will find concrete ideas that will allow you to make a dispersed group one that is fully aligned.

1. Ask knowing how to do it

I owe Amy Edmondson the concept of “Proactive Investigation” as one of the key steps to achieve psychological safety in teams. I fully share the idea that if people do not feel confident enough that they will not be punished or penalized for their ideas, they will not be honest in conversation. Hence the key to proposing participation and asking questions that invite an open talk. They must be questions that cannot be answered by themselves or not and encourage divergence.

And I suggest, after having carried out this qualitative survey, translate it into metrics. For that, we can categorize the responses into, for example, Leadership , Processes, Learning, Reaction to changes, etc. and other axes that allow the orientation of future actions. In that sense, we can also combine individual interviews with more traditional group sessions and surveys.

2. Disarm the group ghost

The ghost is a concept created by Jacques Lacan to designate a series of unconscious images, constructed from identifications and with the aim of protecting ourselves from a traumatic encounter. Hence, the cure strategy in psychoanalysis is to deconstruct it and for the patient to realize that, in the end, this encounter was not so tragic.

At the level of organizational cultures, we can also think of phantasms: Ideas sustained many times by events that actually happened, as well as by others totally imagined.

It is necessary to work with the implicit perceptions that support and give foundation to the behaviors. Thus, when we observe that people behave in this or that way, let us investigate their ghosts. Let’s delve into the underlying culture and inquire about it fearlessly but with method.

My suggestion is to hold group meetings with a planned outline of content to be dealt with and, when these ghosts or tensions appear, not back down from them but face them safely and calmly.

If we want to modify an organizational culture we must be assertive, transparent and respectful of what has been done so far to propose new ways for the future.

3. Build a radar and prioritize

Once we have the different axes of action located, we can build a radar chart to make them visible. Then, determine a prioritization and identify the chronology of actions to be carried out.

There are several tools that can be useful to us. In my experience, I use a simple Excel spreadsheet with 3 columns: the first for Importance or Impact, the second for Feasibility and the third for Urgency.

In the rows, I transcribe the list with the categories identified as opportunities for improvement (for example, Leadership, Learning, Processes, etc.) and ask the team to rate them from 1 to 10 in each column according to their criteria. At the end, we add all the rows and we will arrive at the desired order.

4. Define specific objectives

To the now famous SMART method we can add the modern OKRs.

An objective and key result in each category must be defined with total clarity and the best way to verify it is when its fulfillment or not, leaves no room for doubt. A goal is well constructed when it cannot be argued or argued about its achievement.

Example: Developing a sales channel can be a nice macro objective, but if we want our team to focus and align we have to translate it to: Define geographic area and do a survey of potential customers in 90 days.

I recommend to those who want to delve into this subject John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters .

SMART Goals / Image: Depositphotos.com

5. Designate responsible

Once the conditions and foundations of psychological safety have been established, it is extremely critical to assign responsibilities, which must be linked to roles and tasks rather than to what is formally expressed in cold job descriptions.

The concept of accountability , so complex to translate into Spanish, but which I like to count as “Obligation to render accounts only” is feasible if said assignment of responsibilities was carried out clearly, on time and communicated successfully to people. If this requirement is only met indoors, at the leader’s desk, it will be completely irrelevant.

6. Be open to refining along the way

In turbulent times like today, we can never be confident that initial planning is enough. We must always refine what was once designed. This implies the certain opportunity to make modifications in people, times, methods, style of meetings and all those group dynamics that demonstrate ineffectiveness or mark opportunities for improvement.

The focused team is not equivalent to stubborn, meaning a group determined to comply with the planning at all costs. On the contrary, and as I said at the beginning: if we have a good address, we can vary the paths and get to the one we want.

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