Many organisations have an annual planning cycle in which teams work out together their individual and collective priorities for the year. Team objectives and personal performance contracts negotiated with the boss, or worse, copied from the schedule the planners gave you, implicitly have low ownership by the team.
The best teams we have worked with break this cycle by taking a time-out to get the whole team together and answer questions like:
- What should we be doing, given our purpose/role in this organisation?
- How can we add more value for the organisation and our external and internal customers?
- How can we work more effectively as a team to deliver great results?
One team at the oil company BP chose to do this through a facilitated process as part of their quarterly team meeting. The objectives were to (i) generate collective ownership for an integrated team plan (ii) get team members to understand and connect with each other’s priorities (iii) identify owners for key tasks such as continuous improvement activity that did not align neatly with job roles.
A collaborative plan builds clear links for team members with the big priorities including measures of success. Working collaboratively also provides the opportunity to get everything on the table, reducing delivery risks.
Making this Happen
Collaboration on a joint plan needs time away from day to day work. A facilitated workshop really helps this process and gives teams time to work on their behaviours and to explore their objectives in more detail.
The key to this is focusing on the team objectives first and being honest about the priorities and focus that will be needed for the team to be successful.
Once this is done then individuals can draft their own objectives so that these directly support the team objectives.
These are discussed in the team and individuals are accountable to the wider team for the achievement of their personal objectives.
For projects, alignment of objectives is even more critical especially if you’d like to involve the client, prime contractor and supply chain partners. We recommend a workshop process that emerged from the work of Andersen, Grude and Haug and that they called Goal Directed Project Management.
It was later adopted by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) and uses elements of systems thinking to address the co-dependencies, interdependencies and operability of complex projects.