Setting the Team Direction
At some point, all team leaders need to take stock and review the team's direction, task, and performance.
If it is a project team then it needs to take place in the early stages and is often done during the Scoping of the Project. If it is a permanent team then it often takes place when a new leader takes over the team, during a reorganisation, or at budgeting time.
There are no hard and fast rules for carrying this out, but some of the following are often used:
- Mission/Vision formulation.
- Stakeholder review.
- Customer survey.
- SWOT Analysis.
- Organisational Self Assessment Frameworks
- Business Plan
A good mission statement needs to be defined to take account of the requirements/desires of the key stakeholders - those with a vested interest in the outcomes of the team. The following two-stage process is our preferred approach:
1. Review of the various stakeholders of the team and their requirements.
Brainstorm to establish the stakeholders of the team - those with a vested interest in the team and itsí outcomes. For each stakeholder, establish the key criteria (four or five) by which they will assess the success of the team - what will make them say that the team is a success.
2. Develop a mission statement to satisfy those criteria.
Write an overall definition and description of the team and its aims, then formulate project objectives for each of the major stakeholders.
Having done step 1 above, a valuable next step is to survey some or all of the stakeholders to establish their views on their requirements and how well they are being met. This often generates ideas that change the teams thoughts.
If the team feels that the key issues lie in the field of customer service, then the best step is simply to carry out a customers survey. In some cases this is carried out by some or all team members, in other cases just by the team leader.
It is generally best to carry it out in a fairly formal fashion rather than as an appendix to some other conversation.
SWOT analysis (analysis of strengths and weaknesses) was developed by Igor Ansoff in his book Corporate Strategy and became a cornerstone of corporate planning. It is still used, particularly in marketing and product appraisal and also in personal development.
For a team, it is a useful technique to help the team leader/team to review its capabilities in terms of its internal Strengths and Weaknesses, and the external Opportunities and Threats which it faces, and then clarify the key development/change issues it needs to tackle. The process is summarised in the following diagram.
Carrying out a SWOT analysis simply involves the following
- In an Internal Appraisal of the team, identify the teams Main Strengths - skills, capabilities, delivery performance, etc.
- Then identify the teams Main Weaknesses. This completes the Internal appraisal.
- In an external Appraisal of the team, identify Main Opportunities and then Main Threats that faces the team.
- In the confrontation, these issues are then put onto a board or
table in a matrix as shown below and the following questions asked:
- For each Opportunity - which strength helps us to take advantage of this (+) and which weakness inhibits us from doing so (-)
- For each Threat - which strength helps us to fight this (+) and which weakness inhibits us from doing so (-)
The balance of + and - signs highlights quite clearly what are the main issues that should be addressed within the team.
This can be carried out by an individual (the team leader perhaps) or by some or all of the team. If the latter, then the exercise is best done using cards or Post-its as follows:.
SWOT analysis using cards or Post-its
- Each person to identify what they see as our Main Strengths and to write these on the post-its which are then struck to a board.
- When all post-its are on the chart, the team groups together any duplications that exist.
- Each person has 5 votes to indicate what they feel are the most important of all the strengths identified on the Chart. Simply tick those 5 post-its which you feel are the most important.
- When everybody has voted, the post-its with the most votes are kept. The remainder put aside for the time being.
- Those on the board represent what the group feels are our main strengths.
The whole process from is then repeated for
- our perceived Weaknesses.
- the main Opportunities for the operation
- the main Threats which it faces
The cards for the main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are then used to create a SWOT Confrontation Matrix as above, which is in turn used to identify the organisations' key change issues.
Organisational Self Assessment Frameworks
Many organisations, particularly Public Sector ones, are using some form of self-assessment framework to identify their organisational strengths and weaknesses and using this to develop an improvement plan built upon a series of improvement projects and programmes.
One such framework is the UK Business Excellence Model. This provides an investigative framework which enables a manager or team to assess itself according to nine parameters:
- Policy and Strategy
- Partnerships and Resources
- People Results
- Customer Results
- Society Results
- Key Performance Indicators
Last but not least, the issues that the organisation faces may well lie in the fields of profitability and marketing. In such situations the consultant needs to focus on analysing the business and formulating a business plan for the operation.
We will not try to cover such topics here but books covering such techniques are readily available from bookshops.