To energize the year ahead, create resolutions for your team
Team goal-setting is an annual ritual in many organizations. It focuses attention on what the team will deliver, by when, and perhaps who will be responsible for the successful attainment of goals.
Yet this time of year is also an excellent opportunity to revisit and refresh how the team operates, and even why the team is together—its purpose for being as you look ahead to the coming months.
Just as each of us contemplates individual resolutions at the start of a year, why not create new-year resolutions for your team?
Here are four ideas for team resolutions you might adopt or adapt.
Invite asset-focused contributions from each team member
Encourage each team member to make their most authentic contribution to the team this year, by calling on their passions and strengths.
We each feel engaged in our teamwork if we can contribute what we care about the most, and can bring forth our joys and our strengths as we do.
This asset-focused approach to teamwork supplies a huge source of positive energy to the team.
If you’re a team member, ask yourself: “What do I want to contribute to the team this year? What am I most passionate about? What strengths could I offer to our work together?”
If you’re a team leader, ask yourself the same questions, and this one: “How can I create environment where each team member can contribute their best this year?’’
At Better Still, we have ample evidence of the benefits of this asset-focused approach from using three Better Still Tools with teams: “How to discover what gives you joy,” “How to reveal and use your strengths,” and “How to prepare yourself to work effectively with others.” Team leaders and team members who use them report new energy as a result.
Strengthen how you communicate within your team
Communication is the oil that makes the engine of every team run. We often take it for granted because we do it so much.
But how well does your team communicate, and where could you improve communication this year?
How well do team members share new ideas and thinking to elevate your work together?
How well do people listen to one another?
How well do you align standards of excellence together?
How well do you coordinate tasks together, especially under pressure?
How well do you resolve breakdowns when promises are broken or misunderstandings happen?
How well do you share feedback together so everyone can learn and improve?
Each of these questions revolves around communication. A high-performance team builds strong communication skills, so the important work you do together can succeed every day, and so you can maintain a healthy, trusting set of work relationships.
Much of my work with teams over the decades has centered on communication excellence. Our Better Still Tools for teams put communication front and center.
If you want to improve your team in the coming year, communication is a good place to start.
Revisit and refresh team standards about how it operates
Standards express our beliefs about how work should be done and how people should act. Some standards are explicit, and some operate in the background of our awareness. They have a big impact on work.
Through the pandemic, you undoubtedly shifted your team standards: About where and when people work. About sustaining quality amid tumult and ambiguity. About incorporating good mental and physical health to keep the team strong.
What team standards do you want to intentionally carry into the year ahead? What team standards are tired or outdated? What new team standards should you create together to do your best work in the year ahead?
You’ll be surprised how valuable it is to focus on team standards early in the year. Look at the explicit standards in your team (like policies), as well as implicit standards (like the unstated but ever-present expectations about how work should be done).
At Better Still, we emphasize standards as a central element of team success. We use five Better Still Tools to improve and sustain excellent standards.
Even though we lack full clarity about the year ahead (How long will the pandemic last, and how and where will people work?), now is a good time to examine your team standards, and in some cases, start fresh.
What’s a standard you use in your team that merits reconsideration this year?
Infuse learning into daily teamwork
Healthy teams are teams that learn continuously. How about making learning a team resolution for the coming year?
In the intense pressure of operating during a pandemic, it’s possible that your team moved from one adjustment and improvisation and innovation to the next, without being able to pause to ask:
What have we learned from this experience?
How does what we’ve gone through inform how we should operate in the future?
What are the most valuable lessons for the team as a whole, and for each of us individually?
Before you commence another adrenaline-laced team sprint early in the year, consider …
… looking back …
… taking stock of what you’ve learned that’s valuable for your team this year …
… committing to putting those lessons to good use …
… and making continuous, intentional learning a team resolution for the year in front of you.
At Better Still, we use two tools to infuse real-time learning into work, and to look back at the work teams have done to extract vital lessons.
Team-resolution setting starts with an intention, in the form of a question: How can we be better, smarter, and happier together in our team this year?
To answer this question, invite everyone on the team to participate. That way, you’ll generate more engagement as you set intentions, and more commitment as you enact your team resolutions.
As you look to the year ahead, what resolutions could you set with your team members that would enliven and energize your work together?
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