Building Teams # 2: Establish Urgent Goals and Provide Directions

Teams are usually put together to achieve some specific goals. Some of these goals could be short term, while some of these might be long term. Often it is observed that teams pursuing long term goals tend to lose focus and go in different directions. The main reason attributed to this is the fact that the team is unable to gauge the progress towards the long term goal and is unable to identify and rectify deviations.

So it is important for the team leadership to ensure that urgent goals or short term goals are created to help the team focus on and immediate problem and provide solution, while the leadership provides directions to ensure that all these short term or urgent goals lead to the achievement of the long term goals.

This strategy sounds very simple, but is often very difficult to implement, especially when some of these short term goals start slipping their timelines, leading to changes in their priorities. For e.g. suppose optimizing a set of workflows is set as a goal and that hits a major roadblock and starts getting delayed, it might be worthwhile to give up this goal and move to other goals. But the team might not feel comfortable switching to another task without completing one.
The other aspect is some of these short term goals might be so interesting or captivating that the team might lose sight of other goals. They might want to keep working on these goals beyond the actual targets. At these points the team leadership again has to step in and highlight the long term goals and the reasoning behind the change in priorities and the need to move on to other goals.

Moral of the Story: Successful teams are those which work on short term goals which are aligned towards achieving long term goals.

C. V. Ram Narayanan Sastry


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