Engaging your team to achieve goals

15 Aug 2011

If we take the BBC series 'The Apprentice' which has just left our screens, and in particular, the task where they had to buy as many materials as they could within the given budget, then sell as much as they could and reinvest in more stock,  we had the opportunity to see the impact of poor man-management skills on team outcomes. The Project Manager of the losing team appeared to have a strategy in his head on what he wanted to achieve, but failed to communicate this to the rest of team. It might be important to “roll with the punches|”, but it is also important to have a specific plan and to communicate it to the rest of your team, so they understand what their role in the process is.

In the Boardroom, even at the end of the task and certainly during the fulfilment of the task itself, it was apparent that the individuals in the team didn’t have a clear understanding of their roles in terms of how their efforts would impact on the achievement of the team goal. Indeed whilst the Project Manager explained he had a specific target he was aiming for in terms of sales, from what we saw he failed to convey this to his team. Instead the team were given a series of instructions and just told to get on with it.

As a result the team didn’t have a SMART goal to aim for (Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, Time driven).

Yes, the team had a target; buy as many materials as they could for the budget given and then sell as much as they could, but they suffered from not having something more specific to aim for.

There were a number of reasons that the team lost in the task, but better communication by the Project Manager could have resulted in victory instead of defeat. By involving the rest of the team in the decision making process and allowing them some input, the Project Manager would have had the opportunity to check his assumptions about what could be achieved and would have ensured greater buy in from the rest of the team.

He could also have checked the skill set available within the team and used this knowledge to make the best use of resources available to him. For example, within the team they had someone who had experience of running a business within the particular business sector they were operating in. Using his knowledge and expertise might have resulted in changes to the original plan and better management of the task.

Instead the Project Leader took too much responsibility onto his own shoulders in an effort to demonstrate his skill as an “entrepreneur”, and also ignored his own skill set in pursuit of this goal.  A true Leader will root their decisions in their own skill set and then use others’ skills to help them grow and develop. How you communicate what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve it are critical factors in achieving success.

Share the vision, share the decisions (as much as you can), share the responsbility and encourage your team and your chances of success are far greater, as everyone will understand what needs to be done and what their specific role is. There still needs to be direction from the leader, there still needs to be follow-up and checks in place, but it is important to involve your team in the whole process and give them a sense of value and an understanding of how they can have impact on the achievement of goals.