The demands placed on teams and organizations are vastly different today than they were just five years ago. Between leaps forward in technology, pandemic-driven upheavals, structural shake-ups, and transformed customer expectations, the learning curve might be mistaken for a mountain.
However swift various changes arrive, teams need to be just as agile, if not more. And for business leaders, it’s essential to convey clarity, steadfast vision, and awareness of what’s ahead. As you structure your goals for 2023, resist the urge to load up your team with surface-level goals. Instead, drill down to the foundational work needed to help you achieve your most significant milestones this year and beyond.
1. Establish a Clear Vision with Storytelling
Teams come to work, they complete their tasks, but then what? Without an understanding of how their daily deliverables impact the organization’s whole picture, it’s tough for employees to stay engaged. Whether you’re leading a front-line contact center, development team, or marketing department, communicating how their expertise fuels success matters.
Take your organization’s broad goals and use them to develop a clear vision for your team. Say your contact center tracks average handling time and first call resolution rate metrics. These quantitative measurements may feel more like grades than a way to serve your customers. If agents do well, life is great, and if they fall short, it can feel like a losing battle.
Bring your goals to life by using storytelling to achieve strategic alignment between metrics, employee output, and customer experience. Your vision may be “customers feel heard and are supported when they need us most.” This vision is relatable across generations, roles, and styles.
Next, outline how your team’s specific work drives this vision forward. Break down your vision into specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely tactics that’ll help teams achieve them. This format, also known as S.M.A.R.T. goals, allows for accountability and clear measures of success. Without this time-proven structure, your well-meaning vision is at risk of falling short.
2. Improve Efficiency for Today’s Workforce
Distributed teams, different time zones, and allowance for varying work styles can provide employees with greater flexibility. However, when you shift from a standard 9-to-5 workplace, it also invites complexity. Assess your current work styles, technology solutions, and the known gaps and issues among them.
Interview colleagues across the organization to get a clear picture of problems known and uncommunicated. Use surveys, guided discussions, and open feedback to get a pulse on where the issues exist and to source solutions. Without a request for this type of feedback, many employees are hesitant to provide it. Once you’ve sourced feedback, keep your team up-to-date with what’s being done with the information. Even if there’s not an immediate solution, open dialogue and transparency will build trust over time.
Partner with relevant departments to make improvements for your team. Some updates will require cross-functional collaboration, like implementing a collaboration tool. Others can be successfully launched within your group, like a method for managing team workload or files. Newly distributed teams that regularly share documents for editing may be feeling the pain of version control. After assessing specific needs and success criteria, you may find that a cloud-based file-sharing platform will solve the problem.
By developing specificity for your efficiency initiative, you can ensure proposed solutions have higher odds of success. Launch change initiatives only after conducting user testing, providing training, and identifying a support structure. With checks and balances, your team will benefit from thoughtful and strategic efforts designed to boost efficiency without confusion.
3. Prioritize the Human Needs of Your Team
The business world’s obsession with work-life balance has been replaced with a more realistic, refreshing outlook: work-life integration. At first glance, this may appear to be a pre-approval to shed the boundaries between home and work. However, it’s really an acknowledgment that humans crave both flexibility and purpose for both work and life.
Forget for a moment the constraints of your line of work. Instead, get curious about what your team wants and needs without adding in qualifiers. Schedule exploratory conversations with your direct reports to share your desire to learn more about their lived experiences. Keep these open-ended and casual, focusing on “what-if” statements and listening more than you speak.
You may be surprised to learn about the challenges your team faces outside of their workload. Long commutes eat up valuable hours of daylight and add stress at the front and back end of their days. Their continuing education goals keep getting set aside because it’s hard to find the time. Take notes and listen to what’s not said as much as what is to get to the heart of the issues.
One conversation likely won’t be enough to identify the depth of the issues or the breadth of the opportunities. Integrate this type of conversation into your quarterly reviews to build a culture of communication that improves over time. Then consult with your leadership team to determine how you can improve your employees’ work life. Updates to policies, benefits, and practices can fuel a better employee experience that improves worker satisfaction and business results.
Nurture Your Goals Toward Success
Now that you’ve launched your 2023 goals, it’s time to nurture them toward their fullest potential. Make your qualitative and quantitative goals part of your organization’s vocabulary. Hold a kickoff meeting that lays out the goals, why they matter, and how the team can make a difference. With consistency, clarity, and steady leadership, your team’s results will take your organization to the next level.