5 Smart Tips for Achieving Team Goals in the Workplace
Jackson (named changed) was an excellent salesman. He had the art of closing a deal with anyone he spoke to. When I met him two years back in Pune for a training programme, he was known as the star performer of the company. He could convert any hesitant customer to buy the company’s product just over a phone call. His flair, communication skill and confidence was unmatched in the entire team.
Seeing such a bright prospect, I had advised him after the training to take an advanced sales-oriented course that would help him in honing his skills and also learning other nuances of the trade. About 6 months after that, he had texted me saying he has actually taken it up and was grateful for the amount of knowledge he was gaining there.
Early this year, I happened to visit Pune for another training in the same company. I got to know that Jackson had been promoted last year as the Sales Manager of the branch and headed a team now. However, there was a change. Jackson still was a great salesman but his team was under-performing.
Not only did they struggle to meet the targets but the attrition level of the team was also high. This really concerned me and I met Jackson right after. Jackson told me that he was still able to close about 80% of the customers he spoke to but his team could only convert 20% of them. He ended up working overtime and now spends about 12-14 hours in the office speaking to customers. Even on weekends, he had to personally follow-up with a long list of customers to ensure they don’t drop out and the deal is closed.
The problem with Jackson wasn’t that he suddenly was a bad salesman. You could see it in the numbers he achieved personally to fill up for the team’s deficit. The concern lied somewhere else. Jackson didn’t know the game he was in. Jackson, like many of today’s leaders across organisations, was an excellent employee with exceptional skills. He further polished it by taking advanced training and was promoted because of it.
However, that’s when the game changes. As an employee, Jackson was expected to convert a maximum number of people he spoke to. But as a manager, his main goal was supposed to inspire the same results from his team, rather than himself. Jackson struggled at this very task and therefore ended up overworking and underperforming too.
If you to have a Jackson in your team or feel you are going through a professional crisis like Jackson, here are a few expert tips that you could try:
5 Smart Tips for Achieving Team Goals in the Workplace
The real job of leaders isn’t to be ‘in-charge’ but to take care of the people ‘in our charge’ – Simon Sinek
As a leader of a team, your role transforms from being good at a task to inspiring the same results in your team.
1. Provide a reason for action
Which sounds better – “We need to sell 350 units in the next four weeks under any circumstances” or “If we manage to sell 350 units this month, we would be the top performing department of the company”? Jackson used to say the previous one while the team expected the latter. Giving the team members a reason as to why they are expected to do something helps them also feel important than just a mere puppet taking orders.
This comes true even where numbers are not involved. Asking a creative person to make a presentation for you or an IT person to troubleshoot a query could be much better when a reason supports it. If they realise that their contributions are crucial to the big picture (which is the case always), they would be more committed and determined in achieving the goals set. You would also witness that the quality of work also drastically improves. For example, an accounts executive would make better reports if they knew who would be viewing it and what are they looking to interpret.
2. Inspire teamwork and working with consensus
Once you are in a managerial or leadership position, it’s no more a solo act but a team goal. While targets or goals are set by the management, ways of achieving it could be decided within the team. All Jackson needed to do was discuss on a regular basis how his team members could work together and do the things which he was able to do alone.
Brainstorm often, plan together and assign tasks that are skill specific and time specific. Regroup often to track the progress. Rope in team members to authenticate recommendations and ideas that are put on the table. Be available for decision making and problem-solving. All this helps a team work together. It will inculcate a feeling of ‘we are in this together’ rather than ‘I am watching what you are doing’.
3. Provide direction to achieve the goal
One of the biggest mistakes Jackson made is assuming that his team members will be able to deliver the same results as he did. It is right to expect the same results but not right to assume they will have the same skills or means to achieve them.
If you have been a high achiever in your time, certainly you did something right. Make an effort to pass on the learning to your team members. Depending on the skill level recommend ways in which they can achieve their goal. Provide a step by step rundown if need be. Chances are they might be going about work in a different way and your inputs could help them realign and work better. Your team members will appreciate your support and feel driven to achieve the goal.
4. Be innovative about rewards and recognition
Another smart tip for achieving team goals in the workplace involves making them interesting to pursue. Of course, I don’t mean every small task, should be up for earning a reward. Choose which task or goals are worth a reward. For this, you need to have a pulse of your team, what motivates them collectively or individually.
Another thing to consider is that rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary in nature. You could consider giving a full day or half day extra leave as a reward, or provision to work from home for a day and so on. Choose the right forum where their work is recognised. Sometimes surprising a team member by inviting their family and recognising their work in front of their family also works as great motivation.
5. Have a dynamic performance management system
This is different from the annual, half-yearly or quarterly review that you conduct for your team members. In this performance management system, you could ask every member to submit on a sheet of paper or email 5 accomplishments they have achieved in the week that went by. This was followed by 5 other priorities that they would like to take up for the coming week.
This would help you be in a better position to appreciate, coach or even correct the employee at the very start of every week. You can do it on a daily or monthly basis as well based on how the situations demand in your case. This can again be implemented from a trainee/intern level to a senior manager level thus giving you a bird’s eye view of the entire business at all times.
In summation, achieving team goals in the workplace isn’t much of a task if you focus on the people rather than the task. As the cycle goes, if you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers who in-turn increase your shareholder’s interest. When I met Jackson last, I shared these tips with him and he understood the fact and now focussed his entire energy towards leading his team in the art of closing a deal rather than doing it for them.
Later he shared a very nice metaphor; he said “I’ve learnt that leadership is like exercising. I could do 10 push-ups and look at myself in the mirror and see no difference on the first, second or third day. But when I continued it consistently, the results were not just visible but overwhelming too”.
Jackson applied these tips in his workplace and his team is now being referred to as one of the ideal teams of his organisation. If you wish to have a more detailed insight into Jackson’s growth story or wish for a custom-made plan for The Jackson in your organisation, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.