Teams can be the greatest blessing and, at the same time, the greatest curse to an organization. This even applies to the executive teams you lead. Successful teams have three distinct traits: 1. Reliance on individual expertise to complete shared tasks, 2. The ability to get along, and 3. A concrete shared purpose.
When interviewing executive teams, I hear members say they are mostly rewarded when completing shared or organizational goals such as profitability (reliance, check). I also hear that they are working toward cooperating better (getting along, check). What’s missing is the most important element: a concrete shared purpose that the entire team focuses on daily. This proved to be RadioShack’s downfall. As the company struggled to adapt to changes in the technology industry, members of its executive team spent most of their time on their own individual efforts.
What can help executive teams have a shared purpose? Two words: strategy implementation. Executive teams are unique from all other teams, primarily because they implement strategies that impact entire organizations. Based on my recent research, here are four recommendations that can help you, as CEO, to evoke a concrete shared purpose through strategy implementation.
- Specify the strategy implementation goals. Each member must verbalize specific tasks the team must perform to ensure successful strategy implementation. This process will also allow members to fully understand the goals.
- Track progress. Consistently tracking progress ensures all members clearly understand each other’s role in the effort, making it easy to illuminate how well (or not so well) the organization’s members are doing at implementing the strategy.
- Monitor roadblocks. Monitoring roadblocks is different from tracking progress because it requires scrutinizing internal and external obstacles, both within and outside the organization, that are hindering the implementation effort. I once heard an employee of a large software company say that during a product launch, executives asked the firm’s accounting and sales teams to provide honest feedback on factors that were inhibiting implementation efforts.
- Adjust the implementation effort or goals. Many people incorrectly believe that “adjusting” goals is a sign of defeat. In reality, adjusting the implementation effort in response to changing circumstances is more of a fine-tuning process. In the software example, the executive team was able to streamline internal processes, which helped the launch, and, in turn, increased revenue.
If your executive team is only partially operating, there is hope. The good news is that the solution might be as simple as developing a concrete, shared purpose through the implementation of your organization’s strategy. —Dr. Sal Mistry