As part of Prime Advantage, Endorsed Suppliers have been invited to share their insights on the present and future of manufacturing success. In this post, Karin Hurt, from Let's Grow Leaders, discusses ideas to get your team thinking strategically.
I've never met an executive who said, "My team's just too strategic. I just wish they would focus more on the day-to-day work." Nope. In fact it's quite the opposite concern.
Another common theme is, "Karin, I just don't think anyone on this team is ready to take on my role.... and I can't get promoted until I find a successor."
But my favorite one is -- "These millennials just don't seem to get it. There's no long-term commitment. I don't think they care." I have gone deeper on this subject, and can help your development with daily insight and my free e-Book Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial.
If your team is not thinking strategically, don't write them off. Instead, take a good look at what you've been sharing. If they don't see the information or the process they won't be engaged in the strategy. It's impossible to connect the dots if you only see a third of them. If you wait until everything's finalized and ready to execute before you share it with the team, you can’t expect to receive strategic collaboration.
Not sure where to start? Here are questions to help you see deeper into your team.
1. Why do we do what we do?
(Note: "to make money" is not the only answer, dig deeper.)
I ask this question every time I go into a focus group. You would be surprised how few can articulate a compelling answer. So start here. Talk amongst yourselves. Challenge one another. I promise this is worth every minute of time spent not "doing work."
2. How does our team's work contribute to the company's mission?
This one may be tricky. When employees who interact with customers stick to their script, it may be hard for them to feel like they are making a difference.
3. What do our customers really want?
Your team knows. Write it down, and then be sure your policies and procedures keep the customer in mind.
4. Who are our major competitors and what differentiates us in the market?
My guess is that some of your team will be all over this and others won't have a clue. Having the dialogue will offer great opportunities to explore perceptions and promote learning.
5. How does the way we do our work impact other departments?
Time spent here, looking candidly from both directions, will create productivity gains that will continue to pay dividends.
6. How can we better articulate what we need to the departments we rely on?
Communication between departments is the key. All you need is a short list.
7. What's the most important thing we're working on and why?
You may be surprised about the competing interests among the team. Resist the urge to drive the conversation, let the team be heard, and have the managerial courage to lift up the concern if needed.
The best way to help your team become strategic is to teach them to talk strategy. Imagine the possibilities if you were that guy or gal.