Every team will eventually lose focus.
A team that has lost focus is not as big of a concern to me as a team that has lost focus and is unwilling to do anything about it.
But the question remains: what do you do when you’re team has lost focus? How can you coach a team that needs to refocus? What are the questions you should be asking?
I don’t ask these questions in a vacuum as someone who hasn’t been a part of many teams. Rather, I approach this subject as someone with experience.
I can’t remember a single team that I’ve been on that has not lost its focus at one time or another. The reality is that every team experiences drift and will occasionally need to be realigned and or reassessed.
In a past blog post we discussed 10 coaching questions every leader should ask. My hope is that the questions in this post will help you as you coach your team or other teams today and in the future.
5 Questions for Coaching Teams
1) What is the primary objective of our team? (This is the question about your mission.)
This question sounds pretty simple; however, I have found it to be fairly complex with many teams as there are always competing objectives. Defining the objective of your team is a starting point for nearly everything you do.
One item of caution here is that it is easy to write down an objective, but difficult to keep everyone aligned around it. We all get stuck in our routines and find it difficult to do things differently, in order to align ourselves with the team. You may not always experience pushback when it comes to alignment of objectives, but I think it’s safe to assume that you will experience hesitancy or pushback from your team in the process. (Whether this is intentional or not is another question…)
2) What are some of the recent distractions your team has faced?
Let’s face it, distractions are always coming our way. The difficult task is identifying them. We need to make sure to prioritize what’s important and what’s a distraction (or something that should be delayed).
The reason I didn’t start with distractions is that it’s hard to define what is a distraction, if you haven’t first defined what the objective is. Distractions don’t necessarily have to be bad things. They are often very good things that are the most important.
3) How can we maintain the unity of our team?
It’s one thing to have everyone involved in activities that are aligned around the primary objective or objectives of your team. It’s another thing to have a team that is working together in unity and functioning as a high-performance team. In other words, aligned tasks do NOT equal a unified team.
We all get busy. I think it’s safe to say that it is easy to get your team in a mode of production, but not truly working together and investing in one another’s lives. When people know that their team cares about them, their willingness to invest in their team and go the extra mile goes up. If people don’t perceive that they are cared about, the chances of having a unified team seem unlikely at best.When people know that their team cares about them, their willingness to go the extra mile goes up. Click To Tweet
4) Who is the primary person assigned to evaluate your team’s focus on a regular basis?
You simply can’t depend on clarifying your teams focus one time and never looking at it again. Try identifying at least one person, if not more, who will evaluate your team’s level of focus on a regular basis.
One note of caution in this area. If you delegate the assessment of focus to someone on your team, be sure that you and others are willing to listen to them when they indicate that the team has lost focus or if they make suggestions on how to refocus your team’s weekly activities. If you don’t listen to their suggestions after having delegated to them, chances are they will begin to lose interest in evaluating the focus of your team. They will essentially see their work and evaluation of focus as worthless or irrelevant, because the team didn’t heed the suggestions that were made.
5) How will we as a team celebrate our achievements after we have regained focus?
One thing that I regularly see in my personal life and as I work with other teams and companies is that people are motivated by rewards. I’m not talking about simply paying more or doing something cheesy for your team. I’m talking about a real reward that means something to your team and potentially will cost you something in your budget.
What’s intriguing is that many leaders are often hesitant to celebrate the victories or budget for them, because they haven’t seen the results to necessitate them. Their teammates are unwilling to put in the work required, because they aren’t confident that success will even be celebrated. This creates a vicious cycle that is not good for the team members, the leader nor the organization as a whole.
As you look at your team or the teams that you work with, which of these questions for coaching teams do you need to be asking this week? Have you stepped back recently to evaluate how focused your team is? Do you know what your team should be focused on?
I look forward to interacting with you as you ask these questions and begin to refine the focus of your team(s).
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