How to Get Your Team to Do What It Says It’s Going To Do
Say you are in the early stages of one of the quarterly planning meetings for your startup. Top of the agenda is to establish activities for the next quarter. Your team discusses in details the priorities as well as the resource needs. However, the team does not have enough information to generate a concrete plan and therefore, you all agree to reconvene in one week after obtaining more relevant information. The goals for the next meeting may look something like this:
- Develop a tentative budget for the next quarter
- Clarify each department’s role in implementing the budget
Looking at these goals, they sound logical and achievable. But when you reconvene the meeting in a weeks’ time, you are very surprised that very little progress has been made. You ask yourself “what went wrong?”
I will tell you what went wrong. When people set goals, they often make sweeping general statements. In this case the goals that the team set look extremely logical but they won’t achieve much because they omit very essential details that are required to achieve them. Looking at the first goal, it definitely raises more questions than answers.
- Who is going to take the responsibility of developing the tentative budget?
- What data must the team obtain in order to estimate the requirements for the organisation’s operations?
- Which team members can shed light on the resource needs?
- What will be the structure of the budget in order for it to make sense?
In short, creating goals is not just a matter of stating the objectives. You need to delve deeper into the details and spell out the specifics of what needs to be done in order to actually accomplish the goals.
It’s very important not to assume that every team member knows how to move from concept to delivery. People are very good at implementing goals if they have a clear road map to guide them. By applying what I like to call the WHWW framework to plan and express the teams’ objectives, you can improve goal execution significantly.
WHWW is an acronym that stands for:
- What – Establish the organisation goal
- How- Break down the goal into specific concrete subgoals and spell out the detailed actions required to reach each subgoal
- When – Specify the timelines within which the subgoals need to be accomplished
- Who- Identify the people responsible for implementing each subgoal
Most organisations lose out huge amounts of funds, time and talent in pursuit of poorly expressed goals. The WHWW framework addresses this problem by providing fine tuned details of execution of goals for the team members. Breaking the overarching goal into smaller more concrete subgoals and identifying the actions that need to be carried out in order to reach the subgoal makes it easier to move forward. The identification of who and when increases everyone’s sense of responsibility and helps to close the gap between conceptualization and implementation.
Going back to the example that I gave at the beginning of this article, the first goal of developing a tentative budget for the next quarter can be broken down using the WHWW framework as follows:
Using the WHWW framework should not be a one-time process but rather an ongoing process. As the business owner, you need to ask team members to always break down their goals into achievable and realistic actions. This way, your team will manage to bridge the gap between intentions and reality. The team will also be able to do what it says it is going to do in a better manner.