• Mark Topley

Three steps to ensure your team stays focussed on what's important



One of the most frustrating things I found in leading teams was keeping focus. We would often have inspiring and exciting meetings when we would decide on a new course of action, aiming towards an inspiring new goal.


But as I often found in the early days, long term goals all too often get lost in the pressures of the day to day. I needed a way to keep the most important goals, and the things that would take us closer to them, in the working memory of my team.


A fantastic way to do this is a system which Pat Lencioni describes in Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, a leadership fable about getting a siloed team to work together.


It is made up of three components:

  • Vision or Thematic Goal

  • Defining Objectives

  • Standard Operating Objectives


Vision Goal

This is 'the most important thing we need to achieve to take the organisation forwards in the next 9-12 months'. Described as a single, qualitative focus that is shared by the entire leadership team - and ultimately, by the entire organisation - and that applies for only a specified time period.


The Vision Goal needs to have a verb at its core, because it rallies people to do something. For example, improve…, reduce… increase… grow… change… establish… eliminate… accelerate… etc.


Example - “Improve the practice’s treatment capacity ready for growth”


Defining objectives

The next step is to create DEFINING OBJECTIVES. These are temporary, qualitative elements of the Thematic Goal. As Lencioni explains:


"These are called defining objectives because they are the components or building blocks that serve to clarify exactly what is meant by the thematic (Vision) goal. Like the thematic goal, defining objectives are qualitative and shared across the entire team."

Examples of defining objectives for the Vision Goal above might be:

  • Improve systems

  • Improve internal communications

  • Ensure everyone knows and understands the vision, values and purpose of the business

  • Promote team wellbeing

  • Increase Word of Mouth Referrals


Standard Operating Objectives

Because you have to keep running the business, you need STANDARD OPERATING OBJECTIVES: These are the ongoing objectives that don’t go away from period to period.


For example:

  • Maintaining revenue and profitability

  • Maintaining good feedback scores

  • Passing CQC inspection

  • Controlling staff turnover

  • Maintaining Health & Safety

This system is great because the Vision Goal is simple and therefore memorable, the defining objectives are clear, and the standard objectives are what keeps the business running. I use a simple traffic light system to show the team how things are going and it provides a useful one page status report that can be used to keep things on track.

The biggest challenge with teams is that the most important thing we’re trying to achieve becomes lost in the day to day. The Thematic or Vision Goal is a great way to overcome this and ensure that the things that will take us towards achieving our most important goal remain in working memory:

  • Vision goal - qualitative goal around which everyone can rally

  • Defining objectives are the building blocks to achieving it

  • Standard Objectives means that the important aspects of just running the business are not forgotten.

I hope that helps you focus and refocus your team. For more Great Boss tips and advice, be sure to subscribe to my weekly ‘Great Boss One Minute Monday” Club. Click Here.







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