The view of the road ahead has been quite foggy for many teams, and for some time. The last years have been blurry with a fast-moving and often divided world. We’ve experienced differing modes of communication, the expansion of remote workers, a global pandemic, issues of racism, social injustice and equity, political and economic uncertainty — all while continuing the pursuit to maximize the experience, product, or service, that you are delivering to the marketplace.
The best leaders and organizations understand that cleaning off the windshield and the view of the road ahead is a necessity for those who are traveling with them. It’s not reactionary, it’s proactive. The best team cultures are committed day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out, to removing obstacles from the view and aligning their people on the next actions needed for the road ahead.
Leaders often beckon their people to "Trust the Process" but then are surprised or frustrated when people don’t just magically fall in line. The idea of "Trust the Process" is good in theory, but all too often the Process is blurry due to a lack of clarity on the game plan or the inability of the messenger to communicate the road ahead. Therefore, the Process is unclear and Trust is nowhere to be found.
The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help navigate their people through the fog and to continue to advance the Mission.
Here Are 5 Necessities To Help Your Team Navigate Through The Fog
1. Identify Obstacles — Don’t assume everyone sees or has been willing to be honest about the obstacles, challenges, and threats, you are facing as a team. Take time to step back as a team and identify the obstacles that lie ahead, and assure the team that you will face them together with a solutions-focused mindset.
2. ReClarify Mission, Vision and Values — Take a step back and make sure people’s sight is clear on the Mission, Vision and Values of your team.
- The Mission is WHY you are going on the journey you’re on. It is the heartbeat and soul to all your efforts.
- The Vision is WHERE you are heading as a team or organization. It’s the dream of what is possible and what can be created together. Paint the picture of what you hope to create that doesn’t exist and what that future Vision looks like.
- Your Values are HOW you are committed to traveling along the journey. They are the compass that helps you know that you are on track with HOW you’re committed to traveling. Values aren’t dictated to us, but are discovered, discerned and identified by participatory discussion.
3. Articulate the Game Plan — It’s hard to Trust the Process if we aren’t fully sure what the actual game plan is or the process for moving forward. Take time to articulate the strategy moving forward, and why you’ll approach it the way you are as a team.
The strategy is WHAT you are going to do proactively to bring the Mission, Vision and Values to life. It’s the game plan that clarifies the priorities, people, and next actions, to bring the dream into reality.
4. Deposit Trust as the Messenger — Trust does not magically exist between people or leaders and a team. It is bartered every single day by the deposits we make in the relationship over time.
- Do we do what we say we are going to do?
- Do we hold ourselves and others accountable for holding up our end of the commitment?
Leaders deposit trust by being transparent about the obstacles and what hasn’t been successful, and by honoring their commitments. As the messenger, they deposit trust by owning the next stretch of road ahead and jumping in with the team to seek solutions.
5. Cascade Consistent Messages — As the strategy and game plan becomes clearer, rinse and repeat the message throughout the team and organization. Marketers remind us that it takes 7 times for a consumer to hear a message before they take action — and the same thing is true for cascading messages throughout your organization. Communicate the game plan over and over and over again and then continue to update the progress being made along the way.
Every time you return to these discussions and seek clarity as a team, the fog doesn’t quite seem so thick. The path forward becomes clearer. Your team may not have all the answers, but they’ll have a compass with clear direction on where to head.
The best cultures proactively help their people navigate their way through the fog, together. They are grown, developed, cultivated, and led, with intentionality. The process for developing high-performing and engaged teams never stops — and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to setting the temperature in how they hire, onboard, do performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders, and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their teams and how they travel, together.
If you’re experiencing fog, division, negativity, blame, blurry vision, disconnection, or uncertainty, it may be time to clean off the windshield!
About the Author: Jason V. Barger is the author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim, as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. He is Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting. His clients include Wendy’s, Ultimate Software, OSU, Deloitte, TEDx, Nationwide, and more. Learn more at https://jasonvbarger.com/.