Aligning Your Team’s Focus

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Aligning Your Team’s Focus: The Magic Hack. Today, when you parked your car, did you notice what car was parked two stalls to the right of you? What was it?

Stop here, take your time, and think about it.  

Let me guess … just like me, you could spend the rest of the day trying to recall the answer to this question and still have no idea. Not only do I not know, but I haven’t even thought of, or cared about, knowing the answer to that question. My initial response is to wonder why someone would ask such a meaningless question and expect an answer to such randomness.  

As leaders in business, many of the things that are significant to us, and impactful to our company, are often meaningless and random to the members of our team. This is a much larger obstacle to our success than knowing what car is parked two stalls to the right of us. As leaders of our teams, it is our responsibility to create alignment in the understanding of what things matter most. When our teams are not spending time working on, and thinking about, the things that we feel are most important, it’s our responsibility to change their focus. How do we change the meaningless to the meaningful? It’s simpler than we think.  

Imagine that I did ask you what car was parked two stalls to the right of you today. When you park your car tomorrow, what would you do differently? Maybe you would glance over at the car two stalls to the right, maybe you wouldn’t. Imagine if I asked you again for a second day in a row this same question; then again on a third day, and a fourth, etc. It would be uncomfortable to not have such an attainable answer. As I continued to ask you this question each day, you would inevitably start to notice that car two stalls down. You would start writing down the car make, model, and colour. You would take a picture of the car and possibly even send the picture to me before I asked you that day. You would begin to observe more details about that car than you were being asked.  

A major focus in our company is continuous improvement, and it is my responsibility to create alignment in the focus on this throughout my team. I have found there is magic in asking the exact same question consistently to my team, real magic! The company I lead has built a culture that incorporates daily goals for each team member. One of the magic questions I have discovered, and use when I’m conversing with a teammate on a day in which they did not hit their individual daily goal, is simply, “What is one small thing you can do, change, or improve that will make it easier for you to hit that goal next time?”  

Simple question, right?  

The first time you ask this question, the response may resemble the look of a deer staring into the headlights of your car. You might receive ideas regarding things others could do to make it easier for the person answering, which isn’t quite what you are asking. Expect this; it’s okay. This process is like being asked what car was parked two stalls down from you. Your team may not have a good answer the first time you ask, but as you consistently ask this question you will see the magic of this start to take place and you will become a true believer in it.  

Get clear on what is meaningful to you and your team. Find the question(s) that you can consistently and repeatedly ask your team, that will help them focus on those impactful things. In a short amount of time, your team will start anticipating the question that you ask them. Their minds will focus and start to see opportunities that are right in front of them. They will become excited to show you the improvements they have already implemented before you even ask. It’s not only effective to do this as a leader, but it will also create engagement amongst your team that is intoxicating. You will see and feel the improvements in comradery and work satisfaction spread across the faces of your team, and you will not be able to help but smile in response.