You need to move results– quickly. It’s tempting to try everything you can to make things better. But the all too common “throw everything at the problem and see what helps” approach may make things worse in the long run. Your team will be frantically trying to execute on too many cylinders, and even if results start to improve, you won’t know why.
When you need a quick turnaround, I recommend following this Winning Well F.A.S.T. model.
To move results quickly, focus is key. Resist the urge to fix everything. Identify and communicate the biggest priorities and break the work into manageable tasks. Focus on what each team member needs for success.
- Communication: Align on 2-3 key leadership messages to share in every context. Communicate them to the point of obnoxious… then communicate more. Check for understanding. Communicate again. Test it, “What do you think I most want to talk about today?” If they don’t shout out your priorities, you’re not clear.
- Activity: Make big work small. It’s tempting to build action plans with lots of activity to show you are trying. Less is more. Too much action overwhelms and confuses. Identify 2-3 actions that will make the biggest impact and hit them hard. Reinforce with focused and consistent leadership messaging.
- Outliers: Use data to get surgical in your approach. Know the outliers and give them focused recognition and support. Avoid broad-brush interventions. Focus just-in-time actions on those who need them. See Also: How to Break the 80/20 Rule
When results aren’t moving, your team probably knows why. It’s tempting to start with answers–it’s far more useful to ask great questions and truly listen.
- Slow down early and listen to concerns. Stop to acknowledge progress.
- Competing Priorities: New initiatives are almost always piled onto existing workload. Acknowledge conflicting goals and competing priorities. Listen carefully to concerns. Prioritize. Give permission to stop. Some balls must drop. Decide which ones.
- Progress: When you’re moving fast, don’t forget to pause at progress. Acknowledge small wins. Celebrate new behaviors. Recognize breakthrough thinking (see also In Defense of Wow)
Fast-paced change provides great growth opportunities. Stretch yourself and others.
- People: Fast paced change provides stretch opportunities. Provide special projects and stretch assignments. Turn strong players into teachers. Ask everyone what they must do next to achieve.
- Boundaries, Assumptions and Rules: Stretch people to try new behaviors. Stretch boundaries, assumptions, and rules. Spend time asking the question, “What have we never tried before…?” Engage unlikely thinkers from outside the team.
Go slow enough to think about what you’re doing and who you’re involving.
- Stop stupidity: Every fast-moving project contains elements of stupid (e.g. time wasting tasks, old processes and reports that no longer align with new vision). Empower everyone to say stop as needed. See Also: Seth Godin’s Basting the Turkey)
- Assess and Fine-tune: Carefully measure progress and fine-tune as needed. Watch for unintended consequences. Be ready to change course as needed.
- Stakeholder: When moving fast it’s easy to exclude. Think about peripheral players that must understand your plan. Slowing down to include the right players early, leads to smoother acceleration.
When in doubt, go slow to go fast. A few deep breaths before launching will provide vital oxygen for the sprint ahead.
Excellent points, Karin and I love your series!
One thing that I think is essential is being crystal clear on expectations and deadlines. Teams sometimes run into conflict when they are not sure on what each person is responsible for. In one organization the senior leader held frequent meetings to get quick updates and make sure deadlines would be reached.
Wonderful article, Karin.
My favorite is this: “Stop stupidity: Every fast-moving project contains elements of stupid (e.g. time wasting tasks, old processes and reports that no longer align with new vision).”
So many of the things that hold teams back are just…stupid. It’s a leader’s responsibility to plow through all the old junk and throw out what is outdated or just doesn’t work. But, it takes work and that is why so many leaders just go with the status quo…