How to use the team strategy document to help you manage your team
In my previous article, I provided four uses for how a manager can use a team strategy document (example here). Today, I provide four more! Today, I focus on the internal uses – within your team — of the team strategy document.
1. Use it as a basis for improving processes, workflows and operational innovation
When you have a team strategy document, it allows you to better understand what the team is trying to achieve. With this, now you can start looking at your team processes and workflows. It also affords the opportunity for you and the team to discuss areas of innovation and opportunity that your team can perform to better achieve the goals. With a strategy in place, you and your team are less likely to meander in the status quo and more likely to strive toward a higher level of performance.
2. Use it as a guideline for strategically placing work assignments and identifying gaps in team capability
The team strategy document identifies who is on your team. You can also add some biographical and work interest info about each member. For example: Walter – management consultant, performance improvement, innovative instructional design. With this info, you can look at the strategy, and think about the job roles of the people on your team, and identify the strategic placement of where the people on your team perform their job. If you have someone who is outgoing, and makes excellent connections with people on their first meeting, and if you have as strategic need to make new connections outside your team, perhaps you should put that person on the task of developing new relationships.
3. Use it as a basis for providing performance feedback
Performance feedback is an important task a manager must perform. The team strategy document gives you platform to provide that feedback. Part of the team strategy document is to provide guidelines for how the team works. It also identifies what the team works on. These are data points that provide performance expectations. Now, if someone follows these guidelines, or uses them to make decisions, or prioritizes work according to the plan, then they should receive positive reinforcement for performing according to the team strategy. If someone is doing work outside the strategy, or working outside the guidelines, this provides you a better basis for giving performance feedback. It’s a lot better than seeing some behavior that you don’t like, then creating the expectations on the fly for what the behavior should be, and then giving feedback against this newly created performance expectation.
4. Use it as a basis for improving the strategy
Once you have a team strategy document in place, it is a lot easier to update it when new information, new work conditions, new team members and new priorities emerge. When a change occurs – and they occur a lot — your team strategy will be more iterative rather than radically revolutionary in the absence of a team strategy. The first version of your document will not be perfect – strategy never is – but once you have something down, you will be able to identify how it can be improved, and you can use your team to create that ongoing improvement and revision of the strategy. The elements of the team strategy document make these revisions seem less daunting.
The team strategy document is a powerful tool for a manager to use to manage the team, keep focused on priorities, and to empower the team to do better and better work. It is a concrete deliverable that provides ongoing leadership and management to the team.
For the management designers out there – what structures, expectations and feedback do you provide to makes sure team managers have a team strategy document?
For the managers out there – how have you used a team strategy document to improve how your team performs?