Sabina and her cousin Ramin built a patient portal platform, Medtown Square, for small medical practices, which incorporates articles and message boards to foster a sense of community and care. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears the product went live two years ago.
The good news is that they managed to keep their relationship intact. The bad news is that the product is tanking. Ramin has visited medical practices all across the state, getting physicians excited about the possibilities. He cultivates relationships and proudly tallies how many clients he lands on the wall near his desk. Sabina teases him that they make it look like he’s in a jail cell; he says it keeps him feeling driven.
Yet once Ramin passes them off to his team to complete the paperwork and start implementation, a lot of the clients drop out. In addition, other clients abandon the product once it’s in place. It seems like customers are leaving every step of the way. Meanwhile, Ramin keeps bringing more and more in.
Why Is This Happening?
Ramin and Sabina are distressed, and their investors aren’t too happy either. Why is this happening? Sabina offers no insight; she is too busy leading the web development team to deeply analyze what’s been going wrong. Are they doomed to join the ranks of the thousands of startups that fail?
Sabina and Ramin would be wise to take a look at an important aspect of a successful team: being results-oriented. Here’s what we mean.
Great Teams Pay Attention to Results
A professional baseball player doesn’t walk away from a losing game satisfied because he hit a home run. His home run is irrelevant if the team wasn’t able to win.
If you’re only focused on your individual goals, the organization as a whole won’t achieve all that it’s capable of. The key is to focus on collective results. So no matter what your area of expertise, your personal achievements must come secondary to the goals of the team. All team members need to focus their energy on helping the team accomplish its goals.
So What Does It Look Like When a Team Is Results-Oriented?
Teams that Focus on Results
- Retain employees who value achievement
- Minimize individualistic behavior
- Benefit from team members who put their own goals second to the goals of the team
- Avoid distractions
And the teams that aren’t results-oriented are a different story.
Teams that Don’t Focus on Results
- Fail to grow and rarely defeat competitors
- Lose achievement-oriented talent
- Prompt team members to focus on their own careers and goals, rather than the team’s
- Get easily distracted
Back To Medtown Square…
With that in mind, let’s look at Medtown Square again. It’s obvious that Ramin is goal oriented. Tallying his sales on the wall speaks a thousand words. However, Ramin isn’t paying attention to the fact that the customer service team is lacking a collective focus. Three of the customer service reps are so focused on their quotas of closing customer request tickets that they aren’t looking at the customer service experience holistically. They are ignoring follow-up questions and not being patient or kind with customers who need support. Kindness and patience don’t fit in with their individual goals of closing the request tickets as quickly as possible. So as a whole, customer service is lacking and unfortunately, it’s the first leak at Medtown Squared which is draining customers fast.
The next leak is during the onboarding process. These team members work from home and each person acts like they are their own department. There is no consensus on how the onboarding process for the medical practices should be handled, how much communication and follow up is needed, or how long the process takes. In addition, customers don’t always get the same onboarding specialist. So they work with one customer service rep, whose goal is to take their time with the process and follow up frequently; then they work with another rep whose goal is to get them in and out quickly and avoids following up. The customer ends up frustrated and loses trust in the organization. Yet if the onboarding team were focusing on collective results, the process would be seamless and more positive for customers.
What are Ramin and Sabina supposed to do to correct this serious problem at their startup? Take a look at these four tips.
Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Results-Focused Team
When you want a team that is results-focused, start by focusing on these four things:
Publicly Declare Goals
Before anything else, you must have a very clear and compelling goal. Everyone has to understand what that goal means. Consider it like giving them a vision to keep in mind, a compass with which to steer their ship. Be concise about the company vision and how, as a team, the primary objectives will be achieved.
Have Some Type of Scoreboard
Introduce some type of metrics that people can review to quickly understand if the team is succeeding. This will help the team stay focused on the goals, and also motivate them. Gamification is an excellent way to track results and engage employees.
Encourage Teamwork. Make it Mandatory if Needed
It seems obvious, but in order for a team to work together to reach a collective goal, they actually have to work together. If your company culture is lacking in teamwork, set aside time during the day, or week, for teams to meet. They can discuss what they’ve been working on, monitor their success, and brainstorm ways to do better.
Put a Rewards System in Place
Besides the success of the company, reward employees for meeting collective goals. These rewards don’t have to be expensive. Some ideas are leaving early on Friday, gift cards, lunch out where discussing work is forbidden, letting teams choose a team service project, an honor certificate, VIP parking spot, and even a handwritten note.
These four tips will get your team back on track. To help you get focused, let’s end with a quote from Patrick Lencioni whose book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” stresses the importance of results.
Make the results that we need to achieve so clear that no one would even consider doing something purely to enhance his or her individual status or ego. Because that would diminish our ability to achieve our collective goals. We would all lose.
For more ways to improve teamwork at your organization, read my articles on trust, accountability, commitment, and conflict. Then let us know what your team struggles with most. What do you think will help? Leave a comment below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.