We've covered Why.
We've envisioned What.
We've enlisted Who.
It's time for How.
How are you going to accomplish the things you've set out to do?
But, Julie, you might be thinking, you've already told us a million times that we won't be able to see more than a few steps ahead. That's right! That's not the how I'm talking about. This has nothing to do with intricate plans to march yourself from point A to point Z.
This how, is the boring how.
The communication guidelines.
The accountability plan.
The expectations for documentation.
The how-to guide
The users manual for yourself and your team.
This doesn't need to be a lengthy, formal document. Shorter is often better. But I do encourage you to write it down. Keep it somewhere (digital) where everyone can see it.
Start by simply documenting what you're already doing.
Too often I see leaders begin with an idealized version of how they think the perfect team should look and act and be. It is the natural consequence of reading all the research and going to all the training and wanting to be the best leader you can be.
But it's a trap.
Your team is not perfect. It is a unique mixture of Genius and mindsets and preferred ways of working. Imposing an idealized rule-book down on that melting pot will only lead to aggravation and a lot of wasted energy. Your team will mock it. Then they will ignore it. And if you fight them, they will leave. Because they already know how to do it, in many important ways.
Human beings are an adaptive species. When motivated, we will find a way to get shit done in any environment, despite all manner of constraints and limitations.
If you are getting anything done at all, even if what you've done is merely the formation of your team, you already have naturally chosen schedules, and priorities, and modes of communication, suited to your current situation.
What are they? Write them down.
This is where your leadership, and your research, comes in. What's working? What could be better? What have you not considered, yet? What can wait until you're group is bigger?
Propose changes. Provide justification. Get your team's buy-in. Then try it.
Make a plan to check-in (perhaps quarterly) on how things are working. Are you communicating enough, and by the right means? Are you focused on the right priorities? How do you know? Are you making progress? Are you meeting deadlines? Are you challenging each other? And is your team thriving?
When new teammates join, and they see the how-to guide, are they able to quickly and meaningfully participate without stifling their own creativity or suppressing their preferred ways of working?
Propose something better! Observe what they're doing when they're succeeding despite your handbook and see how you can make that different way of working the standard.
The point is not to live up to a Harvard Business Review case-study, or try to recreate some other organization's team dynamic.
The purpose is to determine what works for your group. To create clear expectations, accountability, and a boundary around this intense work, so that you and your team can generate forward momentum and make meaningful and sustainable progress.
Want to go deeper? Sign up for my weekly Rise & Shine! Monday morning email. Every week, we'll work to turn a piece of The Activated Genius Method into practical, actionable steps to access and engage your Genius so that you can improve your work, your life, and our world.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath