Your Prime Directive by Jim Johnson


Remember the intro to the Star Trek TV program? “The ongoing mission…to seek out new life and new life forms…to boldly go where no one has gone before…” Once they found new life, they were to observe and not mess with it. This was their prime directive.

Each of us in our work as a prime directive (P.D.) as well. While it doesn’t involve space ships, transporters, and aliens (at least I don’t think it does), our P.D. shapes our days and guides our team’s activities. Right?

Too often, a manager can become involved in many things at work and take his/her eyes off the P.D. Busy-ness takes over and focus is lost. Then the call from the regional manager comes and you’re scrambling for words and excuses…

How do you keep the prime directive – your performance goals – the focus?

1. Make Goals Visible. Not just to you, but to your entire team. They need to understand the goals as well as the progress toward the goals. Communicate the goals weekly. Email your team. Use your intra-net to talk about your goals. As you do walk-bys, talk about the goals with your team.

2. Publish Goal Progress. Keep a scoreboard of your progress toward your goal. Don’t wait until the end of the month to see if you hit the goals. It’s too late then! Create smaller, stepping stone goals that will be the leading indicator of your progress. Everyone on your team needs to know where they are in regards to the achievement of your goals.

3. Tie Behavior to Goal Achievement. The goal of your team is not to be busy. Their activities and behavior MUST tie back to the goals. You cannot afford your team to waste their time on things that are not moving your department and company forward.

4. Recognize and Reward. When team members do all of the right things that help your team succeed, recognize and reward them. Don’t tell, “heck, that’s your job.” It is, but that tactic won’t last long for you. Build momentum by encouraging performance that impacts.

As a manager, you’ll be bombarded with stuff that will take your eyes off the goal. Part of your job is to manage that stuff. But your greater calling is to keep yourself and your team focus on that prime directive that will drive success for you, your team and your company.

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