How do we go from asking activities to speaking in outcomes? It’s a vital step in ensuring your team takes ownership of their work and projects, and understands what work needs doing for the wider business.
There’s an old saying: “What you ask about comes about.” If you are only asking about the activities, then that is what you are focusing your people on. When you ask about the outcomes, you focus your people on the achievement…and that engages your people to think of better ways to achieve it faster.
Why being a great leader is all about expectation-setting
The other old saying: “You get what you expect.” When you set expectations on the outcomes to be delivered, you focus your people on the achievement, not just their activities. When your people take an outcomes focus, they will always use more of their potential too. It all starts with you, their leader, speaking in outcomes (the language of achievement) versus activities (the language of busyness). Just because activities are completed, doesn’t mean that the outcomes are being achieved.
The difference between activities and outcomes
When you delegate an activity to your people, who owns the outcome that activity supports? That’s right, you…not them. Great leaders delegate outcomes (achievement), and ask the how versus tell the how. When you speak in outcomes, the conversations with your people are focused on achievement, and you motivating and encouraging your people to find better and faster ways to achieve them. You can achieve stronger performance from your team when they are focused on the achievement (the outcomes) versus just the activities.
How to flow your principles down, and the team’s decisions up
Actually, delegating outcomes is not sufficient. You also need to delegate the decisions that go with those outcomes too. In the most productive organizations, principles flow down, and decisions flow up. When decisions are made as close to where the work is done, then the quality of those decisions improve and the pace of the decisions improves too. Your people will never take ownership of the decisions until you give them ownership of the outcomes…and that starts with you speaking to them in outcomes first. It’s about shared expectations. First, about the achievement (the outcomes), and then about reinforcing the ways the organization will collaborate together (the principles) to achieve those outcomes. Great decision making and performance is driven by strong expectations, and especially on the outcomes to be delivered and the principles that drive the teamwork to deliver the outcomes faster.
If you need help to speak more in outcomes to your team, give me a call +44 079303 21458.