You have big, meaningful goals. You wouldn’t be in the association industry if you didn’t. But to create lasting impact, you have to have a roadmap to accomplishing your core goals—usually in the form of some kind of strategy.
For a lot of associations, there is a “big-picture” strategy document somewhere, usually about the size of a phone book. It can be so big and complex that it can be overwhelming to begin attacking those list items. Even with just a short list of “main goals” written out for this quarter, it’s likely that these goals are pulling your team’s focus in multiple directions which means nothing on your list will get the full attention and performance it deserves.
Fortunately, the 10 Rockefeller Habits gives us a good next step. After aligning our leadership, we must align our goals and action items on a regular, quarterly basis. This gives your team the focus, cohesion, and direction that your association needs to have unlimited potential for success.
The Myth of Multitasking In Association Management
The concept of “multitasking” is a myth. Based on over a decade of research, psychologists and brain researchers have concluded that the human mind is designed for single-tasking. In 2018, Stanford scientists found that forcing workers to multitask led to memory loss and attention issues. And in a more recent combined 2020 study from the University of Houston, University of California Irvine, multitasking was found to cause depression and anxiety.
Lead researcher, Ioannis Pavlidis explained in a Science Daily article:
“Multitasking imposes an onerous mental load and is associated with elevated stress, which appears to trigger the displayed sadness. The simultaneous onset of fear is intriguing and is likely rooted to subconscious anticipation of the next disruption.”
He went on to explain that multitasking as a core cultura concept was a dangerous ‘climate maker,’ potentially contributing to anxiety as a way of business.
Understanding the myth of multitasking is a critical key to creating a leadership-driven association that fosters growth. Unless you are able to identify a point of focus for your team, you will be asking them to switch from priority to priority, effectively holding them back from making progress on a single, vital task.
Single Mind, Single Focus: 4 Steps for Focusing Your Team
So, how do you actually put this kind of focus into real practice?
There are several clear action steps you can take now to make sure that your whole team is aligned in goals, values, and purpose. Through aligning on these three levels, you eliminate the constant back-and-forth of multitasking priorities and give a clear point of focus.
- Review your short list of quarterly goals and select the one thing from that list that, with full attention over the next 90 days, will drastically move your organization closer to your larger goals. Make a space to move any other priorities to the back-burner or side-burner for now.
- Clarify what that #1 focus is, and how it will positively contribute to the scaling of your organization. By identifying a single focus for everyone to align with, you are actively decreasing overwhelm and burnout while simultaneously increasing attentiveness and productivity.
- Choose 3-5 “benchmark” items that can serve as the priorities that will bring progress closer to goal completion. Each of these priorities will come with a substantial amount of smaller tasks that are all essential to achieving the larger goal.
- Break down your “benchmark” tasks into actionable, measurable steps. Each step should be clearly defined and assigned so that everyone on your team knows how to contribute to success. In addition, it should be clear how to succeed at each task, who is accountable to whom, and how progress will be tracked for each action item.
As you move through the alignment process, you’ll probably be surprised at how much instant difference it makes with the collaboration level and personal investment of your team—even if they’re already awesome. There are two big take-aways that you might see right away.
Choosing the #1 focus will connect teams and employees who might not usually engage with one another, and invite collaboration. As key priorities and tasks are broken down to support the achievement of your top priority, employees will start to see where their expertise falls into place and where common tasks might lead to cross-collaboration.
Employees can see the direct impact of their individual contributions, and how they influence the bigger goals. Keeping the associated metrics visible to all teams means more group accountability and group buy-in as the project becomes closer to completed. Instead of working alone or in competition with each other, they are a part of something bigger, which will lead to more satisfaction and a better outcome.
Writing out an incremental plan to achieve your top goal each quarter is the best way to guarantee success. As these goals connect with annual goals, you create a transparent system where every item you and your association team completes each day connects to the larger quarterly and annual goals you have set. And, of course, it gives you 90 days of intentional, collaborative work that brings your team together to help your association create the most powerful impact possible.
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Photo by Kalen Emsley