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The Burning Platform- How To Identify Truly Important Projects

Originally posted: April 9, 2012 on TrishMcFarlane.com

As a leader, do you struggle to keep your team on track or are you able to guide them in a structured way in order to reach organization goals?  We’d all like to think we do more of the latter, but if that were true, we would have far fewer experts telling us how to do better with our teams.  The truth is, managing people is challenging.  It’s challenging because individuals are dynamic and have so many nuances in their performance.

They key I’ve found is to create a burning platform for change in order to ensure that each team member is going “all in” with me.  If you’re not familiar with the phrase, creating a burning platform is a way to describe the fact that many employees will not fully engage in any project unless you put a fire under them that causes them to change.  The “fire under their feet” must be great enough to give them no option but to change. The main steps of creating this fire are:

  • Knowing and communicating that there is a legitimate need for change.
  • Having a shared urgency that the employees either contribute to or have agreement about.
  • Assessing the opportunity.  Is there a revenue gain to be had or cost savings?  What are the goals of the organization?

Leadership works with employees to create the platform to motivate employees to want to reach the goals, then each leader should take a hard look at their team members.  What are the goals of the employees as individuals and do they align with the overall company goals?  What personal issues in an employee’s life can negatively impact their focus on the business goals?  If a leader can answer these questions about the team members, they will be more likely to be able to adapt the projects for the most successful outcome.

Once you create agreement on the need for change and assess the employee motivation and ability to step up, you can begin to identify the truly important projects that will aid in reaching the organization goals.  I once worked for a company where no matter how exciting a HR project sounded, if it did not align with reaching the organization goals, we did not do it.  It made prioritizing work very easy.

Do you set your team up for success?  What methods do you employ to inspire them to do their best work?  Share in the comments.



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