Most of the people that know me are fully aware of my fondness for using sailing analogies. Honestly, I can’t help it; sailboat racing has had a profound influence on my life, and much of what I learned about the importance of teamwork has its roots in my sailing endeavors.
Unless every member of a sailboat racing team understands the positions they are expected to fill, and the importance of each of those positions, the team has no realistic chance for success. Just as relevant is what we mean when we say that each of these positions has been executed successfully, and describe what success looks like. Being crystal clear about what success looks like on a position-by-position basis is one of the foremost requirements for maintaining long-term success.
While it is possible for a racing team to achieve individual victories here and there if one person isn’t performing their position optimally, likely due to a misunderstanding about what success looks like in their position, the team is going to be repeatedly hindered in the long run by the lack of satisfactory production from that individual. This is why it is essential for success to be defined on a position-by-position basis because everyone needs to be counted on to pull their own weight if the team is going to be victorious against stiff competition.
In business, defining success on a position-by-position basis is just as important as it is in sailboat racing or in other athletic endeavors. To assist with this, I have designed two rubrics intended to aid organizations in defining each position and its expectations for success, and in order to guarantee that every position is executed satisfactorily.
The first of these rubrics is the Position Purpose Statement Rubric. This rubric obligates the organization and the position holder to
- reach an understanding regarding the purpose of each position,
- the actions taken to fulfill the purpose behind each position,
- and the definition for success within each position.
As long as the entries on this rubric are discussed openly, this rubric will ensure that both workers and management are on the same page in terms of defining the positions and how they can manifest success within the organization.
The second rubric I’ve designed is the Position Communication Rubric. In this rubric, each position is plotted in terms of the natural and prescribed communication pathways that link that position to others to ensure that they are carried out successfully. This also makes it possible for the workers who perform the tasks associated with that position to be developed in a strategic fashion and aids the organization with strategizing to elevate the quality of the work being performed by these workers over time.
By implementing these two powerful tools, the workers within your organization will attain instant clarity on their expectations within the workplace. They will be able to perform confidently, knowing precisely what it takes in order for them to be regarded as successful within your business. They will also feel empowered by the layers of support that are built into the systems in place within your organization, which will not only ensure that your workers perform their tasks admirably within a team environment, but which will also allow them to be confident about the directions in which their careers are headed since you have procedures in place to make sure they are coached and developed.
In this way, business organizations have a lot in common with recreational teams, whether they’re football teams, sailboat racing teams, or any other variety of team. Everyone has a position to play, and if we can ensure that everyone is successful in their role, we drastically increase the likelihood that the team will be successful as well.