Enrolling the team with ownership of our strategy

Kiandra is on a growth trajectory. We are growing our client base, product and service offering, tech stack and software team through an aggressive strategy with 14 key initiatives to achieve our plan. 

The success we’ve had to date, is largely attributed to a hands-off approach and empowering the team to achieve a specific outcome in their own way.

As Head of Software, I’ve already learned a lot since operationalising this plan 6 months ago, so much so, I thought it was worth sharing the plan and it’s outcomes with everyone.
Objectives

To execute on this strategy, this year we have tried a new approach with the following objectives: 

1.To deliver on our strategic initiatives
2. To trust and empower our team to contribute to the success of Kiandra
3. To improve overall team engagement
4. To give valuable business challenges to the team to develop their skills and experience

The plan
 
Each software team member had an opportunity to select their preferred strategies from the list. We then selected working groups based on those preferences and grouped different disciplines together to encourage team work and different points of view. For example, one working group may include an Architect, a QA and a Business Development Manager. Each working group are given a budget, deadline, set deliverables and performance metrics.  
 
Getting started
 
As soon as the working groups were formed they collaborated on what they wanted to achieve and how they were going to do it. This was largely unmanaged as the teams were empowered to go about achieving the outcome in their own way. As an observer and, as Head of Software, there were times that I could not help but be curious about some of their approaches, however it was a major personal goal of mine to step back and let it happen. I’ve changed a few goal posts along the way, such as the deliverables and the deadlines, to suit the emerging needs of our business.
 
Progress
 
Periodically, the teams have provided updates and posted their progress on Microsoft Teams. Occasionally I pop into a team workshop to see how things are progressing. I am even an active team member in two of the initiatives to help out on what are my passion projects.
 
Outcomes
 
While there is more work to be done on most of the initiatives, there have been many highlights so far including:
 
  • Upgraded our tech stack with multiple upgraded and emerging technologies
  • Most of our processes are catalogued logically and available for the team to access easily and update as needed
  • We have increased our blog output and have had contributions from many of our team members with the purpose of raising awareness in the market of what we do and how we approach our  work
  • We’ve increased our team building activities with international food day and the corporate games
  • We’ve seen an 8% increase in our team engagement in 6 months
  • Our ranking in Australia as a Kentico partner has climbed the ladder and we are actively working on improving our rank
  • We have spent over 1500 hours in training across the team
  • We’re launching two new products (completely determined by the working groups) with Power BI and Data Analytics as well as a new offering to our clients for software support
  • We’re changing the way we recruit, the way we induct our team members and the way we attract talent
 
What I’ve learned
 
It’s hard to hand over the fun stuff. I love strategy and I love seeing progress and especially being a part of it. Giving almost full control to the team has been a challenge because I am a hands on leader and want to get involved. Stepping back and delegating with trust was a personal objective for me and I could not be prouder of the team and their efforts.
 
I have witnessed different working groups collaborating across groups to help each other achieve their goals. I’ve seen leaders emerge who I had previously overlooked. I’m more able to concentrate on other aspects of my role as I know each of these strategies are in great hands. The best part is being able to delegate and guide enquiries to the right working group as I have essentially outsourced my job.
 
Key tips if you want to try
 
  1. Be clear on the goal, the deliverables, the deadline and the time budget
  2. Ensure you have a time tracking mechanism
  3. Delegate with full trust
  4. Seek updates regularly and have the team present them to the wider team – not just you
  5. Be prepared to guide when needed and know when to step in
  6. Accept that they team will do it ‘their’ way and as long as they achieve the goal it does not matter if you don’t agree with their approach
  7. Acknowledge great contributions regularly and be selfless in giving/taking credit