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Team Effectiveness

Increase Productivity With the Must, Should, Want Method

Increase Your Productivity with the Must, Should, Want Method

A Simple but Powerful Tool for Leaders

In today's fast-paced work environment, managers often face challenges when it comes to organizing their departments and ensuring productivity. However, a skilled leader who can navigate these obstacles can greatly enhance the workflow of their team. By implementing the "Must, Should, Want" method in their leadership approach, leaders can effectively prioritize their tasks and establish long-term goals that benefit not only the team but the entire organization.

What is the “Must, Should, Want” method?

The “Must, Should, Want” method, created by blogger Jay Shirley, consists of three categories:

What must I do today? These are tasks that are essential and make a direct impact on the success of the team. The ‘Must’ goals are the day-to-day responsibilities and objectives that need to be accomplished within a certain timeframe.

What should I do today? The ‘Should’ tasks are tasks that while significant, are not as pressing as the ‘Must’ tasks. These tasks have a building-block effect—as more of these are completed, the team is closer to reaching their future goals.

What do I want to do today? Think of these tasks as aspirational. Every team has their long-term goals that may not be immediately essential, but when completed, will add immense value to the team. The ‘Want’ tasks offer the team a morale boost after years of working through ‘Must’ and ‘Should’ tasks that can sometimes become mundane. 

What are the benefits of the "Must, Should, Want" Method in Leadership?

Communication and Balance

Communication challenges arise in most team environments, so it is important to have a plan to address and overcome them effectively. The “Must, Should, Want” method offers a simple solution to communication issues, consolidating tasks into three individual categories based on urgency and future goals. When implemented properly, this method offers clarity of roles and responsibilities with less risk of tasks falling to the wayside. It’s a straightforward, simple method that can directly reduce misunderstandings amongst the team. For example, if during a weekly check in you let your team, your manager, or your direct reports know "this is what we must/should accomplish this week," - then a goal and milestone is established, and the team is clear on what their priorities are.

Prioritization and Delegation

Leaders are responsible for a lot in the workplace. The “Must, Should, Want” method, when applied to their leadership practices, can not only help their team stay organized, but will assist in managing their personal workload. By prioritizing their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the team, leaders can ensure each team member is knowledgeable about what deadlines are approaching and who is responsible for completing important tasks. For example, managers can delegate “Must” and “Should” tasks to the team to focus more of their attention on “Want” goals and the overall strategic direction of the organization.

Long-Term Planning

Long-term planning is an integral part of the leadership experience. Unfortunately, many leaders today struggle to set aside time to set future goals for the team due to competing priorities and, to put it simply, lack of time. The “Must, Should, Want” method can create synergy amongst the team, leaving leaders with more time, energy and motivation to turn their short-term focus into long-term goals.

Team Motivation and Empowerment

When employees feel a sense of ownership over their work and see how their individual contributions directly contribute to the achievement of long-term goals, they are more likely to go above and beyond their assigned tasks. This empowerment creates a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, where team members are constantly seeking ways to enhance their work and make a lasting impact.

The sense of ownership and empowerment that comes from completing "Want" goals not only keeps employees engaged in the long-term goals of the organization, but also fuels their motivation to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence. As team members witness the tangible impacts of their work through improved processes and increased efficiency, they gain a deeper understanding of the value they bring to the table. This recognition further ignites their passion and commitment to the organization's success.

The “Must, Should, Want” method is a simple but powerful tool that increases communication, improves workflow, and empowers team members whilst allowing leaders to shift their focus onto long-term team and organizational goals. This method offers a clear, straightforward approach to task delegation, creating a more balanced workplace environment where team members understand what is expected of them and how their individual contributions support future goals.

When people feel meaningfully connected and psychologically safe at work, they bring their best ideas and effort to every challenge. The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety Workshop is a valuable opportunity for anyone who wants to set the stage for innovation and create a healthy and productive workplace. Psychological safety is suitable for any employee, executive, leader, manager or team—anyone who wants to move the dial on innovation, inclusion, appreciation of diversity, or to improve the culture at their organization.

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Kara Janssen

Kara Janssen creates engaging content that connects our clients to the FlashPoint brand and mission, helping them grow as leaders.