Great teams seem to have everything going for them – everyone is engaged, contributing, working towards their potential, and genuinely having fun. They also seem to produce impressive results as they work towards one common direction!
We know the importance of having team alignment, and have likely read more than one story about what a great team is able to accomplish. Sadly, most of us are not currently on great teams. Even more sadly, we have systems and structures that actually prevent this from happening.
Here is my simple list of practical ways to build team alignment.
- Begin with a compelling purpose.
This purpose helps to engages team members’ passions and brings focus to creativity. All thoughts, plans, and actions go to support this one purpose – the structure of organization, logo and imagery, meetings, compensation strategies, size of staff, and so much more.
A grand vision can work in place of a purpose; but only for a while. Great teams need an emotional connection to something that goes beyond the physical. Concepts are better than tangible things at allowing us to form emotional connections.
- Clearly communicate this purpose often.
This helps to reinforce the commitment each makes to the team. Each time it is said; it should improve the connection to the individual. This is not a perfectly polished sentence that is void of character or personality; rather it is a couple simple statements that help to center our thoughts and activities.
- Ask how and what they are willing to contribute to this purpose.
Then listen. The responses will give strong indications as to what each member is willing to personally invest in order to make something happen. If done publicly, this puts a bit of positive peer pressure for members to increase their contributions once they know how much others are committed.
The answers also serve as sturdy scaffolding that can support our efforts as the team begins working together.
- Accept, then organize contributions.
Everyone has something to contribute. In not accepting various contributions, we are inadvertently building a value-system that will do more to tear the team apart. Once contributions are accepted, we can go about organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing them in ways that swiftly meet our goals and compelling purpose.
What I find most interesting is how excited people are when they are allowed or encouraged to contribute what they want. Their performance and production is incredible because they are passionate about the work and are emotionally invested in it.
- Openly communicate how all work relates/connects (to each other and to purpose).
Besides getting everyone on-board with various programs, one of the challenges teams have today is understanding how each of the pieces fit into the entire scheme of the business. We are asked to do our parts, to do them to the best of our ability, but don’t have any connection to what happens before or after.
By making this connection, we can tap into the collective genius of our team to discover new and better solutions
- Reinforce actions and behaviors you want.
Accentuate the positive in order to get more of it. This is not waiting until people do things ‘right’ or ‘on purpose’. It is about celebrating what is approximately right while positively helping to refine it. The power in this is in being timely and consistent. The only way to make it happen is to allow each and every team member, employee, intern, and vendor the permission to both award and correct. This peer-to-peer system helps to efficiently redirect actions and behaviors we do not want.
If this list is in stark contrast to how your teams currently work; you might have systems that are preventing team alignment.
Can you imagine how much it is costing your organization?
What are you willing to invest in order to align your teams?