One of the big issues that a client who recently started working with me has is that he is struggling to get alignment in his team and get everyone pointed in the same direction.
Now, let’s be clear, this is not because he has a team of dysfunctional individuals who have set out to make his life a misery. No, he has a group of people who are really working hard and are committed to their roles – probably just like you!
So, if he has such a good group, why is there such a lack of alignment in the team?
After a really good discussion about how the team works together we uncovered the main reasons for the lack of alignment included:
• Poor communication. The group rarely met to discuss the overall objectives and how they were going to deal with them – together!
• Team objectives not clear. The individual objectives were quite clear but little or no time was given to clarifying or discussing team objectives
• Working in own silos. Everyone did their own bit and focused on their own objectives with little view or connection to team objectives.
• Team priorities not clear. Even if there was some sight of team objectives there was no sight of how those objectives were prioritized.
Let’s be honest – some or all of these issues exist in every team we encounter!
So, what can you do to achieve alignment in your team?
• Get clear about the vision and the mission of the team. Yes, you may have had a session together as a team when you spoke about your vision and your mission, but please – do not think everyone heard the same message! Ask your team to individually write down the 3 main elements of your vision, and compare the answers. It will frighten you!
• Be clear about the TEAM objectives, not their individual objectives, and have a discussion around them so they are clear.
• Demonstrate how their INDIVIDUAL objectives support the TEAM objectives – they must see the connection! Otherwise, you have guaranteed poor alignment.
• Have a team meeting to agree how the team will work together to achieve the overall objectives. What behaviors are critical to achievement of goals and what behaviors will impede progress. This is a critical discussion.
• Have regular meetings to review progress on team objectives – and also on how the team is behaving and working together. I find that discussions about how the team is behaving and working together is frequently avoided, as we don’t want friction and tension. Not having these discussions causes increased dysfunctionality – and delivers poor results.
So, how is alignment in your team? What has caused this problem in your experience? Leave your comments below.
If you would like to share some issues privately with me, then just click here, tell me what the issues are and I will personally respond with some tips and suggestion.
Paul Corr says
John, like this and agree you’re right to start by looking at the manager. In my experience I believe that people want to be great – to do a great job. If they are not, it’s because we as managers wont let them or facilitate this….not out of malice but rather as a consequence of poor management practices such as
– failure to set a really exciting vision and challenging goals
– failure to enroll people in how best to achieve these
– failure to review progress, celebrate success and address as a team those areas not working well
– failure to bring out the best in individuals through a coaching rather than managing approach to performance development.
Know you know all this John so well done on bringing it to the fore again.