Whether your business is moving forwards or backwards (and it’ll be one or the other – businesses never stagnate), you will have challenges, and as unique as those challenges are to you and your business, one thing is consistent:
They All Involve People!
All successful businesses recognise that their success comes through and as a result of their people which is why successful businesses have a growth strategy that has an emphasis on Leadership and Team Alignment.
THE TEAM ALIGNMENT METHOD – Four Steps To An Aligned Team.
Now, this Four Step Process isn’t particularly unique or clever. In fact it’s very simple. However, the reality is that often seemingly complex tasks like creating an aligned team that drives your business forward through choice, don’t require a complex approach.
STEP ONE: DESIGN THE VISION
An aligned team is a team that works together towards a SHARED vision. A shared vision therefore is essential. Without a shared vision, creating an aligned team is not possible, because it’s the vision that binds the individuals in the team together.
For a vision to be shared, the team must be involved in designing it. Too many leaders impose their vision on their team and then wonder why their team are not as inspired and motivated by it as they are. When the individuals in the team are involved in deciding on the direction they are going and importantly, defining ‘why’, then they are motivated from within, and when they are motivated from within, they begin to move towards it through CHOICE.
STEP TWO: CREATE THE CULTURE
Whilst the Vision provides the direction, it is the team Culture that provides the conditions to enable the team to achieve it. Culture is often difficult to define because it is not tangible. However, culture is entirely visible through its manifestation in the work environment: in the behaviour of the people in the team.
I describe culture as a personality. In a person, personality is a construct of their mindset (beliefs, values and attitude) and their behaviour. Equally, a team’s culture is a construct of their collective mindset and their behaviour, which results when the team agrees to and complies with a set of guidelines for working together.
Culture literally translates to “How we behave around here” and the more explicit the team is about the culture that best supports the vision, the more likely they are to adopt consistent behaviour that also supports it.
STEP THREE: ESTABLISH THE GOALS
Whilst the Vision provides direction and the Culture provides the conditions to enable the team to achieve it, it is the team’s Goals that drive their daily, weekly and monthly activities to ensure that they move incrementally and consistently towards it.
The vision is the destination. However, often by the nature of a vision, the destination is a long way in the future, therefore aiming for the destination on a daily weekly or monthly basis can be overwhelming.
The goals break the vision down into incremental milestones which brings the vision closer to the current reality, providing achievable targets to aspire to and reach along the way. Instead of aiming for the vision on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, the team are able to aim instead for the next milestone and then the next one after that.
Just like the vision, the more involved the team are in establishing the goals, the more committed they are to doing whatever it takes to achieve them.
STEP FOUR: DEFINE THE ROLES
One of the most noticeable characteristics of an aligned team is that each individual within it is completely clear about the role they play in achieving the common goals and reaching the shared vision. As a result they have a high level of accountability.
Accountability is often described as being responsible for something when actually, that is what ‘responsibility’ means. Accountability is not just about being responsible for something – it’s about being answerable for it too and the distinction between the two things is an important one.
Accountability only works when there is complete clarity of responsibility and expectations and this is why defining the individual roles within the team, complete with where responsibility lies for specific tasks and who is accountable for certain outcomes, is absolutely essential. In doing this, the leader works with the team to allocate responsibility for tasks and accountability for outcomes to individuals based on their strengths – and this is where many leaders get it wrong.
We have come to believe that our strengths are the things that we can do well which is why so many of us find ourselves on a career path that we later come to dislike. The thing is, a strength is NOT the thing you do well. A strength is not the thing you’re good at. That is a skill. A strength is the thing that you are both good at AND that you energised by. It’s the thing that makes you feel STRONG. That ‘s your REAL strength. When the individuals within the team are given tasks and responsibilities based on their REAL strengths, that’s when things start to get interesting.
By leading their team through THE TEAM ALIGNMENT METHOD step by step, even the most inexperienced team leader can move their team from a group of people who simply coordinate their individual efforts, to a powerful force, on a mission who work collaboratively towards a shared vision, driving the business forward THROUGH CHOICE.