The compelling motivation of any leader is to build a team that is singularly focused toward alignment for optimal results. It’s one thing to hire team members and on-board them, it’s trickier to align them to function like a team and become a proficient community.
So how can we make sure our team is working together efficiently and effectively?
Helpful Steps to Align your Team
1. Get the right people on the team.
This may sound painfully obvious. However, we find that this initial step is often overlooked. It’s not about filling a position. Rather, the first step is about filling the position with the right person. How do you determine if it’s the right person? Core Values. Through behavioral interviewing and gut-feel, the leader, current teammates, and others in the interview must determine if the candidate aligns to the Core Values. Don’t get swayed by the urgency to fill a position. Stay true to the course. Once hired, you can build on Core Value alignment by building a foundation of trust. Defining trust and building relationships between team members is just part of the process that needs to be intentional, authentic, and on-going.
2. Drive engagement.
Because you are spending time building team synergy by building trust, you are also creating space for open and honest conversations. This is not about deferred decision making where heads bob in agreement and later collude over the water cooler. From the outset, it needs to be established that the only way a team wins is through what one of our client’s calls “tension” – hard conversations, healthy debate, hard discussions, and disagreements. Team dynamics allows every voice to be heard and opinion offered to meet the goal.
3. Have a clear plan.
Align your team around a concise, well-articulated plan. In order for a team to lock-arms in agreement, each member must know the plan, be able to articulate the plan, and implement the plan with measurables. Whether you are in a leader and manager mind-set it is essential to have a clear-cut set of expectations and timely feedback about these standards. A plan is doomed to fail without this level of accountability.
4. Create the right team rhythms.
Alignment won’t happen by osmosis. It is up to the leader to establish recurring patterns for reporting and accountability. This includes having appropriate dashboards to measure progress while at the same time revealing areas of concern. Everyone knows what is “on time” or “completed.” Additionally, meeting rhythms keep the lines of communication open, break down siloes, alert the team to unplanned situations, and build team cohesion. They also ensure a high level of accountability is maintained.
5. Cascade a clear message.
A clear and concise message ensures that everyone knows the direction the organization is headed and what it takes to get there. Just as water cascades from the top of the mountain to the valley, cascading a clear message drives alignment throughout the organization. Think of “cascading” as a tactic that articulates the same message around goals, metrics, and culture. We’ve been in many leadership team meetings where everyone on the team agrees to lock-arms and be “one” and yet, individually, when they speak the message it isn’t always the same, or at times, hidden in innuendos. Other times, they get lax in defining goals, make excuses, avoid having difficult conversations, or they don’t hold the direct reports accountable. Cascading isn’t a good idea or an option; it’s necessary to drive alignment.
This may seem abrupt, but let’s be honest. If a team member does not align to these five steps there is no sense spending more time convincing the person. The other team members probably know about the misalignment and are waiting for the leader to make the hard call. By the way, misalignment could be evidenced by someone being obstinate about these steps, someone who is just a little off, or someone pretending to “play the game” but sabotaging the leader and team either consciously or subconsciously. It may even include someone who is just not aligned to the core values of the organization. This doesn’t make them a bad person, just a bad fit.
Of course, these are just some high-level steps for achieving proper team alignment. Looking for more hands-on help?
At Nexecute, we are willing to do just that. In fact, we go above and beyond. We’re more than just business consultants. We become a part of your business, and use specific processes of our own to help you reach your potential. In fact, The Dynamic Advantage is perfect for creating great team synergy.
Stay tuned for the next blog post for the third reason in Why You Need Trusted Business Consultants where we discuss the importance of Execution.