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Entries from April 2014

Team Alignment – A 4 Part Health Check

3rd April 2014
I recently read some research
that looked at the winning leadership behaviours that lead to outstanding team
performance, particularly when under pressure. One of the top three was
alignment, (The other 2 were capability and autonomy).
So, I’ve put together some
simple questions to assist you in conducting a quick health check and
determining where you may need to put some focus:
How would you describe the
alignment of your team?
Are you?
  1. Fully
    functioning, running like a ‘well oiled machine’ where balls are rarely
  2. Managing to get
    along and just about hit deliverables but it’s all a bit like hard work and you
    feel as though you have to constantly chase people.
  3. You’ve had to
    re-adjust several timescales and deadlines to accommodate the team. Things just
    never run smoothly and lots of mistakes are made.
Hopefully you are somewhere
between 1) and 2) and if you are 3) what I have to say will still be of
value, although it’s probably going to take a little longer to get fully
Wherever you are right now
these 4 questions will help you determine what needs ‘fixing’. I would
recommend you address them in this sequence, as they will also help you
prioritise action. The questions are:
Why do we exist?
Where are we
Who does what?
How do we behave?
Why do we exist? The foundation
What is the team there to do?
What is their role in the company? Is everyone clear about this?
It sounds obvious, but if you
are a team who’s role is to develop new products and there are members of the
team who think you are there to develop existing products this can cause some
friction albeit subtle.
Ensuring every single member
of the team understands what you are there to do can bring great clarity in determining where to focus
efforts and what to say no to.
For me it’s the ‘why are we
here’? Your teams mission statement and the foundation piece to alignment.
Where are we heading? The guiding system or sat nav
Does everyone know in what
direction you are heading? It helps if you are all pointing North. How you get
there can be varied but if you are all pointing in different directions it’s
going to be a longer and potentially exhausting journey.
Your direction may be your
strategic goals, your operational objectives, or your company vision – the key
is clarity and simplicity. Do your
team know what you are going to deliver and the difference it will make? Can
you describe it in a couple of sentences? If you find you are rambling, or
trying to cover every eventuality you’ll find your team will make their own
interpretation, leaving room for missed opportunities, inefficiencies and
conflicting priorities.
You may find you have to
repeat this several times to make sure it’s fully understood. It will be worth
it in the long run!
Who does what? The resources
This is being clear about
roles. Who is doing what? Do the roles in your structure allow you to deliver
what you are meant to deliver? Where does accountability for delivery sit? How
do the roles interrelate? What’s required for the team to run smoothly around
the tasks/projects you are delivering?
Is everyone in the right
role? Having people fully equipped not only ensures great teamwork it will also
increase individual engagement and as a result greater performance.
Are people playing to their
strengths? When people play to their strengths there is a sense of ease as well
as enjoyment.
How do we behave? The driving path to get you there
What’s the culture you want
in your team? How do you want your team meetings to run? How will you make
decisions? How do you want it to feel? How will team members communicate with
each other? How will problems be resolved?
How often will you review
collectively how you are doing? Are you prepared to have a degree of candour so
the real conversations take place when they need to and not in the corridor
with the people who aren’t involved?
Even the best teams need to
stop to reassess.
These questions will allow
you as a leader and to quickly review where you are, and be used as a review
with the team to identify any areas of realignment.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Michael Jordan

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