How often have you worked with a team that isn’t on the same page? This familiar work situation of being misaligned is not the team’s fault, but the leader/manager’s responsibility.
What Elements are required for Team Alignment?
When any of these three elements are out of alignment, the result is a loss of efficiency, loss of productivity, loss of motivation, and an unacceptable work product. Team alignment is a critical success factor found in high performing teams. If you see your team is out of alignment, your “job one” is to realign.
Steps to Contextual Alignment
1. Diagnosis – before starting any corrective action, you’ve got to understand what is broken and where. Look at the team holistically and then in parts.
- Is there evidence where a person or process is not aligned? Be careful; it is easy to blame a process problem on a person. These two elements must be looked at in the context of each other.
- Is there evidence that team members, together or individually, don’t have a clear understanding of the purpose and value of their work?
- Are the entire team and each member of the group living by the same cultural norms? The needed norms are often an alignment of work ethic and behavior.
- Do each and all members approach their work with similar energy, effort, commitment, and passion?
- Do the team members approach the task with the same values relative to quality, effort, and pride?
2. Prescribe – once you know what/where/who needs “fixed,” develop a communication and training plan to build on the team strengths while correcting the deficiencies. This step is very purposeful work, with part of the result being an understanding of processes that need “fixed” or aligned. It needs to be trained or, sometimes, redirected to another opportunity.
3. Correct – meet with the team collectively and individually to communicate why team realignment is needed, where the misalignment is, how the team will work to get aligned. The effort to correct includes sharing what the work looks like, who will do this work, what the end looks like, how success will be measured, how the team and individuals will be held accountable and how the team, work product, organization, customer and individual benefit from attaining this alignment.
An aligned team performs expertly and creates significant pride in themselves, their work product, and the organization. Team alignment is vital leadership work.