By Linton Chalmers
Welcome to part two of this series on the three pivotal characteristics of the most effective and best teams I’ve worked with. In the first part of this series, we looked at teams finding comfort with conflict, today I am looking at the importance of teams establishing a unified purpose.
A unified purpose
Research proves that all of us intrinsically desire a sense of purpose and progress about the work we do (Martin Selligman, Dan Pink, etc). We want to know that when we go to work each day, we’re adding value. This is a challenge for many organisations, and in my experience there are a lot of people with no understanding of their daily contribution, outside the transactional nature of much of their work.
The ideal mechanism for giving individuals this sense of progress and impact is through the team they are a part of. If the team’s purpose is clear, and the team is functioning well, then the role of each individual is also clear. The prerequisite for this is understanding the broader context of where their team fits.
Think of someone conscious of their water use – short showers, don’t leave the tap running, etc – they consider their own behavior because of its impact on their suburb, city, country and the environment. It’s an understanding of the broader context that then give this person impetus to act. Someone with no consideration for the big picture? Who cares, I’ll empty and refill my pool each week if I want too.
This broader context determines a team’s direction and purpose, and aligns the individual actions of each person to those around them. This allows individuals to weigh each thing they do based on whether it is taking them closer to, or further away from where the team is heading. Teams only thrive when everyone is in alignment, and teams are only in alignment when they’re all heading in the same direction.
This makes measurement easy. Each person is then assessed on their contribution to the team’s scorecard. Team success is the ultimate goal, and individual success is important as far as it adds to that. This excites the high performers, gives under-performers nowhere to hide, and naturally encourages autonomy, and team collaboration.
Can you answer these questions?
- Why does your team exist?
- What is your team’s scorecard?
- Do you know how your individual contribution benefits the whole?
In the final part of this series, I will be discussing the importance of teams having accountability for their behaviours, not just the tasks they are given.