The success of any group effort will always come down to team alignment in the end. Whether it is a company, a sports team, or some other form of group, the outcome will always depend on how well the individuals who make up the group function when working together.
How well these individuals work together results from how they understand the team’s nature and purpose. At the same time, it comes down to how they view each individual’s roles within the team. This individual team alignment represents how well each individual’s understanding of the team environment empowers them to act effectively in advancing the team’s common goals.
What are the three critical steps for team alignment?
The utterly essential element for team alignment is constant communication. And this means communication not only between supervisors and team members, but also between team members themselves. There are three key teamwork elements that can also help to build team cohesion and alignment.
Working toward common goals helps to develop these three traits in employees. This instills a strong culture of teamwork within any organization and helps to ensure that teamwork is maximized for every project or goal.
The specifics of these three traits are:
- Going above and beyond for your team
- Trusting your team
- Pushing each other
Organizations that invest in team training and development, team building and recognition programs are more likely to achieve team alignment. Team alignment happens when a culture promotes employee engagement, appreciation and recognition. Team alignment cannot be mandated because leadership thinks it is important.
Let’s expand a bit on each of these elements to demonstrate their role in team alignment.
Going Above and Beyond for the Team
When employees give even more than what is expected toward achieving a shared goal, they help create a sense of unity that breaks down the individual viewpoint and promotes a sense of shared purpose.
Employees who only view each task from their own perspective, will only do what is necessary to satisfy their personal assignment. On the other hand, workers who understand how their assignment fits into the greater team goal will be able to deliver work that complements and enhances the work of their teammates without even needing to be told to do so.
What is important is that leadership emphasizes the bigger goal, not individual goals. Employees motivated to achieve bigger goals will more likely pool together and help one another with little chance of competing for individual recognition or awards.
Leadership’s role is to promote the project or assignment vision, communicate frequently on progress and thank a group, as a team, for their collective contributions.
Trusting Each Other
Another significant element of team alignment is trust between team members. Trust occurs when team members are open with one another, share vulnerabilities, and admit mistakes. In most workplace situations, this will only occur if demonstrated by leadership first. Leadership always sets the pace.
What happens when team members are willing to go above and beyond in their assignments, and put the team’s overall outcome above their individual outcomes? They trust that their teammates will be doing the same—or at least they should.
Moreover, trust is built upon trust. A team will become progressively more integrated and consequently more effective as the trust between team members builds due to positive team outcomes.
An excellent team building exercise is for the team to create an agreement based on the principles of openness, vulnerability and asking for help if they feel they are not supporting the team as well as they should.
Speaking of relatiosnhips, I talk about how to build them in business and in life in my e-book Relationships for Keeps!
Pushing Each Other
As for the final element of effective team cohesion? It’s the drive to excel that comes from working as part of a team. It is about being able to offer each other feedback. Peer-to-peer feedback is almost better than top-down feedback but many workplaces rely on leadership to deliver the feedback. This is another area that leadership can lead by example, encourage the team to create an open pact to offer each feedback as well as offer training on how that can be done effectively, and timely.
Many people find it difficult to push themselves against their own metrics of success. But when they’re part of a team, there’s a stronger inclination to do so. That’s why it’s essential that team members take advantage of this natural tendency and try to push their teammates to do more than they think they can.
Team members are in the best position to recognize when their teammates could be doing more and identify teammates’ strengths, they might not see in themselves. A constant effort to push each other to do more and to do it better creates a real sense of collective achievement. In the end, this means each individual is a little better as a part of a team than they would be on their own.
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