No team is an island. Figure out what your organization is trying to achieve.
This is the second in a six-part series on enhancing team effectiveness through better alignment. In Step 1, I talked about the importance of connecting your team to the changing environment outside your organization. Today, I’ll focus on how to connect your team to your organization’s strategy.
I hear the word “alignment” a lot in my work with teams, but usually people are talking about something like how members of the team aren’t aligned to one another, how they aren’t aligned with the way the boss thinks things should go, or how certain activities aren’t aligned with the team’s goals.
They seldom talk about a more basic form of alignment: Is the team aligned to what the organization is trying to do? Somehow, in this era of team-building, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the team doesn’t exist for its own edification. It should exist if, and only if, it advances the cause of the organization.
So what is the cause at your organization? How can you become better aligned with it?
1. Get your hands on whatever strategy materials you can find. Search the internet for publicly available documents. See what analysts are saying about your organization. Look at similar information from your competitors’ websites. Get a sense of how your organization is carving out a spot in your industry.
2. Invite members of the organization’s leadership to come and talk to your team. Ask them questions like:
- What are the 3 most important priorities for our organization?
- How will we give ourselves an advantage over other organizations in our industry?
- What are the most important things a team like ours should be paying attention to?
3. Force yourself to define how your team adds value for the customer. And before you start talking about internal customers—skip it, there’s no such thing! Every single team in the organization should be able to describe how they add value for the real, end customer, whether directly or indirectly.
4. Summarize what you’ve learned in Step 1 and Step 2 in this table.
Just like Step 1, do this exercise at least once each year. Do it more often if there have been rapid changes in your industry or new people joining the leadership ranks. This knowledge will help you understand the role your team can play in executing the organization’s strategy.
In the next post, I’ll explain Step 3: Figuring out the Value of Your Team.