6 Steps to Creating Alignment on Your Team: Step 5—Figure Out the Imperatives

Knowing what your team needs to do is good. Knowing what it will take to make it happen is even better.

This is the fifth in a six-part series on enhancing team effectiveness through better alignment. Step 1 is to connect your team to the outside environment. Step 2 is to orient the team to the organization’s strategy. Step 3 is to figure out the unique value your team adds. Step 4 is to write a mandate to share your purpose with others. Today, I’ll help you figure out how your mandate shows what your team must do to be successful.

Having a clear and compelling mandate for your team will immediately increase your sense of purpose and your clarity about what is (and is not) important. The next step is to figure out how the team will need to operate to deliver on that mandate. Hint: it’s probably not business-as-usual.
I like to use the word “Imperatives” to describe this list of things to focus on because the word carries the appropriate sense of urgency. These are the things the team MUST do to be successful. In some cases, these are things that the team is already doing, but they’re often new insights.

Here’s How:

1. Take your mandate from Step 4, and start making a list of things you’ll need to do to deliver on the mandate. What do you need to figure out, build, initiate, untangle, or overcome to be successful?

2. Start with how the team will need to work together. Will you need to interact differently? Should you meet more or less often, or discuss different kinds of things? There are probably two or three major themes that relate to how your team functions.

3. Next, turn to how the team interacts with other parts of the organization. Do you need to collaborate with a group you don’t usually work with? Do you need to establish or repair relationships to be successful? You will probably have two or three “nuts to crack” to enlist the support required from outside the team.

Let’s return to the example of the portfolio analysis team at an investment company. Their mandate was:

By integrating diverse information about the global economy, market trends, and asset performance, we provide guidance on buy/sell decisions to support our investment departments in optimizing the long-term performance of our funds.

The first four words of their mandate (“by integrating diverse information”) gave this team their first imperative. They hadn’t been doing a good job of integrating the sometimes contradictory information from different sources so that they could provide one opinion to the investment departments. Thus, imperative #1 became: Arrive at One Answer.

 A second imperative came from the line “we provide guidance.” They realized they hadn’t been doing enough to educate and inform stakeholders. Their second imperative was “Inform and Influence.”

At the end of Step 5, you will have new insight about what it will take for your team to deliver on its mandate. Some of these things will come naturally, but others will require dedicated attention, new skills and resources, and considerable follow-through to become part of the way the team operates.

Only once the team makes significant progress on these imperatives will you have a shot at living up to your mandate.  

In the next post, I’ll explain the final step, Step 6: Setting the Rules.