6 Steps to Creating Alignment on Your Team: Step 6—Set the Rules

Your organization is counting on your team to deliver. Doing so will probably mean changing the way you operate.

This is the final post 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 to organizational 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. Step 5 is to identify the things you must do to deliver. Today, I’ll conclude with how to set the rules for team engagement.

Many teams take the positive step of defining the ground rules by which they will operate. Unfortunately, these lists tend to be comprised of vanilla statements about courteous team functioning. There’s nothing wrong with these lists, they just aren’t connected to the task at hand. Instead of using a generic list, your team has the opportunity to create the rules of team engagement that link directly to your imperatives. 

Here’s How:

  1. Take your mandate from Step 4 and your list of imperatives from Step 5.  
  2. Review these outputs and identify some of the implications for how team members behave.
  3. Focus on core areas such as communication, decision making, and conflict. Are there new ways you need to interact to be able to add your full value as a team?
  4. Take some time to describe what the team de-railers would look like. Are there behaviors that used to be acceptable or tolerated that need to be stopped? What kind of behavior is not acceptable?

Let’s return to the Portfolio Analysis Team example.  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.

One of their imperatives was: “Arrive at One Answer.”

This imperative generated lots of discussion about the ground rules. Previously, team members had been sharing their opposing perspectives with people outside the team.  This was confusing for the organization because they didn’t know which point of view was the official one. The team knew they needed a rule that conflict happens inside the team. Opinions are shared with the investment departments once the team has arrived at one answer.

Great thinkers like Stephen Covey and Patrick Lencioni provide wonderful advice for how to behave as individuals and teams. I highly recommend that you read their books and be guided by their wisdom. 

But when it comes to setting the rules of engagement for your team, abandon the generic and create the rules that will help you do what your team needs to do. 

At first, the process of aligning your team might seem foreign. I promise you that each step will provide new insights about what you need to achieve and how you will need to act to achieve it. Your team will see the immediate benefits.

Are you going to try this with your team?  I’d love to hear your experiences with the process.