September 6, 2022

Lake with two mallard ducks

There’s one thing you can do with your team today that will help you manage the curse of busy-ness and make sure you’re not putting already strained resources under unnecessary pressure.

It’s getting your team aligned. Making sure that everyone is on the same page and understands – not just knows but truly understands – what the team’s purpose and end goal is, where they fit into that picture and what that means for their day-to-day tasks. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It’s just that when we chat to clients and ask how they are, the one consistent response we get is, ‘Busy. Really stretched, not enough people or time to get it all done.’

We’re not against being busy, but there is world of difference between constructive, we’re all pulling together and heading in the same direction busy which can be energising and motivating. And the kind of busy where your head is constantly spinning, curve balls are the norm, and you don’t know what to do first.

Taking the time to have a constructive conversation with your team with the sole purpose of getting aligned will help you to:

  • Prioritise tasks
  • Allocate the tasks to right people with the right skillset
  • Better manage and allocate strained resources

 

Are we sometimes guilty of sabotaging our chances of success because we’re too busy doing things that won’t move us forward because we haven’t taken the time to get aligned?
Andy Chevis, Head of design and research

 

Lightbulb moment: the two-minute challenge

This is a challenge we typically run with senior leadership teams, often with interesting results but it can work with any team.

  1. Ask each team member to record a two-minute video explaining what the team strategy and purpose is
  2. See how many different versions of the strategy are recorded
  3. On a scale of 1-10 how difficult was it to explain and where did people get stuck?

It’s always interesting observing the reactions in the room, seeing lightbulbs go off and using that experience to start a conversation that will give everyone clarity.

 

What’s the difference between your team knowing and understanding your goal?

Just because you have a beautifully written and presented strategy, it doesn’t mean people will have the same understanding. You know what you think the team purpose is, but is your understanding the same as your colleagues? When did you last check to see if they matched?

 

Try this with your team

There is a simple framework we go to when we need to regroup, get clear on what we’re trying to achieve so that we can make sure the tasks on the to-do list are taking us towards that goal, and not pulling us in the other direction. It’s the 3Ws: 

W1: What do we want to achieve and why?

W2: Where are we now?

W3: What next?

These conversations can be gnarly and we know it’s tempting to jump into W3 – the doing – but we need to have these knotty conversations so that we can get clear on what we’re trying to achieve and help our teams to make better, conscious decisions. With clarity comes commitment because if you don’t have commitment and understanding, you’ll find people smiling and nodding away in agreement in the meeting, but then heading off afterwards to carry on doing their own thing and nothing changes.

 

This stressful and overwhelming version of busy can be down to a lack of alignment rather than a problem with execution. If you look around you, you’ll see a busy team, people getting things done, it’s just that those tasks might not be taking them any closer to the end goal.’  Julie Lo Certo, Project Manager

 

Team alignment is within your control

There’s a lot we can’t control right now but getting your team aligned is firmly within our grasp and it’s dynamic too. We know the world keeps changing that’s why regular feedback loops and check-ins are so important. It can be easy to let them slide, but taking time to chat and see what’s happening, what’s changed and whether that means rethinking priorities will always be time well spent.

 

Next Steps: where are the gaps in your team?

Have you tried our Team Assessment Diagnostic? If you’re leading a team of any size take our five-step diagnostic that will help you identify where the gaps and opportunities are. It’s free and will only take a couple of minutes to complete. At the end, we’ll share practical tools to help get your team motoring.

If you’d like to have a chat about your team, whether that’s helping you to get aligned or anything else, just contact us and we can have a chat. We’re always happy to talk about teams.

if you would like some help and guidance to support you in applying these ideas to your team click here

To find out more about the 3Ws and other practical frameworks to help get your team motoring, get in touch and dive into our growing Resources library where we store all our blogs, research and white papers. Everything you need to help you feel like you’re on top of things and to get your team motoring.

 

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