If you asked one of your team to tell you what your team vision or purpose is, what would the answer be? I bet you a few of my Australian dollars that the answer would be the organisation’s vision, possibly the business unit tagline, a confused look or a combination of all three.
Could they (or you for that matter) articulate their team’s specific purpose? And if they can’t, does it matter?
We believe it matters because we know from experience that when a team has a clear understanding of its role – a role that the team has spent time identifying and clarifying together – team performance accelerates.
Create space for teams to connect in a human way
Something special happens when a team comes together to talk about their purpose and identity. Human conversations happen. Yes, human which might sound odd, but how many ‘work’ conversations focus solely on the ‘doing’ and the to-do list? Making space for a deeper conversation gives people the chance to talk, connect and listen to each other while getting much-needed clarity on what they’re doing and why.
We love it when teams get stuck in and excited about the work they do. Conversations where they chew over:
- This is who we are
- This is what energises us
- This is why we come to work
And the key here is that everyone in the team is involved. On an individual level this gives colleagues a deeper understanding of why their work matters. And as a group, accountability for team performance is shared around the room, rather than sitting with one person – the team leader – as it might have done in the past.
Scan the horizon: no silos here thank you
Positives first: there’s undoubted benefit in making space for your team to connect at a deeper level than the usual day to day agenda allows. But this isn’t about turning inwards and forgetting the teams outside your newly bonded unit. It’s about understanding where you fit into the bigger picture, not creating fiefdoms and silos where teams follow their own agenda, blinkered to the outside world.
Co-creation: everyone in the team has a voice
Inviting colleagues to co-create this team vision also dials into our belief in democratising leadership. That organisations thrive when leadership is shared by the many, not the few. By giving team members a voice in shaping their team’s direction, it flips the old school hierarchical view of leadership on its head and creates huge opportunities for growth and learning.
‘Gone are the days where we should be wholly reliant on one individual leader to take full responsibility and be the single point of success or failure.’
Dan Meek, LIW CEO (Five-steps to building high -performing teams webinar November 2021)
Clarity on a page (COAP): a framework to guide the team conversation
If all this sounds great but you’re wondering how you can a) start this enriching conversation with your team and b) keep the conversation on track – read on. We developed the Clarity on a page (COAP) framework precisely for this reason.
By the end of the COAP process, you’ll have a document that reflects your team’s purpose, vision and strategy and has a longer-lasting impact simply because your team created it.
Clarity on a Page
It starts with a fundamental question: ‘Why does this team exist?’, before exploring what the team wants to achieve and why (its vision) and turning attention to how it’ll get there (the strategic priorities and big, hairy, audacious goals). All under pinned by the values – the deeply help beliefs that guide the team and its actions.
Going through this process will enable your team to paint a picture of the future and the impact that the team could have on the organisation. With sights firmly focused on this vision, the team can lift itself away from routine day to day tasks and get excited by the future.
It’s also worth remembering that typically, the big building blocks that characterize the ‘how’, like introducing agile sprints to experiment and accelerate the delivery of the strategy involve other teams. Another reason to invest time in your COAP.
Not only will it help your team, but it will lead to much clearer conversations with others, helping them to understand why and how you need their support. And you never know, maybe they’ll follow your lead and start the process too.
Clarity on a Page: final thoughts
We firmly believe that teams are one constant in our ever-changing, complex world of work. It’s why we believe it’s time to invest time and energy in getting the most out of them.
‘We can’t control the wind, but we can direct the sails’
Clarity on a Page is Step 2 in our five-step Team Acceleration framework – our formula for guiding teams to a world of high-performance. If you want to explore how your team could benefit from the Team Acceleration framework, get in touch and we’d love to have a chat.
We’re building our Resources library, so dive in and check out our White papers, blogs and research. All designed to shed light on the often complex subjects of team performance and leadership.