Many teams have worked together virtually for years, but for others, adapting to remote teamwork has been a new challenge. Virtual and hybrid environments offer fewer opportunities for learning how to connect and communicate with each other. In either case, working together as a collaborative team requires clarity on three key elements: goals, roles, and processes.Got Clarity?
Is your team communicating conflicting messages to customers or internal stakeholders? Do team members duplicate efforts – or allow things to fall through the cracks? Have you noticed conflicts or disagreements about project priorities? Challenges in any of these areas are likely related to lack of clarity on goals, roles, or processes. Research has shown that clarity is the single most important factor in team performance.
What are we all here to do? As you consider the team’s goals, it is also important to understand WHY these goals – and the team’s contributions to them – are important.
It is important to clarify each person’s role to avoid duplication, prevent gaps, and improve collaboration. Role clarification is about more than just what each person is responsible to do. It also includes how team members are connected to each other, to other teams, and to outcomes.
If goals address WHY we do what we do, and roles define WHAT each person does, processes provide the HOW. Clearly defined processes lead to consistent performance and quality!
What can you do?
To help your team function at peak performance, consider taking the following team development steps:
- Assess the team’s current strengths and opportunities
- Create alignment within the team on goals, roles, and processes
- Execute a plan to achieve your alignment vision
Assess the team’s current strengths and opportunities
One proven method for assessing your team’s strengths and opportunities is conducting a survey. Making the survey anonymous can help people feel more comfortable saying what they really think! (Depending on the size of the team, anonymity might be difficult in some cases.)
Another option is interviewing team members. Interviews enable you to get much more detail and ask follow-up questions. The drawback to interviews – unless you are working with a third party – is that anonymity is impossible.
Here are some questions to consider asking on a survey or interview:
- What is the purpose of this team?
- What is your role on the team?
- What do your team members need from you?
- What do you need from your team members?
- What is working well?
- What could be improved to increase team performance?
As you collect information, you should start noticing themes that will guide you in your next step: Alignment.
Create alignment within the team on goals, roles, and processes
Alignment is no easy task! It requires a clear-eyed look at the current situation to recognize where the team is out of alignment. Trust and psychological safety are crucial for delving into these issues. Ideally, the team will set aside time to get together for an alignment meeting. This session may include:
- Ground rules for a safe and trusting environment
- Discussion of the team’s mission and goals
- Team-building exercise (if needed to build trust and rapport)*
- Review of themes from the feedback collected
- Setting priorities that are necessary for meeting the team’s mission and goals
- Agreement on responsibilities for execution
*The Personal Shield exercise is one way you can get to know each other better while increasing clarity on the needs and contributions of each team member. Here’s how it works:
- Each person creates a chart like the one below. The team member writes or draws something related to the topic in each quadrant of the chart.
- Team members each take a turn sharing their Personal Shield with the group.
What they bring to the Team
What they need from the Team
Execute a plan to achieve your alignment vision
The alignment meeting is just the beginning! After the meeting, everyone on the team will have a role in developing and executing a plan related to the priorities identified. Small work groups are ideal for dividing responsibilities. One group might work on developing a communication template while another might be responsible for updating (or creating) written procedures for key deliverables. Each priority will have team members responsible for making it happen. Scheduling a follow-up cadence is helpful to establish accountability.
In highly sensitive or complex situations, getting support from an objective third party can help you make progress more quickly. Take a behind-the-scenes look at how BRODY helped bring a new team into alignment for improved productivity.