An effective team brings together people from different backgrounds and different experiences to work together toward a common goal. Yet most teams do not ever achieve their full potential because team members do not take the time to explore and agree on the team’s purpose, values, and destination.
Jesse Lyn Stoner, a leading expert on the topic of visioning, and coauthor with Ken Blanchard of Full Steam Ahead!: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life believes that when team members set these foundational pieces in place, there is less wasted time, less conflicting priorities, and less interpersonal conflict because team members trust they are all moving in the same direction, guided by the same values.
In a recent article for Ignite!, Stoner recommends a three step approach to getting people aligned and working together effectively.
Be specific in setting values that will guide the way the team works together. All new groups need a set of common rules that will define expected behaviors. Identifying common values can be a challenge for teams when they first come together because the words alone can mean different things to different people. The key is to define the words with specific examples. For example, what does transparent, responsible, and “good team player” mean to you? More importantly, what exactly does it mean to others in the group?
Keep your customer in mind. It’s easy to fall into the trap of defining your group’s work in terms of what you produce in the way of products or services. Effective leaders define their team’s purpose from the viewpoint of those who benefit from their services and products. For example, a marketing team shouldn’t define their work as creating brochures, staging events, and promoting consistent branding. Instead, the team should see its work as “providing a steady stream of new leads for Sales associates.”
Focus on accountability to bring your vision to life. Once a team has identified its purpose, values, and picture of the future, Stoner recommends that the team publish their vision. And probably more importantly, check in with internal and external customers on a regular basis to see how you are doing in achieving your team’s stated purpose.
The vast majority of work teams never live up to their potential. Don’t waste the opportunity to get the best from the people you bring together. Taking a little extra time up front to define and publish expectations can make a huge difference in the long run.
Click here to read more about Stoner’s thoughts on Unify Your Team through a Common Vision or learn more about a free webinar that Stoner will be conducting on Purpose, Passion, and Meaningful Work—how to get where you want to go