Want to improve performance? Team Alignment is the key
You can't expect your team members to achieve their goals if you don't keep them aligned throughout the year.
As a manager, it's your responsibility to ensure that your team is achieving its goals.
Since a team's success is dependent on the alignment of your team members, team misalignment should be your main concern if your team has been underperforming.
Don't get me wrong, I know how hard it is.
Ensuring team alignment is easier said than done.
But in a world where our competitors constantly get better, we don't have any other option.
Instead of waiting for the consequences of misalignment, there are a few easy and proactive ways to keep your team aligned.
What is Team Alignment
Team alignment is used to describe an internal state, or attitude, of a team whose members work together to achieve their goals.
In short, members of an aligned team:
Share the same vision and mission.
Understand their individual and team goals.
Understand the impact they have on the other team members and the wider company.
Clearly, an aligned team succeeds at reaching its goals.
But, it is also a healthy and positive team.
These teams tend to get into fewer conflicts and use healthier problem-solving techniques, both strengthening the trust between team members (Schaeffner, Huettermann, Gebert, Boerner, Kearney & Song, 2015).
Without team alignment, your team (and you as the manager) is destined to fail.
But please don't give up on your team, there's hope -
You can always realign your team.
Keeping Your Team Unbelievbly Aligned
One thing you must keep in mind before moving on to the practices for realignment:
Team alignment requires constant work.
Honestly, it's just like a muscle; you gotta keep working out to keep it strong.
#1 - Invest in transparency and communication.
As I said at the beginning, an aligned team shares the same vision and mission and understands both individual and team goals.
The only way to ensure that your team is familiar with the goals and understands them is by:
Communication and transparency.
It is not enough to state the goals,
You need to make sure your team understands them and their contribution to the success of the company.
Here are two exercises for you to try:
At the next team meeting, ask your team if they have any questions about the team's goals and invite them to ask questions about their individual goals.
With this new year coming up, once each goal is set and shared with your team, make sure to cover the "why" behind it.
Keep in mind that your team members will only be dedicated to the team if they understand their impact.
#2 - Be committed to celebrating team's wins
Since we all work better when we're motivated, you should find a way to motivate your team.
One easy way to do so is by celebrating your team's wins with incentives.
Every time a team member achieves a milestone, host a small "party" for your team.
Then, when the team achieves a milestone, give them something back (lunch and bonuses are just two examples).
#3 - Eagerly prioritize regular check-ins
Let me repeat myself:
Team alignment requires constant work.
Sharing the goals once a year is not going to get your team aligned.
Instead, schedule weekly team syncs to review the goals and the team's progress toward achieving them.
Here's a way for you to know if your efforts are enough:
Your team members should know, at any given moment, their goals and where they stand.
#4 - Trust your team and collaborate
While team alignment is built upon mutual understanding, maintaining (and strengthening it) requires trust between team members.
Regardless of your position (team member or manager), you are a part of the team.
If you don't trust your team members, why should they trust you? Why should they trust their colleagues?
You need to lead the team by exhibiting positive behaviors, attitudes, and traits - including trust.
One way to show your team that you trust them is through collaboration;
Include them in big projects and delegate responsibilities based on each member's strengths.
I said it once and I'll say it again:
Team alignment isn't a one-time project. You need to constantly put in the effort to maintain it.
I won't lie to you - it's not going to be easy.
But it's worth it.
Besides, the consequences of a team misalignment are too severe to not give these exercises a try.
I believe in you!
Schaeffner, M., Huettermann, H., Gebert, D., Boerner, S., Kearney, E., & Song, L. J. (2015). Swim or sink together: The potential of collective team identification and team member alignment for separating task and relationship conflicts. Group & Organization Management, 40(4), 467-499.