Quick ways to build team alignment

Posted on 2018/03/06

Many organisations struggle to effectively align their teams. Why? Because there are a range of personality types and skill sets which can lead to conflict. However when this conflict is harnessed positively, and a team becomes aligned and working in the same direction, it becomes more productive. We are interested in the key ways to build that team alignment:

1. Find each individual’s sweet spot Each individual within a team will have a particular attribute which is their sweet spot. It might be a skill, or a personality trait. For example being great at managing disputes, or brilliant with Excel, or even fabulous at time management. It typically takes a while during a team formation for individuals to expose these sweet spots, and that is often on the job, rather than identifying themselves proactively. However when team members work within these areas they will not only feel more comfortable, but also they know they are contributing in an important way.

2. Share leadership responsibilities Within a flat team structure, it is fine to have one individual who has complete oversight. In fact that is a sensible approach. However individuals should all feel empowered to lead in certain aspects – and that is typically aligned to their sweet spot that we discussed in the first point. The aim is to drive ownership and self-governance from within the team.

3. Have clear communication structures The team should be communicating continuously and fluidly but we also must recognise that many teams members work remotely from each other which can mean communication structures are required. It is useful to at least have a minimum expectation for catch ups. It is also recommended to have full team catch ups that are booked in the diary.

4. Build a culture of trust It is hugely important to avoid creating a blame culture within the team, as it will likely implode. A well-functioning team will be aligned in the trust they have in each other. They support each other when things are going well, and not so well. Success is based on the formation of relationships of trust.

5. Have common goals All team members should be working in a common direction. At the foundation that will be the company’s strategy and values. On top of that there should be team goals that are worked on and agreed as a group. It is useful if all team members have input and sign off on goals. Build a common vision for the team and that sense of shared purpose will push the team forward.

In Summary

An aligned team is more effective as all members are moving in the same direction. Each individual has a role that has a place which fits with all other roles. However, it would be unrealistic to expect a team to be aligned from the point at which they are formed. Therefore employing some of the tips above can help to align the team and harness the power of the collective.