Every team needs to bond, congeal as it were to get the most out of the team’s efforts as now your individual efforts are measured as combined efforts. Some teams excel well beyond others; we can see this regularly in professional sports. The same concepts that bond a sports team together to excel to the highest level can be applied to a work team at the office, or online for those remote workers. Here are our five keys to building a common vision for your team to get behind.
To start off, it’s good to draft a team charter to ensure there is mutual agreement. Now this can be done during an initial first team meeting, and it can be formal or informal in how it’s carried out. You can also choose to do this as a team building event with specific activities designed to establish and build strong bonds between team members. It’s important for the team members to be able to talk openly, get to know one another, and become comfortable with each other.
As the facilitator, you’ll want to encourage people to actively participate and share their opinions and views in order to find common ground and mutual agreement. For example, have each member write down their ideas for key team work values and post them on the whiteboard for all to see. Your facilitation is key to ensuring the members are honest and open, and feel comfortable sharing their ideas. They must understand that there will never be any finger pointing or blaming; team decisions are just that, decisions made by the team as a group so the team accepts responsibility together as one.
The main purpose for this initial meeting is to help everyone agree on working guidelines for the upcoming project. As well, to establish their own unique working culture which they will follow; that which incorporates values important to all members. Therefore, when this is mutually decided, each member can be held accountable for holding up those values and team work ethics. Though keep in mind, the team charter does not need to be set in stone; allowing for flexibility can be your wild card for reaching a mutual agreement!
Alignment of Goals & Priorities
Now that your team members have a common vision of how they will work together, it’s time to set some goals and priorities. Specifically, finding what the team wants to achieve together. Naturally the team’s goal should be and inherently is to build a successful product for the client; this is understood. Yet just as individuals will set goals, so too can teams set goals for the purpose of driving teamwork, increasing productivity, collaboration, etc.
To be able to align members’ goals and priorities, everyone must first share what goals they have for this project. Collecting everyone’s ideas and laying them out clearly to review as a team will help to see where the overlap or alignment likely already exists. As well, where there may be some goals or priorities that lay outside of common alignment yet still hold value so discussing together to bring those into alignment is vital.
A final note here on goal & priority alignment is the importance of having some goals that inspire the team. People often draw inspiration and drive from goals; having the right goals can make the difference between an extremely focused, driven team and one that is lost at sea, aimlessly drifting. Once you’ve got everyone on a clear project roadmap, moving forward is effortless!
Of course, your team members understand the importance of communication; you began your project kickoff with a team building meeting in which a charter was created. That being said, our point here is in reference to regular or daily communication. Now it doesn’t need to be exactly every day, but regular communication and even what constitutes regular should be clear among team members.
Your team will be doing daily standup in accordance with scrum activities, yet regular communication should expand beyond just this. Daily standup is simply the bare minimum to establish an initial daily connection between team members; however, it does not and cannot replace regular communication. To keep the team on track and limit misunderstandings, regular communication is a necessity.
You should aim to create an environment within the team where members are never afraid to ask questions or ever feel they’re communicating too much. Members should feel that in a case where they are not 100% sure about something, they never second guess themselves for double checking with other members. Plus, if you’re running a remote team, regular communication is simply healthy for team engagement and morale.
Sense of Urgency
Now for this element, we’re not saying you should like a fire under their seats to get them moving as the saying goes. The phrase a sense of urgency has a variety of connotations and use cases; however, the key aspect we want to extract here is for members to understand they need to act promptly, decisively and without delay.
It’s valuable to have the team members honestly care about the client and project for which they are charged with building a product. Members need to be focused on delivering their best work, and prioritizing that which the team has agreed upon. Of course, as project lead you perhaps shoulder the brunt of this responsibility; yet, you want to have an empowered autonomous team that takes ownership in its work and product build.
Having members who understand the importance of a project to the company and the client allows them to take ownership in what they are doing for that project. It also will dovetail neatly into taking pride in their work and ideally draw from them an intrinsic desire to succeed not only for their own sake, but for the sake of the team and client. So instilling the behavior of prompt, decisive action without delay can be a real game changer.
Contribution to Project Success
Finally we come to our final point, and perhaps most innately valuable to member’s own self-actualization within their work: understanding and feeling a genuine contribution to the success of the project. People inherently want to be useful; we all want to know that our efforts are not in vain, and in fact they are uniquely contributing to the success of that which we are working on with the team.
We must consider the realities first though. Can everyone on the team contribute to the success of the project? Perhaps the answer is yes and no due to a mix of priorities and what members are contributing. Regardless of that, each member needs to understand their effort and input to the team is valued and helping to contribute to the success of the project.
If a member is feeling they are struggling and perhaps slowing the team down, the team needs to acknowledge and accept this reality and act accordingly. Accordingly may be direct assistance to that member with pair coding or spreading that member’s workload more evenly throughout the team. Also consider, additional training may be needed, or even replacing the member as a last resort. Remember the team’s ultimate goal is for the project to succeed and sometimes it must make tough decisions to ensure it can achieve those goals.
In the end, your team’s common vision will guide and drive the team forward to succeed and deliver the best product their combined abilities can. Each member will feel personal achievement from the tasks they’re assigned; as well, team achievement through completion of a delivered product to the client. The above elements are useful for driving a team, creating mutual respect, and a comradery that hopefully will create strong connections between the members.
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