Remind me – why am I here?

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“A team is a group of people who are interdependent with respect to information, resources, knowledge and skills and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a common goal.”*

Other definitions are available, but pretty much every explanation of a team refers to the ‘common goal’ element.

Without a clear purpose, team members have no direction and potentially embark down different paths, getting confused over priorities and pursuing adjuncts that stray off the beaten track. The end result is that more time is spent putting things right than getting things right first time, and that can take up far more of everyone’s time and lead to wasted energies and sluggish motivation.

Directionless team members are reactive and wait to be told what to do; they have no real commitment because they don’t know what they are committing to.  This results in a lack of camaraderie and a dulling of enthusiasm, focus and loyalty.

If they know WHY, the WHAT and the HOW become easier!

However you describe the mission or aim, what matters is the worthiness of the goal and the degree to which each team member can express what that means to them – and the extent to which their beliefs and passions match or tie into the objectives that business leaders are really striving for.

In the post-COVID workplace, it’s probably an ideal time to challenge all members of the team to reiterate their understanding of the common goal. Does it still align? Has it gone adrift? What does it mean to them and their respective roles in the business? If the feedback is blurred and incoherent at this point, it won’t be their fault, but it will be key to get everyone back on the main path.

Perhaps now more than ever it is an opportune time to remind everybody in the organisation of the team goal or purpose.  Ask for contributions – does it need to adapt to current times so everyone is back in tune with each other?  Collate these thoughts and feedback and work this up into an updated mantra or mission statement; if and where appropriate, add targets, but most of all remember that we are all humans so heap genuine praise and recognition onto those that are proactive and show keen willingness to support the company’s core beliefs.

It will also be important to keep reminding people of the purpose of the team, especially if there’s a personnel change, re-shuffle or different working environment.  Even if there have been no changes to your organisation, communication will still be important to ensure everyone is on board with the team’s purpose on a regular basis.

Henry Ford had teamwork in mind when he said: “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

*Source: definition of a team, Professor Leigh Thompson, Kellogg School of Management

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3rd July 2020

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