What would happen if you tried to build a house without a plan or blueprint? The results at worst would be disastrous and at best inferior. Could that possibly explain why managers are often unsuccessful in building a team? They have employees, they have tools and techniques but they often don’t have a blueprint.
The blueprint provides the overall view of what success looks like, as well as the components and the steps needed to get there. Here are some key elements of a blueprint to building an effective team, as shared by Mark Sanborn, a Crestcom faculty member, in this month session.
Vision answers the question, “Where are we going? What’s your ultimate desired destination?” Vision typically refers to your company vision, and everyone that you hire to become part of your team needs to know, understand, and be committed to working toward achieving that vision. On a smaller, or shorter-term, vision can also refer to the vision of a particular project or initiative. Knowing what the vision for the end result of a project or initiative is will help you decide who would be the best people to put on the team – whether they are current employees or new hires.
There are two important aspects of a vision that you need to consider – and communicate to your team. First, your team will need to be able to tell whether they are making progress or regress toward the vision. Second, the vision needs to be exciting. Not just to the people who craft it, but also to your team who will be charged with fulfilling it.
Mission answers the question, “Why are we going there?” It’s not enough to tell people where we are going, but also give them the “why” of making the journey in the first place, and that reason needs to be compelling. It gives you and your team a sense of purpose and motivation to do what they do every day.
Most organizations define the mission as what they want to achieve. Simon Sinek, author of the book, “Start with Why” says the “why” matters more than the “what”. He says the Why is not to make a profit. The Why is your purpose, your cause, and your belief. If you are able to identify why your organization exist, beyond making a profit, it is more likely to not only inspire your employees but also to move your customers to support you.
In his TEDTalk on “How great leaders inspire action”, Simon Sinek points to Steve Jobs and Apple as an example. He argues, “If Apple were like everyone else,” they would say, “We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?”
Instead Apple says, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
This philosophy seems to be working for Apple. It is the most valued brand in the world.
Sinek summarizes, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Similarly, for employees, oftentimes, it is not what they do that excites them but why they do it. If you are able to give them a compelling mission beyond just making money for the company or for themselves, they are more likely to be excited to wake up on a Monday morning and come to work.
Values answer the question, “How will we get there?” They guide behavior and decision making. Your team members, your colleagues know what to do, not because of company rules, regulations, policies and procedures, but because they are clear on the values that should guide their behavior.
Goals help demonstrate whether the team is getting closer to or farther away from achieving the vision. Goals aren’t motivators – that’s what the mission is for. Goals provide the markers to let your team know that they are on the right path, that they are progressing in achieving the vision.
Try this out at your work place: Write down the five key characteristics you feel an ideal team member should have. Then ask your team members to write down what they think are the five characteristics of an ideal team member. Compare notes. If you have a perfect match between your list and your team members’ list, then you probably have a great team.
Most managers may find that the characteristics they write down are different from what their team writes down. Often the problem is that they simply do not know what your expectations are, because you have not clearly communicated them. Develop the list along with your team, write it down, and then share it with anyone who joins the team so that expectations are clearly identified and understood by all. Post it on the lunch room notice board.
All of the above forms the baseline blueprint that all leaders and managers need to identify and solidify in order to build and/or develop a successful team. Without this blueprint, you simply have a group of employees who are working toward their own individual needs, which are not likely to align with your vision for the success of the company. By developing a blueprint for success, you will be able to quickly and effectively engage your employees into working as a collaborative, proactive, and productive team.
Implement these five keys to making your teamwork work for you, and you will enjoy a higher level of productivity and employee motivation and engagement.