Team alignment is crucial for any kind of team.
Whether a basketball team or a team of developers, every great trainer or manager has to seek to align his team.
To achieve big goals, we simply have to work and act together with all our teammates and colleagues.
Especially when it comes to collaboration between important parts of your business, like marketing and sales, alignment and collaboration enable the business growth.
What does team alignment actually mean?
One simply and clear definition would be: “everyone is running in the same direction”. A full team alignment is when all team members share the same vision, mission, and goal.
“ Team alignment is defined as the process of arriving at a common understanding by which various employees across functions and departments communicate and collaborate in order to deliver specific organizational goals and objectives. “
What are the risks if your team is not aligned?
The highest risk of an unaligned team is productivity
In most cases when team members are not on the “same page” they just do the stuff which does not produce enough value or simply doesn’t serve to achieve current goals.
In this case, the team is not working efficiently, and you are spending resources without getting any positive results.
Demotivation of team members
There is nothing more annoying than finding out after hours, days, or even weeks of hard work, that the task you are working on is not a priority or even worse, not actual anymore.
And that simply gets your motivation away, no matter how strong you are.
Lastly, it simply destroys the team-spirit
The fact that team members have different information or are not working on the same goal and are not sharing the same mission increase the risk of conflicts between them, and that’s something we should try to avoid.
Common signs of unaligned team
The same questions all the time
That’s the most irritating one. You hear the same question 5 times in one day.
This is a clear sign your team is not on the same page.
Instructions, goals, and tactics seem clear to you, but your team is just not aware of them.
And once they are in a situation, where they are facing some uncertainty, they come back and ask.
Permanently missed goals
As already mentioned above, when people don’t have the same mission or goal in mind, there is a high probability they will miss it. And goals shouldn’t be missed, at least not often.
The overall performance is low because efficiency is at a low level.
Top performers leave you
“Unfortunately” good people like quality.
And when it comes to team quality, which is heavily affected by team alignment, it starts to decrease rapidly.
So when you often see good talents leave the company, you can assume this could have something to do with this problem.
Bad mood and tensions in a team
It is natural we sometimes feel misunderstood, but when the bad mood is spreading over the whole team, that’s a clear sign that something is going on inside your team.
And probably your team is facing issue with team alignment. Everyone wants the best, but somehow it always crashes because the direction they are running is different.
The efforts they need to spend are higher and so on.
It is time to solve this issue.
How aligned team looks like?
The synchronization between team members is easy to recognize in an aligned team. Everyone knows what is his responsibility, and what is the goal and the entire team is prepared for each meeting.
How to achieve better team alignment?
There are many aspects which are affecting your team alignment directly or indirectly.
Here we have listed the most important things to improve and build a strong team!
Share your strategy and make it visible to the whole team.
Goals, outcomes, objectives, and guidelines, all should be transparent and accessible to each team member.
This is the most common problem many on-site, hybrid but mostly virtual and remote teams are facing.
We are living in an age where we interact with a lot of tools, people, and informations. So we are sometimes overloaded with all the important stuff we need to keep in our minds.
Therefore, it is essential to build a perfect and accessible base for all strategic goals, KPIs, tactics, and most important vision and mission.
Additionally, you should communicate the accountabilities in your team.
Run effective meetings.
- Have a scorecard that will display all OKRs and KPIs, so every team member knows what is going on in the other team and everyone can track progress.
- Weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals should be actively updated and maintained.
- Let your teammates take part in the meeting. Set clear expectations for each and ask them to come prepared.
Sitting at one table while creating a plan for the next period simply empowers your team. They will feel more confident, that they are an important part of the team, and will better keep the tactics and goals in their minds.
It is just how we humans work. Once we are part of something, and we interact directly with it, we remember it better – and longer.
Make sure that all changes all communicated transparently. Everything that could affect your colleagues and teammates should be shared.
This requires a bit of “consequent thinking” so you always have in your mind, who else from your team could be affected by the decision you have made, or by the update you have received from other teammates.
The best way to do this is to establish a clear update policy and define the right tool for sharing updates.
Teach your team how to align better by empowering them to communicate clearly and intensively.
Control comes especially in place when you realize your team alignment is on an inferior level.
Here you need to start again being involved in each part of the project or business to assure people are not running in different ways and to motivate them to start removing blocks between them.
Talk to your team
One-on-one meetings are the thing you should have on your agenda at least every 2nd week.
They help you improve the relationship with your team, see what bothers them, and make them happy, but for this, it will help you recognize once they do not align with others.
It is not uncommon that some teammates simply don’t want to “play” the team game with others. Even worse when they are in a higher position or have some key position in your team.
By talking to them personally, you have the opportunity to uncover why they are not really matching the team and immediately act on it.
Due to the pressure on many teams, especially startup teams, this one is often overlooked.
Sure, if your team is in the iteration process and trying to find some market for a service or product, people often don’t have time to write down their processes.
But they are so important! Every newcomer in your team is relying on processes.
Not building them early enough, you are nurturing your employees and colleagues to do stuff differently – from the beginning!
What is not written can not be followed. Especially when your team is fully remote or hybrid, you have to invest time and let everyone know that every repeatable job has to be written down and accessible to the whole team.
Goal achievements, personal wins, and all company milestones reached should be openly celebrated and announced.
This does not affect the alignment directly but reminds people that the goals you have defined together are serious, and it also it simply motivated everyone.
Team alignment in leadership
When it comes to aligning the leaders, there are very similar signs and benefits of it as when the team is not aligned.
But sometimes, even if you have the right characters in your team, the motivation is high, and transparency is on a good level, your team can be unaligned because the leaders are not playing together.
In bigger remote or hybrid teams, this is very dangerous and should be improved the same way – of course, this should be adjusted to a higher level.
Anyway, if the people who are leading the teams are not aligned, you can not expect alignment in the whole team.
So far we have seen how much has to be done to improve our team alignment.
On the other side, this is a very important aspect that you should not ignore while managing or building your team.
It impacts directly the motivation, productivity, and creativity of the entire team.
And that’s the mission of all teams, be better by achieving more together.