One of the key things that makes a team is the fact that everyone is pulling together in the same direction.
If that isn’t happening, then you don’t really have a team.
You may all be busy doing ‘stuff’ but in reality, without a shared sense of direction, you all end up chasing your tails, not really getting anywhere at all. Not working as a team. It’s like a game of tug of war, but nobody can win.
What is a shared sense of direction?
A shared sense of direction is more than a vision, or purpose statement that someone defined once upon a time. Instead, it is the sense that you are actually working together, collaboratively, towards a goal of some description. That you are all united and heading in the same direction, not just in your own lane, but in shared lane. Together, as a team.
As you know, this is easier said than done! A team, after all, is made up of a collection of individuals. They are not the Borg.
What can you do?
In order for people to be able to head in the same direction, they need to know what the direction is.
Yes it might be in your head, but have you actually shared it with your team? They are not mind readers.
Say it out loud. Write it down.
Make sure it is articulated, clearly, somewhere for everyone to see.
Wherever you put it, it needs to be not just visible, but seen.
It’s a bit like this: have you ever walked under a signpost every day of your life but have no real idea what it says? You don’t want your team to work like that, without an easy-to-see direction.
How you can help your team to really see and understand that direction?
Your direction, whether expressed as a vision, or purpose, or mission (all slightly different and all often obscure and intangible) may be clear as mud to everyone else. Check that it does make sense. That it means something and isn’t just some cleverly written word soup.
Crucially; make sure your team buy into your stated direction. This allows you to move you from having a lofty idea, to having one that might actually happen. Getting your team on board with your direction is key here. If your team aren’t that fussed about where you want to take your business, well, they won’t be sharing that sense of direction with you. It will just be yours, and yours alone.
Five things that will help you share your direction:
- Ensure you are consciously and consistently following your own direction. Doing what you say you are going to do. You can’t expect others to head in that direction if you aren’t out there yourself.
- Accept that we all tackle things slightly differently. Sure, check in with your team members to make sure they have the same end in mind, but allow them some freedom to find their own way. You may all tackle the roads in a slightly differently, and there will undoubtedly be a few twists and turns and bumps along the way. Help your team to share their plans, their ways of doing things and their challenges with each other and the team will navigate the wobbles with ease.
- Ask your team for ideas to monitor progress. Consider what will make sense to them, and what is achievable and realistic to enable them to do so.
- Probably the single most effective way of getting your team on board is to ask them for their input, their thoughts and their ideas. Encourage your team to explore and ask questions about the direction.
- Even better, ask them to share ideas as you create your direction in the first place. And really listen to the answers.
Then it will truly be a shared sense of direction as they will have a real sense of ownership with regards to where things are headed.
For more ways to bring your team together, to get that team buy in and to foster true collaboration, drop me a message.