Interim Executive Resources

The Second Secret Behind Team Building

In a prior article, I discussed a relatively mis-understood secret behind team building – Creating Unique and Shared Experiences.  The whole article can be found here:   The Secret Behind Team Building .

Creating unique and shared experiences is a necessary element in building a great team, but in and of itself, it is insufficient to move from “just a team” to a stellar team.  The second secret behind team building is Goal Alignment and ensuring that all team members understand what the team is trying to accomplish.

With soccer teams, goal alignment for game day is easy to accomplish – “we need to put the ball in the net more times than the other team…”  The goal for sporting events is clearly spelled out as the objective of the game and rules of play are well established.  This makes for a simple environment which is easy to explain to players and coaches and referees and parents and leads to a satisfying time for all when goals are so clear.

More interesting goal alignment discussion occurs when talking about “how” the game ought to be played.  This could also be called game strategy, but we’ll call it sub-ordinate goals for right now.  A coach might decide that in order get the ball into the net, the team needs to pass the ball forward on the right side of the field as much as they can.  As long as everyone on the team understands and supports this, the subordinate goal of pushing up the right side will work and the team will look great.

But if there is goal mis-alignment, players will go left and up the center instead of right and prevent this “right-side-push” goal from achieving effect.  In worst case conditions, few, if any, right side pushes will occur, so the play time goal of going up the right side will achieve nothing.  Lack of agreed upon and supported “goals” will make a game look like a random sequence of events and make a team look like a bunch of players wearing the same shirts, but not playing the same game, so to speak.

It is the coach’s responsibility to make sure that the play time goals (i.e. how the team should play together) are identified, communicated and understood by individuals.  And it is the coach’s responsibility to make sure that the play time goals are practiced by the team so that their individual skills are improved and the team performance is enhanced through repetition.  During the game itself, it is the players’ responsibility to execute towards the play time goals and the coach role becomes “remindful” and “supportive” of the player efforts.

If we move this discussion from “game day” to the “business day”, the discussion becomes a little more abstract, but the lessons are the same.  If the goals in a business are clear and crisp, then employees will tend to work together towards the same ends and achieve more with less time and less effort.  Friction between individuals and departments is minimized with goal alignment and business results are improved.

We’ve all worked in jobs where it seems to take too much energy to get things done and it seems that everyone else is doing their own thing or watching out for number one or a road block to getting work done.  If this is your situation, check to see if you have goal alignment.  Are people seeing the bigger picture of what the business needs to do for success?  Has the boss identified and clearly communicated what needs to be done and just as important, how things should be done?  Have you “practiced” getting work done together and improved performance through repetition?  If you are the boss, are you reminding people of the goal, their roles towards achieving the goal, and recognizing people when good things are occurring?

If goal alignment doesn’t exist in your soccer team or your business team, you will not be delivering to your maximum levels.  Take the time to articulate what you are trying to accomplish and make sure it is communicated effectively and well understood.  During “game time”, remind yourselves of the goals at hand and support those around you in the activities they need to accomplish.  Recognize successes and publicize good accomplishment so that one day you can all celebrate great accomplishments!

And in the event that you or your team or your boss or your business is not able to achieve this mysterious thing called “goal alignment”, don’t forsake the task at hand.  There are those that can help you walk through the process of identifying, aligning, communicating and executing with aligned goals.  In fact, if you are currently frustrated or fear getting frustrated with your situation, give me a call.  This is the type of work I do to help with team building and I guarantee improved performance.

I’d like to
Learn more about