Has your team lost their mojo? Something feels disjointed, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? This my friend, is the blog for you!
Now, let’s talk about why team alignment matters. Your team is never going to work like an expertly programmed machine, that’s not what they are designed to do.
Team alignment is the process of unifying your team with shared goals, respect and understanding. This, in turn, aids collaboration and transparency between team members, and skyrockets efficiency and work performance.
And the proof is in the pudding:
Teams that regularly exceeded revenue goals were 2.3X more likely to report high levels of alignment
Aligned teams churn 36% fewer customers each year
Aligned teams close 38% more sales proposals
Roughly 10% of a company’s spending is wasted on misalignment, on average
Highly aligned companies grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than their misaligned counterparts
You can’t click your fingers and wish your team into alignment. You need to identify the problem first.
Now, unfortunately, there’s no WebMD to diagnose your team troubles and massage them back into alignment. Yet, having turned around many misaligned teams ourselves, we would say we are well-equipped to play doctor.
Here are the 6 most common signs of a misaligned team, how to spot the problem and why it matters!
Sign #1: No Team Autonomy
Team autonomy is a management attribute that allows us to spot the difference between a well-working team and a supermarket full of panic buyers fighting over toilet paper.
An autonomous team is given the flexibility to determine their own working style and task prioritisation. True team autonomy is built on trust. There’s not a micro-manager in sight!
If you’re part of the party that thinks micro-managing is how you get stuff done, then let me tell you this. According to PA Times, 71% of employees said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance while 85% said their morale was negatively impacted.
Do you think poor team autonomy could be impacting your team? Here’s how to spot it?!
You/your Manager is run off their feet briefing staff, managing deliverables and giving approvals
Projects are constantly being put on pause until further direction is provided
Unhappy team members, that feel micro-managed and undervalued
Why team autonomy matters?
Taking time to build an autonomous team is critical for long-term survival.
It might seem like the safest solution to have a manager reviewing and approving everything. And initially, it might work. But over time exhaustion will kick in and all you’ll end up with is a burnt-out, mismanaged team. They’ll have zero initiative and will need to be completely babied for anything to get done.
If you’ve ever played The Sims, you’ll know what happens when you stop telling your Sims what to do…..it’s never pretty!
Sign #2: Team isn’t talking
Now you would think this one is obvious, but it’s not as simple as listening for the crickets. Your team may be talking, but are they talking about what matters?
Communication is key, especially when miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year(Expert Market).
A silent team is a confused team, and confusion is a recipe for disaster!
Has your team fallen silent? Here’s how to spot it!
Team members are confused about deadlines and priorities
People are gossiping about other team members not pulling their weight and there’s tension in the team
The manager is hearing vastly different things from team members
Why team communication matters?
It’s crucial that your team is talking. Cohesion and continuity can only be achieved through communication. And it’s highly unlikely you will find success in a team that is not operating in unity. The only thing you’re likely to find is anarchy and impending doom.
Sign #3: 101 Projects on the Backburner
How many times in the day do you hear “I’ll get to it later”, or “That’s been on my to-do list for a while now…”
You’re metaphorical ‘backburner’ is only so big, and there are only so many tasks that can sit smouldering away. If you pile them up, that mountain will catch alight and the foul smell of burnout will spread far and wide across your team…much like the Springfield tyre fire!
Not to be dramatic (we always are!), but this will be your downfall. Your running but you’re not going anywhere. At least that’s what it feels like.
A massive 77% of workers experienced burnout in 2020, also mentioning a negative impact on their mental health (Smart Company).
Are you drowning in to-dos? Here’s how to spot it!
Your team are saying “Yes! We can do it!” to everything thrown their way
Your “to do” list is longer than the Great Wall of China and higher than Mount Everest
You start heaps of great projects that never see the light of day
Why task prioritisation matters
You need to sort out which of these tasks are valuable to your business’s growth and which are simply pipe dreams.
When there are too many projects sitting in the periphery your team will be distracted. They’ll find it hard to remain focused on one goal, and will start to run around like lost puppies.
Of all the signs, this one is the most ominous because it’s not always obvious.
You see it plastered all over LinkedIn. Teams totally smashing it, completing projects in record time, always working on something new.
A new loyalty program, a complete website refurbish, a rebrand (don’t get me started!), a flash new company mission statement.
In truth, some of these teams are kind of just busy for busy sake. They are inching themselves in 101 different directions, instead of taking leaps and bounds in the RIGHT direction.
How to spot when projects aren’t aligned to outcomes?
When asked, your team can’t explain how their projects align to business objectives (other than, “we are making sales, aren’t we?”
You’re constantly busy, releasing new products and campaigns, but aren’t seeing great progress
Upper management feels the team is wasting time. The team feels like management doesn’t care.
Why project and outcome alignment matters?
Inching your way to success is drainingly slow, and lacks those small wins.
For example, if you wanted to get good at running the best thing you could do would be to register for a race (your outcome). Otherwise, you’ll be like Forest Gump running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.
It’s vital that you are aligning your projects to outcomes.
A team that gets to frequently celebrate wins, is going to feel far more accomplished than one that’s still at the start line of 101 projects, or miles into a neverending one.
Sign #5: Stuck In a Cycle of Reactivity
A reactive thinker is caught on a treadmill. They’re a firefighter constantly putting out fires with no time to clean up the rubble (or work out why on earth all these fires are starting in the first place!)
They take a problem or a project and jump to a conclusion. They are fast and driven, but they are not always right.
This cycle produces quick outcomes and a shorter to-do list, but the return on this fast-paced solution is predictably underwhelming.
Is your team running at full speed? How to spot the cycle of reactivity!
Sign #6 – Work is Prioritised on Urgency, Not Impact
Are you so focused on shooing the fly in front of your face that you are ignoring the ten on the plate in front of you?
By this we mean you are guilty of driving tasks based on their due date, rather than what’s going to help your business in the long run?
“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Dr J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University
How to spot a team drive by urgency, not impact!
Your team feel as though they are treading water, never actually seeing results
The results you do see, don’t contribute to the bigger picture
Your to-do list doesn’t strive to reach any of your business goals
Why does impact matter
You’re flat out working toward nothing. Goals are the checkpoints in your journey to success. If you arent prioritising the tasks that are going to attain them, you may as well be trying to reach the end of a rainbow.
Alrighty! So, we’ve given you the crucial signs, how to spot them and why it matters. The next step is a trip to the team-chiro to crack your team back into alignment.
Oh, and would you look at that. Our MI-experts are both team doctors (not legally) and Chiropractors (also, not legally).
Over the past few months, 7 vastly different teams have enrolled in our new Team Alignment Workshop. This is a fully customised half or one-day workshop designed to align your team, strategy and organisational goals.
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia's leading digital marketing futurists and the brains behind Milk It Academy – A research-based training firm to advance marketers skills into new school digital leaders and company innovators. For over a decade Alita has worked with global brands including SAP, Experian, SEMrush, TS14+, Estee Lauder, Myer, Power Retail, & Online Retailer.