Most of the teams
that I have worked with do in fact have some specific goal to
achieve. As a matter of fact, Katzenback and Smith in their book
High Performing Teams say that it is necessary that a team have a
goal. In our discussion of leadership, we talked about the idea of
creating a vision of what the future will look like for our team.
This is the goal, and we should also understand that it may be an
On the other hand,
every individual has his or her own personal goals. Some people will
never say that they have a goal because they have never been taught
to think in terms of goals and objectives. However, everyone has
goals even if only to safely get through the day and earn enough to
feed their family.
If we wish to grow
teamwork, it is important for us to recognize that the individual
goals and the team goals may be—nay, probably are—different. The
question is, how different? I like to think in terms of arrows
representing the goals and objectives of each person and contrast
that to the arrow representing the goal of the team. You remember
that old experiment in high school physics class. When we show
arrows to represent individual forces, then the geometric
combination of the arrows represents the resulting force.
Picture a team of
several individuals, where everyone has their own direction to move
toward, which is represented by their arrow. Now superimpose the
direction that the team would like to go and the resulting overall
alignment. Alignment is defined as being arranged in a straight
line. Are all our arrows aligned in a straight line? One manager
said yes, but pulling in opposite directions! We all know that when
everyone is pulling in opposite directions, a lot of effort and
energy will be expended but no progress made.
We achieve teamwork
when all the people exert their efforts to pull together toward a
common goal or direction. It is effective teamwork when that
direction is also aligned with the goal of the whole team. Please
see figure 4. So I call it goal alignment when we can identify how
to get all the arrows pulling toward the same direction.
It is necessary to
combine (or, as I said earlier, blend) all the skills discussed
above. We must have good leadership skills that teach us to have
empathy for the people. Take the time to know the people and
understand the contribution that each person can make to help the
team. We can practice that skill by considering each person as the
"apple of my eye."
To be able to have
empathy for people, it is essential that we learn how to listen. We
each need to cultivate the ability to communicate effectively by
becoming very good listeners. Develop the habit of using feedback
loops to enhance our understanding of what others are trying to
communicate to us.
Then we will be
able to apply the third principle—that of goal alignment. We should
be able to see the common ground that exists between our team goals
and the goals of each individual. We should be able to see what
action each person can and in fact wants to do that will take them
closer to their own goals. Those actions at the same time will take
the team closer to their overall objective.
When we are able to
do these things we should have effective teamwork. After all TEAM
means "together everyone accomplishes more." As we learn to
continuously apply these principles, we will find that we are
To Be Continued