Why is it that some teams are able to achieve great things, whereas others struggle to get things moving?
There’s so much to consider with team working; it’s not as simple as putting a group of skilled individuals together and hoping they will successfully get on with the task at hand. You only have to look at some of the most highly skilled (and highly paid!) sports players to realise that individual talent alone is no guarantee of a team’s success. That’s not to dismiss the important role of recruitment processes – of course, effective teams require the right mix of skills, competencies and experience, but this is just one part of the evolution of a successful team. As Henry Ford eloquently said:
By definition, team working involves a group of individuals coming together to achieve a common goal. In essence, team members must become so fully committed to the team goal, that they strive for this over and above their own individual pursuits. In reality, what’s really needed is for individual and team goals and values to be aligned. You want the team members working on a task that is personally meaningful to them and helps to satisfy their own needs, but which also serves the overall team goal. When you have this alignment, it becomes much easier to get individuals moving in the same direction and rallying around the same mission. Essentially, alignment helps a team to have a clear framework to operate within; it’s about ensuring people are on the same page, enabling them to clearly focus on the task that they need to accomplish.
But let’s be honest, if task accomplishment is all there is to hold a group of individuals together, then over time it is likely that these individuals will become despondent. They might accomplish a lot initially, but if there isn’t the chemistry and connection between team members, then it can all feel a bit transactional, and individuals can begin to feel like they are being used solely for their output. Humans are social creatures by nature; we seek strong emotional connections with others characterised by mutual trust and respect. We like to feel valued for who we are as a person rather than just solely based on the contribution we make, and we want our feelings and emotions to be recognised. It’s about the human element of working with others; being receptive and responsive to each other, earning trust and helping individuals to feel included and a part of something. When there is this level of attunement within a team, then we are more likely to see greater levels of energy and passion, which is maintained over time. What’s more, these high quality relationships have been shown to make team members happier, healthier and more resilient to the inevitable challenges that teams face in today’s world of work.
Put simply, high performing teams need both alignment and attunement. Teams who can strike this balance not only move in the same direction but do so together, in harmony, putting them in a powerful position to achieve great things and to withstand the test of time.