The alignment of your team purpose, vision and values is the emotional glue that binds a team culture and sense of identity. It helps answer the questions:
- Why do we exist as a team?
- Where are we going in the future?
- How do we agree to behave?
That is why it is so vital for leaders to spend time with their teams getting alignment around these questions and set the team up with the foundations to be as healthy and effective as they can be.
We love this quote from Lewis Caroll, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there’.
How do you get ‘there’ when you don’t know, or even care, where ‘there’ is? You can never arrive anywhere because you don’t have a destination. Without direction or a goal, how do you pick a path or plot a course to get there? Confused?
Knowing where ‘there’ is, is not only important for individuals. If you apply this analogy to a team environment, without a clear sense of direction, how do you make informed decisions, reach goals and create meaning for your team?
A team vision is a shared picture of the team’s desired future state. It is something that the team can rally behind and work toward. The most powerful visions are the ones that are crafted from the ideas that come from the team. When team members are involved in crafting the vision, they more easily agree on the critical things that they need to work on to achieve it.
An excellent team vision should inspire team members, not just engage them.
A team purpose expresses the team’s reason for existence. It should connect to the overall purpose of the organisation and give all team members clarity and focus on why they do the work they do. Without that, how can you expect employees to stay motivated?
Teams often lose their sense of purpose when the team leader departs or the work of the team changes. While the output of the team is important, so is the reason for its existence and the team leader needs to inspire team members by asking ‘does this decision, does this action, talk to our team purpose?’
While many organisations and teams have a purpose, it’s often a ‘bold statement’, which doesn’t connect with the team. The art of crafting a purpose statement which is motivating and can easily be recalled and referenced is key to its success.
Every team member has their personal values and ideas on how a team should behave. Being explicit on your team’s shared values and related behaviour gets everyone on the same page. If all team members agree on the non-negotiable truths of team behaviour the team will communicate more effectively, improve collaboration, and be in a better position to navigate through conflict.
Team purpose, vision and values are not a set and forget. A poster on the lunchroom wall. Some words on the back of a business card. They guide decision making and drive the culture and focus of the team. They should have meaning around them and buy-in from all team members. Encourage them to be challenged and reference them every day.
In the ADAPT Team Model, alignment of Purpose, Vision and Values is the second of six attributes of an effective team that we explore. We work with varying types of teams to implement a learning and development program to help achieve the best outcomes possible.
We invite your teams to complete our free ADAPT Team Assessment to gauge where your team is currently at, and how we can help your team be as excellent as they can be!