The team is the atomic unit of the organization. When teams are healthy and thriving, the organization is, too. When they are unhealthy, however, it can be difficult to put a finger on why.
That’s because each team is a complex ecosystem containing a collection of teammates with diverse skills and perspectives, governed by spoken and unspoken operations and processes, underpinned by the relationships and habits of the team culture.
When the sailing is smooth, you may not notice any problems. But in the face of volatility and complexity, even the most stable-seeming team can begin to show cracks that signal misalignment on some level.
As a leader, you probably can tell when something is wrong. You may be disappointed in your team’s performance, worried about attrition rates, or frustrated by missed deadlines and unmet goals.
It’s much harder to tell what is wrong.
The good news is that getting your team back on track may require only a few tweaks. Most teams we’ve worked with over the years follow the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 Rule) when it comes to alignment issues: Eighty percent of the team’s problems likely come from 20% of the misalignments.
That means you don’t need to completely overhaul your team. You just need to work on a few small things. However, trying to figure out your team’s alignment issues from within is like trying to take in the immensity of the Grand Canyon’s complex topography while standing at the bottom.
At the Alignment Company, we’ve developed a tool to help you get a bird’s eye perspective: the Aligned Team Assessment.
It will lead you through a series of questions to understand how your team is performing and why as well as providing journaling exercises to make sense of any patterns that might be creating an outsized negative impact on your team’s health.
The assessment includes topics like:
- Performance Measures: Many teams have no agreed-upon definition of success as a team. Do you have a set of objective measures that track how well the team is performing? Are those measures integral to how the team operates, and are you reviewing and updating them regularly?
- Roles and Accountabilities: Gaps in roles and accountabilities can throw a team off its stride. Does your team have all the skills it needs to meet your goals? Is each team member on the same page when it comes to their own responsibilities and those of their teammates?
- Boundaries: You can’t do the best work of your life if you’re constantly being interrupted or don’t have time to breathe. Does your team have effective boundaries set around things like meetings, interruptions, or work-life balance expectations?
- Communication: If communications aren’t aligned, crucial information can be missed and cause huge frustration. Is your team supported by good operational policies about where information lives, how it’s shared, and what tools you use?
- Culture: Healthy teams disagree meaningfully, giving each member space to contribute openly and honestly. Are you seeing full participation with every team member? Does your culture feel overly political or toxic?
As well as taking the assessment yourself, we recommend asking other team members to go through the exercises and share their thoughts in a facilitated team discussion. You may be surprised at what surfaces when you ask members to evaluate team performance individually, then compare notes.
Download the Aligned Team Assessment to help you pinpoint cultural and operational issues. Then, set up a call with us to help evaluate your findings and create a plan to get your team more aligned and performing at its best.