Business teams have been around so long in that it’s hard to remember a time without them. Nonetheless, for a very long time, goals were set and problems addressed on a strictly person-to-person basis. This approach was problematic, to say the least. Communication was minimal and misunderstandings were rampant. Worst of all, individuals were left without the insights and resources that emerge when people combine their efforts to pursue common ends.
When Good Teams Go Bad
This isn’t to say that teams are a perfect solution to every issue, of course. Personalities and temperaments still clash, egos and agendas still hamper reaching consensus, and goals that once seemed clear become muddled and vague. When these problems are left uncorrected, the team may even lose sight of the reason why it was created in the first place. There’s a term for this phenomena that’s used in military circles: mission drift.
The Three C’s
To avoid mission drift in your organizations’ teams, it’s crucial for managers to us the “three C’s” in their leadership approach. These include:
- Context – The goal of any enterprise is to fulfill its vision and mission statements. But, to do this, its members must work diligently to accomplish secondary objectives. Problems arise when individuals don’t see how their tasks are vital in the overall context. Managers must guard against this by informing team members of how their objectives fit into the big picture.
- Commitment – Every team is comprised of members with their own challenges, issues, and needs. This is an essential part of human nature, but it can cause difficulties when employees fail to see how their interests align with those of the organization. To secure their enthusiasm and commitment, they must have a clear understanding of how achieving the team’s goals benefits them on a personal level.
- Clear expectations – To be effective, goal statements must list specific, measurable objectives. For example, “raising employee morale” sounds vague and leaves room for multiple interpretations. In contrast, “reducing turnover by 30% over the next 12 months” states the exact purpose to be worked towards, and provides both a metric and a timetable to measure it by.
By following the “three C’s”, managers can help to ensure that team members both understand their roles and work together to achieve the ends they have been brought together for.