Have you ever worked on a team that seemed chaotic from the start? One where no one seems to know what the team is meant to accomplish, or how the work of the team impacts the larger organizational picture? You aren’t alone.
At Stewart Leadership we have worked with thousands of teams across hundreds of organizations. This work has enabled us to identify five distinct phases of team development and the elements of each that need to be in place to build and maintain a successful team. The first phase in our Teaming for Success Model focuses on the elements involved in launching a team.
While wondering about your individual purpose is really an existential question, teams require a shared sense of purpose to succeed. Every member of the team needs to be able to provide the same answer to the question, “why do we exist as a team?” and the answer should be the same for everyone on the team.
Defining your purpose is the first essential ingredient for launching any team. The team’s purpose should encompass the group’s mission and objectives, along with providing a shared vision for all team members to work towards. Whether the team has been assembled to solve a specific problem or fulfill an aspect of the organization’s mission, establishing a shared purpose will set clear expectations and outline the path to success for the team.
When launching a new team, have all the team members participate in defining the purpose. People tend to support what they help create, Individual team members who feel connected to the team purpose show greater commitment to the team and invest more effort into achieving the team goals.
The other essential ingredient for a successful launch of a team is an awareness of the context the team is operating within. Understanding the landscape the team will be operating in is crucial to the success of the team.
Think of context as the answer to the question, “what is the situation facing the team?” Is the team part of a larger organizational effort? Has the team been newly created as the result of a merger or acquisition?
No matter the landscape, the team will be more likely to fulfill its purpose when the context is properly identified and communicated. Teams function smoother when elements like marketplace trends, outside competition, and stakeholders are identified. Knowing where the team falls within the organization and how it functions interdependently with other teams provides teams with the information they need to develop strategies that address the big picture needs of the organization
When a team understands their purpose in being together, and the context they are operating within, they will have the tools they need
Investing the time and effort in the start-up process of a team is a guaranteed recipe for success. A well-constructed purpose and context will provide the foundation and landscape necessary to successfully launch.