An aligned team hums with a varied pitch, much like the steady easy sound of a stream. When resistance comes up it is more easily dissipated and blended into alignment.
Spiral Impact team development for alignment consists of four interconnected components: People, Structure, Culture, and Process. During this pandemic each of these components has likely shifted and will likely continue to adjust and change as we emerge into, hopefully, a post-pandemic world.
Some theories say if the structure and processes are sound, people and culture take care of themselves. Other theories say if you have a competent group of people and defined culture – that is all it takes. In my experience neither of these theories is complete. The engineer within me finds this all fascinating. As a mechanical engineer and martial artist, I look at ‘flow’ from a lot of different angles. The beautiful hum of alignment is flow!
As we enter this inflection point of the pandemic it’s smart to look at each of these and adjust if need be. I’d like to broadly comment on each of these, recognizing there are so many nuances with each organization.
Often the people closest to the actual work know the answers. As a leader are you willing to ask your people, “What do we do that is just dumb?” If your people trust you, they will bring forth the most amazing process information. This question is from one of the people I most admire, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Poor processes create incredible frustration and conflict with people. Of course, there are also experts you can enroll.
This is how your departments or work units are arranged. This issue is complex, but a good starting point is to ask the questions, “Are departments arranged to sabotage or support each other? Does one win at the expense of another? Do you have a department reporting up to too many bosses with competing agendas?” While these structures may be necessary, the people and leaders must be willing to collaborate for alignment to happen. If you have a lot of conflict or dissatisfaction this may point to the weak place in your structure.
Patterns of communication are often learned from peoples’ families, experience, and media, which may lead to dysfunction. Have you provided skill development for your people so they know how to appropriately disagree and how to collaborate and bring forth the best in each other?
On a recent road trip – I had some fun with ‘highway drivers’ and how they relate to teams.
Unless deliberately defined and actively nourished, culture is established by the strongest personalities. While many companies decide what their values are and post them nicely printed on the wall – often this is meaningless. Values of respect can linger as the backdrop of very disrespectful behavior. We guide teams to create an agreement, which is expressed in closed-ended questions. Questions beg an answer. A lot of dialogue and sharing go into creating this agreement. That is where the magic of connection happens. Your credo, or “culture agreement” warrants re-evaluating post-pandemic because much has changed. Read more here about team culture.
What is the sound of your team? We can help you find the hum! Contact Karen here