It’s easy to spot the differences between underperforming teams and great teams. But what about the differences between mediocre teams and great teams? Those differences can be more subtle, and many leaders are content to let mediocre teams forge ahead, since they are meeting their goals. However, if you want to build teams that consistently exceed goals and expectations, you have to know what separates good from great.
Why Cultural Alignment Matters
One of the biggest factors that separates great teams from mediocre teams is cultural alignment. It’s important that team members get along daily, but if those employees are not all aligned with company culture, they can’t rise from mediocre to great.
When employees’ values and passions are aligned with company culture, it has an impact on team effectiveness. Groups with similar priorities and values, who are all pulling in the same direction are much more cohesive than teams that lack that alignment.
How To Build Aligned Teams
Employees at small companies often feel more connected to their coworkers because they tend to feel like part of a “family” or an exclusive group. They have access to upper management; they often have the opportunity to wear many hats and they see how their work impacts the company mission every day.
As companies grow, that feeling of connectedness to leaders and company mission can begin to dwindle, and that’s where teams begin to become less effective. By hiring people whose values align with organizational culture – and by showing employees how their daily tasks impact the big picture, larger companies can create that cohesive sense of “family” that is so prevalent at smaller companies.
That sense can be fostered by:
- Connecting goals to company mission: Employees’ annual goals should be directly tied back to organizational goals. Managers should discuss that connection in annual performance reviews and quarterly check-ins, so employees remain connected to those goals.
- Living mission and values every day: By making the company mission and values a priority, it ensures employees will also make those values a priority. Post the values throughout the building, talk about them in company and staff meetings and look for ways to recognize people who live out those values in their work.
- Talking about mission and values during the hiring process: Make sure you are bringing in new hires whose values align with company values. Make culture, mission, vision and values a priority during the interview process. People who don’t feel aligned will often self-select out of the process because alignment is a priority for many candidates.
- Move people around if necessary: If a team member assigned to a new product or service doesn’t feel connected to it, make adjustments. Move people and tasks around so you’re creating teams that are passionate about their goals.