Not too long ago, Jerry Comer of Comer & Associates, a Colorado-based company focused on building healthy organizations, was a guest on the Integrate & Ignite podcast. On the show, he talked about the importance of what he called “forging” teams. I love that term. For me, it evokes an image of disparate elements coming together in such a way that they become something stronger, better, and more powerful.
Here’s how Jerry put it on the podcast: “Forming and forging of a team are two related but not identical (concepts). Forming a team is getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. You need the right talent and the right organizational structure.
“Forging the team, though, really comes down to getting crystal clear about the goal, making sure everybody understands it, and making sure they commit to the goal and that they commit to each other. If they don’t commit to the goal and to each other they can’t be on the team, they shouldn’t be on the team.”
This misalignment, this being at cross-purposes, can happen at any level in an organization, including at the management- and C-levels. When there is misalignment there is no growth, revenue is impacted, and long-term success is next to impossible. But, the good news is that this potentially damaging disconnect can be remedied.
What makes it possible to forge a team, to go beyond just a collection of people sitting on a bus? The answer is actually quite simple: articulation and communication. And, it starts at the C-level, and works its way down.
- Step one begins with leadership and involves clearly defining – articulating – the WHY of your business. WHY do you do what you do? It’s important to note that this is different than the WHAT you do or the HOW you do it. Your company might make the best bicycle in the world, and you might do it faster and at a lower price than anyone else, but those things do not define WHY you do it. Your WHY is your mission, your passion, it’s the fire that lights up your feet and gets you moving every day. It’s what makes it a pleasure to come to work. It is what ultimately makes it possible to create true brand affinity and engagement with your customers. You won’t be able to hire the right team of committed, dedicated, and passionate people if you yourself can’t tell them WHY you do what you do.
- Step two is making sure that every person within the organization knows the WHY behind the company. Without this, you will be hiring people simply based on skills, not on their fit into your organization, their shared passion for what you do, and their commitment to helping the team and your brand prosper. The entire team should be intimately familiar with your mission and your values. There needs to be “buy-in” and investment from everyone. And each team member should be told regularly the important part they play in living the company’s WHY and in helping the business grow and prosper.
Once you have the direction defined and shared, you then have the ingredients necessary to establish a positive culture and an engaged, productive team that is forged together. A forged team is one where each individual contributes with purpose to a shared vision, where there are no silos or satellite members working in a vacuum. I think of a forged team is one unit, headed in the same direction, each component in concert with the others.
It is what will allow you to run a truly healthy and profitable organization.