If a new member of your team came up to you and asked “What was the purpose of your team?”, would you know? In addition, if that new member went and spoke to another member of your team or the team leader, would they get the same answer?
Based on my knowledge and experience of working with teams throughout the globe, the answer is likely to be, probably not.
Try it out for yourself, at your next team meeting, ask your colleagues to write down why your team exists and then share the answers. I am sure that in the majority of cases, you and your colleagues will give different answers. Just think how confusing that is for a new member of your team and also the problems it causes for your team, with everyone having a different understanding of your purpose.
In research I undertook on the top attributes that staff wanted to see in their leaders, which you can read here, one of the top attributes was that staff wanted their leaders to be forward-thinking or visionary. This being the case, team members need to know and fully understand what that vision or purpose is. It is the leader’s responsibility to create a compelling vision of the future, that each team member buys into, is committed to achieving, and knows how their role supports achieving it.
During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”
What a great story! Obviously, the janitor understood the importance of his contribution and how his role linked into the overall purpose of the NASA Space Team at the time. He truly felt he was a valuable part of something bigger than himself, and his attitude created a feeling of self-confidence in his mission. He wasn’t merely a janitor, he was a member of the 1962 NASA Space Team!
Another attribute in the survey I undertook, that staff said they wanted from their leaders, was to be inspired. Obviously whoever was leading the team that the janitor was part of was doing a great job of both inspiring team members and giving them a clearly articulated understanding of the overall purpose of the team and the part their role played in achieving it.
3 Key Elements Of A Purpose Statement
Based on my experience, there are three elements.
1. Why your team exists?
2. What does this enable?
3. What are the benefits that this delivers?
It would be totally inappropriate for me to share the outcomes, based on helping my clients to put together their purpose statement, so I have chosen to share that of my organisation Ngagementworks.
Ngagementworks exists to partner with clients, delivering cutting-edge, experiential learning and development programmes, that meet their objectives. All programmes are developed and facilitated in a way that enables individuals to be engaged and teams to be motivated, helping them to transform and achieve even greater success.
It should be clear from the above that it includes all of the 3 elements I have mentioned, why your team exists, what does this enable and what are the benefits.
What Are Your Experiences?
Do you know your team’s purpose? Does everyone in your team share the same understanding? Please do get in touch with me and let me know.
If you haven’t got a clearly defined team purpose statement and have used the above to develop one, please do share it with me, as I’d really enjoy reading what you have developed.
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Yours behaviourally, Nick