This article is written by Dr. James Eyring
Teams are an important building block of organisation performance. They are used to combine skills and expertise of different individuals to deliver on important organisation goals. Teams are aligned when they cooperate internally and externally to achieve a common objective. An aligned team can motivate individuals to exceed all expectations and deliver important benefits to the organisation. A misaligned team can result in conflict, mistrust and low performance.
Leaders today are faced with new challenges in aligning their teams. Increasingly, their team members are located across geographies, come from different cultural backgrounds, and are experiencing conflicting priorities due to complex matrix structures. These leaders must align and motivate a diverse group of individuals, with different values, who may rarely meet each other in person.
Aligning a dispersed team is more challenging. One recent study cited in HBR showed that individuals who worked remotely reported 243% more communication issues than those who worked in the same location and that these problems could take weeks to correct. On the other hand, other studies show that dispersed teams can be as effective if not more effective as co-located teams when they have the right processes in place.
Over the past decade, we have worked with over 300 teams to help them improve alignment. One tool that we have used in this work is our Team Alignment Survey, which contains responses from over a thousand long-distance employees and leaders. We've found that teams can improve and achieve strong alignment, even if they operate in complex global environments. In turn, individuals from aligned teams report greater motivation to expend effort for the team and report greater commitment to stay in the organisation.
Whether you are a co-located or dispersed team, consider the following tips when aligning your team:
Global leaders frequently spend time dealing with the results of misalignment. If you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and start examining the processes and structures you use to align your team. Investing in these will motivate your team to improve performance.
Please visit the Working Across Boundaries section in our website to learn how we help our clients work together more effectively AND deliver great results across geography, culture and time zones at: http://www.organisationsolutions.com/Resources#360
© 2009 Organisation Solutions Pte Ltd. A version of this article was previously published in Organisation Solutions' eBrief.
About the Author: Dr. James Eyring is the chief operating officer (COO) of Organisation Solutions, a global consultancy specialising in organisational design, development and change solutions worldwide. James has worked in the field of Management Development and Human Resources for over 20 years. His areas of expertise include leadership development, strategic Human Resources, and the design and management of distributed organisations.