Successful teams act out of a common focus, a sense of direction, and team members ‘own’ decisions as if they were their own. But reaching and maintaining this state takes conscious effort. Even in the best teams team members can every now and then fall into the trap of ‘losing connection’ with one another. How can you spot these moments during team meetings?
How to spot alignment (or a lack of it) during team meetings?
More than once we mistake a group of people for a team. Like this executive who was very proud of his leadership team. They were together for more than 6 years; they all were very experienced; they knew each other very well. Nevertheless, business was not going as good as before. They spent numerous hours in meetings to discuss appropriate actions. Unfortunately the expected results did not materialize.
What he didn’t notice during the team meetings was the fact that his team was much less aligned than he thought. How could he have spotted this lack of team alignment? What signals could he have picked up?
One of the elements that reveal alignment (or a lack of it) during team meetings is the way people communicate with each other. Pay special attention to the details.
Spotting (a lack of) alignment by zooming in on communication
Are people talking in “Them / You” or in “Us / We”?
- If it’s the former, then why do they do this? Ask them.
- What would happen if we would shift to using inclusive language (Us / We)? How would it change our mental focus? How would that affect the atmosphere in the meeting?
How often do you hear people asking questions versus giving opinions and explanations?
- Are we ‘listening to understand’ or are we ‘listening to react’? Why?
- What would happen if we asked more questions? What would it do to the mutual understanding within the team?
Are we building on the argumentation of the other or are we following our own reasoning?
- Are we focusing on the same topic or do we mix multiple topics? Do we do this deliberately? Why?
- If not, what would happen if we would have single topic discussions? How would it strengthen our analysis of existing issues?
Asking these questions during team meetings will fundamentally change your team meetings. It will focus the team’s energy on building alignment and becoming a stronger team.
Feel free to leave your ideas and comments below!
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Aad Boot is a global business advisor, change & transformation leader/program manager, executive team facilitator, leadership coach, and frequently asked keynote speaker. He is founder and managing partner at HRS Business Transformation Services.
Hanneke Siebelink is research partner and writer at HRS Business Transformation Services, and author of several books and the Expert Series. She is currently learning Mandarin Chinese.
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In your article above, the emphasis appears to be on what is said during meetings. Perhaps it would be advantageous to include body language? What is not said may be more telling of alignment.
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Very true. We focus here on spoken word, but body language can also give valuable information. Thanks for sharing.
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i agree body language and facial expressions do tell a tale, although due to covid, work remotely etc, online meeting platforms have become the norm, seeing body language, and deer in headlights facials are not presented to act or react upon as well as in person meetings, they assist in reeling back the topic to clarify and additionally communicate the point or task at hand
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