How to Spot (a lack of) Team Alignment by Observing Its Decision-Making Process

How to spot a lack of team alignment

Successful teams take decisions as one. They find sound solutions and build successful execution because team members ‘own’ decisions as if they were their own. But reaching and maintaining this state takes conscious effort. Even the best teams can find themselves every now and then in situations where decision taking is not going smoothly anymore. How can you spot these moments during team meetings?

How to spot flaws in your team’s decision-making process?

Some time ago I worked with this leadership team that was leading a complex change process. The team had a hard time in getting employees and management engaged. Resistance was high. The organization complained about the lack of clarity from the leadership team about what it wanted to accomplish with this change. The leadership team didn’t understand this, because they spent a lot of time and energy on communicating decisions and objectives to everybody. What was going wrong?

One of the elements that reveal alignment (or a lack of it) during team meetings is the way decisions are taken. Pay special attention to the details.

Spotting (a lack of) alignment by zooming in on the decision-making process

How do we discuss issues?

  • Do we spend enough time to understand the root causes? Or do we jump to actions? Do we maybe want to avoid sensitive topics?
  • How sure are we that we have a common view on the problem? How do we check with each other? If we don’t, why not?

What decisions do we take?

  • Are our decisions focused on filling action lists or on creating desired results? If we are action oriented, why? Is a result focus maybe triggering difficult discussions we don’t like?

How well do we understand our decisions ourselves?

  • What if I would summarize my understanding of what we decided? Would we all share the same interpretation? If not, why not?
  • Do we all have the same understanding of the consequences of the decision? Do we check these things with each other? If we did, how would it impact our focus and communication as a team towards the organization?

Asking these questions during team meetings will help the team to spot potential areas of misalignment and will fundamentally change the quality of decisions. It will enable the team to be much more consistent and clear in its communication towards the organization.

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Photo: Shutterstock.com


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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