It can be difficult to correct a team that's off track or at risk of not meeting its goals when there's no agreement on what its goals and issues are in the first place. Just like in health, it's easier to prevent a problem from occurring than fix an issue that has become serious.
Hackman describes some key elements that are important when setting up effective teams to their subsequent success. But as time goes on, things change, such as the situation, the team and the environment. When these changes happen, teams are the first to sense it as they better understand their work situation than their managers. For that reason, it can be helpful for the team to monitor its environment regularly and manage its response to these changes. This doc helps teams quickly assess how well-aligned their members are around four themes:
Is there a clear and compelling direction?
Is there an enabling team structure and work system?
Does the organization provide the team with appropriate resources and support?
Is the team prepare to exploit emerging problems and opportunities?
This doc guides you and your team through using this tool and provides guidance for taking action based on the different results you might see.
Benefits of the Team Alignment Survey
There are a few reasons why I've found The Team Alignment Survey to be such a helpful tool to resolve common problems.
It's easy to customize or extend.
The Team Alignment Survey's structure is simple, and you can add or replace questions based on what you want to get alignment on. For one team, I used a version with six subjects instead of four. For another group, I created a different version designed to assess if the team had all the tools and support needed to work remotely.
It encourages innovative problem-solving.
There's not always an easy way to resolve the structural or organizational support issues a team faces. Still, talking about problems and constraints can force teams to innovate new solutions.
Its visual results make it easy to interpret.
The survey results are visual, so everyone on your team will be able to interpret the results quickly and easily. Facilitators need to be familiar with just a few possible patterns and coaching questions to use during the follow-up.
It provides actionable feedback to leaders.
A clear and compelling direction, the right structure, and the right resources and support are essential factors that leaders have a significant role in setting. The Team Alignment Survey provides leaders with feedback if any of those factors need attention.
It directs conversations around the team.
During a Team Alignment Survey session, the discussion focuses on the group behaviours and the group's alignment. The Team Alignment Survey guides the team towards being more self-managed and increases the team's sense of ownership.
It provides alignment on both "Where are we?" and "Where do we want to go?".
When people answer questions like these differently, there's a lower chance that the team will successfully achieve their goal, and it also means that any improvement effort could be working to improve the wrong things. When there's a clear consensus on the current state and desired future state, improvements are more likely to succeed.