How clear is your team on its Why, What, Who and How?

People often ask me questions after training workshops (whether F2F or virtual). They didn’t feel comfortable voicing them in front of the group for a whole host of reasons (their boss was there, they didn’t want to show themselves up, they wanted to get some specific advice from someone outside their organisation, to name just a few).

Often those questions concern something going on in their team. If you’ve got questions about the performance of a team you’re in, ask yourself how you can take positive steps to build it by getting clear on 4 key elements: the team’s Why, What, Who and How.

Specifically, teams need clarity of:

1. Purpose – why are you a team? This underpins the day in, week out activity of teams and is essential to get through challenges and tough times, yet all too often they lose sight of it. Maintaining clarity of purpose is the ‘Why’ of teams, and it’s essential.

2. Goals – what are you aiming for? How will you know when the goal has been achieved? Goals are the ‘What’ of teams, but on their own aren’t enough; the purpose is what underpins them.

3. Roles – At work we can hide behind titles and assume that the role is the same. The reality is that roles can subtly shift with different teams, depending on the purpose and goals as well as the team’s make-up. We need to adapt; extending or changing the role we take in different teams. Roles are the ‘who’ of teams, and we need to be clear on our own role – and everyone else’s.

4. Ground-rules – this is about processes and procedures, as well as the subtle “how we do things around here” nuances of team behaviour. It’s been my observation and experience that all too often we fall into the trap of assuming team-mates ‘just know’ ground rules – only to be caught out at vital moments when it becomes horribly clear they don’t. Ground-rules are the ‘how to’ (and ‘how not to’) of teams, and they need to be clear for all to see.

Try this: next time you meet with your team, ask them to rate on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 = unclear and 10 = crystal clear, how clear they are on each of the team’s key elements – the Why, What, Who and the How. Identify the areas where greater clarity is needed and collaborate on how to improve.

If you’d like to find out more about virtual workshops for your team, please get in touch.


You may also find this blog post useful:‘Making remote teamwork…work’


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’


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