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Remote Working: Alarm at Out-of-Alignment Teams

After months of remote working one thing is clear:  While a team can have virtual meetings and virtual check-ins, it will often struggle with virtual alignment.

Everything else can be virtual, but alignment must be real if a remote team is going to be effective. Thus, with the rise of remote working a surprise casualty of the pandemic is emerging – that is team and project work alignment.

Alignment: Virtual or Real?

Want to know if your team’s alignment is virtual or real?  Here is a quick test: Ask your colleagues to list their top 3 priorities.  Then look through the list – how many of the priorities are shared or even consistent?

In a team of 9 people there could be a dozen or more priorities – some of which may be competing, even conflicting.  Something similar happens when you ask a team to list the top 3 results.  

Little wonder many people find themselves lacking direction or even pulling in different directions at times. The cost in terms of performance, motivation and teamwork is real.

 

In this series called ‘Performance Under Pressure’ we explore the impact of Covid-19 and Remote working on the success of critical projects and vital teams.

How aligned is your team?

Alignment Under Pressure

To see how misalignment impacts on performance: Take a group of highly capable leaders and give them a set of vague, conflicting and even meaningless goals, then watch what happens to their performance and motivation.

Now imagine that team was under pressure to perform like never before – such as in these pandemic times — the performance loss would be multiplied.

In a time of anxiety and uncertainty, people require direction and purpose more than ever: 

  • A set of clear priorities acts as a beacon in the dark. 
  • A shared set of priorities unites people in a common purpose.
  • Clarity enables people to feel as those they are taking back control

The simple act of discussing priorities on a weekly basis can provide focus and energy, as well as a sense of progress and momentum.

Remote Alignment

Remote working makes alignment more important than ever, but also more difficult to attain.  In many ways it threatens to push people back into their own silos and in pursuit of their own agendas.

It is only now that we are coming to understand the role of what was once everyday micro-encounters across organizations and teams – the casual conversation at a person’s desk, at the water cooler and coffee dock or the pre-meeting small talk in creating alignment.  We haven’t quite figured out how Zoom, Slack or MS Teams can fill the gap that exists.

All this means that alignment is probably the greatest opportunity and challenge facing any leader at this time.

Dynamic Alignment

Alignment is hard won and easily lost even in the best of times. But, in times of crisis, if everything seems perfectly aligned you may not be adapting fast enough.

As leaders, we are beginning to see alignment as dynamic – as a work in progress – it needs to be continually adapted and adjusted. It is the very opposite to traditional modes of strategy.  It is where tactics meet with strategy.

It may only be possible to plan the next lap and leaders must be ready to adjust at an instant to what is around the bend.  That is why the concept of pitstop agility is so important. That is the ability to make speedy adjustments mid-race, to build on what is working and fix what is not.

Pitstop to Align

Teams need to be able to metaphorically pull their projects, work streams and priorities into the pit lane – making those essential mid-race adjustments required for success.  Are you ready to pitstop with your team?

Led by an expert coach, Virtual Pitstops are the most effective way to assess priorities, address risks & drive/sustain performance in times of uncertainty.

How will you maintain dynamic alignment?

Adrenaline is one of almost 100 interconnected performance-related variables that we enable teams to analyze, optimise and track.  It is key to performance under pressure. 

 

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