You can only grow your business so big if you have to do everything yourself. In order to serve more clients or make more money, you’ll want to bring in others to help you.
Regardless of what role these other people play — be it employee, consultant, contributor, or co-creator — successfully working together to serve your clients takes more than simply being on the same team. In order to successful come together as a single unit, you must all share a commitment to a common goal.
Common goals help ensure that you are all on the same track and headed in the same direction. A goal of “making more money” or “selling more widgets” isn’t enough to really bring people together, even if you all share that goal.
The kinds of goals that really unite a group into a cohesive team are goals that transcend individual opinions and put the focus on those served by your organization.
For example, good team unifying goals include:
- Zappos: WOW customers to create an emotional impact and give them a story they can take with them the rest of their lives.
- Unstoppable Foundation: Bring sustainable education to children in developing countries thereby creating a safer and more just world for everyone.
- Business Strategy Expo: Empower change in the world by bringing together coaches and the business advice they need right now to grow their business to serve more clients.
Your goal should be easy to convey and simple to understand, and it should be shared with all of your team members regularly.
Even a clear common goal doesn’t guarantee everyone shares the same commitment to reaching that goal. Commitments take different forms and can fluctuate over time; therefore, it is best not to rely on previous experience or spoken assurances, but on behavior as your key to your team’s commitment level.
Commitment shows up in behavior in a number of ways:
- Time: How much time is the member willing to invest to reach the goal? Is the member willing to work extra hours to ensure deadlines are met? In the event of a conflict with another activity, where does the commitment to this project fall?
- Effort: Is the member focused only on the tasks assigned to her? Or is she willing to jump in and do whatever needs to get done? Is an effort made to go above and beyond what is explicitly asked for when completing a task? Does the member bring new ideas to the table?
- Attitude: Is there complaining or resignation about the work to get done? Or is the work attacked with a go-getter attitude? Is redirection taken as a personal attack or a learning opportunity?
What do you do if the actions of your team member indicates that she isn’t committed to your goal?
As the leader of your organization, it is up to you maintain the organization’s commitment to your goal: You have to believe and live it yourself. You have to convey the goal to the other team members so they understand what you are aiming for. And, you have to be willing to take the actions necessary to ensure you reach that finish line, even when that means having difficult conversations with your team members.
It can be tempting to compromise for the sake of harmony to let behaviors slide because we don’t want to rock the boat or hurt someone’s feelings, or because we feel that we’ve made a commitment to that person that they remain part of the project or team. However, giving in to these temptations places the needs of the individual ahead of reaching your ultimate goal — as a result, you may be giving up more than you realize.
History is filled with inspiring stories of great achievements of groups of people untied behind a common goal, often over a long period of time (Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal). Your business, too, can reach great heights by ensuring everyone is united behind a unifying goal.