Have you ever been a part of a team that just can’t seem to be “all in?” For example, maybe you’ve attended an important group meeting where a really big decision was reached or an action-plan was created, and the negative-talkers and cynics gather behind closed doors shortly thereafter to voice their real feelings or concerns?
“No way will this work.”
“Who thought this was a good idea anyway?”
“I don’t want to have any part of this!”
Team commitment is a crucial part of cohesive teamwork. When you don’t have it, your team won’t be successful in the long-run. It’s that simple.
How does commitment affect a team?
If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know I’ve been discussing the concepts presented by Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It includes a model he calls the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and so far in this team-building series, I’ve explored the first two behaviors: trust and conflict.
The third component of cohesive teams is commitment, which involves having clarity around decisions, and the ability to move forward with complete buy-in from every team member. This buy-in can happen even if some don’t initially agree with the decision or direction, or when the outcome is uncertain.
According to Lencioni, a team without commitment:
- Creates ambiguity among the team about direction and priorities
- Watches windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay
- Breeds lack of confidence and fear of failure
- Revisits discussions and decisions again and again
- Encourages second-guessing among team members
Conversely, a team with commitment:
- Creates clarity around direction and priorities
- Aligns the entire team around common objectives
- Develops an ability to learn from mistakes
- Takes advantage of opportunities before competitors do
- Moves forward without hesitation
- Changes direction without hesitation or guilt
How do you get more commitment?
As I mentioned earlier, cohesive teams must first learn to trust and then foster healthy conflict (in that order). But once this is accomplished, it’s time to commit.
When working with teams, there are a number of techniques I teach that can elevate the level of commitment, all of which I learned when completing my certification for the Five Behaviors training. These techniques include:
Cascading Messaging – when a team meeting concludes, key decisions made should be reviewed. An agreement should be reached on what should and should not be communicated to the rest of the staff. Through this exercise, team members can ensure they are on the same page about all major decisions.
Deadlines – ambiguity and misalignment among team members can be reduced by simply defining clear deadlines for when decisions must be made. Deadlines should be set for final/major decisions and actions as well as milestones along the way.
Contingency and Worst-Case Scenario Analysis – teams can overcome their fear of commitment by discussing contingency plans and/or worst-case scenarios. It allows them to reduce fears by facing possible pitfalls.
Ultimately, if members of a team do not believe in the main goals that have been set, they will not support them. As Lencioni says, “People aren’t going to hold each other accountable if they haven’t clearly bought in to the same plan.”
Are you committed?
In your experience, is commitment a make-or-break component for cohesive teams? Has the level of commitment been a deciding factor (either positively or negatively) in your team’s success?
We’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave your comments below.