Agreeing on the Mission and the Methods Builds Resilience

Teams that build resilience know what they are about. They are aware of the team’s mission, they fully accept the mission’s validity, and they come together on the methods for pursuing that mission.

Teams that function poorly lack a consensus on their fundamental rationale. They cannot bring themselves to commit fully to a mission, but maintain a distance—sometimes a cynical distance—from making a full commitment to their shared existence. They go far beyond a healthy debate on the methods for pursuing that goal to actively undermining one another because of disagreements.

For example, a hospital’s executive actively promoted a performance management system as part of its efforts to improve the quality of patient care. Some managers within the hospital neglected to do performance evaluations in their sector. They agreed on the long term goal of improved care, but thought the performance management system to be useless. Certainly, performance management has many debatable qualities, but the matter was not being debated. Parts of the organization were working at cross-purposes.

Agreement on goals and methods builds resilience by making the most of available resources. Within a team, members can count on one another to be working in a consistent direction. Their colleagues’ efforts are amplifying their own activities.

Disagreement on the fundamentals creates uncertainty. Individuals or subgroups devote their energies to personal goals. Team members do not know if they can count on one another. Uncertainty creates anxiety that burns through a lot of energy quickly.

What leaders can do:

    • Mission Focus. It is okay to be repetitive about the mission. Talking about the mission is not simply informing others; it is making a value statement as well.

    • Talk Through Methods. When introducing a new practice or policy, have extensive conversations. It is not safe to take for granted that others will agree and cooperate.

    • Walk Through Methods. Hands-on action convinces people. Direct participation lets a leader know how the current state of things falls short of perfection. People have confidence when they see their leader directly involved.

    • Follow Up. Things may look good in the short run but fall apart in the long run. It pays to constantly monitor the data and team members’ reactions.

How mission focused is your team?

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